We loved the recent video parody by GoldieBlox. But, oops, it turns out they didn’t get the rights to use the musical score. While the whole issue of digital rights is complex, there’s nothing complex about borrowing a famous song to promote your product. It’s wrong. It’s not the same as using it to do a YouTube video of your dog howling to the song — it’s really taking someone’s copyrighted hit song and pasting it on your commercial.
I can’t even fathom how it happened that nobody said anything the whole time they were producing and marketing it. What were you thinking?
So that was slightly classless or slightly clueless — I don’t know. But what really was classless was suing the Beastie Boys. What were you thinking? You stole their song and then you sued them when they simply pointed out that they felt wronged?
Sometimes it’s time to shut up. Like in this case. GoldieBlox, you can’t afford the kind of lawsuit the Beastie Boys can afford. When you saw they were upset, that was the time to pick up the phone, open your blog, and apologize. You made a mistake. Did your lawyers tell you not to admit fault or you could be in big trouble? And did they tell you to file a suit first? I’ll bet they did. That’s how lawyers make their money.
Goldieblox, you owe it to all those girls out there to succeed. We need you. Our girls need you.
So, wake up and do the right thing, and not what the lawyers tell you. Oh, you don’t know what the right thing is? Well, ask those little girls in your video what they would do if they took something without permission from a friend and the friend got upset.
- First, give it back. The video will work with some other background music that isn’t stolen. Use the lyrics and put them to some other music. Do it now. Take down all copies of the old video and put up a new one.
- Second, drop the lawsuit. It’s mean and obnoxious and you can’t afford it anyway.
- Finally, apologize. Apologize publicly on your blog. Apologize in person by picking up the phone and getting the Beastie Boys on the line. Apologize in a public letter in the New York Times.
Ultimately, the only way you will stay in business at this point is if the Beastie Boys decide not to take legal action against you, because, even if you win, you can’t afford the legal battle. You need to be running a business. From their appearance in the media so far, it looks like the Boys have the class to drop it if you do. What kind of role model are you if you let them outclass you?
You took something that wasn’t yours. You took something they wouldn’t have sold you at any price (because they have said they would never use their materials in commercials). When they wrote you to tell you they admire what you’re doing but that you should stop taking their stuff, you ignored their request and then sued them. Stop it right now. That is no example to our girls. Not only do you need to make amazing engineering toys for our kids, you need to be their heroines. Heroines apologize and fix the damage when they hurt someone.
The world is waiting for women to step up as leaders, not for us to prove that we can use the same adversarial fighting tools to defeat one another in court. Women can provide a humbler and wiser type of leadership to avoid and resolve conflicts rather than create them. It’s your turn. Step up.