Beatles’ Apple Settles With EMI

The Beatles’ Apple Corps company has settled a royalties dispute with record label EMI, the two companies said Thursday, raising hopes that Beatles recordings may soon be legally available online.

“It was settled on mutually acceptable terms last month,” Apple Corps and EMI said in a joint statement. They refused to provide details of the settlement.

Apple Corps Ltd., the company owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, sued EMI Group PLC in 2005 to recover what the band said was more than 30 million pounds ($60 million) in unpaid royalties. EMI releases Beatles recordings under the Apple label.

Apple Corps is a zealous guardian of The Beatles’ interests. In February it settled a long-running trademark dispute with computer company Apple Inc. over the distinctive apple logo and name.

The Beatles have consistently refused to license their songs for music download sites, despite the desire of EMI to do so.

The legal settlement leaves EMI and Apple Corps free to negotiate a new royalties agreement that would include Internet sales.

Neither company would comment Thursday on whether such an agreement was imminent. At a news conference last week, however, EMI Chief Executive Eric Nicoli said the company was seeking to make the Fab Four catalog available online.

“We’re working on it, we hope it’s soon,” he said.

Apple Corps announced Monday that Chief Executive Neil Aspinall, 64, a friend of The Beatles for more than 40 years, was quitting. He was replaced by Jeff Jones, a former executive vice president at Sony BMG.