BlueBeat beats a hasty retreat after selling Beatles music online without permission

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Boyd Production Group

An image from the film "The Beatles' First American Concert."

A Santa Cruz website that tried to sell Beatles “simulations” online has agreed to pay nearly a million dollars to settle a copyright lawsuit. The settlement came a day before the suit was to go to trial.

Out of the blue in November of 2009, BlueBeat.com started selling Beatles songs for a quarter apiece. No one had ever sold Beatles music online – at least, not legally.

It was a year before Apple’s iTunes cut its online music deal with EMI, the company that owns the Beatles’ record catalog. BlueBeat’s Beatles music sounded just like Beatles music you’d hear on a record or a CD, but the BlueBeat boys insisted it wasn’t.

They claimed – seriously – that it was different because they’d used a re-recording technique called “psycho-acoustic simulation” to create something original. EMI used a legal technique called a “lawsuit” to stop BlueBeat from selling its Beatles recordings online.

Now court documents say BlueBeat’s Santa Cruz-based parent company will pay EMI $950,000 to settle federal copyright infringement claims. BlueBeat’s still online, streaming music – but if you want to buy, it sends you to iTunes or Amazon.

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