“Love Me Do”, the first number one single released by The Beatles, has entered the public domain in Europe due to the contemporary copyright laws, reports Rolling Stone.
Released 50 years ago last year (and backed with the B-side of “P.S. I Love You”), the tune, which launched The Fab Four into the musical stratosphere, can now be used free of charge in any forms of media one desires in Europe. The copyright law on the other side of the pond states that all recorded music has an expiration date after 50 years. On December 31st of last year, it took effect.
Without missing a beat (pun not intended), a company called Digital Remasterings has already included the song on a compilation of early Beatles songs. The song has been most associated being distributed by Capitol Records here stateside, but during the early 1960s, the song also was included on various “quick cash in” bootleg compilations and otherwise; an example was being that the song was distributed by defunct Vee-Jay records. Those original pressings containing “Love Me Do” and other Beatles tunes are prized Beatles collector’s artifacts today, as they were quickly put out of print once the ruse was discovered.
However, with the song entering the public domain, companies can freely use the tune, however chintzy or salacious the usage, packaging, distribution, and marketing may be. The lighter side to all this is that there is a move to extend copyrights for 70 years, but that’s something that if does come to fruition, would not take effect until November of this year. That new law would enforce a “use it or lose it clause,” which would simply mean that recordings released before 1963 cannot lay dormant; companies who outright own the product must make said product available for consumer purchase and full usage, or the rights are retained by the artists. This could be something actually which would potentially be a huge benefit for the artist, as there have been lawsuits upon lawsuits for decades about this very issue.
So don’t be surprised now if you hear “Love Me Do” on the cheapest, low rent, low budget Beatles product you can find, or even maybe now in your local supermarket or elevator. One thing remains, the dynamic power of the song itself, however the format it can be now temporarily used in, won’t wilt and the reputation of The Beatles hurting won’t be manifested either. But, it does teach a big lesson about holding onto and making sure to protect precious product and content, before it falls by the wayside to the sharks and wolves who also purvey the rich and tightroped entertainment world which feeds us and vice versa.