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Digital Culture

Funny things from the Penn State/Napster Deal

There’s a story on The Chronicle of Higher Education about the current state of P2P sharing on campuses. They spend a lot of time talking about the deal Penn State brokered with Napster 2.0 in order to allow their students to stream music from the service. I have so many problems with this…here’s a quick rundown.

“Under the terms of the deal, students pay nothing to listen to streaming audio of any of the 500,000 songs in the Napster library, or to download the songs to their computers for the duration of their subscriptions to the music service.”

Ummmm….correct me if I’m wrong here, but don’t the students pay the freaking fees that the University used to pay Napster? To claim that “students pay nothing” is just bad journalism. As well, note that they don’t ever own the music…they can stream it, or download it “for the duration” of the deal.

“They must pay 99 cents a song to put music on a compact disk or transfer it to a portable MP3 player. “

So, if they want to actually do anything useful with the music, they have to buy it at the same cost as everyone else. No free ride here.

“Some 17,000 students who have Windows computers at the university’s State College campus were eligible to join the service…”

Windows only…Mac and/or Linux users? No music for you!

And here’s the best part, for those copyright scholars out there…

“University officials worried that a frenzy of downloading activity could cripple the university’s computer network, but Mr. Vaught says the university used packet-shaping and mirror sites, which replicate the content of Napster servers, to control the impact of downloads and keep students who stream music from monopolizing the network.”

“….technology officers had to set up a server that could store a trove of commonly downloaded songs locally in order to keep the campus network from becoming overloaded..”

So, in effect, the University is mirroring the Napster servers, AND is serving the music locally? What in the heck allows this? I mean…I’m sure that there legalities that allow this (licensing via Napster) but I bet that the RIAA would take a hard look at random mirrors of tons of music content on University servers.

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