The pink-aisle disruptors at GoldieBlox Inc. were back at it on Sunday, but this time there probably won’t be any lawsuits.
After winning a small-business contest sponsored by Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU), the startup toymaker aired a new commercial during Super Bowl XLVIII featuring an energetic group of girls who build a rocket ship and blast their pink toys into the stratosphere. It’s all done to the tune of the hard-rock classic “Cum On Feel the Noize,” reimagined with lyrics meant to inspire young girls to get excited about engineering.
For many viewers, the spot was reminiscent of GoldieBlox’s recent viral video in which a parody of the Beastie Boys song “Girls” was used without permission. When the band complained, the toy company filed a legal complaint seeking a declaratory court relief that would rule the parody fair use.
While much of the chatter on social media about the ad addressed whether or not GoldieBlox did the same thing with “Cum On Feel the Noize,” a rep for the company said that’s not the case this time. Heather McLellan, director of communications at Intuit’s Small Business Group, confirmed that Intuit, which sponsored the 30-second Super Bowl spot, also footed the bill to license the song.
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Originally released by the British rock band Slade, “Noize” was popularized in the U.S. by the heavy metal band Quiet Riot, which covered the song on its 1983 album “Metal Health.” Given GoldieBlox’s history, some social media users had assumed the toymaker was simply parodying the song without permission.
â€” David Rynne (@DTRynne) February 3, 2014
The difference, however, is that the “Noize” commercial did not take direct aim at the song’s lyrics in the same way that the “Girls” parody did -- a key argument in whether or not the parody is protected by the Fair Use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. Where the Beastie Boys sang about finding girls “to do the dishes” and “clean up my room,” GoldieBlox reimagined those lyrics as girls “to build the spaceships” and “code the new app,” etc. At the time, Julie Ahrens, director of copyright and fair use for Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, told IBTimes that she thought the use was a clear parody. “The product and the company have a social message, and part of that is that girls can do more than wash dishes and do laundry,” she said.
The copyright dispute is still playing out in the courts. In December, the Beastie Boys filed a counterclaim, seeking an injunction to prevent GoldieBlox from using the song. The band is also seeking all profits the company has made from the song, as well as damages and legal fees. Last week, District Court Judge Lucy Koh ordered GoldieBlox to respond to the Beastie Boys’ counterclaim by Feb. 17.
In the meantime, watch the uncut version of GoldieBlox’s Super Bowl commercial below.