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Metallica Bows to iTunes; Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead Still Holding Out

There's justice for all, but you can't hold their hand.

Metallica — which famously battled Napster (NAPS) over digital music — finally succumbed to the Internet last week, allowing its music to be downloaded on iTunes.

[The band put up only its first four albums — "Kill 'Em All," "Ride the Lightning," "Master of Puppets" and "...And Justice for All" — for sale on iTunes, according to the Associated Press. As with most iTunes artists, songs could be downloaded for 99 cents each, and entire albums for $9.90.]

But music fans still can't purchase songs from a handful of prominent holdouts, including Led Zeppelin and the Beatles.

The litigation between the Beatles' Apple Corps and iTunes parent Apple Computer (AAPL) over the use of the Apple name can't have made the Fab Four and their heirs favorably disposed toward iTunes. And Apple Corps explained a desire to remaster every track before digitally selling them — on any service.

Still, when the Beatles and Apple Corps lost the court case with the computer firm in May, Steve Jobs, Apple Computer's chief, was optimistic.

"We have always loved The Beatles, and hopefully we can work together now to get them on the iTunes Music store," Jobs said.

While Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Dave Matthews Band recently surrendered to the digital iTunes dollar, other artists cite creative integrity as a reason for holding out.

One band in particular? Radiohead.

Thom Yorke and company don't believe in unbundling — selling a song for 99 cents instead of the entire album.

However, Yorke's solo effort, "The Eraser," is available on iTunes, track by track, so that could be a good sign for Radiohead fans when it comes to the group's next disc.

"We have been working with the Beatles and all of our other artists to convince them to make their music available on all the digital formats," says EMI North America spokesperson Jeanne P. Meyer, adding the company respects any matters of artistic integrity a band such as Radiohead might have.

"Would Jackson Pollock want to have his paintings chopped up and sold separately?" she asks.

[Radiohead recently chose not to renew its contract with EMI, making it perhaps the world's most prominent unsigned act.]

However, Brian Garrity, Billboard's business editor, thinks all artists need to be more forward-thinking in this digital age.

"Bands need to let go of their insistence on full-album distribution," he says. "The arrival of Metallica is good on a symbolic level. It shows acceptance."