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Beatles rarities being released to beat copyright laws

Written by on 16th December 2013

The Beatles are to release 59 rare and unheard recordings in a bid to stop their copyright protection expiring.

The digital compilation includes BBC sessions, four alternate takes of She Loves You and five of A Taste Of Honey.

It has not been officially announced, but a spokeswoman for Apple records confirmed the release to the BBC.

EU law protects songs for 70 years after they are recorded, but only if they get an official release. Otherwise, copyright lasts 50 years.

In the case of The Beatles, that means their 1963 debut album Please Please Me is protected until 2033, but the unreleased session tapes for that album are not.

If the Beatles chose not to release the recordings before the end of the year, it would mean other record labels could theoretically put them out and profit from them.

The band’s 1962 debut single, Love Me Do, arguably slipped out of copyright last year, before the EU’s copyright extension was signed into law.

At least one record company issued a “remastered” version of the song, although that has since been deleted.

The new collection is expected to reach iTunes on Tuesday.

News of its arrival first appeared on Norwegian Beatles blog, WogBlog, which also published cover art and a track listing.

According to the site, the collection contains three versions of There’s A Place as well as demos of two songs the group gave to other artists — Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s acoustic version of Bad to Me and Lennon’s piano demo of I’m in Love.

The Beatles are not the first band to issue rare material in a bid to extend copyright.

Bob Dylan’s record label rushed out 100 copies of an album last year containing early TV performances, alongside multiple versions of Blowin’ in the Wind, Bob Dylan’s Dream and I Shall Be Free.

Officially called The 50th Anniversary Collection, it carried a subtitle which explained its true purpose: The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. 1.

A second volume followed this year, while Motown has also begun issuing rare recordings on iTunes under the “Motown Unreleased” banner.

Given the low-key nature of the release, it is likely that Apple Corps, the Beatles’ record label, will take down the new material after a brief period, allowing them to exploit the recordings in a more considered way later on.

However, it is likely that the release of rare material will become an annual event, as the band seek to protect their works for another 20 years.

Meanwhile, a more glossy campaign is being mounted to promote a new Beatles box set, which is being released to mark the 50th anniversary of the band’s first trip to America.

The 13-disc set includes all of the band’s American albums, including five that have never been available on CD before.

Many of the records feature different titles, track listings, mixes, and artwork from their UK versions.

The band will also be given a lifetime achievement award by the Grammys in 2014, during a special ceremony the night before the main event.

(Source: BBC News)