Though you can play Beatles songs on Rock Band and enjoy the band's epic catalog on remastered CDs, you still can't legally buy the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo on the iTunes store or other digital shops — yet. In a move that may represent Apple Corps. softening its traditionally inflexible view of selling the Fab Four's music digitally, the company and EMI Music will release a limited-edition USB drive featuring the entire Beatles in Stereo remastered set as 320 Kbps MP3s on December 8th. All 14 albums and 13 "mini-documentaries" will be included on the 16GB USB drive, which will be shaped like the iconic Apple logo with "The Beatles" written on it. Only 30,000 of these USBs will be produced; onsale information is available at the Beatles Website.
In addition, EMI is going after a digital-music Website called BlueBeat.com for offering up the Beatles catalog as a digital download without permission. According to Variety, a copyright-infringement lawsuit was filed yesterday by EMI, which controls the digital rights of the Beatles music through an agreement with Apple Corps.
Not only is BlueBeat offering the Beatles catalog without permission, they're also doing it at below market prices: Each track costs only 25 cents, so an 11-track album like Magical Mystery Tour can be purchased digitally for $2.75, well below the $9.99 or so that iTunes would charge. Additionally, the entire digital Beatles in Mono catalog box set is currently being sold at BlueBeat for $53.25.
As of press time, BlueBeat is still permitting the Beatles' catalog to be streamed and downloaded despite the threat of the lawsuit, and its parent company, Media Rights Technologies, didn't respond to inquires from Variety. According to the news section at the BlueBeat site, the Website has been streaming the Beatles catalog since September 16th, just one week after the remasters were released.
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