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

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

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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