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Website Selling Beatles Catalog Shut Down After Court Ruling

November 20, 2009 12:00 AM ET

A federal court has issued a preliminary injunction against the digital music vendor Bluebeat after the site offered up high-quality MP3s of the Beatles' catalog without permission. According to the Los Angeles Times, the judge overseeing the case, which came after EMI Music and Apple Corps. issued a copyright infringement lawsuit against Bluebeat, said there was no distinct difference between the Beatles' recordings and the "psychoacoustic simulations" that Bluebeat claims they added to the music that would have allowed them by a legal loophole to sell the Beatles catalog digitally.

Explore the Beatles' full catalog in our album guide.

As Rolling Stone previously reported, Bluebeat was recently selling the newly remastered Beatles catalog for a mere 25 cents per track on its now-defunct Website, even though the owners of the Fab Four's music have yet to agree to any digital deal. Bluebeat was also selling the entire Beatles in Mono box set digitally for only $53.25, well below the market value the Beatles would command on either an iTunes or Amazon MP3 store.

Look back at classic photos of the Beatles.

Hank Risan, the defendant and owner of BlueBeat, tells the The Los Angeles Times he had a "secret agreement" with EMI to post the Beatles' music. "In secret agreement, we worked together to create protected works that would ensure they would get paid royalties. That's what we did. We were authorized by EMI and the labels and the RIAA to create such works, which we've been using for many years. We did this with their permission."

Risan went on to argue confusingly that even though BlueBeat never asked for approval to post the Beatles songs, they had received permission. "Did we just do this on our own? No. We did it through a very, very controlled process working with all of the labels and the Recording Industry of America in order to create a system that would ensure payment of royalties to copyrights," Risan said.

Related Stories:
The Beatles' Remastered Albums Come to Special-Edition USB Drive
Apple Reveals New iPod Models, iTunes LP - But No Beatles News
The Beatles' Remasters: Ultimate Guide to the Fab Four's Career

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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