Check this out not cool: Link Here Will the Beatles Take a Bite of Apple Computer? It's a busy time for Apple Computer. Its iPod portable music player is the Walkman of the millennium. The accompanying iTunes program is resolving long-standing disputes in the record industry. Apple is reportedly even looking into buying a record company. But there's a wrinkle. It's the Beatles. They haven't recorded together since 1969. Two of the four original members are, quite sadly, deceased. And yet the Beatles stand to pose a big problem for Apple Computer. That's because the Beatles own a holding company called Apple Corps, Ltd., which controls Apple Records, which released records by the Beatles and other artists from 1968 until the mid-'70s, and was recently resurrected to releases Beatles anthologies. Any good Beatle fan knows that. Apple Computer's Steve Jobs was such a Beatle fan that he named his company after the record label. But the Beatles, who are notoriously protective of their rights and quite litigious, weren't so happy with Jobs. In 1981 they made him sign something agreeing never to go into the music business in order to keep a name they had trademarked. But then in the mid-1980s, Apple Computer started producing music files and software. It had to pony up $26 million when the Beatles sued, and again promised not to go into any more music businesses. Fast forward: Since that last agreement in 1991, Apple has changed its tune. It has the iPod and iTunes. There was talk it was thinking of buying Universal Music Group. It's also said to be having talks with Amazon.com about some sort of joint marketing venture. It's clear that Apple wants into the music business sooner rather than later. The Beatles, I am told, are gearing up for a fight. One might assume that the exclusion of Beatles songs from the Apple iTunes Music Store library has something to do with this. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and a few other acts have so far not agreed to be part of the service, which charges 99 cents per song. Of course, the Beatles aren't part of any legal downloading service. They have always been wary of new technology as it affects royalties. For example, they didn't issue CD's until 1987, five years after the format debuted in North America. A source at their very tony British law firm, Eversheds, says not to read anything into this. "There's no particular reason the Beatles aren't in iTunes. They're not on any service," he says. Another Beatles barrister told me: "There can't be any digital distribution without Apple's consent. And so far it hasn't happened. Neil Aspinall [who runs Apple Corps] has done a wonderful job keeping the group off the Internet and not included in things like Greatest Hits of the Sixties. He's made it exclusive." But soon Apple Corps is going to want something from Apple Computer besides a few laptops for its executives. Even though Apple Corps/Apple Records is a small but thriving operation, its Beatle business continues to produce a lot of money. Recently, the best-selling album 1 made it a fortune. There was also the recent reissue of A Hard Day's Night on DVD. It's just released The Beatles Anthology on DVD for the first time. In the fall, Apple Records will issue Let it Be on DVD and on a remixed CD without Phil Spector's much-discussed overblown production. It should be a bonanza. Still to come are the "lost" Get Back album, as well as first-time CD issues of albums such as Beatles' Rarities and Live at Shea Stadium. There's also a possible Hey Jude album, which was an American-only LP release; and all those tapes recently discovered in vaults and basements will undoubtedly be organized into a commercial project.. Nick Valner, the Beatles' attorney at Eversheds, was away and did not return calls this week. But Apple Corps, which operates in secrecy (its number is unlisted and no one's allowed to give it out), I am told, has been "in meetings" as the Apple Computer story progresses in the newspapers. Valner does not hesitate to move against infringers of the Beatle trademark and neither do the other Beatle lawyers. They've sued over not only domain names but also unauthorized use of the Apple logo. One lawyer who's worked on Beatles cases for 20 years told me: "They are very vigilant about pursuing these things." The question now is how vigilant the Beatles will be concerning Apple Computer's new business interests. Lets hope this does not get messy!!