Published Nov 19, 2009It seemed too good to be true. Earlier this month, online music retailers BlueBeat and Basebeat began selling digital copies of the Beatles' remastered back catalogue for just 25 cents a song. Not only was it dirt cheap, this was especially significant because it was the first time the Beatles' catalogue had been made available as a digital download.
Although the websites had not purchased the rights to the songs, BlueBeat owner Hank Risan claimed to own the songs because they were actually re-recorded "psycho-acoustic simulations," and therefore did not fall under the original copyright. How exactly this technique differed from any other bootleg was unclear, and EMI promptly filed a lawsuit against Risan.
The parties were set to meet in court tomorrow (November 20), but Risan's claims were so weak that the judge has already made his ruling. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Judge John F. Walter ruled that "Mr. Risan fails to provide any details or evidence about the 'technological process' that defendants contend was used to create the 'new' recordings or adequately explain how the 'new' recordings differ in any meaningful way from plaintiffs' recordings." Consequently, both websites were banned from selling the Beatles' catalogue, as well as music by any other artists.
Although there is still no legal way to download Beatles songs, EMI is gearing up to release an apple-shaped USB drive containing the Fab Four's entire catalogue. The product will run at $279.99 and will be released on December 8 - a somewhat dubious date considering that it's the 29th anniversary of John Lennon's death.