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First Beatles Single Enters Public Domain in Europe, Prompts Multiple Reissues

The Beatles
Hulton Archive / Fox Photos / Getty Images

Want to own a first pressing of the Beatles‘ ‘Love Me Do,’ but don’t have thousands of dollars in the bank? Good news: Thanks to European copyright law, the Fab Four’s first single is now part of the public domain, meaning anyone can issue new copies for sale.

As VVN Music reports, a number of labels have already been quick to take advantage of the copyright’s expiry, with two companies — Digital Remasterings and Pristine Classical — leading the charge. Digital Remasterings has apparently included ‘Love Me Do’ (and its b-side, ‘P.S. I Love You’) on a new compilation of early Beatles cuts, including the perennially reissued Hamburg Star Club live performances, while Pristine Classical is said to be releasing its own version of the single as a protest of sorts.

As detailed in the VVN Music report, European copyright limits are shorter than those in the States, where intense lobbying by media companies has increased American copyright length repeatedly over the last several decades (it currently stands at 95 years). But it appears that the European Union is following America’s lead; the law “may be changed before the end of this year, moving the threshold to 70 years” — good news for anyone who makes a living from royalties, but a setback for labels like Pristine Classical, whose catalog consists entirely of recordings in the public domain.

It’s a fascinating fight for copyright scholars — and for Beatles fans, well, it’s something of an opportunity to purchase more memorabilia.

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