Rumours are flying around the net that Apple is close to signing an exclusive deal with The Beatles to sell their vast catalogue of songs via iTunes . At present, no online music service (the likes of iTunes , MSN , Napster etc) is licensed to sell Beatles music or any of the Fab Four's solo work.

There has been no official word from Apple yet regarding a possible deal, and there's also no word from the band's label EMI , nor from their manager-guardian, Neil Aspinall.

Efforts to get in touch with Apple regarding the matter were met with polite reminders that yes, Apple is thankful for the calls, but unfortunately the company 'does not comment on rumour and speculation'.

Word is, though, that a deal is close and that iTunes exclusivity will only be for a limited period of time, with other sites being invited to the party some time in the future. The hanging point is how long this exclusivity will last.

So it seems that Apple doesn't quite hold all the cards on this one. Makes a change. James Rivington