LONDON Rare recordings of 59 songs by the Beatles will go on sale for the first time on Tuesday when Apple Records makes them available for download.
Apple, a label founded by the Beatles in 1968, said it would release a series of tracks from the early 1960s that were previously only available as bootleg recordings.
Among the songs to be released on iTunes are versions of "She Loves You", "A Taste of Honey" and "There's a Place", as well as outtakes, demos and live performances recorded for BBC radio.
A spokeswoman for Apple Records declined to explain the timing of the release or comment on speculation that it was aimed at extending copyright over the material.
In 2011, the European Union ruled that copyright over sound recordings should be extended from 50 to 70 years from next year, but only for recordings released before the 50-year term had expired.
The bulk of the Beatles tracks available for download from Tuesday were recorded for the BBC in 1963 but not released.
Others have already capitalized on the changes to EU legislation to maintain control over their back catalogues.
The legislation has been dubbed "Cliff's law" in Britain for the additional royalties it would provide for veteran rocker Cliff Richard, whose songs had been starting to fall out of copyright.
In late December last year, Sony Music released a compilation of Bob Dylan recordings from 1962 and 1963, giving away the reason for the move with a frank subtitle: "The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. 1."
Sony only released 100 copies of the Bob Dylan recordings. It was not immediately clear whether Apple Records would limit downloads of the Beatles songs.
(This story has been refiled to correct release date of Sony compilation in paragraph 9)
(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)