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Download deal eludes Beatles

Apple, EMI negotiations have stalled

Apple Corps still will not let it be.

Paul McCartney said on Monday that negotiations between the Beatles’ holding company and EMI over digital downloads of the band’s catalog have stalled. Until the two parties come to an agreement, Beatles tunes will not be legally available on any online music service, including Apple Inc.’s iTunes Store.

McCartney said the Beatles — meaning him, Ringo Starr and the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison — have been pushing for a download deal, “but there are a couple of sticking points.” He suggested that EMI was unwilling to meet Apple’s terms, cracking, “What else is new?”

When Apple Corps resolved its longstanding trademark dispute with the unrelated, American-based computer company of the similar name last year, many speculated that an iTunes deal would be imminent. Before that can happen, however, Apple Corps and EMI must work out a deal. EMI acknowledged that it has been unable to reach an agreement with Apple Corps, although it continues to work on it.

McCartney, who left EMI last year, signed with British indie One Little Indian for “Electric Arguments,” his latest album. He was promoting that album at a London press conference when he indicated that digital negotiations had stalled.

The music companies may eventually work it out: Apple Corps is working with MTV’s Harmonix on an upcoming vidgame that will play Beatles tunes; that game, which proceeded after lengthy negotiations, is expected late next year.

(Wire services contributed to this report.)

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