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Music The Courts

EMI Sues Beatles Usurper Off the Net 358

Posted by kdawson
from the psycho-acoustic-whatever dept.
blackest_k sends along a Wired piece on EMI's successful suit to get Beatles music off the Net. Here is the judge's ruling (PDF). "A federal judge on Thursday ordered a Santa Cruz company to immediately quit selling Beatles and other music on its online site, setting aside a preposterous argument that it had copyrights on songs via a process called 'psycho-acoustic simulation.' A Los Angeles federal judge set aside arguments from Hank Risan, owner of BlueBeat and other companies named as defendants in the lawsuit EMI filed on Tuesday. His novel defense to allegations he was unlawfully selling the entire stereo Beatles catalog without permission was that he — and not EMI or the Beatles' Apple Corp — owns these sound recordings, because he re-recorded new versions of the songs using what he termed 'psycho-acoustic simulation.' Risan faces perhaps millions of dollars in damages under the Copyright Act. And copyright attorneys said his defense was laughable and carries no weight."
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EMI Sues Beatles Usurper Off the Net

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  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:46AM (#30006070) Homepage Journal

    also known as the World's Largest Open Air Mental Institution.

    P.S. Sorry, but you'll probably only get this if you've actually visited the place.

    • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:57AM (#30006188) Homepage
      You've obviously never been to Sedona, AZ.
      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        Or Berkeley, California. Or Glastonbury Somerset (festival or no.) Or Blackrock.

        • by Homburg (213427) on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:23AM (#30006444) Homepage

          The crazy people in Berkeley wander around pushing shopping carts; the crazy people in Glastonbury sit in fields smoking pot. What is distinctive about Santa Cruz is its peculiarly high-functioning crazy people, like this guy, who are entirely divorced from reality, yet somehow manage to, for instance, run a record label.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            Yes. I suppose you are right. I have spent too much time in all of these places. What Glastonbury lacks is a University, or it would take some of the California tinge.

            I like your nick. I wore a Homburg for years, when I was too young to carry it of, really. Now I am ageing, I suppose I could go for it, again - but the wife would not approve...

            Do you know the minor-hit by Procol Harum? Or is that too Glastonbury/Berkeley :-)

          • by smitty777 (1612557) on Friday November 06, 2009 @12:24PM (#30007036) Journal

            As a native of the People's Republic of Berkeley, I will be organizing a march to protest this obvious attempt at profiling and oppression. Meanwhile - dude, I've got the munchies...are you going to finish those fries?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MojoRilla (591502)

            What is distinctive about Santa Cruz is its peculiarly high-functioning crazy people, like this guy, who are entirely divorced from reality, yet somehow manage to, for instance, run a record label.

            And this is different from other people who run record labels how?

          • by timeOday (582209) on Friday November 06, 2009 @01:48PM (#30007858)
            Are you kidding? His pedantic argument sounds right at home here on slashdot. "What, you mean I'm not allowed to point a camera in a certain direction and push the button?" (just because it happens to be pointed at a copyright painting?) "You mean it's illegal to pluck magnetic waves from the atmosphere and visualize them?" (satellite TV piracy). Or, "My resampling algorithm provably changes every audio sample in the recording. Who's to say it's not an original work" (just because it sounds the same for all practical purposes), "I mean, there's obviously a slippery slope here. What percent of the bits do I have to change, 40%, 60%, hmmmmmm? Can't pick a reasonable percentage, can you? The judge in this case obviously doesn't 'get it' at all!"
            • by spitzak (4019) on Friday November 06, 2009 @03:16PM (#30009020) Homepage

              "What, you mean I'm not allowed to point a camera in a certain direction and push the button?" (just because it happens to be pointed at a copyright painting?) "You mean it's illegal to pluck magnetic waves from the atmosphere and visualize them?"

              Those all are legal.

              What you are not allowed to do is redistribute the result. Then you have violated copyright.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ihmhi (1206036)

          I live in Newark, NJ. I got you all beat on crazies.

          I actually had a guy attempt to attack me with a canteen. A frickin' canteen!

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Valdrax (32670)

            I live in Newark, NJ. I got you all beat on crazies.

            I actually had a guy attempt to attack me with a canteen. A frickin' canteen!

            Could've been worse. Could've been so much worse. [youtube.com] (My favorite "holy sh--!" moment in anime.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by smoker2 (750216)
          There is no festival in Glastonbury, and never was. It is held near Pilton, and always was.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ... or Washington, DC.

  • The copyright lawyers are laughing at this guy's defense, but these are the same lawyers who think that file sharing is immoral and that record companies should have the right to sue people into poverty because of a few kilobytes of uploads.

    I wouldn't put too much weight on what they think.

    As for this guy in the article, it's pretty clear he was just trying to make a buck by ripping off the Beatles' music. I'm surprised that the judge didn't hand down a larger fine, actually. His "psycho-acoustic simulation

    • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:50AM (#30006114) Homepage
      The copyright lawyers are laughing at this guy's defense, but these are the same lawyers who think that file sharing is immoral and that record companies should have the right to sue people into poverty because of a few kilobytes of uploads.

      Generalize much?
      • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:51AM (#30006126)

        Generalize much?

        never.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        The $2 million dollar fines that RIAA has imposed upon several college students == a life sentence. That's how long it would take to earn the money to pay it off. So no, the previous poster was neither generalizing or exaggerating.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The copyright lawyers are laughing at this guy's defense, but these are the same lawyers who think that file sharing is immoral and that record companies should have the right to sue people into poverty because of a few kilobytes of uploads.

      I wouldn't put too much weight on what they think.

      As for this guy in the article, it's pretty clear he was just trying to make a buck by ripping off the Beatles' music. I'm surprised that the judge didn't hand down a larger fine, actually. His "psycho-acoustic simulation" argument was laughable at best. Facepalm worthy, at least.

      So, in your expert opinion, everyone involved is wrong?

      • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:16AM (#30006370)
        So, in your expert opinion, everyone involved is wrong?

        Why not? I know the dumbing-down of the modern media urges us to think in terms of black and white concepts, but there should be room for this. EMI are obviously evil copyright trolls, and this Hank Risan is equally obviously selling copyrighted material. Shakespeare (as always) has a good line for this:

        "A plague on both your houses."
    • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:56AM (#30006174)
      So, you say you wouldn't put too much weight on what they think and then repeat exactly what they think - that the defense is laughable. Uh, ok.
    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:19AM (#30006422) Homepage Journal

      The copyright lawyers are laughing at this guy's defense, but these are the same lawyers who think that file sharing is immoral and that record companies should have the right to sue people into poverty because of a few kilobytes of uploads.

      Ray Beckerman (/.'s NYCL) is a copyright lawyer, and he doesn't think file sharing is immoral and that record companies should have the right to sue people into poverty because of a few kilobytes of uploads. In fact he fights them tooth and nail.

      But I would bet he would agree that this guy's defense is laughable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Zerth (26112)

        Ray Beckerman (/.'s NYCL) is a copyright lawyer, and he doesn't think [deleted] that record companies should have the right to sue people into poverty because of a few kilobytes of uploads. In fact he fights them tooth and nail.

        fixed that for you.

    • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:22AM (#30006434) Homepage Journal

      The copyright lawyers are laughing at this guy's defense, but these are the same lawyers who think that file sharing is immoral and that record companies should have the right to sue people into poverty because of a few kilobytes of uploads.

      I wouldn't put too much weight on what they think.

      What is legal or not, and what is right or not are often completely different. These lawyers may have some rather screwy ideas about the latter, but it's their job to have a very good understanding of the former. So when the former is what's under discussion, what they think probably should carry a bit of weight.

  • by jfengel (409917) on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:50AM (#30006116) Homepage Journal

    The blame falls on the lurid headline over at Wired, which completely mischaracterizes the actual article. But it's Slashdot's fault for repeating it both in the headline here and in the summary.

    For shame.

  • by Briareos (21163) * on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:51AM (#30006130)

    Is it just me, or is EMI not suing the Beatles (half of which aren't even going to show up in court), but really some fuckwad that sold illegal copies of their songs?

    np: Burial - Distant Lights (Various - 5 Years Of Hyperdub (Disc 2))

  • by killdozer3k (779295) on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:52AM (#30006134)
    If you've ever been to Santa Cruz then what the rest of the country would laugh at as ridiculous makes perfect sense there. I think its the magnetic waves from the Mystery Spot
    • The Mystery Spot is one of the most hilariously lame points-of-interest I've ever been to. Basically, some guy's old mountain cabin collapsed and he said, "Ma, I've got a great idea to make some money." The rest is history.
  • Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:53AM (#30006144)
    THIS is the sort of piracy that the RIAA (and member companies) should fight against. THIS is the sort of piracy that I think any intelligent human being opposes. THIS is the sort of copyright violation that the laws were written to combat.
    • Re:Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0racle (667029) on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:06AM (#30006258)
      Shouldn't he have to face the same insane damages that file sharers face? Only a million in fines? If I shared Sgt. Pepper, I'd be looking at several times that and this guy was selling the whole catalog.
    • by mpe (36238)
      THIS is the sort of piracy that the RIAA (and member companies) should fight against. THIS is the sort of piracy that I think any intelligent human being opposes. THIS is the sort of copyright violation that the laws were written to combat.

      Also the sort of situation where having an ISP /hosting provider cut off someone's connection probably is appropriate. Assuming that there is a mechanism such as a court injunctiion involved.
    • by mishehu (712452)
      I completely agree, but would like to add that a) I have no mod points for you right now unfortunately, and b) the term of copyright needs to be severely limited to a reasonable time period. I'd suggest 14 years with one 14 year extension (hefty fee involved)...
    • Re:Piracy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:10AM (#30006312)

      THIS is the sort of piracy that the RIAA (and member companies) should fight against. THIS is the sort of piracy that I think any intelligent human being opposes. THIS is the sort of copyright violation that the laws were written to combat.

      Ironically, those Bluebeat guys are the ones arguing for mandatory DRM [arstechnica.com] and suing all the music stores for using "inadequate DRM". A judge finds a company trying to promote their "unbreakable" DRM for copyright infringement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by squidfood (149212)

      THIS is the sort of piracy that I think any intelligent human being opposes.

      Except for those of us who think that songs over 30 years old have already been STOLEN from the public domain. Or are you talking about the post-'79 Beatles?

      • Re:Piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:36AM (#30006574)
        You do realize that a debate about the length of copyright is a different discussion from enforcement of copyright, right? Some of us think that the length of copyright should be dramatically shortened (to say the least...) AND also think that copyright holders should be encouraged to protect their copyrights when someone breaks copyright for the sole purpose of turning a profit. The two are completely different discussions. You are aware of that, right?
  • No, they didn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday November 06, 2009 @10:56AM (#30006176) Homepage Journal

    I actually RTFA, and Beatles music is still available in internet jukeboxes. What happened is some guy tried to twist copyright law in a foolish and illogical way, saying that resampled Beatles songs are his, and he actually registered copyrights of them. The judge PREDICTABLY and logically ruled against him. I'd have laughed him out of court.

    EMI holds the real copyrights, sued, and won. The guy posting Beatles songs was clearly in the wrong. As is the summary.

    The true evil here is that the Beatles' music should be in the public domain by now; they broke up in 1971, almost forty years ago. You should be able to reuse their art in your own art by now; that was, in fact, the whole purpose of giving Congress the power to write copyright law in the first place.

    • MRT's History (Score:4, Interesting)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:12AM (#30006326) Journal

      The guy posting Beatles songs was clearly in the wrong.

      I just wrote about this in my journal last night [slashdot.org] and would like to point out that Media Rights Technology (MRT, owners of BlueBeat.com) has a long history of neurosis when it comes to the legal system. Although not cross referenced above, you may recognize MRT as the very same people who sued everyone in 2007 for not implementing DRM [slashdot.org]. If you're Hank Risan, you've probably been asking yourself "How can I twist the law in a bizarre way to get rich quick?" And here we are.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      100% agree - This music was created before I was born and it won't be till after I'm gone that the copyright will expire.

      THIS SERIOUSLY HAMPERS CREATIVITY AND MUSIC IN GENERAL. That's why people disrespect the music industry so much - they are too greedy.

    • >> The true evil here is that the Beatles' music should be in the public domain by now; they broke up in 1971, almost forty years ago. You should be able to reuse their art in your own art by now; that was, in fact, the whole purpose of giving Congress the power to write copyright law in the first place.

      yes, the moral defense is better than the technical one.

      is anyone currently using the moral defense for work where copyright should have expired by now?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by cb95amc (99589)

      Surely Paul McCartney needs the continued royalties from the Beatles music so he can continue to finance large divorce settlements!

  • Seriously, the article uses the term several times, the summary uses the term...googling "psycho acoustic simulation" just brings up various regurgitations of the same article.

    I realize that it's just some term the guy made up. But if he's going to use it as a defense, and people are going to talk about it, it seems *someone* should define it. Neither of the documents in the linked article have the text "psycho" in them, either, so that's a no go.

    I just wanted to find out exactly how crazy the guy is, that'

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by frooddude (148993)

      Since psychoacoustic is explicitly mentioned in regard to audio compression tech (like MP3) I think he just invented a term for "I ripped it to MP3"

      • Re:What is PAS? (Score:5, Informative)

        by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:17AM (#30006396)

        Since psychoacoustic is explicitly mentioned in regard to audio compression tech (like MP3) I think he just invented a term for "I ripped it to MP3"

        Actually, the Bluebeat guys did something a bit more tricky. They compressed the music as MP3 (whch I guess is psychoacoustic simulation - after all, the MP3 was compressed by using psychoacoustic principles to reduce the data contained, producing a simulation of the original). But the trick they're using to get around copyright law was to embed images into it [arstechnica.com], turning it into an "audio-visual" work. There is a separation, because AV works (think movies) are one entity - you cannot copyright the sound part of a movie separately from the moving images part.

        Of course, that defense must fail, otherwise Hollywood would be using music with aplomb instead of having to get licenses to it when they incorporate it into a movie or TV show. Many older programs are tied up from home viewing because licenses don't allow home video distribution, and are often edited to replace licensed works.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Improv (2467)

      I would guess that what was done was one of two things:

      Mechanical production of a cover through some device that, on "hearing" a tune, would attempt to duplicate it in some analogue way, thus producing what would be, under some definitional frameworks, a cover rather than a reproduction.

      Computer-driven replication of a file through means that are not exactly copying, e.g. churning over random generation of bits of data and comparison with the original (either direct or medium-specific, e.g. audio). Done wit

    • Seriously, the article uses the term several times, the summary uses the term...googling "psycho acoustic simulation" just brings up various regurgitations of the same article.

      I realize that it's just some term the guy made up.

      Why do you think he was laughed out of court?

  • For Profit? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kevinNCSU (1531307)
    Are we against this because he was selling the songs for profit? If there wasn't a price tag attached to his download page it'd be OK and we'd be railing against the lawyers and laws right? Just checking where our moral line falls today.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cHiphead (17854)

      Yes.

      Copyright has nothing to do with any "moral line", its a big goddamn scam to help people with lots of money keep their lots of money.

      Cheers.

      • Whether we agree with an action or not, like the enforcement of copyright, has everything to do with where we draw our moral lines as far as our ideas of ownership and stealing, hence the question ;)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Garrett Fox (970174)
        An argument I've seen is that the public's willingness to respect copyright law depends on how well we think the law squares with a vague moral sense of fair play. Ie., if copyright were 14 years we'd be more willing to punish piracy than we are with life-plus-70-years copyrights. Do we think the existing copyright terms are there to "promote the progress of science and useful arts", or to let some media conglomerate or celebrity keep collecting checks for something done by long-dead people?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Xtravar (725372)

      This guy obviously knew he was doing something wrong and was trying to circumvent copyright law by claiming he held the copyright on Beatles song.

      That is completely different from sharin' some songs with your friends.

      See the difference?

  • Debugging (Score:3, Funny)

    by AioKits (1235070) on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:00AM (#30006214)
    Is it safe to say this is an action of debugging for the whole internet? They did remove some Beatles after all.
  • I find it hard to believe that these guys actually thought they would get away with this in the long term. Claiming that their psycho-acoustic simulations are anything other than copies seems incredibly unlikely to fly. They may have thought it was sufficiently legally muddy that they could get away with it for long enough to make a bunch of cash before a judge stomped on them, but I'm thinking the whole thing might have been to generate publicity for the company. If so, they've certainly succeeded, made th

  • I just wish EMI would hurry the fuck up and put the Beatles music online before everyone stops caring.
  • Of course... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:15AM (#30006352)

    And copyright attorneys said his defense was laughable and carries no weight."

    ...music/movie industry copyright lawyers say this about *every* argument that interferes with their clients' business. Not saying they're wrong in this case, just sayin'...

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday November 06, 2009 @11:16AM (#30006372) Journal

    If Timothy Leary was born a few decades later, he'd patent psychedelic trips. Then we'd be stuck in the bland 50's forever singing doo-wap tunes.

  • Sounds familiar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by johnw (3725) on Friday November 06, 2009 @12:46PM (#30007268)

    A federal judge on Thursday ordered a Santa Cruz company to immediately quit selling Beatles and other music on its online site, setting aside a preposterous argument that it had copyrights on songs via a process called 'psycho-acoustic simulation.'

    Who'd have thought it? Preposterous arguments from a Santa Cruz Organisation.

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