Back in 2009, a site by the name of BlueBeat thought it was being super-clever selling digital Beatles songs without a label deal. The site claimed the files were not recordings, but "psycho-acoustic simulations". The rights holders didn't buy it, and easily got the site shut down. Now the legal battle has finally wound down and BlueBeat has agreed to pay nearly $1 million in damages .
The tracks were being sold for $0.25 each, about a quarter of what they go for on iTunes now that The Beatles have officially licensed them. BlueBeat's Hank Risan tried to explain psycho-acoustic simulations to the court saying, "Psycho-acoustic simulations are my synthetic creation of that series of sounds which best expresses the way I believe a particular melody should be heard as a live performance." Basically, the songs they were selling were just recreations that happened to sound just like the originals. Unsurprisingly, no one bought it.
The million dollar settlement might seem high, but let's not forget some file-sharers have been subject to even higher judgments. "We basically settled the case for their attorney fees," said BlueBeat’s lawyer Archie Robinson. Apparently even some fancy linguistic trickery cannot save one from the ire of the music industry.