Apple Inc has dismissed claims in the U.K. press that the Beatles catalog is about to be made available online through the computer giant's iTunes Music Store as "unsubstantiated speculation."

Apple Inc has dismissed claims in the U.K. press that the Beatles catalog is about to be made available online through the computer giant's iTunes Music Store as "unsubstantiated speculation."

Reports on Friday suggested that unnamed sources "close to Sir Paul McCartney" had confirmed that the Beatles catalog would be available online though iTunes and other legal services "within months." However, the claim has been met with a string of "no comments" from the Beatles' own label Apple Corps, and EMI.

"This is not news nor is it a scoop," says an Apple Inc. spokesman, declining further comment.

Efforts to clear the Beatles' music for digital distribution were long delayed by a trademark dispute between Apple Inc. and Apple Corps., which was finally resolved in February 2007.

Speculation about the catalog's arrival online increased following a Billboard interview with McCartney in May 2007, in which he said that the deal to release it was "virtually settled."

That was followed in June by widely reported comments from Olivia Harrison, widow of Beatles guitarist George. She confirmed then that surviving band members McCartney and Ringo Starr, plus the representatives of her late husband and John Lennon, were in agreement that the material should be made available. At that time, an early 2008 release was suggested as likely.

McCartney, whose solo catalog is already available online, subsequently told Billboard.com last November that "it's down to fine-tuning, but I'm pretty sure it'll be happening next year, 2008."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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