In a contentious court battle launched by record label EMI, the brazen owner of online retailer BlueBeat has begun complying with a new court order to stop selling Beatles music online, after offering a quirky defense that he owns the copyright to the songs at issue.
In a message sent from his iPhone earlier this week, BlueBeat owner Hank Risan told his attorney that he—rather than EMI or Apple Corps—is the rightful owner of the Beatles tunes for sale on his Website, according to a report in paidContent.org.
Risan contended that he authored the songs using “psycho-acoustic simulations.” These 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,” he messaged.
But on Wednesday, a Los Angeles judge rejected BlueBeat’s assertions that it is selling only re-recorded versions of the songs. Instead, the judge found in favor of EMI, a record label that argued in court that BlueBeat is “thumbing their noses” at EMI and Apple.
Ruling that BlueBeat hasn’t provided enough evidence to back up its claims, the judge came out with an injunction banning the company from streaming or selling tracks from the Beatles and other EMI music artists.
As of Friday at about 9:15 a.m. Eastern time, BlueBeat has indeed stopped selling the unauthorized downloads of the Beatles tracks, previously hawked at bargain basement pricing of 25 cents a track.
The tunes are still visible on the site. Clicking on “Buy” prompts a message that the tracks aren’t available for purchase.
Risan’s claims rest on a section of the Copyright Act—often applied to music by tribute bands—exempting recordings that “imitate or simulate those in the copyrighted sound recording,” according to an account by the BBC.
Yet the Beatles tracks might possibly return to BlueBeat at some point, and with court approval. On a date set for November 20, a court will hear arguments presented by both sides.
Meanwhile, EMI, the owner of the original Beatles recordings, has been in longtime talks with Apple Corps—the company set up by the Beatles to look after their catalog—about arranging some kind of legitimate deal for selling the tunes online.