Originally Posted by user_23
MJ did own some beatle's tunes - perhaps most?...then eventually had to sell them to Sony during one of his bankruptcy settlements.
In the mid-80's, MJ bought the publishing
rights to a varied catalog of music from a music publishing company named ATV for just under US$50 million; only 8% of the total number of songs in that catalog were Beatles songs. This is actually an unusual situation -- publishing rights are almost always held by the record companies themselves and, because they are such a cash cow, they rarely part with them. (Why would anyone sell a money tree?)
Note that publishing rights are separate from songwriter rights, which in this case have always been owned by the Beatles or their heirs (managed by Apple Records). MJ never took a dime from the Beatles themselves, he took it from what amounted to their record company.*
In the mid-90's, Sony paid MJ almost a hundred million bucks (twice what MJ had paid for ATV) to merge MJ's ATV catalog with a catalog owned by Sony. So he gave away half the future ATV royalties and doubled his money in ten years, but by transferring his ATV catalog to a company he held only 50% interest in (with Sony owning the other half) MJ protected the assets that would generate future royalty payments from annoyances like bankruptcy proceedings. Pretty slick, huh?
Now, back to Apple-land. As far as the conspiracy theories go, MJ's heart attack is a dead end (no pun intended). The only thing publishing rights really gives you is the right to cash royalty checks, and possibly is determine who can publish sheet music and lyrics. OBTW, the rights to put someone else's song on a video or on a movie soundtrack (or a video game) is covered by what are called synchronization licenses and those were historically almost never granted by Apple Records (because George Harrison felt it cheapened the music).
The rights to release a remastered set of albums on vinyl, CD or even digitally on MP3s/AACs is covered by the mechanical rights which are mostly held and managed by Apple Records (which is the Beatles and their heirs). And, until a couple of years ago, Apple Records was still run by a guy named Neil Aspinall, who was George's childhood friend. Aspinall was also the force behind the whole "Apple Corps v. Apple Computer" lawsuit, and he passed away recently.
So from a conspiracy theory perspective relative to the Beatles and iTunes, its more significant that Aspinall passed away, as he was the main impediment to having Beatles songs affiliated with anything to do with Apple Computer (and, by extension, iTunes). MJ is just a minor footnote, the royalty checks for the Beatles songs publishing rights now will be cashed by MJ's mom in trust for his kids.
Isn't the music business fun?* Actually, that is something of a gross oversimplification, but the details aren't important to this discussion.