This open letter was submitted by Berklee student Nikole Luebbe.
Dear Remaining Beastie Boys,
You CANNOT sue GoldieBlox for copyright infringement in this video. (Editor’s note: Between the time this letter was submitted and the time it was published, GoldieBlox has since removed the Beastie Boys’ song from their video.)
As fathers and supposed “feminists” in the music industry, one would think you would be able to support an organization that encourages women to be engineers. Sure, GoldieBlox made a parody of your song without permission, and maybe they will be able to prove that they have fair use and they will continue to get to use the song for free, or maybe they are infringing on your copyright – in which case they do owe you money. As a music business student at Berklee College of Music I have to say that you 100% deserve to get paid for your original content, and anyone who abuses your exclusive rights as a copyright owner deserves to pay through the teeth for it! But as a woman getting ready to graduate college and wondering why my male colleagues are more likely to get hired and earn more money than me, I have to say: IF YOU RUIN THIS COMPANY WITH A LAWSUIT I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU!
Did you know that women hold only 21% of engineering occupations in the United States (source)? Furthermore, according to a study done by the Girl Scouts organization, only 46% of young girls even know a woman employed in science, technology, engineering or mathematical fields (source). Do you know how badly women in this country – heck, on this planet – need this product? Let me tell you why: because men like you have written songs for millenniums exploiting women and treating them as objects or slaves! You are literally being given a chance to undo your past mistakes! Remember when you said [in your song, “Girls”]: “Girls to do the dishes / Girls to clean up my room / Girls to do the laundry / Girls, and in the bathroom.” And this company is saying [in their version of the song]: “Girls to build the spaceship / Girls to code the new app / Girls to grow up knowing / That they can engineer that.” What message do you want to send to your daughters and young women of the world?
Of course, to be fair, you guys are the one and only hip-hop group to actively support the feminist movement. Here is your chance to stand by your lyrics from your song, “Sure Shot”: “I want to say a little something that’s long overdue / The disrespect to women has to got to be through / To all the mothers and sisters and the wives and friends / I want to offer my love and respect till the end.”
No, I am not by any means suggesting that you roll over and play dead while the world does whatever it wants with your music. But I am asking you to stand by your words. If you really do respect and believe in women, then give GoldieBlox a chance. Sure, their preliminary declaratory relief lawsuit against you was less than amicable, but instead of suing as a response, take the high road and offer them a chance to legally obtain rights to your song through a license. Get paid for your work, but not at the expense of a beautiful thing that is happening.
A concerned woman in the misogynistic music industry