Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Cheap Beatles Songs = $1 Million Legal Bill

A couple years ago, we learned that you can’t take music from the major labels and sell copies of it on your own Web site without a license. Today we learned what happens if you try: a $950,000 penalty.

That’s what is paying EMI Music and its subsidiaries for selling unauthorized copies of the label’s music–including some 67,000 Beatles songs–back in 2009.

At the time, BlueBeat had argued it had the rights to do so because it was using “psycho-acoustic simulation” to make the recordings, which it sold for a quarter a piece. But the courts have ruled that this theory was just as ridiculous as you think it is.

BlueBeat’s lawyer Archie Robinson tells the Associated Press, presumably with a straight face, that his client did just fine in the end:

“We basically settled the case for their attorney fees,” Robinson said. “I felt that was sort of an acknowledgement on their part that they don’t have the damages they claimed.”

To sum up: The only place on the Web where you can legally get the Beatles is Apple’s iTunes, which still has exclusive rights to the band’s catalog. Or, of course, on, Google’s YouTube:

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