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Beatles, Bootlegs and the BBC: Anniversary release also protects copyrights

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There have been some very new releases of some very old Beatles music over the last two months, and some are still to come in 2014. “On Air-Live at the BBC Volume 2” was released in November, and “The U.S. Albums” will be released in January. But some of those recordings almost became public domain. In a surprise move by Universal Music Enterprises, on Tuesday, (December 17, 2013) fifty-nine previously un-released Beatles recordings from 1963—most of them having already made the rounds in Beatle circles illegally as bootlegs--were officially released on iTunes. “The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963” came with little warning, and after some confusion, the first listing was withdrawn, then later re­­-appeared at a new price of $39.99 (£34.99 in the UK.) with individual songs priced $1.29 apiece.' (see video)

According to UK copyright law, these recordings were about to become public domain on January 1, 2014 after the 50-year copyright protection is set to expire, unless commercially released. While UME representatives are not commenting on this subject, the sudden move to release the recordings corresponds with a revision of European law, passed just in November, extending copyright protection to seventy years, but only for released material. (See Roger Stormo’s article) In other words, without making this commercial move immediately, the tracks now owned by UME would become freely available to anyone, including the "original performer", meaning the Beatles themselves.

“The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963” includes 59 tracks:

15 alternative studio tracks from 1963, including various takes of ‘There’s A Place’, ‘From Me To You,’ ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret,’ and ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ as well as ‘A Taste of Honey’ and ‘Misery.’ There is one take from "One After 909" including some jabs by Lennon, These were all recorded at their first sessions at Abbey Road Studios.

42 tracks comprised of live performances for the BBC, and include a performance of "Some Other Guy", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Hippy Hippy Shake," and many more. Two of the tracks, ‘Bad to Me,’ and ‘I’m In Love,’ were never recorded for commercial release by the Beatles, but given to other artists. There is no duplication between these tracks and the two previously released BBC albums. UME reps tell us this is a “distinct” release with “no overlap with other releases.”

“On Air- Live at the BBC Volume 2”

Released November 11, 2013, is a companion set to the first 2-disk set in 1994 called “Live At the BBC”. “On Air” has 63 tracks, all previously unreleased, and priced at $18.40. While 37 tracks are live performances, 23 are comprised of in-studio banter and conversation between the band’s members and their BBC radio hosts. Much of this is humorous, as the Beatles are known to be, but the hosts are also witty with one-liners. The first “Live At the BBC” has also been remastered and re-released at the same time.

(Read more about “On Air – Live” here, and watch the official trailer.)

Release of American albums:

All 13 of the Beatles’ American albums are being re-released together in a box set January 21 (20th in the UK), 2014. The new set will be available just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Beatle’s arrival in America February 7, 1963. While the set can be pre-ordered now for $159.99, we have been told that for a limited time, individual albums can be purchased. (Read more about the American release here.)

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Copyright notice-©Shelley Germeaux 2013: This article and photos are subject to copyright restrictions and may not be reproduced without the author’s permission. Excerpts with link to original article are welcomed.

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