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Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Talks to bring The Beatles to iTunes break down

Negotiations to bring the music catalog of The Beatles to Apple's iTunes Store have entered into an indefinite state of limbo with the band's multimedia corporation and former record label disputing the terms of digital distribution.

Speaking at the launch of his new album Electric Arguments, Beatles guitarist Sir Paul McCartney said he's eager to see his former band's catalog made available for sale on digital download sites, but once "heavy negotiations" between Apple Corps and former record label EMI have since "stalled."

According to a report published by the BBC Tuesday morning, EMI still owns the rights to the Beatles recordings and therefore must enter into an agreement with Apple Corps — the company set up by the band to look after their catalogue — before the tracks can be released for digital distribution.

"EMI want something we're not prepared to give 'em. It's between EMI and The Beatles I think - what else is new?," McCartney said. "Last word I got back was it's stalled at the moment. But I really hope it will happen because I think it should."

Rumors (1, 2, 3) that the Beatles and Apple were close to wrapping up an iTunes deal have swirled ever since the two sides ended their three decade-long trademark dispute almost two years ago. However, those plans apparently took a back seat last month when the band announced a landmark deal to have its legendary catalog form the foundation of a new video game from the makers of Rock Band.

When asked about the current situation surrounding iTunes, an EMI spokesperson said the label is "working hard to secure [an] agreement with Apple Corps to make the Beatles' catalogue available in digital form" but added "the various parties involved have been unable to reach agreement."

EMI hopes both sides can make some progress "soon."