Norway pulls downloadable Beatles podcasts

Norway's public broadcaster has stopped offering a downloadable podcast with songs from the Beatles, citing legal problems.

Norway's public broadcaster has stopped offering a downloadable podcast with songs from the Beatles, citing a licensing issue.

The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) said on Tuesday it thought its licensing arrangement with the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) allowed it to podcast a 212-episode series called "Our Daily Beatles."

The series features a few minutes of commentary in Norwegian about a Beatles song before playing the full track. NRK's podcast plan received wide press coverage as it was thought to be the first time Beatles songs were legally put online and free.

"Some thought this was too good to be true," the station wrote on its blog. "And it was."

The short-lived offering, in which more than a dozen of the podcasts were put online, was pulled after NRK found that its licensing deal only allows rebroadcasting of content originally aired within the last four weeks. The Beatles series was first broadcast in 2007.

NRK said listeners have asked the station to rebroadcast the series again so it could then be podcasted legally, but NRK said it has decided not to.

NRK said it is currently in negotiations with IFPI after its contract to use music controlled by the organization expired on Dec. 31.

The broadcaster is seeking an agreement similar to one it has with TONO, which administers the rights to music from Norwegian musicians. That agreement lets NRK use music as long as it comprises less than 70 percent of an hourly broadcast, or no more than 42 minutes.

IFPI's terms have the same restriction but also impose the four-week limit.

NRK said it pays TONO a "considerable amount of money" for those rights, but it enables the broadcaster to create new services drawing on a vast amount of content.

If NRK is bound by the four-week limit, it can only offer around 1 percent of its content for podcasting and downloading, which the station characterized as "lame."

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Jeremy Kirk

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