Monday, March 27, 2006

Beatles vie for a further slice of Apple

The long-running courtroom battle between The Beatles' Apple Records and Apple Computer continues this week as Apple Corps seeks multi-million pound damages from the iTunes creator. Apple Corps first sued Apple Computer in 1981, settling the case for $80,000 and the promise that Steve Jobs's company would not enter the music business again.However, when Apple Computer produced music-creation software in 1989 it was taken to court again by Apple Corps and the case was settled for $26m.Apple Corps now claims that the creation of Apple's iTunes software breaks the terms of the 1989 settlement.
This agreement stated that Apple Corps had rights over creative works where the content was mainly music, while Apple Computer was allowed to reproduce, run, play or deliver such content. Apple Computer plans to fight the case by claiming that its service is simply a system of data transmission.
The deciding factor may be the clause in the previous agreement which stated that Apple Computer is not allowed to distribute content on physical media. This originally covered tapes and CDs and may not apply to MP3 music files.
Apple Corps was set up by, and is still owned by, The Beatles and their heirs, including Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and George Harrison's widow Olivia. Its Apple Records subsidiary still controls the licensing of Beatles songs. The case will be heard in London following a 2004 ruling. Apple Computer had hoped that the case would be heard in California.
Steve Jobs's music empire has faced tough times recently. The French government proposed a bill last week that would force Apple to make songs downloaded using its iTunes software playable on all MP3 players.
While Jobs reacted in typically bullish form to the news, analyst firm Gartner suggested today that the legislation will have far-reaching consequences.


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