A campaign is under way to protect music copyrights due to expire on 50-year-old records by Elvis Presley and other rock legends.
Copyrights are due to run out on some of Elvis' biggest hits
The UK music industry has begun the fight over a legal loophole on royalty payments.
Copies of 50-year-old songs can be issued in Europe without the need for payments to copyright owners.
From 1 January 2005 this could affect records by Chuck Berry, James Brown - and by 2013, The Beatles.
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) is spearheading the campaign.
Landmark rock 'n' roll recordings such as Presley's That's All Right and Shake, Rattle and Roll by Bill Haley and his Comets come out of copyright in Europe in January.
Over the next few years major hits by acts such as Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Bo Diddley and Fats Domino will also come into the public domain.
The Beatles' catalogue would begin to become freely available from 1 January 2013, with their first single Love Me Do. The band's entire repertoire - the most prized catalogue in rock music - would follow over the next eight years.
Recordings by other key British acts such as Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Tommy Steele and Lonnie Donegan are also at the centre of the campaign.
Once out of copyright, the BPI fears such potentially lucrative recordings could be exploited without recompense to the performers or the copyright holders.
The Beatles' first single comes into the public domain in 2013
Unlike Europe, copyright protection exists in the US for 95 years after the recording was made. Australia and Brazil have 70-year terms, and India 60 years. Composers and writers also enjoy 70 years' protection.
Peter Jamieson, the BPI's executive chairman, said less favourable copyright terms could put the UK's record industry at a commercial disadvantage to the US.
He said it was unfair to performers and investors to fail to get a return for a "free-for-all" in Europe - often within the artist's lifetime.
Record labels argue that their ability to invest in new talent often depends on money generated by their back catalogue.
The BPI is leading about 20 recording bodies including the Association of Independent Music (Aim) in lobbying the government over its concerns.