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Beastie Boys Countersue Toy Company Over Viral Video

The Beastie Boys have filed a counterclaim against GoldieBlox, the toy company which scored a viral video hit with a parody of the group’s song “Girls” but later sought a court judgment that their video was a fair use.

In fact, the music group cited a number of other instances where the toy company has “published videos that infringe on popular songs” by Queen, Daft Punk, Kaskade, Krewella, Avicii, Slam, k.flay and Trevor Guthrie.

Last month,  GoldieBlox, announced that it was pulling the Beastie Boys song from the video, contending that it was unaware that the late Adam Yauch had requested that their music never be used in advertising. But that was after GoldieBlox filed suit against the Beastie Boys, seeking a declaration that their use of the music was a fair use parody of the work.

The counterclaim from the Beastie Boys alleges copyright and trademark infringement, false advertising, false endorsement, unfair competition and misappropriation of California’s common law right of publicity, as well as violation of New York civil rights law.

Their counterclaim notes that the GoldieBlox advertisement, called “GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & Beastie Boys ‘Princess Machine’,” with altered lyrics of “Girls,” garnered more than 8 million views on YouTube and “directly resulted in a massive increase in the sales” of the company’s products and making it one of the most popular toy lines on Amazon.

“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,” the counterclaim stated.

The Beastie Boys filing said that on Nov. 20, a rep from an advertising agency contacted Universal Music Publishing Group, which administers copyrights for Brooklyn Dust Music and Adam Horovitz, to see whether GoldieBlox has licensed the song for the ad. According to the counterclaim, the ad agency had been in the process of submitting the GoldieBlox ad for a competition to win a 30-second commercial in the 2014 Super Bowl.

The suit seeks an injunction, as well as damages and lost profits, and any advantages the toy company has obtained from the use of the music.

Daralyn Durie of DurieTangri, representing GoldieBlox, said in a statement that they “are reviewing the document that was filed yesterday. Although the video has been taken down and we would prefer an amicable resolution, we strongly believe that the parody constitutes fair use.”

The Beastie Boys are represented by a team led by Kent A. Raygor at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.

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