The Beastie Boys Fight for Your Rights : Guest Post by East Bay Ray

[An update. The corporation Intuit sponsored a competition for small businesses to get a Super Bowl ad and awarded it to GoldieBlox, despite the company being invovled in a lawsuit for doing something that violated the contest’s own rules. What kind of message does that send?]

First, we have the Supreme Court ruling that corporations are people. Now, with a recent dispute between toymaker Goldieblox Inc. and the Beastie Boys we have a corporation — in the fine tradition of the Dred Scott decision — attempting to justify the exploitation of people’s work for the benefit of a business.

The reasoning Goldieblox, Inc. — which hijacked the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls” in a recent promotional video — uses to justify economic exploitation is right out of the book 1984: in the name of the greater “common good” (and to make even bigger profits), an individual’s autonomy is not important. To paraphrase George Orwell, Exploitation is Innovation.

There are some legal commentators who try to contend that the Goldieblox ad is not primarily aimed at advertising a product but “spreading” the company’s message that “traditional girl toys aren’t all that great for modern girls.”

Somehow that makes economic exploitation okay.

Well, looking past their doublethink, “a commercial ad is not an ad,” the video was, bottom line, to advertise the brand Goldieblox, Inc., a for-profit company. Whatever other message the ad has isn’t relevant. Just because you claim the message is positive, you don’t have to ask? Who decides if it’s a positive message or not? What if a company like Walmart wanted to use someone’s work without compensation to promote their “message,” would that be okay too? What is so hard about asking permission first? It’s the human thing to do.

What some are advocating here is ultimately nothing less than the violation of a basic human right everyone has: the right to the material and moral benefit in work you’ve created. The authors of the Slate article seem to have no problem that people are to work while others get rich off that labor. Why not at least demand that Goldieblox pay the Beastie Boys a share of the company’s profits? Or is treating people like sweatshop peasants, framed as “innovation” in true 1984-style, just too important a “social value” that it overrides people’s rights? Maybe it’s of value for a corporation, but absolutely not for human beings. Think about it, how can you be free if they take away your right to say “No”? Or take away your right to share in income you produce?

This is not just a problem for artists. From the viewpoint of many Internet companies, your personal information and photos are the same as the Beastie Boys music. If it draws eyeballs then corporations can use it without your consent to get rich selling advertising, like your Instagram photos, your Facebook profile, etc.

What’s happening to musicians will happen to you. Anyone who wants internet business executives to step up and treat us all as humans, stand up and say, “I am the Beastie Boys.”


East Bay Ray Img_8808s2East Bay Ray is the guitarist and co-founder of the band Dead Kennedys. He serves on the advisory board of the the Content Creators Coalition, an artists rights organization that enables people who create content — recording artists, songwriters, journalists, filmmakers, producers, photographers, visual artists, and performers — to join together and gain fair treatment from those who profit from their work.

The Content Creators Coalition link is




Goldie Blox – SPIN’s 2013 Hall of Shame | SPIN

Beasties Countersue GoldieBlox–GoldieBlox brings in Google Books Lawyer

Shut Up and Sing: Goldiblox Shows Silicon Valley’s Latest Strategy to Intimidate Songwriters

David Lowery: Silicon Valley must be stopped, or creativity will be destroyed | SALON

Below is just one excerpt from the interview with the always insightful David Lowery in Salon.

Silicon Valley’s making money off the work of others. David Lowery is on a crusade for copyright, fairness and art

SALON : People sometimes use the Industrial Revolution metaphor. They talk about how factories replaced the artisan and the farmer, and it took decades for things like child labor, dangerous working conditions, and pollution and all the stuff that industry brought to Britain and the U.S. to be eradicated, or made humane and sustainable.

LOWERY: But whenever anybody — I mean, you’ve just brought up David Allen, and we’ve just posted this idea on my Trichordist blog that we should have an ethical, fair-trade Internet, but you’ve got people like David Allen saying you can’t have that. That would be like in the Industrial Revolution saying, “You can’t have a non-polluting factory; you can’t have a factory that doesn’t have child labor; you can’t have a factory that’s safe to work in.” Of course you can!

We’re the ****ing masters of our own destiny, we pass the laws for this country, we create this country, we decide what kind of a society we’re going to have — not the Internet. And, besides, the Internet is coded by humans. We can make the Internet do what it needs to do. I’m a technologist. I program computers. This is what I did before I played in bands.

There is nothing deterministic about the Internet. Basically, what these people are saying is that this is the first technology whereby we must change our principles to match the technology — that’s what these people are saying. Do you want to live in a world like that, with these people running it?


Beastie Boys Respond to GoldieBlox in Fight Over ‘Girls’ | The New York Times

Keep your eyes on this story kids. This is an all out assault on artist and creators rights from Silicon Valley interests.

The Beast Boys Respond:

Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial “GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys,” we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad.

We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.

As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.

When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.