After accepting a accepting a proposed consent judgment last month in the Central District of California, online music store BlueBeat agreed to cough up $950,000 to settle a lawsuit for infringing copyrights on one of the most prized online music caches — the much-sought downloads of Beatles tracks, to which the firm and its backer had made a bizarre legal claim.
BlueBeat.com, it seems, managed to sell 67 million “remastered” Beatles tracks online before they became officially available on iTunes and skepticism was abundant when BlueBeat and its backing company, Media Rights Technologies, appeared to have outdone Amazon and iTunes in getting the first online rights to the Beatles back catalog. Some history: prior to BlueBeat’s release of the tunes, EMI strategically had withheld the Fab Four’s works for years, leaving consumers salivating until recently, when only last year was iTunes was given the permission to offer up the Beatles tunes at $1.29 a pop.
As predicted, the BlueBird litigation commenced in 2009, when it turned out, of course, the “remasters” it offered actually were unauthorized for its online sales. When the company did first post the songs for only 25 cents a track, a lawsuit soon was filed by a raft of angry record labels, including EMI, Capitol Records and Virgin Records America.
Media Rights’ fast response a bizarre legal defense: psycho- acoustic simulations. What? The firm asserted it was not violating copyrights, because it had created new works and controlled rights to those, Jacqui Cheng, reported at the blog ars technica, quoting an email by the company’s boss Hank Risan to a recording industry group: “I authored the [Beatles] sound recordings that are being used by psycho-acoustic simulation. Psycho-acoustic simulations are my synthetic creation of that series of sounds which best expresses the way I believe a particular melody should be heard as a live performance.”
The firm also tried to register for copyright protection its “psycho-acoustic simulations.” U.S. District Judge John Walter didn’t buy any of it in his Los Angeles court, deeming the defense “technobabble and doublespeak.” Soon after, BlueBeat was slammed first with a restraining order, then an injunction ordering the offending content removed from BlueBeat’s website.
The offenders accepted a consent judgment in March, and under terms reached in the court of U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton Tucker, BlueBeat and Media Right immediately must refrain from reproducing, distributing, publicly performing, or linking to any copyrighted works from any musicians affiliated with EMI, Capitol Records, or Virgin Records America. They also may not appeal the judgment.