GoldieBlox Apologizes to Beastie Boys, Saying It Was Naive Rather Than Malicious

Toy company also donates portion of revenue to charity

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Four months after it began, the legal battle between GoldieBlox and the Beastie Boys appears to be winding down, as the band has agreed to drop its lawsuit against the toy maker over the unauthorized use of the song "Girls" in a commercial—in exchange for an apology and a donation to charity.

The apology, posted on the GoldieBlox website, reads:

We sincerely apologize for any negative impact our actions may have had on the Beastie Boys. We never intended to cast the band in a negative light and we regret putting them in a position to defend themselves when they had done nothing wrong.

As engineers and builders of intellectual property, we understand an artist's desire to have his or her work treated with respect. We should have reached out to the band before using their music in the video.

We know this is only one of the many mistakes we're bound to make as we grow our business. The great thing about mistakes is how much you can learn from them. As trying as this experience was, we have learned a valuable lesson. From now on, we will secure the proper rights and permissions in advance of any promotions, and we advise any other young company to do the same.

So, the company is claiming its actions were simply based on inexperience—which seems like a stretch considering how quickly GoldieBlox got the lawyers involved originally, but at least the apology is out there. The undisclosed revenue donation will go to a charity selected by the Beastie Boys that supports science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for girls—which the GoldieBlox products also promote.

The fight began after GoldieBlox featured a reworked version of the song in an empowering girl-power ad that went viral online in November. GoldieBlox preemptively filed a lawsuit hoping that the song would be ruled a fair-use parody. The Beastie Boys then countersued.

A little bit lost in all the legal wrangling, though in some ways the point of the whole mess, is one simple truth: music really can make or break an ad. The GoldieBlox commercial, "Princess Machine," soared with the "Girls" soundtrack, but became a shadow of itself with a different song.

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.