This somehow flew under the radar for the past few days but it turns out GoldieBlox, the San Francisco start-up that makes educational toys for girls, will have to pay one million dollars for ripping off the Beastie Boys.
You’ll remember that last year GoldieBlox and its president, Debbie Sterling, got into a bitter legal battle with the Beasties after creating an online video that used a variation on the group’s hip-hop classic, Girls, to sell itself to investors and customers. Before the Beastie Boys could even make a move on the company, Sterling preemptively filed a lawsuit against them, contending that Girls was a “highly sexist” song and therefore open to parody. The two remaining Beastie Boys, Adam Horowitz and Michael Diamond, responded as cordially as possible, saying that while they respected and even endorsed GoldieBlox’s mission of making toys that empower young girls, their former bandmate — the late Adam Yauch — had specifically stated in his will that the group’s music couldn’t be used to sell products of any kind. Sterling eventually relented, issuing a hilariously passive-aggressive press release claiming that everyone at her company was a big Beasties fan and couldn’t imagine why a legendary act like them would target a small business like GoldieBlox, but the Beastie Boys decided to indeed press the matter. They countersued GoldieBlox.
The matter was ultimately settled out of court, with GoldieBlox agreeing that it wouldn’t use the song anymore, that it would publish an apology, and that it would donate a percentage of its revenue to a charity chosen by the Beastie Boys. Turns out the charity the Beasties chose supports the education of girls in the areas of “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” And now we know what the amount of the donation is: it’s 1% of GoldieBlox’s gross revenue until a total of one million dollars is donated.
Really nobody loses on this one, but make no mistake: the attention GoldieBlox got from this controversy, which given Sterling’s history of “disruption” is exactly what she was aiming for, is what put it on the map in the first place. The company went on to win a 30-second spot during this year’s Super Bowl, so while a million is a hell of a lot of money, GoldieBlox can now almost certainly afford it. And the terms of the deal make paying it off pretty painless anyway.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.