Norwegian national broadcaster NRK has pulled a series of 212 podcasts each featuring a different song by the Beatles, citing a breach of its rights agreement. The podcasts would have essentially constituted giving away the entire Beatles catalog for free.
Although the band's music has not been licensed for the Internet, NRK announced on Jan. 6 that its 2007 radio series "Our Daily Beatles" would be made available as a free podcast. Each installment features the story behind a Beatles track; a version without music ran as a podcast in 2007.
The broadcaster planned to make all 212 episodes available by the end of the month, but 14 episodes were briefly made available to download. It then emerged that NRK's rights agreement with the IFPI only allows podcasts from shows broadcast in the previous four weeks.
"The Beatles comes under our agreement with IFPI, which says that we only can put up shows for download that were aired the latest four weeks, and where the music is less than 70% of the show's length," said the statement. "'Our Daily Beatles' aired in 2007, so we have to pull the podcast. If it was aired today, we could have podcasted the next four weeks within the agreement We could have done it, but choose not to."
NRK is in negotiations with the IFPI on a new rights agreement. The broadcaster does have an agreement with TONO, the Norwegian composers' and authors' society, allowing it to put relevant archives online with few limitations.
However, it is questionable whether any blanket agreement would enable the Beatles' music to be available online, given the absence of Internet licensing for the band so far.
The Web site Examiner.com posted the following statement from the Beatles' Apple Corps Ltd.: "It has recently been reported that a Norwegian broadcasting company, NRK, will make Beatles music available for download via a series of podcasts. These podcasts are not authorized by Apple Corps Ltd."