Digital Culture

Penn State and Napster

Terrible reporting from Reuters via Yahoo News concerning a deal Penn State struck with Napster. The article screams “Penn State University on Thursday reached a deal to offer thousands of students free access to the Napster music service” but then goes on to say “Students can also buy permanent downloads that can be burned to CDs or transferred to portable devices for 99 cents each…”

So…it sounds like they’ve just agreed to pay Napster to let students stream music. STREAM MUSIC. Something that they can almost certainly do from any number of websites currently. Streaming music isn’t hard to find….hell, if all students want to do is stream, they’d be better off with iTunes streaming from each others computers. That’s free…

Sometimes, I really think there’s a significant disconnect between people who get digital music, and people who don’t. And people who don’t shouldn’t be agreeing to pay money to other people who don’t….people want to own the music. They want to use it with their portable music players. And they want to burn it to CD if they wish.

Story on Wired News also about Penn State deal, where it is claimed that the service “includes unlimited streaming and tethered downloads, 40 radio stations and an online magazine and message boards.” Now what the hell is a “tethered download? I’m assuming (since again, we’re short on technical details) that it’s a download that’s DRM’d to your computer. I’m also assuming that it will have “can not burn to CD” DRM attached.

One further assumption: It will take about 3.5 minutes for someone to crack this DRM. Updates as they occur.

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

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