Questionable Site Claims To Legally Offer Unlimited MP3 Downloads... Record Label Lawyers Already Springing Into Action

from the sounds-dodgy dept

What is it with random companies springing up claiming to have legal download offerings that don't pass the laugh test. Remember a year ago, we talked about a company called Bluebeat.com that claimed to be the only site where you could legally buy Beatles MP3s, based on a bit of absolutely ridiculous logic, that it was using "psycho-acoustic simulation" to recreate the tracks, thereby giving it a brand new copyright. That company also got a registration for these "new" works by the Copyright Office, hoping that most people wouldn't notice that the Copyright Office registration process is a pure rubber stamp effort, and conveys no actual legitimacy to a bogus copyright.

Well, it looks like we've got another similar situation, as some mysterious company called ZapTunes is claiming to offer unlimited MP3 downloads for $25/month -- with an initial "free" period, though you have to hand over your credit card details. The whole thing sounds highly questionable, however. The store claims to have licensed the work from all the major labels, including being able to offer Beatles MP3s and AC/DC MP3s -- which have not been offered in MP3 format anywhere.

In the comments on that Hypebot article, some point out that the company appears to just be scraping Last.fm data, as it found a track that one guy had created himself, which only lived on his computer (but which had been "scrobbled" and the info was sent to Last.fm). The company also claims to have raised "about $5 million in funding from various Venture Capitalists," but doesn't seem to name any of them.

Despite the claims from the company that they've secured the necessary licenses for this, it appears not everyone agrees. EMI is apparently already starting the legal process. The whole thing really makes me wonder if these sites honestly think that people will buy their claims when there seems to be little evidence to support them. There are plenty of sites out there that offer up such content in a clearly unauthorized manner -- but at least they're honest about what they do. It seems pretty silly and destined to fail massively to falsely claim the legal rights to music you almost certainly did not license.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 1:13pm

    The store claims to have licensed the work from all the major labels, including being able to offer Beatles MP3s and AC/DC MP3s -- which have not been legally offered in MP3 format anywhere.
    fixed that for you. :)

     

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    Pierre Wolff (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Why are you surprised by these sites and claims, afterall, the Nigerian scam money laundering email and its derivatives have been making the rounds for years and still appear to catch unwitting takers. If you look at the number of search engine queries for "mp3" or "free mp3 downloads" or "downloads mp3 music" or various versions of this, it suggests that statistically speaking, this is probably a pretty good scam in its own right ;)

     

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    interval (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 1:22pm

    How is this possible????

    Wow. Proudly proclaiming to be San Francisco based as well. If they were based on the desert steppes of Outer Mongolia I can see how they might think they would be able to escape the long A.R.M. (a zillion Zyringian ducats to anyone who gets the ref) of the RIAA there, but Sillicon Valley's ground zero? Wow. They are begging for law suits. Maybe they have a legal ringer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    I signed up for the service with an old gift card that has like 15 cents left on it, if its free for me = free.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 1:31pm

    Is there any Beatles fan out there who doesn't already own the cd's? Why is it such a big deal that you can't get them in mp3 when you can just import them to itunes or any other mp3 player yourself?

     

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      Urza9814, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 2:55pm

      Re:

      "Is there any Beatles fan out there who doesn't already own the cd's?"

      Yes. People who don't generally buy CDs. I'm a college student, and while I'm personally not a huge fan of them, I have a lot of friends who are. But let's say I was a huge Beatles fan, and let's say I was willing to purchase music from the RIAA. Well, for most of my life I would have just borrowed my dad's Beatles CDs. Now let's say there's some songs that I didn't rip from them, or my hard drive died and I lost my music, or whatever. I don't live with my parents anymore, I can't just go downstairs and grab my dad's CDs. And I'm sure not going to buy the CDs for myself - what is this, 1995?

      So yea, basically: anyone under, say, 25 who is into the Beatles has probably pirated them because there wasn't a legal download option.

       

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      mikeinrichmond, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 4:50pm

      Re:

      You could say that about ANY artist. Why bother making mp3's available for people to buy? Maybe because we don't live in the 80's anymore, and since the torrents have it all anyway, perhaps the record companies will wake up and 'monetize' their collections that are sitting, unused and unappreciated, in a vault somewhere.

       

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    Karl (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    Darn

    Dammit. I'm also on Last.fm, so I was going to search for my music, to see if it had been scraped from Last.fm's scrobbler.

    Unfortunately, it looks like ZapTunes' search function is broken. Oh, well.

     

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    designerfx (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 1:41pm

    hmm

    if only they were hosted on antigua

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 1:43pm

    Domain was registered through one of those anonymous services on 7/19/2010 evidently.

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Arrgggghhhhhhhh, Billy, have ya eva bin ta sea? :)

    Yeah, I snitched that from an old canned fish commercial with overtones of, well you guess!

    But it fits so perfectly here.

     

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    Murdock (profile), Aug 31st, 2010 @ 3:13pm

    They don't offer downloads - check this out

    From the terms of use:
    ZapTunes.com does not provide any downloads from its servers. ZapTunes.com just enables its members to find free or paid music available on the Internet. The Artists/Tracks displayed on the home page and other parts of the website are for promotional purposes only and may not be available for free or paid download.

    ZapTunes.com has a database of websites that offer free and legal music downloads. Whenever a registered members looks for a song, ZapTunes searches for that song in the database, and if it finds a website offering a legal download of that song, it is displayed it to the user. If not, then ZapTunes looks for that song on Amazon, iTunes and various other paid to download websites, and displays the user their options. ZapTunes is not helping or promoting piracy in any way.


    They don't offer downloads, they just point you out to the internet at large. They aren't a music service, they are a cleverly disguised search engine.

     

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    Dohn Joe, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 3:34pm

    Holding Companies

    "There are plenty of sites out there that offer up such content in a clearly unauthorized manner -- but at least they're honest about what they do. It seems pretty silly and destined to fail massively to falsely claim the legal rights to music you almost certainly did not license."

    Sure they are...that's what God made holding companies for ;- )

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 4:49pm

    They are just scraping their info off last.fm. I searched for my recording name on there and they listed all my tracks from Last FM. A couple of tracks I have never released. So if they actually have MP3 files of them(which I doubt) they ripped them from last.fm.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 5:57pm

    300 songs for 26.7 cents

    yup on a levied cdr in canada
    come up you pay for the plastic and ill put it on there freely

     

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    Ben (profile), Sep 1st, 2010 @ 4:18am

    I feel sorry

    For any law abiding citizen who thinks (maybe fairly) that these sites are legal and then gets in trouble later for unauthorised downloading

     

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    Mor, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 7:04am

    Question

    I don't think downloading unlimited MP3s be legal.
    How is it possible?

     

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    fan, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    pirates

    like the kid above saying that anyone under 25 would pirate the Beatles songs because they weren't legally available for download. BULLSHIT. Those same people are the same people that will also illegally download plenty of other music (and other stuff) that was available for purchase online.
    And the SOLE reason the music industry and artists are suffering because it's contaminated by people like this with the "you owe me" attitude.

     

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