In 1963 The Beatles gave their song publishing rights to Northern Songs, a company created by Brian Epstein and music publisher Dick James. Northern Songs went public in 1965 with Lennon and McCartney each holding 15% of the company's shares while Dick James and the company's chairman, Charles Silver, held a controlling 37.5%. In 1969, following a failed attempt by Lennon and McCartney to buy back the company, James and Silver sold Northern Songs to British TV company Associated TeleVision (ATV), in which Lennon and McCartney received stock.
In 1985 ATV's music catalogue was sold to Michael Jackson for a reported $47 million (beating McCartney's bid), including the publishing rights to over 200 Beatles songs. A decade later Jackson and Sony merged their music publishing businesses. Since 1995 Jackson and Sony/ATV Music Publishing have jointly owned most of The Beatles' songs. Sony later reported that Jackson had used his share of their co-owned Beatles' catalogue as collateral for a loan from the music company. Meanwhile Lennon's estate and McCartney still receive their standard songwriter shares of the royalties.
Although the Jackson-Sony catalogue includes most of The Beatles' greatest hits, a few of the early songs weren't included in the original ATV deal and McCartney later succeeded in personally acquiring the publishing rights to Love Me Do, Please Please Me, P.S. I Love You and Ask Me Why.
Harrison and Starr didn't renew their songwriting contracts with Northern Songs in 1968, signing with Apple Publishing instead. Harrison later created Harrisongs, his own company which still owns the rights to his classics such as While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Something. Ringo Starr also created his own company, called Startling Music. It holds the rights to his two Beatle-composed songs, "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden."