To clarify – Beastie Boys, GoldieBlox

Earlier tonight, I shared an article on Salon about the Beastie Boys/GoldieBlox controversy. I shared it because it was the first article I personally read that pointed out that GoldieBlox sued the Beastie Boys, not the other way around.

This prompted a few people to take me to task about “defending” the Beastie Boys. It all went downhill from there to the order of something like 60 tweets. I’m not even kidding about that number.

So, here’s a really short, you-don’t-need-to-reply explanation of what I was trying to say in a space where I’m not constrained by 140 characters and Twitter’s intrinsic “reply point-by-point” structure.

Here’s where I’m coming from: my timeline on Facebook, primarily, but also on Twitter, was filled with people admonishing the Beastie Boys for getting litigious with GoldieBlox over this super positive video. Initiating legal action made the Beastie Boys the bad guys in their eyes.

All I was trying to say was that given the little we actually know about the conversation these two parties had, I’m unwilling to judge either Beastie Boys or GoldieBlox as being “censorious thugs” or “thieves” in this case. I’m not really commenting on whether GoldieBlox should’ve sued or who’s right on the merits of the legal case.

My sense is that everyone that is jumping to one side or the other has some assumptions they’re bringing to the conversation. Even EFF, which defaults to defending fair use and thus takes GoldieBlox’s side, hedges about how serious the legal threat was:

It’s unclear how strong the legal threats were — they aren’t attached to the complaint — but GoldieBlox is clearly worried not just about an infringement lawsuit, but any effort to abuse the DMCA to take down the video just as the holiday shopping season gets under way.

It doesn’t look like they have any inside information – they’re also just speculating about what motivated GoldieBlox.

That little detail – “who’s the bad guy” – is different from “who’s in the right.” Sometimes, no one is the bad guy, even if one side or the other is right. Considering the lack of a DMCA takedown, which is trivial and free and their claims that they made no demands at all, it doesn’t seem like the Beastie Boys were being too aggressive about taking this down. Guess we’ll find out more as they get to court.