Music behemoth EMI has won a preliminary victory in its fight to block a download site offering the entire Beatles' back catalogue for download at 25 cents a track.
Bluebeat.com claims that it isn't actually offering the original tracks, but 'psychoacoustic simulations' of the material and has even applied for copyright protection on what it claims are now original works produced by itself rather than the Beatles.
Judge John Walter of the US District Court in Los Angeles issued a temporary restraining order yesterday telling Bluebeat to stop selling any music by EMI artists. and set a date for a hearing on November 20.
A lawyer representing Bluebeat said that psychoacoustic simulation was a new technique that produced music sounding identical to the original, but different in mysterious and as-yet unspecified manner, possibly involving surround sound, meaning copyright restrictions do not apply.
The legal eagle told the Wall Street Journal that the process was 'arcane' and added that his client 'is a genius who is very well versed in psychoacoustics and has been studying this field for years.' He apparently has 'a method of transmitting sound recordings into a virtual 3D environment that approximates as closely as possible a live performance.'
In the interests of research, we downloaded a copy of the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour and we have to say it sounds exactly like the original, so Bluebeat and its genius may be on very shaky ground when they stand up in court on the 20th.
At press time, Bluebeat is still offering streaming of Beatles tracks.