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Downloads of Beatles blocked

November 19, 2009|Randy Lewis and Todd Martens

A federal judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday granted Capitol Records' request for a preliminary injunction against a San Jose-based website that has put the Beatles catalog online for digital downloading at 25 cents a track, without permission from the Beatles or its record label.

U.S. Central District Court Judge John F. Walter said the defendant, and its owner, Hank Risan, failed to demonstrate that it had not violated Capitol's copyright because it claimed to be selling "psychoacoustic simulations" of the Beatles catalog, not the actual protected recordings.

"Mr. Risan fails to provide any details or evidence about the 'technological process' that defendants contend was used to create the 'new' recordings or adequately explain how the 'new' recordings differ in any meaningful way from plaintiffs recordings," Walter wrote in approving the injunction.

Reached Wednesday, Risan said that he had received the label's permission to work with the recordings.

"Had we been able to appear in court, we can show that we obtained that content lawfully," Risan said. "If you obtain something lawfully, we have the right to do things with it, like perform it, display it. We were paying the statutory royalties on it. . . . We're not pirates."

A spokeswoman for EMI, Capitol's parent firm, said that the company declined to comment "as it is a matter of litigation."

-- Randy Lewis and Todd Martens

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