GoldieBlox had high hopes that the Beastie Boys would not move forward with legal action against them for the use of the song “Girls” in a recent advertisement. In an open letter published on November 27, 2013, after Goldieblox had filed its complaint, the toy company proposed to end the dispute, stating “we don’t want to spend our time fighting legal battles.”
However, it seems the Beastie Boys are not willing to get friendly with the company just yet. This is not surprising, considering that the late Beastie Boy, Adam Yauch, had explicitly requested that his music not be used for advertisements, according to the will obtained by Rolling Stone Magazine:
“Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes,”
On December 11th, the band filed its answer, along with their affirmative defenses, to GoldieBlox’s complaint. The complaint was originally an attempt by GoldieBlox to preemptively declare its use of the song “Girls” in the video as fair use. While GoldieBlox had since tapped the breaks and even invited the Beastie Boys to make nice saying “we want to be your friends,” they are now at the mercy of the court. Because an answer has been filed, GoldieBlox can no longer voluntarily dismiss its claim.
GoldieBlox has replaced its original big firm lawyers, Orrick, with a boutique firm that focuses primarily on IP litigation, Durie Tangri (the firm that recently represented Google in the Google Books settlement). While GoldieBlox could no longer voluntarily dismiss its claim against the Beastie Boys, GoldieBlox still had the option to dismiss the other defendants named. On December 17th, Durie Tangri filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of all claims against Island Def Jam, Sony/ATV and Universal Music, “without prejudice.” The dismissal leaves GoldieBlox free to bring its case against these defendants at another time.
There has been some speculation that this entire situation was a PR ploy by GoldieBlox. As the case moves into discovery, many are hoping to see GoldieBlox’s thought process behind using “Girls” in their video. The question “was this a PR ploy?” may finally be answered.
What do you think? Was GoldieBlox’s use of the song a way to ramp up their PR?
Shaliz Saidg, Esq.