Beatles bootleg collection released on iTunes

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LOS ANGELES — A collection of often-bootlegged Beatles songs went on sale via iTunes early Tuesday, but the recordings were online only briefly in several countries.

The tracks — expected to be mostly recordings of BBC performances from 1963, along with demos and studio outtakes — appeared at midnight in Britain, only to be pulled down shortly afterward. The digital music giant’s sites in Australia and New Zealand no longer featured the collection by Tuesday morning.

A spokesperson for Universal Music Group confirmed the release of “The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963″ for Tuesday, but provided no additional information.

A music industry executive with knowledge of the arrangements said the tracks will be available on iTunes “for the foreseeable future.” But several observers have suggested the bootlegs’ brief legitimate release would be a way to extend their 50-year copyrights for another 20 years.

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