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When did Michael buy the Beatles songs?
Michael Jackson bought the ATV catalog of publishing rights, which includes 250 Beatles songs, on September 6, 1985, for a reported US$47 million.

Since then, he greatly increased its worth by acquiring the publishing rights to many more songs. ATV Music Publishing, owner of over 4,000 songs, was said to have had 1993 revenues of US$30 million, making it worth more than US$400 million. It owned the copyrights to songs by the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Lloyd Price, and the Pointer Sisters, among others. According to Reuters, "a song earns money for both its writer and copyright owner each time it sells on a recorded format, is played on the radio or covered by another artist." Also, the copyright owner can license the songs to movie studios and advertisers for considerable money.

In 1995, after year-long negotiations, Michael Jackson merged the ATV Music Publishing Company with Sony Music Publishing, creating Sony/ATV Music Publishing, now the third-largest music publishing company in the world. It was not a sale. Michael retains 50% ownership of the new company and received at least US$110 million dollars from Sony for the deal, in part because ATV owns 100% of the rights to most of its songs (including the Beatles songs), whereas Sony's income arises from co-publishing or administration. Sony/ATV is worth an estimated US$500 million to $1 billion, having, in addition to the ATV catalog, publishing relationships with such artists as Bob Dylan, Nile Rogers, Mariah Carey, Neil Diamond, and Conway Twitty. Sony will control the new company day-to-day, with a board of directors drawn equally from Sony and Michael Jackson representatives. The ATV songs will continue to be administered by EMI Music Publishing until 1998, when they will revert to Sony/ATV. Michael Jackson's own songs, which belong to his Mijac Music Publishing, are not affected by the deal and continue to be administered by Warner Chappell or Warner Tamerlane.

The rumors that Michael Jackson merged his ATV catalog with Sony in order to solve a cash-flow problem are false and were begun by a speculative November, 1995 article in Newsweek that theorized that the child-molestation settlement and various lawsuits had left him short of liquid assets, and that he therefore pursued the merger for the sake of the US$100 million he would receive. The story was quickly picked up by 'USA Today' and the US tabloid TV shows 'Hard Copy' and 'A Current Affair'. The speculation was contradicted by an expert from Forbes magazine who appeared on E! and by Michael Jackson and his lawyer John Branca, who gave an interview (November 9, 1995) to 'USA Today' to say that cash flow was not a factor. Michael said:

"It's just a great move, a corporate, entrepreneurial thing to do... It's smart business. It's about growth. Everything in life to me is about growth."

Michael Jackson is reported to be interested in buying the Motown catalog next (from Reuters, Billboard, Business Wire, Newsweek, USA Today).

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