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The Beatles' 'Love Me Do' Hits the Public Domain in Europe

Under a soon-to-be-revised law, copyright expires after 50 years

The Beatles
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
January 12, 2013 7:25 PM ET

The Beatles first single, "Love Me Do," has entered the pubic domain in Europe, thanks to current copyright law in the European Union, Complete Music Update reports.

As the E.U. law currently stands, copyright for recorded music is set to expire after 50 years. Since "Love Me Do" and its B-side, "P.S. I Love You," were released in 1962, protection for the tracks expired on December 31st, 2012. Although a move is underway to extend recording copyrights to 70 years, the revised law won't come into effect before next November. (In the United States, recordings retain copyright protection for up to 95 years.)

100 Greatest Beatles Songs

The new law will include a "use it or lose it clause," meaning that labels who hold the rights to recordings released before 1963 must make them available for consumption and purchase, or else the artist can claim control of the copyright. (The rule recently prompted Sony to release a limited-edition collection of 86 Bob Dylan outtakes in order to retain its copyright on the material. The copyright for Dylan's debut album expired along with "Love Me Do.") 

A company called Digital Remasterings has taken advantage of the expired copyright by including "Love Me Do" on a compilation of early Beatles recordings. The classical reissue label Pristine Classical also released the song, this time as a remastered single, in protest against the trouble the extended copyright will cause in its work reissuing old symphonic recordings. 

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