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Apple Records goes digital, but still no Beatles

For the first time, music from the Beatles' label is available for download. That means Badfinger and Billy Preston, but not the Beatles. When do we get "Hey Jude"?

One of the great mysteries involving Apple Records, the music label created by the Beatles, is why the band's music is still not available online--legally.

Perhaps that could change as Apple Records has at least now for the first time made some of the label's catalog available for download. In partnership with EMI Music, Apple Records announced Tuesday that it is releasing 15 remastered albums that it will also make available for download on October 26.

Among the acts whose music is being released by Apple Records, the chief division of the Beatles' primary business entity, Apple Corps, are Badfinger, James Taylor, and Billy Preston. Okay, but what anybody who knows anything about Apple Corps knows is that what people really want from the company is "Help," and "Across the Universe," and "Yesterday," and all the Beatles' music. (No disrespect to JT, as "Carolina in My Mind" is excellent.)

Over the years, there's been plenty of speculation about why Beatles songs aren't available at any of the legal download stores, such as iTunes or Amazon. But the major players--EMI, Ringo Starr (who celebrates his 70th birthday on Wednesday), Paul McCartney, and the families of the late George Harrison and John Lennon--haven't said much on this issue.

EMI and Apple Corps own the Beatles recordings. Michael Jackson's estate and Sony own the publishing rights to 250 Beatles songs. Last year following Jackson's death, sources close to the singer told CNET that Jackson wasn't responsible for the hold up and had welcomed a download deal.

So, while unauthorized copies of Beatles songs are widely available at file-sharing sites, there's no way to download a Beatles song legally. Hopefully these downloads from other artists offered by Apple Records mean we will soon see some of the most beloved music of all time legally available on the Web.