Boys vs. Blox

If you’ve followed the whole Goldieblox vs. Beastie Boys fair use debate with any interest (some background here), Vulture’s Ask a Lawyer column from Friday is a good read.

Reading over the GoldieBlox complaint, I noticed that much of it is about how they’re entitled to use this song because they’re all about female empowerment. But that seems beside the point of fair use. Has a judge ever said, “Well, it’s a really good cause, so it’s okay if you use this song?”

No. This has been something that a lot of political candidates have found out within the past few years; they can’t go out and use whatever songs they want under the guise of fair use, just because they think that they’re promoting a good cause. There’s no legal exception for causes that society thinks are good. Also in the complaint, GoldieBlox really makes a big deal about the objective they’re trying to promote, of getting girls into STEM fields – which is great, but they conveniently leave out, except for a single sentence when they’re describing the company, that they’re selling a product and they’re a toy company and this is a huge marketing push for them. So – it’s not like they’re a 501C3 with a stated goal of trying to advance women. They’re trying to sell a product. If McDonald’s was trying to sell a hamburger to further female empowerment, we would all look at it very differently. And now the Beastie Boys have called them out on what is effectively a marketing campaign, and a marketing campaign seemingly undertaken without any attempt to license any of the music that they used throughout.

Of course more important than all this legal mumbo-jumbo is the COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION. And my opinion is that while the state of copyright law in this country sucks, and let’s empower women to do whatever they want with their lives, but why would you make a commercial for your toy using the song from a band that expressly stated they didn’t want their music used in advertising? C’mon now.

Photo: yacht_boy

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