Copyright Laws Force Release of 59 Beatles Songs–And There Could Be a Lot More Where They Came From

Copyright laws can be weird things.  Take the case of 59 Beatles songs recorded in 1963 that up until now have never been released except as illegal bootlegs.  However, under British copyright law, Apple Records is being forced to put them up for sale on iTunes this week just so they can continue to exercise control over the songs.

Say what?

Under European rules, artists retained copyright for 70 years after they were released.  The key word in that sentence is “released.”  UNreleased material–such as these 59 Beatles songs–would fall into the public domain after 50 years–1963 + 50 = 2013–unless they’re officially issued.  In other words, the only way for the Apple Records to retain control of these songs–songs they don’t want to release–is to release them.  Got it?

This could turn into an annual bonanza for Beatles fans.  Unless the law changes–which is not likely at this point–we could end up seeing loads of Beatles songs (and songs by other artists of that vintage such as Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones) being issued just before the 50 year period of protection runs out.

That means that over the next seven years, we could get outtakes and alternate versions and mixes from Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper and tons more.  It all depends what’s in the vaults and what Apple Records will be forced to put out simply because bootlegs have confirmed that the recordings exist.

Hardcore Beatles fans hoping for an official version of a legendary 28 minute version of “Helter Skelter” recorded in 1968–a bootleg favourite–will have to wait until this time in 2018.  But it could be coming.

More at The Guardian.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

6 thoughts on “Copyright Laws Force Release of 59 Beatles Songs–And There Could Be a Lot More Where They Came From

  • December 16, 2013 at 1:41 am

    aaaand googling that Helter Skelter bootleg NOW.

  • December 16, 2013 at 2:58 am

    If you find it…

  • December 16, 2013 at 3:10 am

    Maybe we’ll finally get to here the Get Back album that has never transpired. Would love to hear the 28 Helter Skelter in my lifetime, but word from what I’ve read has been mostly negative — there’s a reason why it has never been released.

  • December 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I want to hear Carnival of Light! Hopefully that gets released as a result of this law.

  • Pingback: A Journal of Musical ThingsDid You Grab Your Beatles Bootleg Recordings? » A Journal of Musical Things

  • August 3, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    This is from 2013 – any follow up on what’s available. I totally missed out on this 9 years ago – is there a list of the songs? Are they still available?


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