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Old 11-06-2009, 11:59 AM   #1
kennyc
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Very Strange IP Music Lawsuit - Beatles

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/...beatles-songs/

"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.” ..."
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Old 11-06-2009, 12:14 PM   #2
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I'd want to check out the details of the rights to 'cover' a song under copyright before dismissing BlueBeat's claims as preposterous-but until I do that personally (which will probably be never, unless I really get interested) I'll assume that the judge did so before setting aside the argument.

Basically, if copyright law allows a musician to produce a new version of a song simply by paying a licensing fee, called 'covering' a song, and the copyright to the cover is then owned by the new musician, then it sounds like BlueBeat might be in compliance (assuming they did pay the required licensing fees). OTOH if copyright law requires negotiating to establish the license fee (and no rights to cover the song if negotiations aren't successful), then BlueBeat undoubtedly wasn't in compliance.

And the final question involves how different the cover must be before it's eligible for a new copyright, licensing fee or not.
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Old 11-06-2009, 12:19 PM   #3
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Aptly demonstrates the fact that the Copyright offices are falling down on the job, obviously not even reviewing claims like this before granting them. Who knows how many similarly bogus claims there are in their system?
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Old 11-06-2009, 12:53 PM   #4
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There is an interesting comment in the thread that muddies the water:
Quote:
The song snippet isn’t the Beatles, it’s very well done but the Beatles are definately not performing it. I’ve beena musician longer than the ground’s been made of dirt. That ain’t the Fab Four, therefore it’s not the copywritten sound recording. It’s a very good cover of “Sun King” so he owes a royaly payment to ASCAP and it’s British equivalent and the Beatles Publishing House.
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Old 11-06-2009, 01:41 PM   #5
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A lot is being made of the term "psycho-acoustic simulation", but it's not something new. It's the technique by which lossy compression algorithms can throw away data while still making it sound to the listener as if they hadn't. It can also be applied to the variations that allow two headphone speakers to simulate surround sound, by using subtle auditory cues that trick the listener into thinking that a sound is coming from behind or in front of him, rather than from the sides.
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Old 11-06-2009, 01:56 PM   #6
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Without knowing more about the claims of the poster, nor having ever heard the original song, I can't say how much that "muddies" things. But if the cover of the song sounds close enough to the original, copyright law allows the rights holders to challenge it as a violation, especially if there were no negotiations to create the copy beforehand.

I can take a high-quality digital photo of a famous painting, but I still have to acknowledge the original artist, and the fact that my work is a reproduction or print of their work. My changing a few pixels here or there doesn't negate that. I'd have to make it significantly different, like putting a stuck-out tongue on the Mona Lisa, and it could still be considered a derivative work.
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Old 11-06-2009, 02:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calvin-c View Post
I'd want to check out the details of the rights to 'cover' a song under copyright before dismissing BlueBeat's claims as preposterous-but until I do that personally (which will probably be never, unless I really get interested) I'll assume that the judge did so before setting aside the argument.
I've seen some other forums talking about this same case where they said that BlueBeat (or maybe the owner behind it) has tried some other fairly wild copyright claims before, and gotten shot down. Sounds like they have a history of coming up with crazy theories about what they're allowed to do.
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Old 11-06-2009, 02:38 PM   #8
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Well... they might as well keep trying. Maybe they'll serve to provide some examples of instances to cover when the copyright laws are (eventually) rewritten to include digital files.
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Old 11-06-2009, 02:55 PM   #9
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Part of the quote from Nate's post.

The song snippet isn’t the Beatles, it’s very well done but the Beatles are definately not performing it

I managed to replace all my vinyl copies of the Beatles. The recordings are the digitally remastered versions so may sound slightly different but on various tracks there are particular catches, especially in McCartney's voice, which would be almost impossible to replicate, that are there.

Oh happy days.
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Old 11-06-2009, 04:22 PM   #10
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So we have two different opinions about how 'different' the songs are from the originals. It sounds to me like that's the problem-not whether or not they pay a royalty for 'covering' the song, but whether or not their 'cover' is sufficiently different to justify a new copyright.
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Old 11-06-2009, 04:31 PM   #11
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If it based on the same material (i.e. slightly different) is is "derivative" not copyrightable.
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:31 PM   #12
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I think it's similar to the owner of a piece of copyright on some piece of recording gear claiming copyright over the songs which used that gear. Bizarre, but at least the court sorted it.
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