Not a day goes past without rumours surfacing about The Beatles back catalogue of albums being made available on Apple's iTunes.

This year, the rumours were fuelled by Apple's Rock and Roll event and the release of The Beatles Rock Band, as well as a completely re-mastered version of the Fab Four's entire catalogue on compact disc.

However, when Sky News ran a story saying that Yoko Ono, widow of John Lennon and major shareholder of the Beatles' musical rights, had confirmed the Beatles catalogue was coming to iTunes, the rumours spiraled out of control.

'Beatles Tracks To Make Debut on iTunes', the headline read with the tagline: 'The whole of the Beatles back catalogue will be made available to buy on iTunes, Yoko Ono has told Sky News'.

At first it seemed like Sky had just scored the ultimate scoop, but the story was quickly pulled from the Sky website, and also counterbalanced by an outright denial from EMI, the label that owns the Beatles' recordings.

"Conversations between Apple and EMI are ongoing and we look forward to the day when we can make the music available digitally. But it's not tomorrow," EMI's global catalogue president Ernesto Schmitt told the Financial Times.

So, what's the holdup anyway?

You could just rip your Beatles CDs onto your hard drive and plug the music into iTunes that way, but that's hardly the point. The Beatles are one of the most important popular musical acts of the 20th century. So it's potentially big money whenever Beatles music is sold in a new format.

But getting new Beatles merchandise of any kind pushed out to the public is always a difficult exercise, according to Beatles expert Peter Doggett.

An iTunes-Beatles deal, for example, would need approval from a large number of players including: Paul McCartney, Ringo Star, Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison (George Harrison's widow), EMI Records, Apple Corps (the Beatles' own record company) and Apple Inc, Doggett explains in a BBC article. The thing is all these parties have, at some point, been busy battling each other in court.

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  1. A look at the pair's chequered history
  2. Noteable events