FORTUNE -- "There's still some life in the old download dog yet," wrote Macworld's Joel Mathis last week, reaching for a theme to connect the surprise unleashing of Beyonce's self-titled album last Friday with the scheduled release next Tuesday of The Beatles: bootleg recordings 1963, both exclusively on iTunes.
UPDATE: That link is live now.
To Mathis, it's all about what he sees as the losing battle Apple (AAPL), still wedded to Steve Jobs' theory that people want to own their music, is waging with Pandora, Spotify, Google Play and the rest of streaming music services.
The truth is both simpler and more cynical. Copyright protection on the 59 hitherto unreleased songs -- two hours of outtakes, BBC recordings and demos (track list below) -- expires at the end of the December, 50 years after they were recorded.
But thanks to a November revision of European Union intellectual property laws, copyright protection of released songs is extended to 70 years. If Apple Corps, which owns the copyrights, didn't make these recordings available for sale, every Beatles collector with bootleg MP3 files could legally put out their own album.
Norwegian Beatles blogger Roger Stormo, who broke the news and published the track list last Tuesday, had the copyright angle by Wednesday. The Guardian and the BBC followed up the next day, predicting a wave of annual bootleg releases just ahead of expiration. As the BBC reported:
Bob Dylan's record label rushed out 100 copies of an album last year containing early TV performances, alongside multiple versions of Blowin' in the Wind, Bob Dylan's Dream and I Shall Be Free.
Officially called The 50th Anniversary Collection, it carried a subtitle which explained its true purpose: The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. 1.
The BBC goes on to speculate, based on the low-key nature of the Beatles release, that after a decent interval Paul McCartney et al. will take the new material off iTunes, "allowing them to exploit the recordings in a more considered way later on."
Below: Stormo's track list.
A draft document published by Wikileaks reveals ongoing negotiations over intellectual property enforcement measures in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
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Drivers Ed for Copyright violations.
In a move to thwart copyright violations on its YouTube Subsidiary, Google (GOOG) has instituted a new Copyright Violations Schooling program along with new policies for users who are found to have violated YouTube's copyright rules.
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Steven Gibson, founder of Righthaven, spoke with Fortune for our story on his work in copyright lawsuits. Below, an edited excerpt of our interview with him.
Interview by John Patrick Pullen, contributor
Fortune: In the column from May 2010 where Review-Journal writer Sherman Frederick described new arrangements with Righthaven, he called it a technology firm. How is Righthaven a technology firm?
Gibson: Sherman Frederick does not speak for us, and we did not ghostwrite MOREJan 6, 2011 12:39 PM ET
A recent Supreme Court decision, confusing Copyright Office rules and Amazon's Kindle policies all indicate that the only way consumers will ever get to resell "used" ebooks may be to sell their hard drives, too.
By Seth Greenstein, contributor
The holiday season is upon us, and with it thoughts of peace on earth, goodwill... and the latest electronic media. Visions of Kindles and Kinects dance in children's heads (and no doubt yours MOREDec 23, 2010 12:18 PM ET
A federal judge rules in Apple's favor in the Psystar copyright infringement case
Nearly a year and a half after a Miami company called Psystar announced that it was selling "Open Computers" pre-installed with Apple's (AAPL) Mac OS X Leopard -- and 17 months after Apple sued Psystar for copyright infringement -- the case has come to its all-but-foregone conclusion: a federal judge in San Francisco ruled Friday in Apple's favor.
"The MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 14, 2009 3:32 PM ET
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