• http://www.robmyers.org/ Rob Myers

    These newly recorded performances are not themselves public domain. They are copyrighted works like any other recording of a performance.

    The BBC are making new recordings using public money and releasing them for free. It may not be economic competition (the BBC does not stand to make any money from this) but it could be regarded as displacement. The BBC are having to scale back on their internet operations where they compete with commercial offerings.

    All that said, as we’ve seen time and time again a download does not equal a lost sale. These downloads certainly don’t equal lost sales, and they may well seed the market for the classical music companies.

  • http://www.funender.com/music/enigmapond SWL

    How Wonderful! This would indeed be “unfair competition” only if the only available recordings of Beethoven were public domain. You are still free to purchase, if you so desire, Kurt Mazur or anyone conducting any orchestra. The music by itself should, IMHO, be public domain. To say that it “devalues the perceived value of music” is truly ignorant and could only come from a record label happily fleecing both the public and artists in their quest to make a buck.

  • http://atulchitnis.net Atul Chitnis

    A fantastic opportunity to work with a high profile media organisation to educate people about what “public domain” is really all about.

    The BBC has been doing a lot of good stuff in other areas as well.

  • Jeff Keltner

    The record companies here make a fair point. It is not that the music itself is not in the public domain, but that BBC is using public money to fund performances which it is recording and releasing for free. The record companies also pay artists to perform pieces and then release the recordings for a cost. By utilizing public money to fund competition for these recordings would be unfair. I don’t think any business wants to have the government funding competition to it. However, if a private group decided to undertake the same project, it would be a wonderful idea and certainly could not be considered unfair.

  • Michael Go

    The record executives just don’t get it. I downloaded all of the Beethoven Symphonies. But I already own all 9 symphonies on CD. I also have 5 different versions of the 9th, 2 of the 5th and 3rd. I am sure that a portion of the purchase price have gone to decorate their sumptuous offices or funded their generous retirement funds. I wonder if they need some more to help with the upkeep of their yachts.

    My point is that experiments like these help dissemminate the beauty of Beethoven’s music to those who might not erstwhile have wanted to listen to his music. The record companies do a great disservice to the public and to themselves with their kneejerk, insipit response to the BBC experiment.

    The world is changing, and if the record executives don’t adapt but rather, impede it, they will be relegated to become extinct, albeit perhaps with their cushy retirement funds and plush yachts.

  • jb

    those files are NOT “public domain recordings”.
    according to the embedded metadata, it is performed by
    “BBC Philharmonic conducted by Gianandrea Noseda” and “Copyright BBC Radio 3″. and they clearly prohibit “copy, reproduce, edit, adapt, alter, republish, post, broadcast, transmit, make available to the public” (except for personal, non-commercial use.)

    to Jeff Keltner: I agree with you. I also think the existence of public funded security/communication/education (including cultural education, like Beethoven’s Symphonies) is unfair, for they compete with private sector. just say no to cops, municipal broadband, and water or powerline or school, it’s just UNFAIR!

  • http://www.funender.com/music/enigmapond SWL

    To jb:
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but even if that’s the case and the BBC holds the copyrights, wouldn’t it be up to the BBC to do with them what they like…answer: Yes of coarse!

  • http://www.highprogrammer.com/alan/ Alan De Smet

    …BBC is using public money to fund performances which it is recording and releasing for free. The record companies also pay artists to perform pieces and then release the recordings for a cost. By utilizing public money to fund competition for these recordings would be unfair.

    Government regularly steps in to fund some creation and make it available to the public for free. This often happens in areas in which a business would rather sell the same product or service. Thanks to government you get public roads and public parks. Indeed, in the BBC’s case you get all sorts of original programming freely broadcast throughout the country. You can debate which particular services and products the government should provide, but you need to remember that this is hardly a special case.

  • u07ch

    As a brit who PAYS for the BBC I don’t see how this is wrong at all. The BBC can pretend to be a public service, but its a public service in the same way that the napster music subscriptions are. In order to have a TV receiver or a radio receiver (to watch any of my 100′s of satellite channels) i am required to pay ~$20 a month for the service. I already pay for this music to be created and should be free to use and available to me in a medium that makes my consumption of it easier. When the creative archive goes live are DVD manufacturers going to complain that we can get free comedy video devoid of DRM which we can manipulate to our hearts content.

  • Tim

    There seems to be an analogy here to the US Congressional effort to (basically) eliminate the National Weather Service, making it illegal for them to provide forecasts because they would be in competition with private businesses doing the same.

    Not a copyright issue but a competition issue.

  • Ham

    They are just sore that Beethoven is still dead.

  • Max Lybbert

    This is funny because copyrights were created in Britain as a way of getting rid of competition. Ha, ha, ha.

    I have a hard time seeing the problem here, but that’s probably because I’m American. Think PBS, NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. No, PBS recordings like Mr Rogers Neighborhood are not public domain, per se, but they are released on the airwaves free of charge, and they are funded by public money through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    I can understand being upset about using public money for controversial topics (say, condemning property for economic redevelopment programs).

  • dan

    If we (the people) agree to fund organizations like BBC or PBS using our tax money and more, then therefore we do own the outcome. There is no single reason why we should pay twice to use what we already own.
    Competition does not apply because we (the people) demand recordings of Beethoven and else to be public domain. Speaking of “unfair competition”, this would be the case if the record companies and music industry players gain any sort of monopoly profit. Fair competition would wipe out absurd profits. Looking at MI profits I don’t think there is any competition at all.
    We invented -by mistake- the companies in its legal form to serve us not them. If they complain there is unfair competition, we have to debug the system. May be some companies is the bug – the itchy little moskito. And then we need all the BBC we can fund to get rid of the bugs and to refactor the damaged economic system to a monopoly free version.

  • http://www.tekstadventure.nl/branko/blog/ Branko Collin

    FWIW, the BBC publishes a magazine called BBC Music that has been sporting CDs on its covers for simply ages.

    Copyright is merely one way with which a government can stimulate the production of items that would otherwise not have been produced. A fairly common way is to subsidize unpopular art forms, which of course allows the artist to sell his works cheaper than those of an unsubsidized artist.

  • Jeff Keltner

    There are certainly areas where public funded services compete with private ventures, and rightfully so. But each time the government does this, it is with the goal of supporting an important public need that is not being met adequately. This is certainly the case with cops, public roads and parks and education (especially when considered as a right of all citizens for free). As far as water and power go, society would not function very well without these (though it could well be argued that private ventures would do far better in this area than have public-funded ones, which fall prey to the same ineffeciences as most government programs).

    The point is not that the goverment can not make these choices, but that when there exists and industry which is filling the need perfectly well (I don’t believe anyone has experienced a lack of availability of Beethoven recordings) the government should not interfere. Almost any products could be made available free of charge if the govenment decided to fund their creation and distribution , but that doesn’t make it the appropriate thing for government to do in a free-market economy. And isn’t really a free-market of creative works, and not government control, that really supports the most creativity and innovation?

  • Gareth

    The same arguments could really be held against the very existence of the BBC itself – it is government competition to the other commercial television channels, news websites and radio stations. I hardly think releasing a few hours of music for free for two weeks constitutes unfair competition – at least, it’s only as unfair as anything done by the BBC is to commercial bodies.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jamesday James Day


    “that BBC is using public money to fund performances which it is recording and releasing for free”

    The BBC is primarily funded (80-90%) by mandatory television license fees paid for by the same people who are receiving the released recordings.

    The sooner the whole BBC catalogue of audio and video is available without additional charge, except perhaps for delivery bandwidth, the better. The receiving audience has already paid for its production.

    This is in effect the same principle as most US government works being in the public domain: those who get them have already paid.

  • sherrera

    Of course, according to this logic, the BBC should stop broadcasting TV, because it is unfair competition to Sky Channel. What a quaint interpretation of competition. Whatever happened to the public good, by the way?

  • http://www.therub.net John Pope

    I can imagine that this may harm some record companies sales, at the end of the day I would rather own a legal copy of a piece of music for free than pay for one.
    It is however entirely up to the BBC what it does with a recording which it owns the copyright to. If they want to give them away then that is fine, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.

  • poptones

    There are scores of symphonies (bad pun intended) that would benefit from a greater popularity of classical music. My own state has an opera troupe that can afford just a few performances a year and most of those have to be performed in high school gymnasiums and such. If more people enjoyed opera more people would turn out for these events, which would help improve the economic conditions for the opera company and for the communities that host their performances.

    The BBC is not giving away performances of every symphony, they are giving away a single performance of these symphonies. Anyone who is familiar with classical music knows the “interpretation” of the conductor and the orchestra can have a very dramatic impact upon the final product. If more people are drawn into an appreciation of classical music they too will develop their own repretories of favored condutors and performance companies and will seek out their recordings.

    It is very much in the interest of a government to help promote the arts in a positive fashion. It’s good for our culture and it’s good for business.

  • Paul Gowder

    someone explain again to me why it’s bad for society to make goods available to the public? Why again do we give a damn about record company sales? I’m serious here. Do we really live in a world where we care more about the sales of the few than the benefit of the many?

    This reminds me of the whining by the overpriced useless private delivery companies (fedex etc.) that the U.S. Postal Service is hurting their business by offering cheap, efficient, reliable, easy mail to the public.

    In the words of innumerable conservatives and free-marketeers: Waaaah. Waaaah. Cry me a river.

    Almost any products could be made available free of charge if the govenment decided to fund their creation and distribution , but that doesn’t make it the appropriate thing for government to do in a free-market economy. And isn’t really a free-market of creative works, and not government control, that really supports the most creativity and innovation?

    That statement confuses government “participation” with government “control.” Seriously, folks. It’s not as if the BBC is censoring non-public-funded music. If consumers value non-Beethoven music, they can pay the private market for them.

  • http://www.tekstadventure.nl/branko/blog/ Branko Collin

    When there exists an industry which is filling the need perfectly well the government should not interfere.

    In theory I agree with this, but reality seems a little more complex than that.

    The government has already interfered by creating a playground where authors could thrive. Now the publishers (hey, where did they come from?) cry that the government should not enter their playground. Fair enough. But what if the government does indeed need to enter the playground? This happens often enough. Not all creative works promise to sell enough that a publisher will want to sell them.

    Unfortunately it is not always easy to predict which works need support beyond the support given through today’s extremely broad copyrights. In other words, industry and government together cannot always adequately determine the need that will define the line of separation between consumer-bought and government-funded.

    Whether or not the BBC overstepped its boundaries needs to be determined on a case by case basis. However, I do taste a little hypocrisy in the indignation of the publishers, as the BBC (as I mentioned before) has been selling the concerts of its symphony orchestra for simply ages. There are two things different in the current situation: 1) BBC is giving the concerts away for free, 2) the concerts can be downloaded.

  • poptones

    At less than four bucks a pop for a magazine and a CD they have been giving away the music a very long time. When I was subscribing to music! every issue had an article about someone like Sarah Brightman or Ute Lemper. I’d pay four bucks just for the pics. Rowrrr.

    Also… red dot. I used to have half a shelf of’em. Decent quality recordings of less famous eurasian orchestras, available in record stores more than a decade now and usually selling for something like 3-5 bucks. As I recall, those rich kid publishers complained about that, too.

  • Fred Meyer III

    Corporations have already shown their hand here. Why is it OK to use cheap labor from the second and third world to produce products but it is not OK to compete with governments? Corporations say that we in the 1st world should allow the third world to compete. Eventually the companies in the 3rd world will be forced to increase wages. Well I say that corporations should compete with governments. If governments are doing something that is inefficient, then tax payers will object and vote and throw the devils out of office. Until then the corporations should look elsewhere for profits. It is not unfair.

  • poptones

    Ummm.. what happens when the government doesn’t recognize the rights of its citizens? When the government can lock you up for your political views and force you to work in one of its factories, how do corporations compete? Should they be allowed forced labor as well?

    And don’t think I’m picking on China here. In the southeast US this was a pretty common way for local governments to round up workers for road crews and such. That was allegedly wiped out in the fifties but now we have prisons operating corporate managed call centers and dry goods manufacturing shops. Oh sure, the prisoners can choose to do the work or not… but how much power do they have to negotiate the pay?

  • Karl

    I am not sure what the correlation between competition with the government and a police like state is, because frankly I don’t see a connection.

  • Paul Gowder

    Poptones: ooooh, the BBC is using PRISON labor … no, wait, it isn’t. Can nobody make the distinction between government participation in a marketplace and government enslavement of the populace?

  • Dork

    Anyone have the addy for Taliban/BinLaden, Inc? I seen to recall something about their twisted viewpoint on Islam as being anti-music. Not that I’m pro-violence, nor one to condone terrorism as such, but couldn’t their efforts be better corralled towards unimportant targets such as recording company attorneys, the RIAA, et alia, instead of against innocent Londoners and New Yorkers. I’m no puritanical Mohammedan (my deity is Beethoven), but I think I could plumb some empathy for their sense of a homeland invaded in the light of these comments voiced by the recording industry. Now, you may say such sentiments are the product of foggy thinking, but could you in the same breath claim to be surprised were no florists’ stockrooms overtaxed in the aftermath of an unfortunate meeting of those two organizations? Huh? Could you? Really, be honest now!

  • Ihar Filipau

    Jeff Keltner wrote:
    “The point is not that the goverment can not make these choices, but that when there exists and industry which is filling the need perfectly well (I don’t believe anyone has experienced a lack of availability of Beethoven recordings)”

    Probably you are not classics fun. But I am.
    This is true pain in the [CENSORED] to find certain recordings, certain things performed by certain orchestra/director. Some things gets released once per say five years – go try get them on Amazon or iTMS.

    How glad I was to growth of P2P networks like Napster and Gnutella. Some rare pieces I can find only there. Magnitudes more than Amazon & iTMS combined. People for example ripped ~50 years old vinils of Segovia: try to find them on Amazon. Availability varies with season, wind direction and phase of moon. Or Alirio Diaz. Or some particular works of John Williams. Try it. I have tried. And I’m still trying – but my collection of classical guitar is still far from being complete. And CD collection is at best sparse.

    Business is just business. What makes no profit – creates no business. Ten people per year is not market. Releasing this tracks to public for free download ensured that years later I would be able to find this particular performances without problem. Especially when people who had payed this tracks performance and recording agree with such give-away.


    In the end, I believe that commerce in its extreme wish to monopolize everything, quite effectively dumbs society down. Culture is reflection of society development. And if culture is commercialized, owned and divided – society has few chances to develop itself further. Just compare level of culture of U.S. with Europe, Asia or even Russia. U.S. is the only who had made total business out of culture and society. But when it comes down to society as a whole, people – U.S. is total mess. I have lived in USSR, ex-USSR and now Germany. I occasionally visit my friends in U.S. – the contrast is just enormous.