Well, 2008 is over and The Beatles catalog of music still isn’t legally available on the internet. However, a free and legal download of every tune is now available from a very unexpected source. Norwegian broadcasting company NRK is releasing a podcast that tells the story behind each Beatles song, followed by the actual tune in its entirety — all 212 of them. Did we mention it was free?

A deal between NRK and Norwegian organization TONO, which owns the music rights, allows NRK to publish the podcast “Our Daily Beatles” which is available here for download (it’s an RSS XML file). The podcast chronologically follows each song, with a three-minute tale about the track’s history. According to NRK’s website, the deal gives NRK the rights to publish previously broadcast radio and TV programs that contain less than 70 percent music.

So maybe it’s not the most ideal way to download Beatles tunes on the Internet (the podcast and background stories are entirely in Norwegian, unfortunately), but it’s free. It’s certainly cheaper than the $800 Beatles iPod package from department store Bloomingdales. Apple’s negotiations to get the songs on iTunes stalled when Apple Corps Ltd., the Beatles holding company, and record label EMI, which owns the recording rights to Beatles’ songs, could not come to an agreement late last year.

Well, there’s always the hope that Michael Jackson will leave his share of the Beatles music catalog to former Beatle Paul McCartney. There are several reports that Jackson, who owns much of the catalog’s publishing rights along with Sony, has revised his will so that McCartney will get control over the band’s songbook when the pop idol dies. Jackson may have turned only 50 last year, but he sure looks closer to 64.