Apple’s iTunes Is Getting a New Beatles Album


A new album of previously unreleased material from The Beatles will be released exclusively through Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes on Tuesday, reports the BBC. Although Apple has yet to make an official announcement, a spokeswoman for Apple Records — which has no connection to the tech company – confirmed the upcoming release to the BBC.

According to NME, the album will have a total of 59 rare tracks, including 15 studio outtakes and 44 live performances that were originally done for the BBC in 1963. Although many fans of The Beatles may be happy to have more live performances available, it should be noted that the release of this material has less to do with consumer demand and more to do with copyright law.

Forbes reports that recent changes to the European Union’s copyright laws appear to be the main impetus behind the decision to release the album. The EU recently extended the copyright protection on sound recordings from 50 years to 70 years.  However, the 20-year copyright extension only applies to sound recordings that have been officially released. This means that The Beatles’ unreleased studio outtakes and live performances from 1963 were in danger of falling out of copyright if the songs were not officially released before the end of this year.

By officially releasing the recordings on an album, The Beatles are securing their EU copyright protections for another 20 years. As noted by the BBC, The Beatles are not the only band to release an album in order to secure a copyright extension. Bob Dylan’s record label has also issued several volumes of his previously unreleased material for the same reasons. Dylan’s albums were even slyly subtitled “The Copyright Extension Collection.”

Although Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a well-known fan of The Beatles, the band’s music did not become available on iTunes until 2010, reports NME. Paul McCartney told the BBC in 2010, “There have been all sorts of reasons” why it took so long for The Beatles’ music to be released on iTunes. However, one reason may be the history of trademark litigation between Apple and Apple Corps Ltd., the multimedia corporation that was founded by members of The Beatles in 1968.

The trademark dispute between the two similarly named companies started in 1978 and wasn’t fully resolved until Apple bought the trademarks from Apple Corps in 2007. “We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks,” said Jobs via a press release in 2007. “It feels great to resolve this in a positive manner, and in a way that should remove the potential of further disagreements in the future.”

Despite the delay, The Beatles’ music went on to become one of the best sellers on Apple’s iTunes. MacRumors reports The Beatles sold more than 5 million songs and 1 million albums in the first two months of availability.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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