Internet music site BlueBeat.com, which bills itself as trying to "stop the insanity of overpriced online music," is no longer carrying the entire catalog of songs from legendary rock band The Beatles.
EMI Group, a British music company that owns the rights to the songs, filed a copyright infringement claim against the site and its parent company Media Rights Technologies.
The site had been selling Beatles songs for $0.25 apiece; staff members at Wired successfully downloaded 17 songs from the album "Abbey Road" for $4.55 by using a Paypal account.
After receiving the lawsuit, site founder Hank Risan sent an e-mail to the general counsel of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Steve Marks, responding to Marks' inquiry over "psychoacoustic simulations," a "synthetic creation of sounds" developed by Risan.
"With regard to the music streamed at BlueBeat, I authored the sound recordings that are being used by psycho-acoustic simulation, independently affixed pursuant to Section 114 (b) of the Act and, as such, are not within the exclusive rights of your members," the message reads. "In addition, BlueBeat.com has received copyright registration for all its audio visual material and related sounds."
EMI's lawyers argued the site was "engaged in digital music piracy of the most blatant kind" and was undercutting and destroying a legitimate digital market. "Perhaps the most stunning aspect of Defendants' conduct is the willful and overtly defiant manner in which they are acting," the lawsuit reads.
The suit makes particular mention of the Beatles tracks, which were recently remastered and rereleased with great media fanfare. "The enormous and irreparable harm ... is obvious and manifest," the suit argues.
On Nov. 5 Judge John Walter of the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California approved a temporary restraining order on BlueBeat. "Although Defendants claim, without any evidence, that an injunction would significantly harm, if not destroy, their business, the hardships suffered by Plaintiffs will be great if Defendants are not enjoined from infringing or misappropriating Plaintiffs' Recordings," Judge Walter ruled. "Defendant cannot invalidate the copyright of an independent and preexisting sound recording simply by incorporating that recording into an audiovisual work."
Five albums of Beatles songs remain on the Website; however, when a user clicks on an album's "Buy" tab it opens up a window to purchase the album on Amazon.com. Though it was widely rumored the legendary rock band's complete discography would be released digitally this fall-along with the remastered albums-it is still uncertain as to when, or where, Beatles tunes will show up on a service that's given a ticket to ride.