Bang Bang Maxwell’s Silver iPod and the Absurdity of Licensing

Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times – Times Online Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Ob-La-gimme 75 million cause your name is Apple too!

Ok, so normally I’m not that much of an Appleheaded fanboy, but this is ridiculous. The Beatles want to sue Apple Computer for getting into the music business? What kind of a crazy world do we live in and what was that thing that Shakespeare once said about all the lawyers?

From the Times Online: “Apple Corps, owned by the former Beatles and their heirs, still owns the licensing rights to Beatles’ products. It is claiming that the introduction of iTunes broke a $26 million settlement under which Apple Computer agreed to steer clear of the music business, for which the Beatles’ company retains the famous trademark. It is the latest clash in one of Britain’s longest-running corporate legal battles.”

Nobody is ever going to confuse iTunes or an iPod with those vinyl records that the Beatles sold a ways back.

This seems to me yet another example of some company looking to profit off of someone else’s success just because some barrister out there needs a new pair of shoes. The next thing you know The Beatles are going to be after Apple Computer because, well, they’re here, there and everywhere, and, well, didn’t we once write a song like that?

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  1. I’m not familiar with the case, but if Apple Computer agreed to, as the Times states, “steer clear of the music business, for which the Beatles’ company retains the famous trademark,” then Apple should be held liable if the company broke the agreement 5 years after the fact or more than 30. It’s also worth pointing out (which you decided not to mention in your post) is that Apple Records is still an active licensing agent of Beatles products and that Apple computer settled and agreed to in 1991 to not distribute content on physical media (CDs, tapes). Obviously, the point of contention now is: Does digital music distribution break the agreement?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Apple records needs to get really start movign ahead. I’m not a lwayer nor barister so I don’t want to debate of the settlement, but i’d rahter discuss how Apple still continues to shoot them selves inteh foot with the Revolver. Apple is making a tremendous amount by licensing but I would bet that if they finally took a look a tthe digital model and loosened up a bit on their licensing model , that they could continue to make a substantial amount of cash. New media today is about hip hop, the mash up, collaboration, and remixing. As in the case the DJ Danger mouse remix of Jay Z’s Black album with the Beatles White Album, where it became an online sensation but was shut down because of Apple Records. $26Million would be peanuts compared to the royalites that they could get from other artists, movies, and especially downloads. I have a feeling this is likely linked to Apple records wanting a sweetened deal to distrubte the music of Paul, Ringo, John and George.

  3. Anonymous says:

    hey, they entered into an agreement with Apple Records or Apple Corps, whatever it’s called, so they have to abide by its terms. no one forced them to sign it, but they did anyways.

  4. Jon says:

    You don’t think if someone saw something produced by Apple records they might not at least consider if it was produced by Apple the Ipod people. Sure all of us tech nerds may know that but random joe bob in whatever kentucky walks into a wal mart and could easily make the mistake. I think they have a valid argument.

  5. Thomas Hawk says:

    Jon, I seriously doubt whether even random Joe’s at WalMart would get this one wrong. And if they did, so what?

    Is Apple Records really even harmed if someone for whatever reason thought their music was published by Apple Computer? Apple and iPod are very hot brands right now. If anything it would enhance.

    Anonymous #2, they were most likely forced into that agreement and at the time looked at it as pocket change to make a problem go away. It wasn’t right then and it’s not right now. In my opinion it’s extortion and Apple Records’ business has in no way suffered due to Apple’s entering the music business.

    It’s a bunch of lawyers trying to get rich off the backs of two successful companies and a perfect example of how ludicrious copyright law can be at times.

    Apple Records is not suing Apple Computer because they seriously feel damaged and have lost money because of Apple. They are suing them because lame copyright law allows them to and a bunch of lawyers see money on the table and say, well why the hell not try and take it. It’s wrong.