This week Apple Corps — the licensing agent for Beatles products, owned by Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison — goes to the British High Court seeking multimillion-pound damages against Apple Computer for creating the iPod and the hugely successful iTunes Music Store, which the Corps claims are in violation of a 1991, $26 million agreement prohibiting Steve Jobs’ company from entering the music sphere.[ADBLOCKHERE]Among the ironies and peculiarities of the conflict (Jobs is an enormous Beatles fan for one thing), while an iPod will be demonstrated in court, a Beatles song will not be used in the demonstration because the Fab Four Minus Two have STILL not licensed their music for digital download – they’re waiting for this crazy digital music fad to peter out, like goldfish swallowing and the Charleston before it.
The Beatles were also one of the last big-name artists to put their music on to CD. The iTunes Music Store has sold more than 1 billion song downloads since it opened in 2002, but who needs a bite of that fly-by-night market?
The legal conflict is over the name and imaging: The Beatles selected a Granny Smith apple as their logo when they formed Apple Records in 1968, with side one of their vinyl records displaying half of a ripe green apple (red on Let It Be), and side two showing the apple cut open.
Jobs founded Apple Computer in ’78 with a rainbow-colored apple with a suggestive Edenic bite taken out of it as the company logo.
The first Apple-on-Apple lawsuit in 1976 resulted in a $80,000 settlement and a pledge by the geeks to stay away from the tunes. In another clash, in ’91 Apple Corps was awarded $26 million and rights to the name on “creative works whose principal content is music.” Apple Computer was allowed usage on “goods and services … used to reproduce, run, play or otherwise deliver such content.”
Apple Computer claims that it is simply “delivering such content,” that iTunes is in the data transmission racket, not the music biz. They seem to have a pretty good case, but I’m not a lawyer or an apple.