EMI Group Plc, the world’s third- largest music label, settled a royalties dispute with the Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd., in an agreement analysts said may lead to the band’s catalogue becoming available online.
“We settled last month on mutually acceptable terms,” Amanda Conroy, a spokeswoman for London-based EMI, said today in an interview. A spokeswoman for Apple Corps also said a settlement had been reached. Apple is owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono and the estate of George Harrison.
In August, New York State Supreme Court Justice Karla Moskowitz denied EMI’s request to dismiss a breach-of-contract suit that sought at least $25 million in royalties. The 2005 complaint also sought to reclaim rights to all the master recordings by the defunct British rock band, Paul LiCalsi, the lawyer representing the Beatles, said in an interview in August.
EMI has the rights to distribute the Beatles’ recordings on CDs and other physical formats. Apple hasn’t yet granted digital rights to their songs. Speculation about the music being made available in digital form has risen since Apple ended decades of litigation with Apple Inc., maker of the iPod music and video player, over use of the Apple name.
“It’s a pretty significant deal,” said Patrick Yau, an analyst at Bridgewell Securities. “An online agreement should follow fairly quickly. It’s something the market has expected for a while — ever since the Beatles and Apple Inc. got past their trademark issues. It will be a positive boost for EMI.”