Bluebeat hit with $950,000 settlement

Website sued by EMI for selling unauthorized Beatles downloads

A Northern California firm that sold downloads of the Beatles’ songs on its website for 25¢ per track will pay $950,000 for infringing on EMI Music’s copyrights.
In December, a federal judge found that Santa Cruz-based Media Rights Technologies had pirated EMI’s copyrights on the Fab Four and other groups by selling their music on Bluebeat.com without authorization (Variety, Dec. 13).
The settlement, approved Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Josephine Staton Tucker, forestalls the damages phase of a trial that was set to begin Tuesday in Santa Ana.
EMI sued the company in November 2009 after its sale of material by the top-selling band — whose music had not been legally available in digital form — and such other EMI acts as Pink Floyd and Coldplay came to light (Variety, Nov. 6, 2009). The music firm was granted a restraining order, and Bluebeat temporarily suspended operation.
Media Rights Technologies CEO Hank Risan’s claim that Bluebeat’s versions of the Beatles tunes were “psycho-acoustic simulations,” and therefore original works, was rejected outright by Staton in her December ruling.
Apple’s iTunes Music Store has been selling the Beatles’ music exclusively, and lucratively, for $1.29 per track since November (Variety, Nov. 27).
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)