Free, legal music? Can’t be having that

The greed of some record companies never ceases to amaze.

Surely the BBC offering — for a short period of time — free downloads of Beethoven’s symphonies must be a good thing?

Oh no. According to the record companies, “it is devaluing the perceived value of music.”

Actually, offering recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies is perfectly legal, because the music is a bit old now, so any copyright on Beethoven’s work expired long ago. And as mmChronic at New Links says:

Add that to the fact it was being played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra which if course we pay for via our licence fees. Then consider the fact that one of the underlying purposes of the BBC is to inform and educate the British public – I think giving away music by one of the greatest composers ever fits that purpose quite well.

Don’t forget that the music was originally available for “free” (as free as the MP3s were anyway), as they were all originally broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Plenty of people must be put off classical music because of the ridiculous prices. And even when the prices of classical CDs aren’t bad, you know when you see one in the 99p shop that it’s going to be a duff recording. Making classical music more accessible to people is exactly the sort of thing the BBC should be doing. Offering Beethoven’s symphonies to download for free was a stroke of genius; the sort of thing the BBC should do more often. I wouldn’t buy Beethoven’s symphonies on CD. But I did download them, and now I can listen to them whenever the whim takes me.

Anyway, what about all those classical music CDs you get free with organs like The Daily Mail? Do they “devalue the perceived value of the music,” or is it okay because some record company fat cat gets some moolah from the deal?

Update: Cabalamat Journal with more on this.


  1. everyone in the European Union be fingerprinted. This from the man who admitted that ID cards would not have prevented the bombings (thanks to Gary for that one). Away from death, horror and their consequences, Doctor Vee compares the BBC’s generosity with Beethoven symphonies with record companies’ greed . The Moai has some tips for people dealing with recruitment ‘consultants’ (that really sends a shudder down my spine – unhappy memories: “I’d like to get out of market research, I’m sick of it.” “Yes, but all your experience is in market research; let

  2. […] This is horseshit. This is about the greedy commercial music industry maximising its profits; not about maximising public value. When the BBC offered all of Beethoven’s symphonies for free download, it was a massive success and everybody loved it — apart from those greedy bastards who want to lock music away unless you pay their high prices. Because the music industry reacted so violently against it, the BBC has promised never to do anything similar again — despite the fact that it was a huge success. The same is now happening to iPlayer. […]