Posted in music on December 11, 2013

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When girl-centric toymakers GoldieBlox issued a public apology for using The Beastie Boys' song "Girls" (with altered lyrics) in an online video/ad and took it offline, some might have thought that would be that. But the NY Times reports that yesterday The Beastie Boys filed a lawsuit against GoldieBlox, saying the company used a "campaign of systematic infrigement" and:

Achieved and continues to achieve additional publicity, press coverage, and, upon information and belief, greater sales of its products, as a direct result of the Beastie Boys' perceived affiliation with the GoldieBlox Advertisement. Unfortunately, rather than developing an original advertising campaign to inspire its customers to create and innovate, GoldieBlox has instead developed an advertising campaign that condones and encourages stealing from others.
They also go on to say that Goldiblox has a history of turning other artists songs (they cite Queen and Daft Punk among others) into commercial jingles without permission. For those interested in page after page of legalese, you can browse the whole thing here. In a quote to the New York Times, GoldieBlox maintains that their use of the song in the video falls under "fair use."

In more pleasant news, Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock features in Champagne Jerry's new video "Yo, Kev!" which we premiered this week.

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Comments (81)

Should be an interesting case, but the song is by definition a parody which falls under fair use. If the Beastie Boys do win, artistis like Weird Al would have to get permission (and likely pay) to make the parodies he profits from in the form of album and ticket sales.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:10 PM

I'm going to change the lyrics to Hey Jude & use it to sell tortillas - Fair Use!

Slam dunk win for BB imo. & I cldn't be less empathetic to them given the music they've excreted on the world.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:14 PM

Parody doesn't fly here. The right to prepare derivative works is one of the exclusive rights of the copyright holder. The Artists have a right to say “don’t use any original or manipulated copies of my work for promotional purposes.” Even Weird Al Yankovic got sued for parodies of songs where the artist didn’t want the song to be used (lookup news about Gangster’s Paradise vs Amish Paradise and the questions posed there).

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:20 PM

Go ahead and do it. Hope your tortillas are tasty! Google "fair use copyright law" and enjoy being the umpteenth million person to make a Beatles parody for commercial purposes.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:21 PM

As long as they didn't use the actual master recording, there is nothing for Goldieblox to be worried about. They should be happy the beastie boys are continuing to give them additional publicity.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:25 PM

Did Weird Al lose a lawsuit for his parodies? Not that I can tell without having to take the time to research. He certainly didn't lose a lawsuit from Coolio for parodying that derivative of a Stevie Wonder song.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:29 PM

Coolio was unhappy about Amish Paradise, but never sued.

Weird Al doesn't necessarily need artist permission to make parodies due to fair use, but he always asks first because that's just the kind of guy he is. Now, if Weird Al were to license one of his parodies to be used in a commercial (say a Papa John's commercial using "Eat It") the original artist would have to sign off and presumably be compensated as well.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:29 PM

it has to do with using the parody to sell something (or selling the parody itself) that disqualifies this from being considered fair use.


Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:30 PM

yeah the difference here is the song was used for a commercial, not just some video they thought would be clever.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:33 PM

^^ exactly

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:34 PM

Beastie Boys get huge sampling other peoples music (mostly wothout permission) only to sue because someone used theirs - thats the biz

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:34 PM

^ Every distinguishable sample on Paul's Boutique was cleared.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:35 PM

"Coolio was unhappy about Amish Paradise, but never sued."

Which would make sense since the music for Gansters Paradise was completely sampled. He didn't own the rights.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:41 PM

"Now, if Weird Al were to license one of his parodies to be used in a commercial (say a Papa John's commercial using "Eat It") the original artist would have to sign off and presumably be compensated as well."

^ This is some dumbass shit right here. So when Weird Al sells a copy of his album the every "original" artist (and everyone credited for writing the songs) being parodied on it is compensated too, right?

Dumbass.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:43 PM

Who knew BV had so many copyright law experts as readers??

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:43 PM

Ka

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:43 PM

4:43. Yes, the original songwriter gets paid songwriting royalties on the parody songs as well.

You're a dumbass.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:46 PM

Maybe they are upset that they are still getting called out (and sued) for stealing all those samples on Paul's Boutique!

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/beastie-boys-cant-escape-pauls-628260

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:47 PM

This is pretty good for a BV thread.. so far. Im impressed. There's an actual conversation happening above

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:47 PM

^ now much do they get paid? I know original songwriters get paid for covers, but what if it's a parody? Especially if the master isn't used as backing tracks? Can you please break down in simple English. Reading law hurts.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:49 PM

^ Standard songwriting royalty rates. Can't verify how much, but there's no negotiation as there is a standard for these type of things. Probably 50% Yankovic (lyrics), 50% original songwriters (music). (ie King of Suede is credited "Yanokvic/Sting) Backing tracks/recordings have nothing to do with this, we're only talking about songwriting here.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:53 PM

Weird Al is under NO legal obligation to pay the original songwriters royalties. He chooses to pay a little because he knows he's making money off of them and tie the right thing to do. Wow googling things is awesome!!
http://en.allexperts.com/q/Yankovic-Weird-Al-2361/copyrights.htm

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:56 PM

There's a 4 factor test for fair use:
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Since they're using the song solely to sell toys, it's probably going to weigh against them. Most of the time when commercial use is overlooked it's because the profit is incidental.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:58 PM

That's a nice photo of the B-Boys. Makes me miss 'em even more. RIP Adam Yauch.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 4:59 PM

^ This only refers to the medleys on his albiums were special rates have been worked out. There is very much legal obligation to pay songwriting royalties on parodies. There is however, NO legal obligation to ask permission first.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:00 PM

Also, there's usually a separate copyright for the music/melody than for the lyrics. So, they'd probably have to license the music/melody for the parody.

Depending on what state you're in they could also sue for using their likeness without permission.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:00 PM

Are they just selling toys? Could argue they are selling ideas, inspiring creativity, promoting equality.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:00 PM

To add to the context of the subject, GoldieBlox had filed for a legal "declaration" of fair use, simply meaning they're aware of the fact that their content could be taken to court for infringing, and that they were contesting it was fair use. However it must also be noted that while it clearly is a parody which is one of the main contestants for fair use, it also serves for PURE commercial purpose, which is a strong contestant against something being fair use, unless the infringing content is transformed in a manner beyond recognition of the original song and then used for commercial purpose (ie GirlTalk).

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:02 PM

5:02 - Transformative use doesn't even have to come into it. There's a big difference between creating a parody and then selling that parody and creating a purely commercial parody used to sell a second product.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:06 PM

There is no such thing as separate copyrights for a single song. Please stop spreading misinformation. Songwriters may collaborate with one writing the lyrics and the other writing the melody etc, but in the end the final work is protected under one copyright. How the co-writers choose to split ownership is up to them.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:06 PM

5:06. Educational purposes are considered fair use?

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:07 PM

^ The standard is 50 music/50 lyrics. Ask Burt Bacharach how much Hal David got paid.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:08 PM

and who said there separate copyrights for a single song?

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:12 PM

True 50/50 is common, but you don't get paid on fair use as the original songwriter(s) unless the user decides to pay.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:12 PM

5:00 said there's separate copyrights. Sorry...should've sited.

"Also, there's usually a separate copyright for the music/melody than for the lyrics. So, they'd probably have to license the music/melody for the parody.
Depending on what state you're in they could also sue for using their likeness without permission."

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:13 PM

Wrong. You can't just go out and take somebody's melody, make a ton of money, and not pay them a dime. They need to get paid songwriter royalties.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:14 PM

did the commercial use the original melody from the song? if not there's no issue, beasties lose

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:18 PM

^ If they didn't, why would we even be talking about this?

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:20 PM

^ that's not an answer

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:20 PM

Ok, here's your answer. Yes

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:22 PM

http://www.ehow.com/facts_7452431_song-parodies-copyright-law.html

^ Hmmm, looks like The Beastie Boys are shit outta luck on this one.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:23 PM

@5:22 the exact melody? beasties will have to prove that in court. if it's even a few notes off they lose

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:25 PM

Yes. I used a computer to measure the pitch myself.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:26 PM

And also, there is NO WAY the Beastie Boys will lose this. Use a little common sense, huh?

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:31 PM

5:26 Hey music school graduate...did you forget that melody is more than just pitch? It's also about the length of each individual tone over time (rhythm). Did your computer measure that as well? Each note clocks hits in perfect sequence with the original?

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:33 PM

5:33 Hey idiot, they took the Beastie Boys song and changed the lyric. Think.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:35 PM

LOL, 5:31 sounds like a pre-election Mitt Romney supporter.

We'll see. They'll probably lose though. Karma, amirite?

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:35 PM

5:35 go back to law school or ask for a refund from wherever you got your degree. Asshat.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:39 PM

5:33 learn how to read the definition of parody.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:41 PM

^ no u

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:41 PM

Sorry meant 5:35 should learn how to read. I guess I should go too since I put a 3 instead of a 5.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:43 PM

^ You guys certainly got one Beastie Boys fan very upset, BV commenters.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:44 PM

"commercial use" does not equal "use in a commercial"

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:45 PM

^ LOL, ok.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:46 PM

Jesus Christ. Nobody here thinks this isn't a parody. The issue is that they used it to sell a product. The Beastie Boys have many high paid lawyers. I don't know these GoldieBlox folks, but considering they were the first to call out "fair use" in the case of their advertisement, it's safe to assume they don't have many high paid lawyers. THEN they went and doubled-down. They will be crushed.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:46 PM

^ meh. probably not

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:49 PM

5:46 if the beastie boys win, it will set a precedent.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:52 PM

If the Beastie Boys win, it won't even be newsworthy. This is pretty open and shut.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 5:59 PM

5:59. Either way, nobody under 30 or over 50 cares about beastie boys

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 6:03 PM

Didn't 2 Live Crew win the lawsuit brought against them for direct sampling of the "Pretty Woman" bass line? Isn't this pretty much the same thing?

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 6:09 PM

wrote:

Posted by co-on | December 11, 2013 6:09 PM

dis make them look like douchebags, they try to bring other artists into it to look like they doing it to protect other artists but i dont think so

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 6:32 PM

6:09
Using a sample like 2 Live Crew did is not the same thing as a parody. Completely different.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 7:08 PM

I bet Kathleen Hanna told Ad-Rock to file this lawsuit so she'd have more money for her lyme disease treatment. Word is that she also killed MCA.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 7:39 PM

The bottom line is you can't take somebody's shit, music or art, and use it
for your own financial gain w/o paying some sort of royalty. (Goes on all the time at craft fairs these days).

Beatle George Harrison was found guilty (1976) of ripping off He's So fine (1963) in his song My Sweet Lord. Ordered to pay 1.6 million. He could have changed/ transformed the song a little bit, but didn't, and had a legal hassle that lasted years and left him quite a bit lighter in the wallet.

After this most of these types of cases were settled out of court due to avoid huge legal fees.

My verdict: Glodieblox gets crushed - Big win for BB

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 7:42 PM

7:42 the copyright laws were rewritten in 1976. Your argument is not really valid here

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 8:06 PM

7:10 did you read all of the Wikipedia article you posted? Probably not. Reading is hard. You're the dumbass.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 8:11 PM

8:11 do you mean the part where the Supreme Court overturned the appeals court decision and held that 2 Live Crew were in fact protected under fair use as a parody? Yeah reading is hard.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 8:17 PM

Although they settled out of court, 2live crew didn't legally I fringe on that copyright. It's okay to disagree with the law or the Supreme Court, but to make up shit based on how you think things should be is wrong and doesn't create a healthy debate.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 8:27 PM

8:06

Perfectly valid as most of these types of cases are settled out of court, and secondly, the main point that one can't take music or art made by another party and use it as they see fit w/o paying some sort of compensation to the creator of said art or music.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 8:35 PM

The Harrison case actually dragged on for another 5 years btw. It was finally settled in 1981 w Harrison paying about $600k.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 8:43 PM

Beastie Boys will win this lawsuit.

GoldieBlox was/is using their music to sell a product thus "fair use" is not a valid argument against Beastie Boys who wouldn't file this lawsuit if they didn't think they'd win.

If GoldieBlox is smart they'll settle out of court like this: they'll stop using the jingle and pay the standard royalty rate for use of the song to a charity of Beastie Boys' choice or one MCA worked with. I think Beastie Boys would accept this as I doubt it's about them getting paid.

Posted by D | December 11, 2013 9:41 PM

8:35. Settling out of court is not the same as being found guilty of copyright infringement. There needs to be a precedent and since as you say "most are settled" then there is no legal basis behind these individual instances that can be used in court or this comment thread. Secondly you cannot take someone else's work yes. But there are some exceptions called fair use. Should this case go to court, we'll be able to finally see if it applies here. If not, then no laws were technically broken.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 9:56 PM

Let me clarify, a law may have been broken, but it is up to the copyright holder to claim infringement... which the beastie boys did do. If they decide to settle, then there is no case and this story becomes nothing more than anecdotal.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 10:00 PM

It will get settled out of court, just as the John Cale/ Lou Reed (estate) suit vs the Andy Warhol foundation was earlier this year( over use of VU banana logo). Neither side wants G Harrison type of drawn out litigation w crazy legal fees as I mentioned above.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 10:06 PM

I think he beastie boys are looking to make a point not money. They can afford to go to court which is he only way to stop this from continuing to happen.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 10:14 PM

"Secondly you cannot take someone else's work yes. But there are some exceptions called fair use."

Exactly what I have been saying. And this is not fair use, clearly.

"Settling out of court is not the same as being found guilty of copyright infringement".

True, but the end result is the same: A cease and desist order, or something to that effect, would be enacted. And some sort of damages would be paid, legal record or not.

Posted by Anonymous | December 11, 2013 10:23 PM

You are all so very smart.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2013 9:04 AM

Fuck lawyers. Bunch a fucking shit chunks.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2013 9:47 AM

I have no particular love for the Beastie Boys, with that said GoldieBlox have acted like assholes in every way imaginable. I hope they get destroyed.

Posted by Anonymous | December 12, 2013 1:29 PM

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