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Unreleased 1963 Beatles Tracks On Sale To Preserve Copyright 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
Taco Cowboy writes "Back in 1963, the Beatles did some performances for the BBC and other places. The songs were recorded, but never officially released. Now, 50 years later, Apple has packaged all 59 tracks together and put them up for sale on iTunes for $40. The reason? Copyright. The copyright for unreleased works expires 50 years after the works are recorded. By releasing the 59 tracks on iTunes before the end of December, the songs will be protected under copyright law for 20 more years."
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Unreleased 1963 Beatles Tracks On Sale To Preserve Copyright

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  • by MitchDev (2526834) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @09:16AM (#45724945)

    to revoke Copyright law.

    If the **AA's aren't going to play fair, we have to take their toys away...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @09:26AM (#45725027)

      Please don't type half your post in the subject, it makes your post unreadable. Especially when using alternative browsing methods.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @11:18AM (#45725969) Homepage

      Here's an example of the silliness of copyright law: Because my late grandfather collected and arranged a folk song in upstate New York in the 1950's that eventually became a skiffle hit in the UK, my family gets a check each year from sales of recordings we had basically nothing to do with creating, for work done about 60 years ago by someone who has been dead for over 30 years. Now, it's not a very large check these days, but still, there's no good reason why the song shouldn't be public domain.

      On the upside, it is also the song that is on the first known recording of the Quarrymen, so I'd at least have something to talk about if I ended up face to face with Paul McCartney for some reason.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        so if your grandfather had invested in a building that rented out for his lifetime, it would be silly for you for continue to receive benefit from his idea and work?

        • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @12:06PM (#45726533) Homepage

          > so if your grandfather had invested in a building that rented out for his lifetime, it would be silly for you for continue to receive benefit from his idea and work?

          Copyright is not property.

          • Copyright is not property.

            LOL, tell that to the judge. Most of them have a good sense of humour, he will probably laugh so hard he will let you off.

        • And if his grandfather had been involved in actually making the building, then he would have been paid for the work he performed (usually time based) and there would be no question of continuing to receive benefit from his idea and work.
      • but still, there's no good reason why the song shouldn't be public domain.

        Then why not renounce copyright and release it to the public domain? You have that right.

        • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @11:50AM (#45726343) Homepage

          There are 4 reasons we don't:
          1. If we release the copyright we have on the text of the song, all that really happens is that the company who owns the copyright to the recordings of the song (also mostly from the 1950's - a 1957 version by Lonnie Donnegan actually reached #1 on the charts at one point) simply gets to keep what they're currently paying us.

          2. ASCAP is involved in the legal side of things. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but they're usually pretty vicious about hanging onto the songs they have a right to (and sometimes the songs they don't). Again, it might be that whatever we don't see simply goes to ASCAP.

          3. We don't take any kind of steps to enforce it against small performances or individual recordings. So Paul McCartney might have to pay someone who pays someone who eventually pays us, but a high school chorus or a traveling folk singer is not going to run into a problem if they download it from somewhere.

          4. My family gives away the money we get to a charitable organization in the region where my grandfather collected the song.

          In short, renouncing the copyright only benefits some big corporations at the expense of charity.

    • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @11:41AM (#45726243)

      Oh noes... they're protecting their material. They're stealing from the public...

      ...actually, no. They're working in compliance with a law that has been enacted to act against abuse of copyright terms. It's a law that says "release the material or release the copyright". This is one of the arguments that comes up from people on your side of the fence all the time: "they're not selling it, so it's of no value, so it should be free." Well, they've said "it is of value, so we are selling it, so it shouldn't be free."

      It looks to me like the law is functioning as intended and achieving the intended goal.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MitchDev (2526834)

        Copyright was supposed to be for the public benefit with a severely LIMITED term. Now Copyrights just get extended to eternity and nothing falls into the public domain, so piss off corporate shill....

        • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @12:13PM (#45726605)
          But this law does nothing to extend copyright. What it does do is stop labels sitting on works without making them available to the public.
          • For 50 years minus one day. Big whoop.

      • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @11:53AM (#45726379)

        And more to the point, the material would not have fallen into the public domain anyway -- the summary is wrong, following as it does the lead paragraph of the CNN article, which is wrong. If you look halfway down the article it says:

        The British government, following the change in European copyright law, implemented a law last month providing "that if a record label is not commercially releasing a track that is over 50 years old, then the performers can request that the rights in the performance revert to them -- a 'use it or lose it' clause," the government's website said.

        (my emphasis)

        The public domain is not affected by this law in the slightest: it's between the Beatles and Apple Corp. Apple doesn't want the McCartney and the other 3's families getting hold of the material and then selling it themselves for a higher percentage, so they've rushed this out to hold onto their cut.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      And the irony here, is that without this copyright issue, these tracks might not have been releases at all.

      The purpose of copyright is to have people produce, and in extension release their work. In this case it's quite easy to argue that the copyright laws helped directly in getting this released. Had there not been this 20-year extension rule, most likely they'd have let the copyrights expire and possibly simply dump the tapes in the garbage bin, only to be lost forever.

      Oh, and there is no **AA organisati

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @02:07PM (#45727977) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, your computer mouse is broken, so just throw out the whole new computer because obviously it's not needed since it's broken. Just like copyright.

      The MAFIAA isn't the only entity who relies on copyright. Programmers, even GPL programmers, depend on copyright.

      I depend on copyright. I just released a sci-fi novel, and since I don't have a kings ransom for marketing it isn't selling many copies. Without copyright I would sell none at all, because anyone with a publishing company could sell as many as they wanted, and they have the marketing muscle to completely bury me.

      Don't "throw the baby out with the bathwater", to use an old overused cliche. The system is broken, and was broken deliberately by monied interests. Copyright lengths are way too long and things that used to be copyrightable now aren't -- for an example, the JD Sallinger's heirs successfully sued a guy for writing a sequel to Catcher in teh Rye. That just simply should not be. George Harrison should not have been successfully sued for "My Sweet Lord" and ZZ Top should certainly not have been sued for "La Grange", that was the fucktardedest one of all; what was copied was "ah how how how".

      The arts are like technology and science in that everything new springs from the old. Like Newton, Van Gogh and Mark Twain stood on the shoulders of giants. Imagine how technology would suffer if patents lasted as long as copyrights? Nothing written or painted before 1990 should still be covered. "To promote the progress of science and the useful arts", how are you going to convince Jimi Hendrix to write and sing any more songs?

      But completely revoking it is childish madness. You are out of your mind for suggesting it. Get a clue, dude. I wrote that book so it would be read (I'm posting it on my web site for free, only physical copies cost) but if someone else is making money on work I did, I want my share.

  • Apple or Apple Corps (Score:5, Informative)

    by cdrudge (68377) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @09:19AM (#45724965) Homepage

    No, Apple is not packaging them up and putting them on iTunes. Apple doesn't own the copyrights. Apple Corps, the corporation founded by the members of the Beetles who do have the copyrights, is the one releasing them on iTunes.

    When you have two entities that have almost the same name involved in the same story, it makes a different to differentiate the two to be absolutely clear. But this is Slashdot after all...

    • by tomhath (637240) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @09:25AM (#45725017)

      two entities that have almost the same name involved in the same story, it makes a different to differentiate the two

      That's why we have trademark laws. Oh wait...this is Slashdot (tm) after all.

    • by csumpi (2258986)
      But being accurate would attract much less clicks.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      No, Apple is not packaging them up and putting them on iTunes. Apple doesn't own the copyrights. Apple Corps, the corporation founded by the members of the Beetles who do have the copyrights, is the one releasing them on iTunes.

      When you have two entities that have almost the same name involved in the same story, it makes a different to differentiate the two to be absolutely clear. But this is Slashdot after all...

      Not to mention the whole reason Apple Inc., was named that was because Jobs was a huge Beatles

      • by formfeed (703859)

        Not to mention the whole reason Apple Inc., was named that was because Jobs was a huge Beatles fan (well, Apple Computer, Inc. originally). And that Jobs and Woz couldn't come up with anything better.

        That's not the true story of course:

        Once upon a time, Steve Jobs was sitting under an apple tree to think, as he usually did, about how to make life better for all of humanity. When all of a sudden he got hit by an apple. Accelerated by gravity the apple hit quite hard. But, Steve Jobs wasn't hurt. He just rubbed his head and thought:
        "Good thing, that thing had rounded corners."

    • by bitt3n (941736)

      No, Apple is not packaging them up and putting them on iTunes. Apple doesn't own the copyrights. Apple Corps, the corporation founded by the members of the Beetles who do have the copyrights, is the one releasing them on iTunes.

      When you have two entities that have almost the same name involved in the same story, it makes a different to differentiate the two to be absolutely clear. But this is Slashdot after all...

      You mean two entities like the obscure music collaborative of common insects to which you refer, and celebrated rock band the Beatles?

    • by unixisc (2429386)

      No, Apple is not packaging them up and putting them on iTunes. Apple doesn't own the copyrights. Apple Corps, the corporation founded by the members of the Beetles who do have the copyrights, is the one releasing them on iTunes.

      When you have two entities that have almost the same name involved in the same story, it makes a different to differentiate the two to be absolutely clear. But this is Slashdot after all...

      From Wiki [wikipedia.org]:

      Apple Corps has had a long history of trademark disputes with Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.). The dispute was finally resolved in 2007, with Apple Corps transferring ownership of the "Apple" name and all associated trademarks to Apple Inc., and Apple Inc. exclusively licensing these back to the Beatles' company. In April 2007, Apple also settled a long running dispute with EMI and announced the retirement of chief executive Aspinall.[23][24] Aspinall was replaced by Jeff Jones.[25]

  • Never again (Score:5, Funny)

    by A10Mechanic (1056868) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @09:25AM (#45725023)
    I, for one, will not ever be giving another cent to Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney. If you find a way to give to just Ringo, I'm in.
  • " The reason? Money."

    FTFY

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Nyder (754090)

      " The reason? Money."

      FTFY

      No, that's a Pink Floyd song.

    • Re:yea right (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fractoid (1076465) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:33AM (#45725571) Homepage
      Well yes, money is why companies do things. But wait, let me get this straight - because of copyright law, a company is releasing music to the public that otherwise may never have been released?

      Isn't that the entire purpose of copyright law? To encourage the release of artwork? Is this not a perfect example of copyright working as intended?
      • Re:yea right (Score:5, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @11:39AM (#45726231) Journal

        Isn't that the entire purpose of copyright law? To encourage the release of artwork?

        Not originally, no.
        Copyright was originally meant as a means of censorship and was entirely focused on publishers, not authors.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Licensing_of_the_Press_Act_1662 [wikipedia.org]

        "An Act for preventing the frequent Abuses in printing seditious treasonable and unlicensed Bookes and Pamphlets and for regulating of Printing and Printing Presses."

        The actual history of Anglo copyright goes back another 120ish years when the crown first decided that censorship was important and started limiting the right to publish.

        /For the sake of brevity, I won't get into monks writing curses against copying in their manuscripts

        • by fractoid (1076465)
          Oh. Whelp, I've clearly been drinking the koolaid. Thanks.

          (They get bonus points in the Licensing of the Press Act for conflating "unlicensed Bookes and Pamphlets" with "seditious treasonable Bookes and Pamphlets." Still a staple for those trying to bundle legislation supporting their own interests in with legislation that "everybody should vote for.")
      • by Trogre (513942)

        Yes, just about 45 years too late.

  • It would be nice to have an explanation of when a copy goes out of copyright and how that effects other copies and originals. When an original (A) goes out of copyright, which I think we mostly understand. Compared to when copy of A (B) goes out of copyright. How does this affect the copy right on A and B. Does B have to be creatively different, detectably different, and what if they cannot be told apart? What about copy C made from A after copy B, or copy D and from B before copy C, or copy E made from B a

    • It would be nice to have an explanation of when a copy goes out of copyright and how that effects other copies and originals.

      Copyright applies to the original and all the copies. If someone doesn't make a copy but creates a modified work, that new creator would have the copyright on their changes, but the unmodified parts would still be under the original copyright. If copyright for the original expires, then all unmodified copies are free, all copies where modifications are so small that they don't create new rights are free as well.

      And, just because someone tried this, converting to a different audio format doesn't affect co

  • by punker (320575) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @09:56AM (#45725207)

    It's a good thing they did this. Otherwise, the Beatles would have no incentive to produce new songs.

    • by omnichad (1198475)

      You joke, but it's really incentive for future artists more than former. When they see people working a few years in their youth and then earning royalties into retirement, that's quite the incentive to get into music.

      • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:25AM (#45725475)

        You joke, but it's really incentive for future artists more than former. When they see people working a few years in their youth and then earning royalties into retirement, that's quite the incentive to get into music.

        Just ask any musician. They'll tell you they got in it for the money.

      • by Whorhay (1319089)

        That is probably true to some extent but it isn't the kind of incentive that we'd really like as a society. We want artists to continue producing content not produce a few big hits and then stop and go live off the procedes for 75+ years. That's how we end up with things like Disney that specialize in using public domain stories to produce slightly new content and using the procedes to prevent that work from ever entering the public domain in turn.

  • Copyright laws are meant to protect an artist's ability to monetize their creations (I won't go into the ethics and morality of copyright). The recordings were of poor quality, so at best, they mostly serve as items of historical interest, not completed, quality works. Otherwise, they would have been released on an album and snapped up by Beatles fans. At best, I'm puzzled why anyone would bother protecting copyright on something that nobody really wanted in the first place and really is more of scholarl
    • The recordings were of poor quality, so at best, they mostly serve as items of historical interest, not completed, quality works. Otherwise, they would have been released on an album and snapped up by Beatles fans. At best, I'm puzzled why anyone would bother protecting copyright on something that nobody really wanted in the first place and really is more of scholarly interest.

      My cynical interpretation is that they found an excuse to release something that they know is of too-poor quality to really be worth releasing so that they can monetize it among the true hardcore fans who will buy anything. Otherwise, why are they charging $40 for it?

      The Beatles gold mine ran out of salable ore long ago. So all they can do is to sell slag to the tourists.

      Even though I'm a hardcore Beatles fan, I never bought the last remastered box-set release. I might do that one day, though, when the p

    • The recordings were of poor quality

      So sharing them will net you double the financial penalty. Sneaky, very sneaky.
    • Except that the summary is wrong. It is not about the public domain, because according to TFA, the copyright in the unreleased recordings reverts to the artists, it does not expire. The point is to protect the artist from abusive labels. If the label doesn't make the material available, it starves the artist of their earnings. If the label isn't making money for the artist, the artist should have the right to make money elsewhere. There have been cases where artists have recorded something and then the labe

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > Copyright laws are meant to protect an artist's ability to monetize their creations

      No. Copyright laws are meant to encourage the creation of new works. Such works are intended to be made available for future artists to build on.

  • I like music. I like Rock, Jazz, Clasical, Ambient, Bluegrass, New Age, just about any genre. I really like artists who write their own music. Not so much singers who are little more than a pretty voice. But I never got on the Beatles (the group or their various solo works) bandwagon. With rare exception, if something made the "top ten", that meant it was played at least once an hour, every hour, 24/7, (on the radio, pretty much the only way to listen to music when I was a kid) until I quickly got tire

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:30AM (#45725541)

    Laws concerning them are not rooted in reality or logic.

    No, seriously. You can (to some degree) explain most other laws logically. They also tend to be quite consistent.

    Not so in these areas. Why is some drug legal and another one with pretty much the same kind of "danger" attached to it is not? Why are some sex practices illegal in some places (not to mention the question who may fuck whom)? And if I start with copyright and its logical loopholes I guess I exceed the posting limit.

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:41AM (#45725645)
    1. As mentioned, it is "Apple Corps", the company owned by the Beatles, that put the music on the music store by "Apple Inc", which allows people to buy this music if they wish to, or not buy it if they don't wish to.

    2. Apple Corps has 70 years copyright on all published music by the Beatles. As a quirk in British law, unpublished music only has 50 years copyright. That's different from US law, where the clock starts running when the music gets published, so the same songs according to US law would have infinite copyright protection, being not published at all.

    3. So people here get all excited because Apple Corps made a tactical move to get the same copyright on this music as on all the other music, where in the USA they would actually have had much longer copyright.

    4. Remember: With this move, you can actually get this music now, where before you couldn't. The only ones hurt by this is anybody who somehow had illegal copies of this music in their possession, and hoped to cash in when copyright runs out.
  • Similar to Bob Dylan (Score:4, Interesting)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:49AM (#45725723) Journal
    100 copies of "Copyright Extension Collection Volume 1" (yeah, that's the name) were sold in Europe last year.
  • Back in 1963, the Beatles did some performances for the BBC and other places. The songs were recorded, but never officially released. Now, 50 years later, Apple has packaged all 59 tracks together and put them up for sale on iTunes for $40.

    That makes it sound like this is the entirety of the (still existing) recorded material from 1963. It isn't. Quite a few more takes of There's A Place, I Saw Her Standing There, Do You Want To Know A Secret, A Taste of Honey, Misery, From Me To You, Thank You Girl, One A

    • Pretty much every note, every inch of tape that the Beatles ever produced has been bootlegged. Collectors like me already have all this stuff, though maybe the new releases might have better sound quality. The Beatles themselves would be first to admit that some of this was substandard work though, which is why it wasn't released back then in the first place
  • To spend my hard earned money for recordings of McCartney burping between takes.

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