You’ve seen the YouTube video: Three girls, bored with the girlie pink toys they’ve been getting, engineer a Rube Goldberg contraption, singing alternative lyrics to the Beastie Boys’ “Girls.” It’s an ad for a math-and-science-themed toy set produced by the company GoldieBlox. On Wednesday, that video was down, and in its place was a different version, featuring a generic electronic beat. (You can still watch the original on Vimeo.)
A lot has happened in between. A week after filing a lawsuit against the rap group to preempt copyright infringement threats, the toy company decided it doesn’t want a fight with the Beasties.
The Rube Goldberg commercial took the song’s original message and turned it into an empowering anthem. Instead of washing dishes and cleaning up boys’ rooms, these girls are the next generation of scientists and engineers. The video went viral instantly and had millions of views in a matter of days.
In an open letter to the Beastie Boys, GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling explained the company’s reasoning for suing the group and then ultimately backing away.
“When we made our parody version of your song, ‘Girls’, we did it with the best of intentions,” Debbie Sterling and Team GoldieBlox wrote. “We wanted to take a song we weren’t too proud of, and transform it into a powerful anthem for girls. Over the past week, parents have sent us pictures and videos of their kids singing the new lyrics with pride, building their own Rube Goldberg machines in their living rooms and declaring an interest in engineering. It’s been incredible to watch.”
GoldieBlox had originally sued the Beastie Boys last Thursday after being accused of copyright infringement. The company claimed that because they critiqued the song’s original message, it was a parody and fell under fair use. According to Sterling, GoldieBlox sued in hopes of reaching a settlement peacefully.
The Beastie Boys followed suit a few days later with an open letter to GoldieBlox. While they praised the ad’s creativity, it was still an ad. Member Adam Yauch, who died last year, also made it explicitly clear in his will that he didn’t want any Beastie Boys music to be used in advertisements.
“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,” Adam Horowitz and Michael Diamond wrote.
Two days after the statement, Sterling backed down in hopes that they can put an end to the lawsuits.
“Since actions speak louder than words, we have already removed the song from our video,” Sterling wrote. “In addition, we are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team.”
Photo via GoldieBlox/YouTube