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. It would have meant the entire Beatles back catalog was available free online.

Although the band's music has not been licensed for the Internet, NRK announced on Jan. 6 that its radio series "Our Daily Beatles" would be made available as a free podcast. In the series, every episode featured one of the Beatles' 212 songs and the story behind the music; 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, this time with the Beatles' songs. Fourteen episodes were briefly made available to download.

However, the podcast plan has been dropped after it emerged that NRK's rights agreement with the IFPI only allows podcasts from shows broadcast in the previous four weeks. "Our Daily Beatles" was aired in 2007.

The broadcaster said in an online statement that it could not break its agreements with rights holder

"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.

"Both consumers, NRK, artists and record companies will win if we can make our archives available for the public," added the statement. "NRK has several hundred thousand video clips in our archive, and if we only can put up the latest four weeks for podcasting/download, the new services will only have 1% of our content. Which is lame."

NRK does have an agreement with TONO, the Norwegian composers' and authors' society, allowing it to put relevant archives online with few limitations. It allows the broadcaster to podcast shows with music, as long as it isn't more than 70% or 42 minutes per hour. The Beatles' music came under the IFPI agreement.

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 has this statement from Apples Corp: "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."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print