GoldieBlox, a San Francisco-based maker of girl-empowering toys and games, rewrote the lyrics to "Girls" so that instead of girls doing the dishes or doing the laundry, girls were now building spaceships and coding apps.
(GoldieBlox "repurposed" Queen's "We Are The Champions" in a similar manner earlier this year.)
After the company's ad racked up millions of hits on YouTube, attorneys for the Beastie Boys — who have long been vocal opponents of their songs being used to sell products — accused GoldieBlox of copyright infringement.
This prompted GoldieBlox to fight for its right to use the song by filing a preemptive lawsuit against the band and its representatives.
Earlier today, the Beastie Boys released an open letter address to GoldieBlox, saying it supported the company's cause, but not its use of the band's music.
Here is the open letter, courtesy of the New York Times' Art Beat blog:
Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial “GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,” we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad.
We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.
As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.
When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.
For its part, GoldieBlox maintains that its use of "Girls" falls under the fair use exception (the EFF agrees), and hopes to bring the matter before a jury.
Update 11/27 8:45 a.m.: GoldieBlox gave in to the Beastie Boys' demand and removed the controversial commercial from YouTube. It has since been replaced with a new version of the ad that features a different soundtrack: