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EMI and Beatles settle royalty dispute

The company representing The Beatles has settled a 30 million-pound ($59 million) royalty dispute with
EMI Group, in a deal that could finally pave the way for the
Liverpool band’s music to go online.

Apple Corps, the company owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the families of John Lennon and George Harrison, said in December 2005 it would sue the record company after negotiations broke down.

Apple Corps said an audit had determined EMI had not been fulfilling the terms of its contract.

“We have settled on mutually acceptable terms and there will be no further comment,” a spokeswoman for EMI said. A spokeswoman for Apple Corps said the deal had been agreed last month but would not give any further details.

Apple and EMI previously fought a separate, decade-long courtroom battle over royalties and other issues which was resolved out of court in 1989.

The announcement follows the settlement in February of another legal dispute — a trademark disagreement between Apple
Corps and computer and iPod company Apple Inc. which was also seen as key to putting the group’s music online.

The Beatles have been one of the last big acts to hold out from putting their music on the Internet. Elton John said last month he would make more than 30 of his albums available for digital download.

“It seems like it is heading in that direction,” Jupiter analyst Mark Mulligan told Reuters of the Beatles catalogue.

“The conversation has changed from an ‘if’ to a ‘when’.

“The Beatles are a perennial (favorite). You can put the content out there and it will sell. If they put the Beatles catalogue online you will very likely see them having number ones again.”

EMI’s Chief Executive Eric Nicoli told reporters earlier this month he was working on a deal to put the band’s music online but refused to give a time frame.

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