After the skirmish over whether GoldieBlox’s video featuring the melody and parodied lyrics of “Girls” by the Beastie Boys was fair use or infringement, the company abruptly altered the video in question on its website. The same video is now accompanied by different music. The company also issued the following statement on its blog:
“We don’t want to fight with you. We love you and we are actually huge fans.
“When we made our parody version of your song, ‘Girls’, we did it with the best of intentions. We wanted to transform it into a powerful anthem for girls. Over the past week, parents have sent us pictures and videos of their kids singing with pride, building their own Rube Goldberg machines in their living rooms and declaring an interest in engineering. It’s been incredible to watch.
“Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves. We did so sincerely hoping we could come to a peaceful settlement with you.
“We want you to know that when we posted the video, we were completely unaware that the late, great Adam Yauch had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising. Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours.
“Since actions speak louder than words, we have already removed the song from our video. 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.
“We don’t want to spend our time fighting legal battles. We want to inspire the next generation. We want to be good role models. And we want to be your friends.”
This could defuse what could have been an interesting dispute.Fair use seemed clear initially, but this now seems a bit disingenuous, to be honest, undercutting that conclusion somewhat. Even stranger is that the company had already gone to the trouble of preparing, and filing, a copyright action in U.S. District Court, yet folded its tents so quickly.It’s hard to credit that the carefully (and persuasively) crafted complaint came about only offhand after a phone call from the band’s attorneys. And, the “letter’s” reliance on Adam Yauch’s will is even stranger; the use would be fair use (or not), regardless of what a deceased band member wanted the music used for. If publicity, rather than parody, were the real motivation, the analysis would certainly change.
Notably, the post does not actually resolve the case yet. The case is still pending as of this morning, and the above letter is actually a settlement offer (“we will end the lawsuit if….”)
Meanwhile, Felix Salmon at Reuters poses the same question we did (though he believed the “Girls” video was infringement): what about Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody?