SXSW Panel: Fighting for Their Rights – A Discussion on the Beastie Boys

More lawyers for the Beastie Boys, stat

So the issue with this panel revolved around Goldie Blox, a company that makes toys that encourage little girls to be engineers. That’s nice and all, but they took the Beastie Boys song “Girls,” rewrote some of the lyrics, and used it without permission in an ad they put online. It’s cute and got around eight million hits in its first 10 days.

Photo by Gary Miller

When the Beasties sent a letter asking, “What’s up?,” Goldie Blox filed a law suit against the band claiming Fair Use. That’s like “holy shit” level chutzpah.

Probably no surprise at a music conference that this wasn’t so much a discussion as it was collective indignation. The panelists (Rhett Miller, Amy Rosen, Leslie Frank, and Tom Dasavia) all seem to be on the same side of the issue – specifically, “What the fuck, Goldie Blox?” – so differences were more about the level of outrage or peripheral issues.

It might have been a more lively discussion had some holdovers from the Interactive portion of SXSW participated. Instead, there was one moment of just how backwards things have gotten when Miller, the musician, said he thought, “The value of copyright is under attack as large corporations are hungry for ‘content.’”

To which Leslie Frank, the lawyer in the room, broke into note, “The fact that we call ‘art’ ‘content’ drives me insane.”

So yeah, we’re at the point where lawyers are the last defenders of art.

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