We thought the legal feud between the Beastie Boys and feminist toy company GoldieBlox had been all but settled last month, but it's pushing steadily forward. The Beasties are now suing GoldieBlox for copyright infringement—less than a month after reassuring the news media they were doing no such thing.
The feud concerns a GoldieBlox commercial that went viral on the strength of a parody of the Beastie Boys' "Girls," a regrettably misogynistic anthem that the rappers (including the late Adam Yauch) have since apologized for. GoldieBlox filed a preemptive lawsuit after the Beastie Boys objected to the use, pointing out that Yauch's will forbid the use of his music in commercials. Then GoldieBlox withdrew the parody, and everything seemed peachy. "We are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team," the company wrote on November 27. Not so.
The new lawsuit, which The New York Times reports the Beastie Boys filed yesterday, suggests that evident truce wasn't enough. In the lawsuit (which is available here), the rappers claim that they suffered "injury to their business, good will and property" and are seeking to recover the "actual damages and lost profits" caused by the viral video. They also dispute GoldieBlox's claim that the parody is covered by fair use, which the company's lawyer continues to insist.
Licensed to Ill, the album "Girls" appeared on, has sold nine million copies to date, and it seems unlikely a fleetingly viral toy commercial has done much to slow it down. But the Beastie Boys' bold stance may well be out of respect for Adam Yauch, whose will asked that the group's songs not be used in advertisements. And, as Pantene has shown us, commercials disguised as viral videos are, nonetheless, still commercials.