In the US, if you really want to "protect" your copyrighted works, you have to register the works. Unlike for a patent or a trademark, it's pretty much a rubberstamp process. Every so often the Copyright Office will reject a registration, but it's rare. It does still go through them all, though. Or at least it's supposed to. However, we recently wrote about the weird case of the site Bluebeat.com selling Beatles MP3s
for $0.25. We noted that nowhere on the site did the company explain how it had the rights to do so, but in its response to the lawsuit filed by EMI, it explained its bizarre logic
Basically, the company claims it somehow re-recorded the songs via a "psycho-acoustic simulation" (don't ask) and then added an image to the file, making it a totally new work (um... yeah). And then it registered the copyrights on those new
recordings, claiming that the re-recording is a new work where Bluebeat.com actually owns the copyright. Its "proof" is that the Copyright Office okayed the registration -- suggesting that the rubber stamp at the Copyright Office is a bit too quick at times. A judge isn't buying it and has barred the sale of the MP3s for the time being (i.e., almost certainly forever). While it's amusing to see Bluebeat's tortured explanation, perhaps some of the blame needs to go to the Copyright Office for allowing these registrations in the first place. Of course, you have to wonder if this now also opens up Bluebeat to additional charges of false representation in registering the copyright...
In the meantime, some readers have noted that this is not the first time that the folks behind Bluebeat.com have had ridiculous interpretations of copyright law. Two and a half years ago, it sued Apple, Microsoft, RealNetworks and Adobe
using the DRM created by Bluebeat's parent company, Media Rights Technologies. Basically, the company claimed that by not preventing the ability to rip files, these companies were violating the DMCA. Of course, that makes no sense.
Given that it's now twice that we're seeing totally foreign interpretations of basic copyright law, it almost makes you wonder if the company is doing this to make a point about the ridiculousness of copyright law, rather than for any legitimate reasons. Either that, or the company actually thinks that filing lawsuits as publicity stunts is smart. I would imagine that a judicial slapdown might correct the folks behind Bluebeat and MRT of that notion.