BlueBeat sold Beatles songs for 25 cents each before they went on sale legally through iTunes. The owners of Santa Cruz, California-based Media Rights Technologies, which managed the website, have agreed to pay the band's EMI Group label $950,000 to settle a copyright infringement lawsuit.
BlueBeat's attorney, Archie Robinson, said the settlement was a fraction of what music companies EMI Group PLC, Capitol Records, and Virgin Records America originally wanted. "I felt that was sort of an acknowledgement on their part that they don't have the damages they claimed," he said, according to BBC News, and added that BlueBeat was still active. "So long as we pay royalties, we can stream their music all day and all night without a problem," he said.
US District Court Judge Josephine Staton Tucker ruled in December 2010 that Media Rights Technologies violated EMI's copyrights by illegally selling the music of the Beatles and other acts such as Radiohead, Coldplay, and Bonnie Raitt on BlueBeat in 2009. In the few days before it was forced to shut down, BlueBeat had distributed more than 67,000 Beatles tracks.
The defendants claimed that BlueBeat wasn't posting the original material, but had re-recorded the music and inserted artistic touches based on owner Hank Risan's pioneering technique called "psycho-acoustic simulation." They argued that this resulted in unique versions of copyrighted music. Tucker shot down that argument, labeling it as "obscure and undefined pseudo-scientific language [that] appears to be a long-winded way of describing 'sampling'."
The Beatle's music label Apple Records and its record company Apple Corps were involved in a trademark dispute with Apple Inc., the consumer electronics company, for years. It was eventually settled in 2007 after which, music by The Beatles was made available on iTunes in November 2010.