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BBC In Trouble Over Free Music 651

Posted by timothy
from the generate-money-from-spinning-corpses dept.
Take a Byte Out of Crime writes "According to this article, British classical labels are claiming that the BBC giving away the these symphonies, which were performed by the BBC Orchestra for free, constitutes unfair government competition. Apparently all free music really is illegal these days, or soon will be, public domain be damned."
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BBC In Trouble Over Free Music

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:02AM (#13050663)
    Time to get the Ouija board out and see what Beethoven has to say about all of this. He says...

    "First post!"

    Hmmmm...
  • IF THEY LISTEN TO REASON:
    Claim prior art. You know, by Beethoven/Mozart/Bach/whoever.

    IF THEY DO NOT LISTEN TO REASON:
    Claim parody. Like Wierd Al does. I know its british, but I'm making the assumption here that there's a law protecting parody works in the big UK.
    • Claim prior art. You know, by Beethoven/Mozart/Bach/whoever.

      Prior art applies to patent law, not anti-competitive behaviour. Similarily, parody applies to copyright works, and not anti-competitive behaviour.
    • In related news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by einhverfr (238914) <chris...travers@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:22AM (#13050775) Homepage Journal
      A French bus company sues cleaning ladies who carpool.

      Guardian article here. [guardian.co.uk]

      What is up with Europe these days? We were glad when they rejected software patents, but these sorts of legal actions? They make the US look like a country where nobody ever sues anyone without reason ever....
      • There are a lot of silly lawsuits these days, but sure they're a lot better than agression, murder, corruption or robbery cases.

        Also it seems that the common citzen has easy access to the justice, and this is a wonderfull thing. And even better, it shows that the common people can relly on the public defensors when they're accused.

        Here at Brasil justice is a thing for the elites, and the commom man, the poor one, don't really has access to it. Also, there is a lot of corruption in our judiciary system...
    • by hobotron (891379)

      British Classical music IS parody

      *ducks*
  • Proving once again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:03AM (#13050668)
    That no good deed goes unpunished.
  • by aussersterne (212916) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:04AM (#13050681) Homepage
    is that corporations will sue private citizens giving things away for free, claiming "unfair competition by [those people who damn well should be] the buying public."

    Corporations = have rights.

    Anyone/thing else = "with the terrorists."
    • by einhverfr (238914) <chris...travers@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:16AM (#13050751) Homepage Journal
      is that corporations will sue private citizens giving things away for free, claiming "unfair competition by [those people who damn well should be] the buying public."

      Funny you should mention that.

      Check This story from the Guardian out [guardian.co.uk]
    • by riprjak (158717) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @02:25AM (#13051018)
      The french... a bus company is suing some commuters for car [guardian.co.uk]. pooling.

      The world is badly, badly b0rken.
      err!
      jak.
      Making food for useful people since 1972 [blogspot.com].
  • by James A. D. Joyce (742507) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:04AM (#13050682) Homepage Journal
    From the article: "There is the obvious issue that it is devaluing the perceived value of music. You are also leading the public to think that it is fine to download and own these files for nothing."

    Gee, maybe I'm wrong, but aren't Beethoven's symphonies public domain? How dare the BBC introduce a great composer's copyright-free works to a larger audience! They're devaluing it! And by "devaluing the music", you mean "devaluing your stock value", right?
    • by meowsqueak (599208) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:11AM (#13050721)
      It is the performances, not the score that is under debate.
      • The performance is certainly copyrightable, and copyrighted. If you actually downloaded and listened to the symphonies, the audio file is prefaced by a BBC announcer stating that the file is available for free download from the BBC, for a limited time, and they request that the files not be redistributed, and a few other terms of the offering.

        Either the BBC is the copyright holder, or authorized by the holder, which if it is not the BBC it is likely the Philharmonic Orchestra, to host the digital files of
    • Gee, maybe I'm wrong, but aren't Beethoven's symphonies public domain? How dare the BBC introduce a great composer's copyright-free works to a larger audience! They're devaluing it! And by "devaluing the music", you mean "devaluing your stock value", right?

      As far as I know the symphonies themselves are, but specific performances aren't (depending on when they were recorded).
    • To the above three posts, from reading the /. post, aren't the specific performances in question ones that were given by the BBC symphony for free? Thus, don't they have the right to release them for free?
    • Well

      1. These files were played on the radio. I could have recorded them at roughly the same quality and owned them for nothing in first place.

      2. As far as quality goes they are 128Kbit fixed rate encoded MP3. Any classical audiophile will puke at the idea of using it for anything but commuter or office noice supression. Further to that as far ast the 9th goes (I have yet tofind time to listen to the rest) the vocals are relatively lame and the conductor lacks the necessary level of fashism to conduct it t
  • by mister_llah (891540) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:05AM (#13050684) Homepage Journal
    Is it for the protection of the original ideas?

    Or the protection of individual performances?

    ===

    Can you play only public domain songs, sell it, and then have people trading your performances withouit purchasing them be pirates?

    Does anyone know?

    [I legitemately don't but would like to]
    • It's both (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:27AM (#13050801)
      So if you compose a song, it is protected under copyright. People cannot go and repreform that song without giving you royalties. Now in the US, reperformances, called covers, have statutory royalties, so the copyright holder doesn't have much say in it, but you still have to pay them.

      However the performance is seperate, and also copyrighted. While osmeone can do a cover of your song, they can't just copy your performance without permissions.

      This also means that though a given song may be public domain, a particular performance isn't. So all Motzart's works are public domain, you can post the sheet music on the net freely, without fear. However a specific performance of that music may be copyrighted. You can, of course do your own performance, or comission to be done, but you can't just (legally) copy their performance.

      Both are seen as creative works. It is a creative work to create a song, but it is also a creative work to play that song. The musicians have a lot to do with the rendition of it, espically with classical music and I can say as a former classical musician, it's not easy.

      Now in this case, you are allowed to trade the specific performance freely as well. The orignal songs are of course long out of copyright, and the BBC has chosen to give their work in to the public domain, which is their right.

      The challenge is from greedy labels, not over copyright, but over unfair competition. They claim it's unfair that the BBC, which is taxpayer funded, is giving away works that compete with ones they sell. However the status of the copyright isn't being challenged. The BBC Orchestra performed it, and the BBC chose to relinquish the performance to public domain, that's a done deal.
      • Re:It's both (Score:3, Informative)

        by cagliost (794083)
        Scores to Beethoven's Symphonies are not necessarily public domain. The Symphonies themselves are (i.e. those notes in that order), but any copy of the score, whether as a PDF or manuscript, might be copyright. This is because music publishers produce new editions, correcting the "mistakes" of Beethoven and his editors. So a book of Beethoven's symphonies would be copyright unless it is old enough to be public domain.
    • by quarkscat (697644) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @03:37AM (#13051206)
      "And then there was a great disturbance in the
      force, as though a billion souls were suddenly
      extinguished..."

      That "Happy Birthday" song (you know the one I
      mean) is protected, copyrighted material. It
      cannot be commercially reproduced without pay-
      ment of royalties to the copyright holder.
      One may take this to mean that the song may not
      be sung for profit (eg. singing telegram), nor
      can it be written down (eg. birthday card).
      This whole situation seems pretty ludicrous.

      This is not merely a UK copyright issue, but
      also a USA issue. Remember the Disney-sponsored
      "Mickey Mouse" copyright legislation that
      passed with flying colors? No doubt, this same
      situation also exists elsewhere. (So, Mickey
      has been enslaved for yet another 30 years!)

      AFAIK, copyright was established in order to
      reward the original artist/writer/composer
      during his/her lifetime, and not a revenue
      stream for the next 3 generations. Doesn't
      the term "public domain" and "fair use" mean
      anything anymore? It's a damn good thing that
      these onerous copyright laws were not around
      before the advent of the Gutenburg press -- we
      would all still be in the Dark Ages, thinking
      the world is flat. Each hand-copied manuscript
      would have had to be paid for with a pound of
      monk's flesh...
  • by Eric Smith (4379) * <ericNO@SPAMbrouhaha.com> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:05AM (#13050686) Homepage Journal
    The people of the UK have already paid for it! Thus it isn't "unfair competition" either, unless the initial production of the music (not its later distribution) is unfair.

    The complaint that this is unfair strikes me as being very nearly as absurd as the situation in the US where there are private companies complaining that only they should be allowed to have the data collected and generated by the taxpayer-funded National Weather Service, and that taxpayers should not be able to get the data directly from the government.

    • by einstienbc (825770) <einstienbc@gmaEULERil.com minus math_god> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:12AM (#13050725)
      but dont you remember? you're infringing on the rights of the corporations to make money as well as own everything!
    • by mc6809e (214243) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:14AM (#13050731)
      The people of the UK have already paid for it! Thus it isn't "unfair competition" either

      Of course it's unfair. One group gets to force the citizens to pay for what it has produced while another group must rely on their voluntary purchase.

      I doubt you would like to compete against a government that can simply take whatever money it needs from it's "customers".

      • by GlassHeart (579618) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @03:53AM (#13051249) Journal
        Of course it's unfair. One group gets to force the citizens to pay for what it has produced while another group must rely on their voluntary purchase.

        So the US Postal Service is in unfair competition against FedEx and UPS? Or perhaps the police are in unfair competition against security guards? How about public schools putting private schools out of business? (Note that there are examples of successful businesses in every one of the above.)

        Like it or not, there will always be some overlap between the public and private sectors, and in a democracy, voters decide where that overlap ends. Perhaps you would like to rephrase your objections.

        I doubt you would like to compete against a government that can simply take whatever money it needs from it's "customers".

        What I don't assume to have is a God-given right to make a profit doing any particular thing. I think a pay-per-extinguish service instead of a public fire department might be profitable (especially when several neighbors bid for my services while the houses burn). That doesn't mean the government's fire department is unfairly competing against me, does it?

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:33AM (#13050827)
      Lawsuits of this type aren't always without merit. The idea is that in a capatalism, the government isn't allowed to unfairly compete with private corperations. I mean the government can basically always win out in a price war if they want since they can cover costs through taxes, which people don't count in the price since they aren't a direct charge. Since in a capatalism it is undesirable to have the government run everything (wouldn't be a capatalism if they did) it is generally illegal for them to unfairly compete with the private sector.

      Now I see this as very differnet. The government isn't competing, they are doing a public service. They aren't trying to have CDs put in stores next to other classical works but for a lower price, they are just releasing some electronic music to the masses. Private entities aren't precluded form competing, they can produce different/better versions of these symphonies (like a DVD-A or DTS CD or something). This is just record companies being whiny.

      Personally I say distribute more classical music, or shut the fuck up. It's truly pathetic the selection of classical available. Record labels don't like it very much since it's fairly expensive to produce (an orchestra has a lot of musicians, all who need to be paid, usually up front) and it doesn't sell nearly as much as pop music.
  • by (H)elix1 (231155) <slashdot.helix@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:09AM (#13050711) Homepage Journal
    If these are the same ones I downloaded, they spent a few minutes chatting before they started the music. Not quite as bad as ads, but still, nothing that would cause folks who just played music anything to worry about.

    Too bad - but made me take the time to rip a couple CD's for my MP3 player.
  • Not only the music industry, even the UK newspaper's are facing tough competition [ebusinessforum.com] from the BBC's news website.
    • Re:similar trends (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mc6809e (214243)
      Not only the music industry, even the UK newspaper's are facing tough competition from the BBC's news website.

      The interesting thing about this is that the UK newspapers are being forced to support their competition through taxes.

      They're forced to pay the government to dig their own economic graves.

      • Sorry, bollocks (Score:5, Interesting)

        by panurge (573432) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @02:57AM (#13051110)
        News International (part of the Murdoch empire) avoids UK taxes and has done for many years. In fact, they are effectively being subsidised by the UK taxpayer.

        And, as for tough competition, last time I looked The Guardian, a small circulation not for profit UK newspaper, had a website which has more page views than most of the rest of the UK newspaper industry put together, and competes with the BBC given far less resources. The truth is, Murdoch, Rothermere and Sullivan between them have reduced the UK newspaper industry to such low grade sensationalist crap that they cannot compete with anybody who does a half decent job, at least where the audience who can read and write are concerned.

        • Re:Sorry, bollocks (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mc6809e (214243) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @04:00AM (#13051270)
          News International (part of the Murdoch empire) avoids UK taxes and has done for many years. In fact, they are effectively being subsidised by the UK taxpayer.

          Really? I'd like to know how it is they avoid paying UK taxes. Some proof would be nice.

          And how are they being subsidised by the UK taxpayer? Do they collect tax money? Again, some proof would be nice.

          And are they representative of all the newpapers in the UK? Even if they don't pay taxes, do all newspapers not pay taxes? It seems like you're providing what may be a single exception to suggest something in general. Again, how about some proof?

          • Re:Sorry, bollocks (Score:4, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @04:28AM (#13051370)
            Article [vision.net.au]

            quote: "Newscorp Investments is Rupert Murdoch's main British holding company. Although the group's profits over the past 11 years add up to £1.4 billion ($2.1 billion), it has paid no net British corporation tax."

            He manages this by organising his companies into a complex web of subsidiaries incorporated in various tax havens such as the Cayman Islands. This also means he can get around the reporting requirements of financial regulators such as the SEC and the FSA.
        • Re:Sorry, bollocks (Score:3, Informative)

          by julesh (229690)
          The Guardian, a small circulation not for profit UK newspaper

          Huh? The Guardian is hardly what I'd call small circulation (average 368,337 copies [adinfo-guardian.co.uk]), and according to their corporate web site they made £32.7 million profit after amortisation and exceptional items [gmgplc.co.uk] in 2004. Maybe you're confusing them with someone else?

          Oh, and you know why the Guardian's web site is so popular? Largely because they were the first British newspaper to set up an online edition.
  • by jamesjw (213986)
    They'll be banning MIDI in soundcards soon.. Cant have MIDI reproducing music without loss.. holy crap..

    Its time to get your handbaskets organised people, cause we're all about to go to hell..

    -- Jim.
  • Please Sue! (Score:4, Funny)

    by elronxenu (117773) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:12AM (#13050724) Homepage
    ... Then I can submit this to Groklaw in response to PJ's challenge to find the most stupid lawsuit ever.
  • by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:12AM (#13050726) Homepage
    At first I thought this was ridiculous because music isn't a commodity, it's not like the government is selling the same thing as the music companies. But when I thought about it some more, in ways, most classical music is a commodity. I mean, when you're looking for Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody #2, for the most part people don't care about who plays it, the just care that it's a recording of the piece they're looking for. That said, it's not entirely commoditized, I mean, there are differences between recordings, there are different arrangements, different qualities of recording, etc.

    It seems very odd though that record companies dealing in classic music would be of the opinion that classical recordings are commodities or that even if they weren't of that opinion, that they would encourage people to think of it that way. It just seems like bad business.
    • by globalar (669767) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @03:24AM (#13051179) Homepage
      Record companies are well aware that certain artists, orchestras, choirs, etc. draw far better sales than unknowns. This fact alone makes their point fairly mute. They gladly put out whole new recordings simply because $conductor's name is on it and charge a premium.

      In addition, there are so many variables for "classical" music, you would have a hard time labeling it a commodity. Not to berate pop music, but there is simply more to something like a Beethoven symphony than the latest $band single.

      For example, I have three copies of Handel's Messiah. One is a great recording in the style of Handel's time period (the choir's enunciation is extremely distinct, for example). Another is an Americanized version with fewer instruments, mellowed diction, and a very clear recording. The third one has strong diction, full accompaniment, lackluster performance, average recording quality, and a few modern twists (for example the soporano is a male).

      Each of these recordings sounds incredibly different. Everything from the dynamics to the recording quality itself significantly add to the experience. And I'm not even an audiophile. I intentionally bought different interpretations of the music because I enjoy Handel's work through the ears of different artists.
  • Whiners (Score:5, Funny)

    by dtfinch (661405) * on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:13AM (#13050727) Journal
    If you not good enough to compete with the public domain, then it's time to rethink your career.
  • by newandyh-r (724533) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:13AM (#13050729)
    Is there any intrinsic difference between making the performances available for download and broadcasting the performances on digital radio.
    If you have the right equipment (such as a Psion Wavefinder) and a reliable signal (not so easy for digital) you can record all the Proms at MP3 equivalent quality.
  • Unfair Competition? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sigloiv (870394) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:15AM (#13050738)
    constitutes unfair government competition

    I don't understand how giving something away for free could be seen as competition. It's not like you can buy the exact same thing from a someone else. On the other hand, if this was something like Mozart/Bach/any|other|classic|artist where no one owns a copyright, then I guess giving it away while someone was selling it could be seen as an unfair buisness practice.

    I still take the side of BBC on this one, though. They recorded the music with their own in-house orchestra and therefore should be able to distribute it any way they like. Period.

    • by amliebsch (724858) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @02:36AM (#13051056) Journal
      I don't understand how giving something away for free could be seen as competition.

      Here's an analogy for the Slashdot crowd:

      The BBC is like Microsoft, except its power to force consumers to pay up comes not from sleazy deals and market penetration but the well-polished heel of a bobby's boot. The classical recordings, then, are like Internet Explorer, which they are giving away for "free" (though in reality subsidized by the rents created from their power position), and this record industry exec is like Netscape, trying to protect a stagnant, failing product space while whining about how consumers are harmed by delivery of a free product.

      So the question for you is: are you consistent in your application of principles in these cases? Because I have a feeling that if you said:

      I still take the side of Microsoft on this one, though. They created the browser with their own in-house programmers and therefore should be able to distribute it any way they like. Period.

      ...well, you might get some more vocal disagreement!

      • That analogy isn't fair. The BBC isn't hurting inexperienced users/listeners through bad product, and the BBC isn't forcing you to listen to its version, but simply gives you the option of listening to its music for free.

        This is just like Opera complaining that Mozilla is giving away Firefox for free.
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @07:02AM (#13051790) Journal
        Except that they are not encouraging vendor lock-in. Nothing that the BBC is doing is going to force people to use their service. The BBC symphonies don't include special features that speaker manufacturers will use that will prevent me from listening to other symphonies on them. In short, I am completely free to buy the Herbert von Karajan recordings of the symphonies (get a Mac?) without any interference from the BBC and without suffering any ill effects.
      • The BBC is like Microsoft, except its power to force consumers to pay up comes not from sleazy deals and market penetration but the well-polished heel of a bobby's boot. The classical recordings, then, are like Internet Explorer, which they are giving away for "free" (though in reality subsidized by the rents created from their power position), and this record industry exec is like Netscape, trying to protect a stagnant, failing product space while whining about how consumers are harmed by delivery of a fre
  • by poptones (653660) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:15AM (#13050740) Journal
    Just more insight into why the recorded music industry is dieing.

    I subscribed to BBC music magazine for quite some time - just for the music. Three bucks a month and it came with a CD attached to every cover. This isn't the first time the classical music fuzzheads have shown their cluelessness - when Sarah Brightman first started gaining popularity many decried how she was "corrupting the form." And when classical compilation CDs produced by small publishers (usually recordings of performances by east euro orchestras) many of these dying purists attacked them - again - for "diluting the value of these works."

    This really is pretty standard fare for those old school classical publishers. It's not about copyright, it's about fox hunts and cardboard people and preserving their "high end" market image.
  • by tetrahedrassface (675645) * on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:16AM (#13050745) Journal
    This stinks for a number of reasons but here are few.

    First of all the music industry is consipiring to strangle the very human instinct of music. It is in us, and we are genetically programmed to appreciate it.

    The reason this industry is fighting so hard is greed. Pure and simple greed.

    They have a way of life/business model that can't addapt to the quickly changing digital world around them so like vultures they are clawing at their food supply.. namely your dollars.

    So whats to do? Namely the copyright holders of each song/piece of music ulitmately control if it is placed in the public domain. Currently most are being greedy.. or are just clueless.

    Its pyrimid ponzi scheme of artistic and corporate collusion, and its only getting worse.

    They are the music nazis, and if you want it you must join their party and play their game.

    We need to continue to encourage folks to step up to the plate. Bands, artists, songwriters of all flavors should make thier stuff availible online with one CC stipulation.. It can't be sold/profitted from unless the copyright holder changes the license.

    Most of the stuff from the big labels is corporate shit anyway.. the only reason folks buy it is they are told its cool.

    So those of who do make music cause you frelling love it, and not because you want a damn easy check fight on.

    Live it, love it, make it real.

    Even if you suck its better than canned spam coming out yer radio.

    Peace, D

  • by advocate_one (662832) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:16AM (#13050749)
    well, if they're objecting so much about this, perhaps they should launch a court case and see just how far they get

    or could it be because they haven't got a leg to stand on and the BBC is perfectly within it's rights to have done this... having copyright anyway in the performance that they did, and therefore, they could dispose of it exactly as they wished, including making it available for free download so nya... nya...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:16AM (#13050750)
    I'm sure many of us understand how the BBC works, it's funded in majority by the license fee we Brits have to pay per household every year. I think I paid 130UKP last year (220USD).

    The argument about value for money is a can of worms I'm not going to touch, however, it smacks a little bit of unfairness if my US based cousins can enjoy what is arguably the best part of the BBC (BBC Online) without having to contribute a penny.

    BBC Online should be protected in-line with the rest of the BBC, the content should be un-lockable via entry of my license number.

    The same goes for the recent deal done to broadcast Radio 1 on Sirrius. Presumably the profit goes back in to creating the BBC, however, I'd prefer it to go back in to my already stretched pocket.
    • "it smacks a little bit of unfairness if my US based cousins can enjoy what is arguably the best part of the BBC (BBC Online) without having to contribute a penny."

      Well, last week's Live 8 concert was limited to the UK - except that some people managed to put up proxy servers that allowed people outside the UK to see it. So I got my fix of the Corrs - especially Andrea being very sexy (again) with Bono (again) on "When The Stars Go Blue". (Actually I didn't get it online myself, but other people did and
    • by SamNmaX (613567) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:50AM (#13050889)
      The argument about value for money is a can of worms I'm not going to touch, however, it smacks a little bit of unfairness if my US based cousins can enjoy what is arguably the best part of the BBC (BBC Online) without having to contribute a penny.

      BBC Online should be protected in-line with the rest of the BBC, the content should be un-lockable via entry of my license number.

      Cry me a river. You don't lose anything having other have access to this music. While it might be officially setup as you paying for a 'licence', it's essentially a tax similar to all other taxes.

      If the government wants to spend it's money providing it's citizens classical music, great. If it allows others outside it's borders access to it, that's great gesture of goodwill. It's not like you don't already benefit from the goodwill of others. Open source software is an obvious example of this.

      I think it's about time that we get rid of crown (government) copyright altogether. Copyright as a rule limits who gets access to something, however when a government produces something their goals should be maximizing the public benefit, and that is not equivalent to maximizing their tax revenue.

    • by Derling Whirvish (636322) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @02:03AM (#13050936) Journal
      I'm sure many of us understand how the BBC works, it's funded in majority by the license fee we Brits have to pay per household every year. I think I paid 130UKP last year (220USD).

      Likewise, I'm sure you are aware that the Global Positioning System is funded wholly by an income tax levyed on my personal income and paid to the Department of Defense.

      it smacks a little bit of unfairness if my US based cousins can enjoy what is arguably the best part of the BBC (BBC Online) without having to contribute a penny.

      And likewise unfair that you can enjoy a precision navigation system paid for entirely on the dime of the U.S. taxpayer.

      BBC Online should be protected in-line with the rest of the BBC, the content should be un-lockable via entry of my license number.

      And you should have to use a smart card with a paid-up subscription to activate any GPS receiver you may want to use -- oh wait, isn't that what you have in mind for the Galileo system?

    • As one of those Americans, I would like to point out that the BBC has programming on both the radio and the television worth watching/listening. Your 220USD is less than you'd pay for a cable service and you still wouldn't get any good stuff. So cram it. The minute the BBC starts charging overseas customers for a H.264 video stream over the Internet, I'm converting to pounds and paying them what they ask. There's so much government waste and stupidity in the world and you want to complain about governme
  • by edunbar93 (141167) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:24AM (#13050788)
    Since the BBC (radio and TV) broadcast their programming for free and without advertising, all their works, past and present, constitute "unfair government competition."

    Nevermind that they are essentially the vanguards of British culture the world over. That's not important at all.
  • by mitsuhama (587060) <reagan,m,neal&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:32AM (#13050821) Homepage
    to get your free http://hebb.mit.edu/FreeMusic/ [mit.edu] classical music.
  • by ahodgkinson (662233) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:37AM (#13050843) Homepage Journal
    The music industry is grasping at straws because it fears it is dying. It is another example of the inappropriate behavior of an industry that is unable to offer something that customers are willing to pay for.

    Laughing aside the argument that giving away something provides a justification(1) for stealing, lawyers could argue the following:

    So, is this like when Microsoft first gave away Internet Explorer, in an attempt to shut down Netscape, which ultimately succeeded. What happened to them? Well, the Justice department decided that Microsoft was a monopoly and was unfairly using its monopoly powers. In the end, in spite of being found guilty, no punishment was enacted and the give away of Internet Explorer continues to this day.

    This argues that BBC should be allowed to give away music.

    Your opponent might then argue that BBC is a government entity and that private music producers have to compete against an entity giving away product subsidized by taxpayers money.

    You could then counter and compare it against the situation where a government gives away medicine in an attempt to wipe out a disease affecting its citizens. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't know of any cases where giving away medicine in such circumstances has been prohibited. There are even case of patent violations where countries have copied drugs (I seem to remember this has occured in South Africa and Brazil) in order to reduce the cost.

    In this case you might argue that the drug is music and the disease is modern culture.. but let's not start up that old argument.

    In any case, this also argues that BBC should be allowed to give away music.

    -----

    (1) Think about the free product samples you see in stores occasionally. Do you think that this makes people believe that they can take home large packages of the same product being offered for sale without paying?

  • by CyricZ (887944) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:40AM (#13050856)
    I fear we are beginning to see the problems of diseases on capitalism really rearing their heads these days. The greed recently is overwhelming! Perhaps it is because most Western nations have lost their tangible manufacturing base to countries like India, Taiwan and China. Now instead of manufacturing goods, all that Western companies can do is manufacture "intellectual property". Since such "property", be it movies or music, isn't tangible in any way, it is often quite easy to reproduce and distribute. As such, these corporations and groups must resort to legalities to make a living.

    Indeed, what we are seeing is a disease on capitalism and the free market. Our capitalism has been infected with intangible goods that are being treated as if they were tangible by the forces of law. The free market is not being allowed to work, and trouble is the result. Indeed, one cannot have an effective capitalistic society without a free market. Our free market has become diseased with intellectual property legalities, and as such fails to work to the benefit of society.
  • by MsGeek (162936) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @01:59AM (#13050922) Homepage Journal
    I sure am glad the Berman Hack-Back bill went down to defeat, because I downloaded all of the symphonies. Wouldn't want someone from the RIAA going into my network because they think I'm taking bread from the mouths of RCA Red Seal, Deutsche Grammaphon, or whatever classical label you'd care to name...

    I mean, really...the Beeb does this to get people interested in Classical music. They certainly succeed, too...when this first appeared in Slashdot downloading was impossible for the next 48 hours after the article appeared. It was only thanks to archive.org and a few other sites that I was able to glom onto the whole set.

    You can bet there won't be a "repeat performance" of something like this from the Beeb. Thanks a lot, pigopolists...
  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @02:05AM (#13050947)
    Except that all British Citizens have paid for this music whether they chose to or not. That would be the same as if the government charged everyone $15,000 and then gave everyone a "free" car. It's not exactly fair to the competition.
    • Except that all British Citizens have paid for this music whether they chose to or not. That would be the same as if the government charged everyone $15,000 and then gave everyone a "free" car. It's not exactly fair to the competition.

      That's not the same thing. I think car manufacturers would be very happy because the government has to buy those cars from someone -- it's good for business, it's good for economy. It's not good for the environment or for the ability to get to work on time, but that's anothe

  • by alanw (1822) * <alan@wylie.me.uk> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @02:16AM (#13050989) Homepage
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/441 5829.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    Naxos issue low cost CDs of classical recordings. Three months ago they lost a court case brought by the Capitol label.

    A major change to US music copyright practices could be in the offing after a court ruled a record label broke the law by reissuing old recordings.

    New York's highest court said Naxos was wrong to release classical recordings by Yehudi Menuhin and others - even though they were out of copyright.

    The court said such recordings were still covered by common law.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @02:53AM (#13051097)
    .. wives and girlfriends for unfair competition
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @04:46AM (#13051426) Homepage
    For instance Donald Betts [innig.net] has put up his own recordings of music by Chopin. Now that these are out there - no one need ever pay for those pieces again; unless they don't like his interpretation.

    All that it takes is people like him and, over time, more and more music becomes unencumbered.

    I am surprised that the large corporations have not cottoned onto the idea of free music as an inducement to advertising. Think of the vast sums that they spend just to have their name put in front of people's eyes (think: adverts in football or formula 1 racing). Those cost a lot of money.

    What would it cost to commission an orchestra to play Mozart/Beethoven/... and release the MP3s with a short message of the form: ''Beethoven's Moonlight sonata brought to you by XXX, purveyors of fine YYY'' ? If it isn't too intrusive most people would not skip it or edit it from the MP3. The licence could be personal use, no redistribution which means that everyone who wants it should go to their web site and see more adverts for YYY.

    1. Pay an orchestra a few thousand pounds to play some classical music
    2. Put it up on a web site as a free personal download
    3. Lots of people visit the web site
    4. Lots of people listen to the name XXX when they listen to the music
    5. Those people are more likely to buy XXX's YYY
    6. Profit !!!
    • You don't even have to encumber it by advertising if they'd do it as part of a larger campain.

      In the UK, Levi's used Haendel's Sarabande from his Suite in D minor for an ad back in 2002/2003. The piece was relatively unknown by the general public, but as a result of the ad the largest classical radio station kept getting huge number of requests for it for months, many of them just for "that song from the Levi's ad", and whenever they'd play it, they'd refer to Levi's as well.

      To this day I'd expect most

  • by airship (242862) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @10:34AM (#13053297) Homepage
    Recently in Iowa City (my hometown) there was a guest editorial in the local newspaper complaining that allowing the city's firemen to give one another free haircuts deprived local haircutters of their livelihood. The Mayor and the City Council got on it right away and banned the city's firefighters from giving each other haircuts. (True story [press-citizen.com].)
    So anything you do for somebody else that could potentially make a profit for anyone who is in business is now illegal? You can't give a buddy a free beer, because that deprives the local bar of business. You can't have friends over for dinner because they might have gone to a restaurant for dinner. Heck, you probably can't even have sex with your significant other, because they might have gone to a prostitute!
    I hate the 21st century. I think I'll to out and sue somebody.
  • by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @10:55AM (#13053508) Homepage

    One of the things that has been forgotten here, is that the BBC has in its constitution, the requirement that it does not stifle the free market.

    There is nothing in UK law [1] that prohibits the BBC nor anyone from releasing noncopyrighted music.

    However, UK law isn't what's at question here. What's at question is whether the BBC broke its own rules.

    The BBC is funded almost entirely by a tax on television ownership, and overall control belongs to an unelected body appointed by the government. Part of the BBC's responsibilities are to foster the broadcasting market in the UK, a small country that would otherwise be drowned in foriegn imports. This means balancing making more programmes to encourage the market in areas where it is deficient (for instance, classical drama), making quality programmes in areas where competition might otherwise drown the market with low-quality products (for instance, soap operas), and making no programmes in areas where the market already produces diverse quality (for instance, AOR).

    [1] Actually there are hardly any UK laws, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have different legal systems. Usually English and Welsh law is identical. Scottish and Northern Irish law frequently differs.

  • it's not "free" (Score:3, Informative)

    by cahiha (873942) on Wednesday July 13, 2005 @06:54PM (#13058261)
    The BBC is paid for by fees that anybody with a television is required to pay. So, no, whatever you get from the BBC isn't free, it's paid for. Given that the BBC produces some of the best programming anywhere, I think that's still a good deal.

    Is it unfair? No. Contrary what companies want you to believe, they exist only because the public lets them. We can dissolve corporate charters, hand out monopolies, regulate companies, put companies under state control, and destroy business models. The only thing we can't do is disown people: people can get whatever their shares are worth after we, the people, are through with doing to a company what we think needs to be done to a company.

    As a rule, we don't do a lot of unnecessary things to companies because it is bad. But people need to be reminded every now and then that corporations only exist for our benefit as a society, not for any other purpose.

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

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