Beatles podcast bid scuppered

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An attempt to put the entire Beatles back catalogue on the internet for free has been scuppered.

Norwegian national broadcaster NRK had begun posting 212 tracks online in a series of podcasts, with each song preceded by a three-minute talk about its history.

But the feat has been quashed as it breaches an agreement with rights holders.

NRK has an agreement with Tono, which owns rights to work by Norwegian artists, allowing the broadcaster to make all the material in its archive available in a podcast.

However, IFPI Norway, acting on behalf of its member record company which owns the rights to the Beatles back catalogue, said the podcasts violated the terms of its agreement with the broadcaster.

As the Beatles material was broadcast in 2007, it is not eligible.

Technology adviser for NRK Oyvind Solstad said: "We had a very good and open agreement with the Norwegian composers and people forgot that we need to have the same agreement with the record companies.

"We could have aired the whole thing and then podcast it, but I think the record company would have tried to stop it anyway. There's something in the agreement where they can exclude certain artists."

NRK is a national broadcaster funded by a licence fee which is currently trying to open up decades of archives to the public.

Mr Solstad added: "We want to share as much as possible of our archives with the public. We can't do that if we can only podcast things that have been aired in the past four weeks. We need a better agreement.

"People's media habits have changed, and young people want things on their iPods."

But he said he has "small hopes" that the Beatles material would eventually be released.