Back in March of this year, the news came out that GoldieBlox and the Beastie Boys had settled over GoldieBlox’s use of the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls” in a video advertisement that had gone viral. GoldieBlox only used the song over a period of eleven days in November of 2013 before replacing it with another song. GoldieBlox sued the Beastie Boys, seeking a declaration that its supposedly parodic use was fair.
At the time, Rolling Stone reported a statement made by a representative for the Beastie Boys:
That settlement includes (a) the issuance of an apology by GoldieBlox, which will be posted on GoldieBlox’s website, and (b) a payment by GoldieBlox, based on a percentage of its revenues, to one or more charities selected by Beastie Boys that support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for girls.
The exact details of the settlement were not made public. However, in a different case involving the Beastie Boys and energy drink company Monster Energy, the GoldieBlox settlement agreement has been attached as an exhibit that is now publicly available on PACER. And the details are rather interesting.
GoldieBlox, naturally, didn’t admit to having done anything wrong:
GoldieBlox denies any wrongdoing or liability to Beastie Boys in the Action . . . .
But it nevertheless wanted to settle the fight that it had started:
[T]he Parties desire, on the terms and conditions set forth herein, to settle the aforesaid controversy without any admissions as to the merits.
In exchange for a retroactive nonexclusive license covering the eleven days that GoldieBlox had used the song, GoldieBlox agreed to donate $1,000,000 to charity:
GoldieBlox shall make annual payments . . . totaling One Million Dollars ($1,000,000) . . . directly to a tax-exempt, IRS Code § 501(c)(3) charitable organization . . . chosen by Beastie Boys that support science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics education for girls. . . .
GoldieBlox shall pay one percent (1%) of its annual gross revenue . . . until the payments equal $1,000,000.
GoldieBlox also agreed to issue a public apology, the exact text of which was spelled out in the settlement agreement, on its homepage for at least sixty days. As of today, that apology is still there.
The apology 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 now we know the details. GoldieBlox refused to admit “any wrongdoing” while simultaneously agreeing to publicly apologize for what it admitted was a “mistake.” And despite having made this “mistake,” which was not “any wrongdoing,” GoldieBlox agreed to pay $1,000,000 for a retroactive license for the eleven days it used the Beastie Boys’ song.
Moreover, GoldieBlox agreed to publicly promise to “secure the proper rights and permissions in advance” in the future—again, though, without admitting that it had done “any wrongdoing” in not asking the Beastie Boys for permission in the first place.
That clears it right up for me.
Follow me on Twitter: @devlinhartline
© 2014 Devlin Hartline. Licensed under the Law Theories Public License 1.0.