As I reported back in June, the BBC's Radio 3 offered 9 Beethoven symphonies for free download on their website in a staggered period ending early this month. This article from the British newspaper The Independent comes via Scripting News. This is why the Internet can't have nice things anymore.

Managing director of the Naxos label, Anthony Anderson, said: "I think there is a question of whether a publicly funded broadcaster should be doing this and 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."

This is the same Naxos that was touted not eight months ago for streaming sweet, sweet music to all Harvard students through a partnership with the behemoth that is Harvard's library system.

The classical music labels should look at the BBC's "experiment" as an aid for their business. I do not get exposed to very much classical music (I still think I listen to more than the average person my age, but it is still not a significant portion of the music I hear); listening to over 300 MB of Beethoven might provide me with a more lasting interest in the genre. Also, the BBC's "Beethoven Experience" was about more than just free music downloads. It was a full week of radio programs about the whole of Beethoven's work and his importance to both classical music and the world. Without any contemporary interest in classical music, Naxos and other classical music companies would become bankrupt.

If you missed downloading the music from the BBC, I would provide them here, except that their license prohibits redistribution. Thus, I can only give you Wikipedia's selection of Beethoven music, encoded in Ogg format.