All You Need is (Patience and a Willingness to Negotiate and) Love: the Beatles Finally Appear on iTunes

The famous crosswalk from the Beatles' "Abbey Road" album cover

Like this Abbey Road crosswalk, iTunes somehow felt incomplete without the Beatles.

It only took seven years, but Apple (the computer and iPod company) has finally singed a deal with Apple Corps (the Beatles‘ multimedia company) and EMI (which owns the rights to some Beatles music following the death of Michael Jackson). The deal means that as of today, the entire Beatles catalog is available on iTunes.

Although you can still buy Beatles CDs (assuming you know of a store that still sells CDs), iTunes will be the only place you can buy digital copies of Beatles music “into 2011.”

It’s been a long and somewhat tortured journey to get the Beatles into iTunes. The whole thing began in 1978 when the Beatles’ Apple Corps, which had made several forays into the electronics business, heard about a new computer company called Apple and sued them for infringing on the Apple Corps trademark. Apple Computer settled and agreed not enter the music business, while Apple Corps agreed not to enter the computer business.

Apple Corps saw another opening, though, in 1989, when they busted Apple for including a MIDI chip on some of its computers, which to Apple Corps meant that Apple had “entered the music business.” After another settlement, things bubbled up again when Apple launched the iTunes Music Store in 2003. After a trial, Apple (the computer and iTunes people) prevailed, and, sensing defeat, Apple Corps sold their trademark (which they then licensed back) to Apple, Inc. in 2007 for a tidy $500 million.

Given this rich and litigious history, it’s understandable that the parties have taken this long to come to an agreement on the Beatles appearing on iTunes. Not surprisingly, it looks like all Beatles songs are $1.29, most albums are $12.99, and the digital Beatles Box Set is a bargain at $149.

While we have nothing against the Beatles, we’re pretty certain that by now most Beatles fans have found other ways to obtain digital copies of the band’s music. Although they’ll surely sell lots of digital music now that they’re on iTunes, at these prices we’re guessing it’s unlikely that most hardcore fans will buy copies of the music they already found elsewhere years ago, no matter how badly they want to improve Yoko and Paul‘s financial situations.

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