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The Success of Louis C.K. is Not a Joke on Anyone

November 30, 2013 Comments off

Music Technology Policy

[Editor Charlie sez: This post originally appeared on March 9, 2012 but we thought it was worth a repost.]

“Pretty soon, they all want to get into the act.”
Attributed to Jimmy Durante

Why Does The Press Consistently Get it More Wrong Than Right?

I don’t know why the press continually focuses on the wrong issues when it comes to selling music and movies online—whether it’s the Bloomberg editors’ “relax and enjoy it” advice to songwriters and film makers ravaged by theft or the more recent analysis by the Financial Times of the Louis C.K. direct to fan release “Live from the Beacon Theater”.

Here’s the tip off from the FT in the opening paragraph:

“After the vigorously profane American comic Louis C.K. decided to produce and distribute his latest concert himself, he said he hoped the experiment would work “so I can have s***loads of money”. It worked. At…

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Twenty More Questions for Artists: Record producer agreements, Part 1

November 29, 2013 Comments off

We first posted this series last year and thought it would be good to repost it. We’ll have a bonus post to cover the issues for producers and co-writers raised for co-writing producers by GoldieBlox’s lawsuit against Rick Rubin and the Beastie Boys.

Music Technology Policy

Please note: This is an installment in a multi-part post.  Each post has information relevant to prior posts, so until we get to the “Final” there will be more information to come. See also More Questions for Artists: Record Producer Agreements, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.Part 6 , Part 7, Part 8 , Part 9, Part 10, Part 11 and Part 12.  Watch this space for further installments, or subscribe to the RSS feed.  A post with all the current parts in one post is available here, and see also “Artist Management Agreements” on the Semaphore Music blog.

Your record producer is probably the most important member of your creative team.  Good record producers understand the physics of sound, but also understand the dynamic of  performance and the craft of songwriting.  Most independent artists start out…

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Attention Mashable: A Rat in the House Might Eat Turnips in Church

November 27, 2013 3 comments

Nothing says internet freedom like getting away with it, and that disruptive spirit was front and center at Mashable today.  Yes, the strong team of fact checkers at Mashable allowed this story to go out under their brand: Never Mind the [1,100] Lawyers, GoldieBlox Won Big in the Beastie Boys Fight.  We’ll get to commenting next week about the absolutely corrupt mentality behind that headline, but first I want to focus on the crux of the story:

…GoldieBlox appears to have benefited from using the [Beastie Boys’] song [“Girls”] without permission. Before the company pulled the first version of the ad, it had racked up 9 million views. While it’s hard to say what the value is of such a viral video, a back-of-the-envelope calculation based on ad revenues from the song Gangnam Style (about $1.7 million for 1 billion views) reveals that the figure is around $156,000.

Assuming a similar arrangement (with Google getting about half the ad dollars), GoldieBlox should make about $78,000 in ad revenues from the viral ad.

Of course, the real value of the video is how much it promotes GoldieBlox’s business.

So it appears that the way that Mashable got to these numbers is as follows (if I’m wrong, please let me know):

$1.7 million paid in ad revenue for 1 billion views.  Divide $1.7 million by 1 billion to get to a per-view rate of $0.0017.

Then take the number of views of the Goldiblox video and multiply it by PSY’s imputed gross ad revenue per play.

9,000,000 x $0.0017 = $15,300.

Assume that the revenue share Google paid for what is (I think) the most viewed music video in YouTube’s short history is the same as would be paid to a start up for a commercial.   (The money made from Gangnam has been the subject of a good deal of obfuscation by Google as we tried to dissect in this post.)

So multiply that $15,300 by 50% to calculate GoldieBlox’s revenue share and you get to $7,650.

Well wait.  Seems like Mashable’s $156,000 is off by a rounding fraction and a factor of 10 (156,000 instead of 15,300).

And then there’s this question of whether the GoldieBlox video was monetized on YouTube in the first place (which it wasn’t as far as I can tell).  Advertisers don’t usually monetize their videos with other people’s advertising.  If it wasn’t monetized, I would assume that the revenue to GoldieBlox would be zero (although Google would get the benefit of the traffic for free).

But even if you didn’t know anything at all about how YouTube screws…sorry, accounts…to artists and songwriters, wouldn’t it seem a little odd that a video that had 9,000,000 views in a few days could make $78,000 for a single song?  In a few days?  This is Google, remember.  I wonder what payout that would imply across all views on monetized videos per day?  A lot.  Even for Google.  If you’ve ever gotten a royalty check from YouTube you know that these people round up to zero.  So just based on the optics, that number doesn’t seem right.

Then consider how much the legal fees were to have GoldieBlox’s massive top flight, old-line law firm (Orrick–1,100 lawyers in 25 countries) file a declaratory relief action given the number of Orrick lawyers on the complaint.  I estimate that’s a combined billing rate of about $2,000 per hour, but that could be high or low.

So is $7,650 the number that explains why all this mishegas went down?  Even $78,000? Or is it the PR value of litigation, because as Mashable said, the real value of the video is how much it promotes GoldieBlox’s business.

Exactly.

This is how GoldieBlox “won big.”  Not social commentary, not parody, not respect for the Beastie Boys or MCA, not any of that.  GoldieBlox is playing the Silicon Valley game, and Silicon Valley is about one thing: cold, hard cash.  Preferably scraped out of the pockets of the public in an IPO before the last fool exits the market.

And you know who would be able to put a value on the Court’s time for participating in this kabuki dance?

Goldieblox Pulls Beasties Video and Other YouTube Debacles

November 27, 2013 1 comment

For whatever reason–one can never rule out doing the right thing, even with a Stanford grad–Goldiblox has taken their rip off commercial…sorry, remix commercial…no, no, parody video, yes that’s the ticket–apparently the Goldiblox parody video has been taken “private” on YouTube.  There’s also a new Goldieblox video without the Beasties up on Google’s monopoly video search platform, so let’s see how that one does.

The real question is whether Goldieblox’s lawyers will also withdraw the “waiter, there might be a fly in my soup” declaratory relief action they filed against the Beasties and their producer despite a distinctly ephemeral basis, a “justiciable issue” as they say.  (And of course the most important question of all for the lawyers is whether the Court decides to sanction them for wasting the Court’s time with an idiotic PR stunt, but that’s unlikely to happen however richly deserved I may find it to be.)

The moral of the story is what a Beastie Boys fan told me:  They are really good guys, “Girls” was never intended as a misogynist song, and how dare they violate the dying wishes of Adam Yauch.  Granted, if the tech elites decide to just take your life’s work regardless of whether they come off like scumbags, there are piles of evidence suggesting that they’re going to do just that  and laugh at the dead guy all the way to the bank.

But that won’t make it right and that won’t make anyone like them who cares about artist rights.  And as an old school ad man once said to a disruptive account executive with an over the top idea, your campaign gets my attention, but will it make me like you?  And what’s the point of creating disruption if you can’t invoice disruption?

And without descending further into sanctimony, this case should be a warning to co-writers and producers.  Tech companies may try to do this again, so be careful that you are protected on the legal fees from the next tech company that might use your song to engaged in PR by lawsuit.

In other YouTube news, when you’re done looking at the Goldibox video, check out how Google is monetizing human misery in all its dimensions with this sex tourist video from the Philippines (MTP readers will recall that this is just one of many examples of Google’s interest in sex tourism).  This time with ads from the “Asian dating site” that let’s you “Send Gift” to the girl in the picture and also has an embedded video for the National Rifle Association, not to mention an monetized video link for “red light districts Philippines”.

I wonder what they’d say about this at Rights4Girls?

NRA-Sex Tourist Video YOUTUBE

So if Goldiblox wants to do something positive with their new found fame, maybe their CEO could have a word with Google about filtering out these exploitative videos that are being beamed into homes around the world for children to see.  Right next to the “Femoral Fiesta” video playlist showing junkies how to hit the femoral artery.

Yes, right.  Filtering, that’s the ticket.  I’m sure GoldieBlox will get right on challenging Google to not be evil.

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

November 26, 2013 3 comments

As MTP readers will know, part of Silicon Valley’s legal strategy for over a decade has been to twist the defense of “fair use” into an unrecognizable mass that has the same end result as all of the Valley Boys attacks on copyright–artists get nothing and Googlers can buy a $15 million soundproof love palace in Manhattan.  So naturally when the House Judiciary Committee has announced the Chairman’s intention to hold hearings to review the affirmative defense of “fair use”, it would be to the advantage of tech companies to silence any artists or songwriters who would offer a competing view.

Because as we know–everything’s a remix, right?  And if you review the requirements for copyright protection, originality–however small–is generally thought of as a constitutional requirement outside of Silicon Valley.  So if you wanted to undermine copyright in public opinion and you didn’t think you’d have the votes to amend the copyright clause out of the U.S. Constitution, attacking the concept of originality might be a good place to start.  Hence, the heightened interest in the fair use defense to copyright infringement.  (The amending the Constitution part is not a joke, by the way.)

If everything’s a remix, then there is no originality.  And if there is no originality, then everything is a fair use.  See how that works?

Now also recall that the IP subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives is conducting a review of the copyright law at the behest of the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, rightly or wrongly.  One of the topics that will be a centerpiece of those hearings will be the fair use defense (located in 17 U.S.C Section 107).

After the drubbing that Silicon Valley stalwart Pamela Samuelson took before that same committee a few months ago for failing to include a single artist in her “Copyright Principles” project working group–some might say “cabal”–no one in the Valley would be particularly interested in a repeat performance at the planned but currently unscheduled hearing on fair use.

One additional fact–Google spent a lot of time of their UK lobbyist, Rachel Whetstone, convincing UK Prime Minister David Cameron (to whose late son Ivan she was godmother) that Google could not have been successful without fair use.  A quote that Andrew Orlowski might tell you was so important that it had to be invented.

One can also infer that the Valley Boys are on the alert given that the main reason that Professor Samuelson had an extraordinarily ineffective performance had everything to do with a Politico op-ed by David Lowery, the founder of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven.  You know, a songwriter.

Can’t you just imagine Eric Schmidt saying to his legion of lobbyists and lawyers, “will no one rid me of this meddlesome songwriter?”

So it’s important that things go well for the Valley Boys with the fair use hearings before the IP subcommittee.  That last thing they need is more songwriters with valid complaints about how fair use is abused by those who come to the defense with unclean hands.

Enter Goldieblox.

Strategic Litigation

Goldieblox has entered the well-traveled path from Silicon Valley known as PR by lawsuit.  The only company that this has worked out well for was Diamond Multimedia (in 1999) which was not much of a copyright infringement case.  The others–Kazaa, MP3.com, Napster, Grokster, Limewire–not so much.  And yet here we go again.

If you don’t know the Goldieblox story, the company is a toy company founded by a Stanford grad who spoke at TED and whose crowd funded company specializes in toys that empower young women through encouraging them to think of careers in science and engineering.  You know, better IPOs through science.  Because what’s better than creating disruption is invoicing disruption.

Yes, groovier than thou.

The company produced a clever commercial for their toys that showed young women using the toy–Goldieblox–and apparently as an afterthought according to the timeline in the commercial production company’s blog.  The music added appears to be a re-record of the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls”.  The music bed with lyrics “rewritten” apparently came after the creative direction of the commercial was already established according to the production company’s narrative timeline:

“And we would add key details in Post: Beau’s inspired re-writing of an old, misogynistic Beastie Boys tune, “Girls” would add narrative drive [i.e., contributed to an idea that was already present without using the Beastie Boys] as we assembled the piece, and our resident geniuses at Pico Sound would augment the action with chain-reactive sound design…[wait–didn’t the lawyers say it was a targeted parody of Beastie Boys all along?  Shouldn’t the commercial’s story line have added to the parody?] ”  (emphasis mine)

The production company’s narrative made no mention–not one–of an intention to rip off–I mean remix–I mean parody, yes that’s the ticket–the Beastie Boys’ “Girls”–much less Ke$ha’s “Boys” which itself was a gender based twist on the original and which is, in my view, the more direct rip off.

Sorry–remix.

The commercial was placed on YouTube, a major video search monopoly platform for advertisements for everything from steroids to holocaust denier movies.  Goldiblox went viral on YouTube and was followed by a strategically filed lawsuit for declaratory relief by Goldieblox–not by the Beastie Boys–that claims the whole thing is a parody.  (A claim that is arguably at odds with the narrative production diary from the commercial’s producers.)

Shut Up and Sing

Why was the strategic lawsuit filed?  A countersuit you might think?  After all, we know how trigger happy these evil copyright owners are, right?  No, not a counter lawsuit.

Responding to a demand letter, perhaps?  No, not a demand letter from Beastie Boys.

It was filed because the Beastie Boys had the temerity to ask what in the world Goldieblox thought they were doing with the Beastie’s song in a commercial?  The Goldiblox court filing has this carefully worded description of the Beasties words:

In response to this criticism, the Beastie Boys have now threatened GoldieBlox with copyright infringement [note: not a lawsuit, just threatened them “with infringement” whatever that means, and apparently “threatened” over the phone]. Lawyers for the Beastie Boys claim that the GoldieBlox Girls Parody Video [got to love those defined terms] is a copyright infringement, is not a fair use, and that GoldieBlox’s unauthorized use of the Beastie Boys intellectual property is a “big problem” that has a “very significant impact.” [Both phrases could be used to describe elements of a fair use defense that would be absolutely normal to arise in a discussion among lawyers about such a claim.]

That’s right.  Goldieblox filed their lawsuit because of something the Beastie Boys said about fair use, a pressing public policy issue of the day, an issue in which Goldieblox had forced them to become involved.  So far, there has been no evidence of a demand, claim or lawsuit by the Beastie Boys–as in no evidence of a justiciable controversy for which a court could fashion a declaratory judgement.

The Beasties (as well as their producer Rick Rubin) fell into the Goldieblox litigation strategy not because of what they did but because of what they said.  Because of their speech.

And this is the message that Goldieblox is also sending to anyone who wants to hear it including their customers, most concisely stated by Mary Elizabeth Williams writing in Salon:

The Beastie Boys spent a better part of their formidable career making it very clear to even the most casual observer that they were not, in fact, a pack of infantile misogynists. But even if they had been, that wouldn’t give anybody – even a company with a positive, girl-powery message – the right to steal from them. “Girls” is the Beastie Boys’ song, and they shouldn’t be expected to hand it over to anybody in some bizarre legal stab at public shaming. That’s not the inventive, original thinking that GoldieBlox appears to espouse. Instead of hiding behind the thoroughly lame excuse that “The song was sexist, ergo we can take it to sell our toys,” GoldieBlox could instead put on its big girls pants and make something awesome now with its creative talent. The company could instead prove that when challenged, it’s crafty. And that’s just my type.

And for God’s sake, shut up those meddlesome songwriters and teach them all a lesson about what happens if you challenge the tech elites.

After Abandoning IRFA, Will Pandora Join the Fight Against Brand Sponsored Piracy?

November 25, 2013 Comments off

Pandora has apparently abandoned its truly misguided lobbying efforts that decimated its stock price and undid years of PR campaigns to create the illusion–as it turned out–that Pandora was on the side of artists and songwriters.  According to Glenn Peoples writing in Billboard (see Pandora Stands Down on Legislative Push for Royalty Rate Reform: TKO or Split Decision for Recording Industry?):

Instead of pursuing legislation, Pandora will focus its efforts on lobby­ing the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), the three-judge panel that sets statutory rates for webcasters like Pandora. The current rates run through 2015. Pandora believes there’s reason for confidence. “There are different members on the board than the last time around, and we like our odds better now,” the source says.  [That statement is more important than it would seem–recall that an often-overlooked section of the ill-fated Internet Radio Fairness Act would have fired all the current royalty judges, packed that court and mandated in Pandora’s favor the precedent that the court could apply.]

Pandora didn’t comment on the company’s specific strategy for addressing royalties. “Pandora will focus on other paths to resolution,” a representative says. One path could be direct deals with labels, which Apple has secured for iTunes Radio. “Direct deals are not something that we’re allergic to,” Pandora founder/chief strategy officer Tim Westergren told investors in September.

Legislation to change webcasting royalties is dead without ­Pandora’s support.

Let’s be clear–while Pandora may abandon its lobbying efforts at shortchanging recording artists through legislation, the company is still trying to jam lower rates down the throats of songwriters for songs in the same recordings in Pandora’s ASCAP and BMI rate court proceedings.  Pandora “won” its case against songwriters in the ASCAP rate court and is about to proceed to the rate negotiation against songwriters on December 4.

Glenn Peoples also made a key observation about Pandora’s most recent earnings report:

Thursday’s earnings release included two indications Pandora’s business model is on the right track. First, mobile advertising improved 58% to $104.9 million. Like Facebook and Twitter, Pandora’s success depends on its ability to monetize use of its mobile apps. Its advertising RPMs, or revenue per thousand listening hours, on mobile devices have grown to $36.00 in the last quarter from $25.59 a year earlier.

The other sign was a lower royalty burden, as a percent of revenue, from payments to artists and rights holders through SoundExchange. Royalties of $87 million accounted for 48.2% of revenue, the lowest mark since the company went public in 2011 and the first time under 50%. Royalties’ 32.4% year-over-year growth rate was lower than other expense categories and was also lower than the 50.3% increase in revenue.

So if Pandora increases their revenue, royalties as a percentage of revenue declines.  Pandora frequently complained of how much they paid in royalties as a percentage of revenue, and wanted to increase their own take home pay by reducing artists’ and songwriters’ take home through lobbying.  And are reducing songwriter revenue through litigation that songwriters can ill afford and which I seriously doubt Pandora will drop.  (Although evidence that Pandora’s new management rejects the stunningly bad advice of its lawyers and lobbyists such as withdrawing from the ASCAP and BMI rate court proceedings would be nice.)

What is the one thing that Pandora can do that will both demonstrate its new commitment to artists and songwriters and improve its performance for stockholders?

Join the fight against brand sponsored piracy.  It will cost them a fraction of the legal fees and lobbying fees and may well result in an increase in the company’s revenue.  Why?

Because just as Pandora has evidently realized that they make more money by growing their top line than they ever will by cutting their royalty expense, they could grow their top line further still if they got a fair price for their advertising.  That would mean not letting advertisers get away with buying advertising on the cheap from pirate sites that offer the exact same product as Pandora with no royalty expense at all that has an overall negative effect on the advertising market.

This problem is not unique to Pandora.  Spotify’s Will Page authored a company study with the whimsical title “Adventures in the Netherlands“:

A PRS for Music and Google study has shown that 2/3 of piracy sites have advertising, and 1/3 also include credit card logos. This competition is real: consider how ad-pricing is distorted by those unlicensed sites who offer more scale and no content costs. What’s more, these businesses will evolve to compete with legal services, just as legal services like Spotify have to keep evolving to compete with them. Legal services must stay ahead – because ex-pirates know how to switch back.

The “competition” that Mr. Page refers to is the competition with pirates by companies like Spotify–and Pandora.  The reason there is competition is that major, major brands and the advertising exchanges that serve their advertising do virtually nothing to stop the advertising dollars flowing to pirates.

That means that brands like McDonald’s, American Express, State Farm, United Airlines, Nissan, Chevrolet and many, many more are paying their stockholders money to these criminal enterprises, often associated with real bad guys.  Which sites?  Well, you could start with the top 500 on the Google Transparency Report as did the USC Annenberg School Innovation Lab.

While I’m still quite wary of Pandora’s intentions going forward, I’d be far happier to suspend judgement if the company joined the fight against brands that sponsor piracy.  Aside from helping the artists and songwriters, it would also help Pandora’s own stockholders.

Goldieblox Meets Chucky: Case Targets Songwriters and Producers

November 24, 2013 3 comments

Producers and songwriters should be aware that in the Temporary Autonomous Zone of Northern California (home of the class action award payoffs to the EFF, Berkman Center and other places where copyright haters thrive), the new new thing appears to be suing record producers and songwriters.  Rick Rubin in particular.

According to Adland.tv:

Last week Goldieblox made a big splash on the internet with their Rube Goldberg style gizmo in their commercial which depicted bored girls who decided to build a “Der lauf der dinge”, or a HONDA “Cog” style machine out of ordinary household things, set to the tune of Beastie Boys “Girls”, but with new lyrics. The creative engineer who built the contraption in OK Go’s “This too shall pass”, Brett Doar, spent 2 1/2 weeks building the gadget in the Goldieblox ad.

Goldieblox isn’t just a pink board with holes in it, some spools and some ribbon. There’s a story too, as little girls apparently like “narrative play”, and follow along on an adventure with the character helping her along the way by solving little engineering problems with these spools and ribbons to get to the next step. A bit like a book combined with the old board game mouse trap that fascinated me as a wee lass.
Upworthy sent the ad to viraldom, and Goldiblox are hoping to win a slot advertising during the super bowl with this advert. On youtube the ad, titled “GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg, & Beastie Boys “Princess Machine”‘, has already reached seven million views….

It’s well known that Adam Yauch’s will says no to Beastie Boys songs in advertising, [although Adam Yauch isn’t a writer of “Girls,” but the ad still invokes the recording, so maybe] so there’s disrespecting the last wishes of a dead guy on top of infringing someone elses art for the sake of shilling some yellow spools and pink ribbon. This dream product that went from brunch-idea, to kickstart-funded after a friend at Upworthy seeded it, is now one of four finalists in the running for a free spot at the super bowl. If Goldieblox’ win that, they could easily become girl-toy of the year 2014. Welcome to the future, where you get money for nothing and music for free.

So in a world where scanning millions of books without permission is fair use–Mountain View, California to be precise–it’s only natural that using music to advertise a product without permission would also be fair use, too.

Co-writers and producers take note–the Goldieblox juggernaut has resulted in filing a declaratory relief action that named Rick Rubin, the co-writer of the original song and the producer of the original recording.  This is the new world courtesy of the Web 2.0 crowd, where advertising is a way of life.

And it’s really just about the money.

In the world of the “old boss” (i.e., music publishers), one of the easiest gives in an writer contract negotiation was that the publisher couldn’t license a commercial without the writer’s consent. Why?  Because licensing a song for a commercial is really an afterthought in the signing decision–it’s a nice to have, but it’s not a must get.  What’s important in the signing decision is whether this writer is going to write compelling songs that can change your life, not whether the writer can write songs to sell soap.  Or Goldieblox.

It comes down to this:  Why would you want to force a writer to participate in a commercial transaction they didn’t want to be associated with?  That desire to impose your will on someone against their wishes is not only downright sadistic, it’s not good business.

You know who never, never understands that some songwriters don’t give a damn about commercials?  People who make commercials.  They often don’t understand that “no” means “no,” just like it does anywhere else.  And Web 2.0 has tripled the population of these people and made them the lifeblood of the Internet.  They want to Hoover up everything in sight–songs, your Facebook photos, whatever–and think they have a right to because they are on a mission from God–or at least the Singularity.

Here’s an interesting twist, though.  The commercial production house that created the Goldiblox video is very impressed with themselves, which is not unusual  But as Adland noted, what is unusual is that they just skipped over the part where they respect other people’s rights.  (Mission from God, perhaps?)

Beau’s inspired re-writing of an old, misogynistic Beastie Boys tune, “Girls” would add narrative drive as we assembled the piece, and our resident geniuses at Pico Sound would augment the action with chain-reactive sound design.

Clearly nobody was thinking about a parody of the Beastie Boys.  They were thinking about what commercial directors always think about–selling the product.  Because it’s…you know…a commercial.  In fact, there’s no mention of a parody in the entire narrative by the people who created the commercial.  Want to guess why?  Maybe because they never intended it to be a parody until they talked to the lawyers?

But in the world of the “new boss“, Goldieblox not only want to take your song to sell their stuff, they also will have their white shoe lawyers sue you if you get in the way.  (See David Lowery’s classic “Meet the New Boss, Worse Than the Old Boss“.) Judging by the number of lawyers on the complaint, Goldieblox won’t even try to pay for a commercial license for the song, but they will pay what is probably a combined billing rate approaching $2,000 an hour.  And the fact that the song wasn’t available for a commercial license probably explains a lot.  You have to ask yourself why would Goldieblox rather sue songwriters and producers over an obscure Beastie Boys song rather than write their own?

Let’s be clear–these Goldieblox people really, really, really want that Superbowl slot and they’ll do anything to get it.  And they don’t intend to ask permission (because that’s just not how they roll in Silicon Valley) and they definitely don’t intend to respect the wishes of the dead.  Because the dead are…you know…like, old.

Or as someone else once put it more eloquently, the use “has no critical bearing on the substance or style of the original composition [not to mention being more of a rip off of Ke$ha’s “Boys” than the Beasties in my view], which the alleged infringer merely uses to get attention or to avoid the drudgery in working up something fresh….”

You know, like using “Beastie Boys” in the title of your YouTube video to get more views.

Goldieblox–meet Chucky.

Maybe you two can teach the kids some “new boss” lessons.

Update: An excellent post by Mary Elizabeth Williams in Salon sums it up well:

The Beastie Boys spent a better part of their formidable career making it very clear to even the most casual observer that they were not, in fact, a pack of infantile misogynists. But even if they had been, that wouldn’t give anybody – even a company with a positive, girl-powery message – the right to steal from them. “Girls” is the Beastie Boys’ song, and they shouldn’t be expected to hand it over to anybody in some bizarre legal stab at public shaming. That’s not the inventive, original thinking that GoldieBlox appears to espouse. Instead of hiding behind the thoroughly lame excuse that “The song was sexist, ergo we can take it to sell our toys,” GoldieBlox could instead put on its big girls pants and make something awesome now with its creative talent. The company could instead prove that when challenged, it’s crafty. And that’s just my type.

And another from Upstart, a blog with business advice for startups:

Should GoldieBlox have simply replied to the Boys’ letter in hopes of settling the dispute away from the public eye?  [Yes, unless–as it appears–the plan all along was to get sued.]

Or was it smart to expose the Boys’ threat, letting the general public believe the men stand by the lyrics in the original song (which they’ve said openly in the past, were a joke), and ignoring the fact that they might just want to explore their rights to their own song?

Neither party is revealing many details about how it all went down, but we’ll anxiously await the judge’s decision on the matter. And in the meantime, we hope startups think long and hard about the time to take the offense and when it might be best to sit back and play defense.

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