The Beastie Boys hip-hop group has filed a counterclaim in federal court against an Oakland toy company, accusing it of infringing on the group's copyright when it made a viral video parody of the Beastie Boys song "Girls."
The counterclaim alleges that GoldieBlox Inc., which makes engineering and construction toys for girls, is using its spoof of the Beastie Boys' 1987 song as a moneymaking advertising jingle.
It asks for an injunction barring use of the song, payment of all profits the toy company earned as a result of the video and an additional punitive financial award for alleged intentional harm.
"Unfortunately, rather than developing an original advertising campaign to inspire its customers to create and innovate, GoldieBlox has instead developed an advertising campaign that condones and encourages stealing from others," the lawsuit alleges.
The New York-based Beastie Boys submitted the counterclaim Wednesday in an answer to a pre-emptive lawsuit GoldieBlox filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland on Nov. 21. The lawsuit sought a court declaration that the parody was protected by the doctrine of fair use.
The two-minute video shows three young girls in construction helmets building a Rube Goldberg-like mechanism with toys and household items through several rooms and the front yard of a house.
The Beastie Boys' song has lyrics such as "Girls -- to do the dishes/Girls -- to clean up my room/Girls -- to do the laundry/Girls -- and in the bathroom."
GoldieBlox's lawsuit called the original lyrics "highly sexist," while the Beastie Boys' response labeled them "a sarcastic anthem."
The parody replaced the lyrics with verses such as "Girls to build the spaceship/Girls to code the new app/Girls to grow up knowing/That they can engineer that."
The video became a viral hit on the Internet, garnering more than 8 million views on YouTube alone, according to the counterclaim.
On Nov. 27, GoldieBlox posted an open letter to the Beastie Boys on its website, announcing it had removed the parody words and tune from its video. The company kept the video on its website and substituted other music.
Its letter said, "We don't want to fight with you. We love you," and unsuccessfully offered to end the pre-emptive lawsuit if the group would drop any threat of legal action.
The Beastie Boys' counterclaim includes claims of trademark violation, patent infringement, false advertising and misleading the public into thinking the music group endorsed the company's toys.
The case has been assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu of Oakland.
No hearings have been scheduled thus far.