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Stanford University Mulls Music Service
March 3, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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College dorm rooms and music downloading go together like bread and butter. While the real Napster is long gone, the impact it created would continue to create a high demand for downloadable music. Despite the absence of the old Napster, individuals are still able to download music from the Internet. This has caused numerous headaches for university and college campus network administrators who have bandwidth considerations to deal with. In addition, university and college student administrators also must deal with endless streams of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaints from the RIAA and MPAA.

Many universities, such as Pennsylvania State have already adopted the new Napster subscription services. During November of 2003, Penn State and Napster signed a deal that would provide “free” music to students. However, the term “free” is a relative term considering royalty payments are manufactured through a higher “technology fee.”

This point has been one of contention so far at Stanford University. While such a service may cut down on bandwidth consumption and DMCA violations, some oppose the forced “technology fee.” Many, if not most colleges do not give their students a choice, and the Napster service is automatically included. The Stanford Daily spoke with a computer staff member about the proposed deal.

"It’s fine with me if students are allowed a choice about the service,” an anonymous Stanford staff member said. “But I know that other universities, such as Penn State, have followed a model of simply signing up for the service and offering it ‘free’ to the students, which is essentially a tax on students for crippled music forced on them. The music is crippled because of the Digital Rights Management Act; the restrictions against playing, copying or burning the file; and the plain fact that a quality difference can definitely be heard between the compressed files, which are MP3, Window Media Audio and Advanced Audio Coding."

At this time, Stanford University has not made a decision. A committee will be formed to contemplate the issue and address such concerns as student demand, and how such a project will be financed. Stanford University officials know full well that college students who cannot afford “legitimate” sources of music fuel P2P. This point will be critical in determining whether Stanford decides to enlist a partnership with an industry sanctioned subscription model.

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Authorized Music Store :: Other

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