A website that sold Beatles songs online for 25 cents apiece before they became legally available has agreed to pay record companies nearly $1 million US to settle a federal lawsuit.

The suit against BlueBeat.com by EMI Group PLC, Capitol Records and Virgin Records America argued that the site violated copyright and presented unfair competition.

BlueBeat streamed and sold music by the Fab Four and other acts for several days before music companies sued to shut it down in November 2009. By then, the site had already distributed more than 67,000 Beatles songs.

The posting of Beatles songs came shortly after the release of the group’s remastered albums. A year later, Apple Inc. announced that it was selling Beatles music on its popular music service, iTunes. Within the first week, more than two million Beatles songs were purchased online for $1.29 apiece and 450,000 albums were sold.

BlueBeat had denied wrongdoing, claiming owner Hank Risan had pioneered a method called “psycho-acoustic simulation” that produced unique versions of copyrighted music.