Apple iTunes Store to stock The Beatles

Apple is preparing to announce that its iTunes Store will soon feature music by The Beatles, ending a long-running dispute between the iPod maker and the iconic rock band, founders of music company Apple Corps.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, "people familiar with the situation" say a deal is on the cards between the Cupertino company and lawyers for the band and EMI Records. The record company is the owner of the Fab Four's recordings, which are published under the Apple Records label.

The deal, if struck, will finally fill an obvious hole in the iTunes music selection, left by Apple Corps' refusal to allow Apple, Inc to stock The Beatles' work.

The boycott came as a result of a legal dispute between the firms that began in 2003, when Apple Corps sued the computer giant for going back on an undertaking not to enter the music business, made as part of the settlement of a trademark dispute between the two companies in 1978.

The deal isn't in the bag yet, though. The WSJ's sources warn that Apple lawyers could still pull the plug on the deal at the last minute.

Apple, EMI and Paul McCartney declined to comment on the agreement.