p2pnet.net News:- “The courtship is complete. The wedding date is set. As of August 28, 2004, Napster will no longer be the pilot program for Penn State’s landmark expedition into online music, but rather an equal partner with benefits extending to all students at University Park.”
This announcement comes in the Digital Collegian here, which further along also suggests all is not well with Napster II and that Apple’s iTunes may …
… but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Penn State was the first US university to be sucked in by the RIAA, opening the gates to the Big Five record labels who are using Roxio’s ailing Napster II to funnel ‘product’ into the campus.
The University of Rochester was the second US institution of learning to become an RIAA site of earning, and we’re wondering if Syracuse University, also in New York, is being softened up to become number three.
Basically, the idea is – if students download music supplied by the labels to ‘services’ such as Napster II, the RIAA won’t have spend all that money dragging them into court to force them do the same thing.
A while back the entertainment industry was able to organize an entity called the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities.
A number of senior US educationalists serve on it, alongside PR-savvy heavies from the entertainment industry.
One of the committee’s goals is to persuade misguided American students to buy Big Five product instead of sharing music online, a practice known to the music industry as “illegal file sharing” but which isn’t illegal across the border in Canada. Not that the music industry isn’t trying desperately to remedy that.
Be that as it may, “We want to cut down on illegal file sharing and find out if offering a legal alternative solves the problem,” Rochester provost Charles Phelps, who serves on the committee, is quoted as saying in the story, which points out that Penn State president Graham Spanier and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) president Cary Sherman also serve on the committee.
Phelps likens the dilemma of music piracy to that of underage drinking, the report goes on, and, “To prevent students from engaging in the illegal activity, Rochester offered alternative social events. And much like underage drinking, music piracy hurts the university. ‘Large chunks of bandwidth get sucked up by file sharing,’ Phelps said. But Napster hosts songs locally, limiting strain on university networks while allowing students to download music legally.”
Why did the University of Rochester ‘choose’ Napster? - asks the Digital Collegian.
Because, according to Phelps, it’s the service with the most advanced catalog and the best pricing system. The university pays on a month-to-month basis, using “general university funds for compensation.”
[Where do these general university funds come from? Just asking - Ed]
“We were proud and very enthusiastic that other schools are following our lead,” Sam Haldeman, assistant to the associate vice provost for information technology services and the university official responsible for choosing Napster at Penn State, says in the story.
“It shows that higher education is recognizing its role.”
But as more subpoenas reach the administrative offices of universities, that role may not be as “noble educator but legal informant,” the report continues.
“Out of 532 lawsuits in the latest round of copyright infringement suits filed by the RIAA, 89 targeted students. To find students suspected of illegal downloading, the RIAA must get names from university files.
“Both Haldeman and Phelps said their universities would comply with any legal subpoenas asking for the names of students, whom companies can identify by their IP addresses.
“Haldeman said his heart goes out to the nine students at New York University who were issued lawsuits because they did not realize the consequences of illegal downloading, but he said it is something students must recognize.
” ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if they had to settle for less than $50,000,’ Haldeman said.”
[We're not making any of this up. Honestly.]
In the meanwhile, there have been a number of reports to the effect that Napster II isn’t doing well, massive input from Big Five notwithstanding.
“Both Penn State and Rochester are optimistic that Napster will stay in business,” says the story
“I hope they do [stay in business],” Phelps said. “We have a contract.”
But Haldeman said Penn State is prepared to move on to another service should Napster falter.
“We will always keep the option open if strong competition offered us a better service,” he’s quoted as saying. “Napster still seems like the best. But if there is better competition our attention will be drawn to it.”
Looks like the schools are learning it can be hell out there in the Music Biz.
Anyway, “One service, Apple’s iTunes, is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems,” says the Collegian, going on:
” ‘We have said publicly that we want to talk to Apple,’ Harris said. But Apple has yet responded to the public statements.
“Despite multiple phone calls, a representative from iTunes could not be reached for comment. Phelps suggested students ‘go talk to Steve Jobs,’ CEO of Apple, because the Macintosh platform does not accommodate Microsoft Digital Rights Management, a security feature used by copyright holders to protect their media.
” ‘I suggested to others in the industry that they adopt open single standard encryption methods,’ Haldeman said. ” ‘But they don’t recognize the discomfort it is causing students’.”
Napster II’s paltry catalog
The biggest complaint against Napster, however, is the lack of major artists’ albums, like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, says the report.
“And both universities have set up sites where students can submit the names of songs or artists they want to see on Napster, which says it adds thousands of new songs each week.
“Both iTunes and Napster claim to have over 500,000 songs available for download from all five major music companies, but only iTunes mentions offering songs from more than 300 independent labels.”
“The university should and does tell Napster to add more independent bands,” Haldeman said. “We need to try harder to find independent labels and improve upon getting away from major labels.”
Phelps said Rochester has been able to add local artists to Napster and suggested that Penn State do the same.
” ‘I would love to create an opportunity for students and bands to spread their music,” Haldeman said. “I sent e-mails to some bands about starting a college station on Napster featuring Penn State bands, but I don’t yet have a desire from any band. Students should make that desire evident to me’.”
Alas, “Haldeman said it would be a lengthy process to make local bands’ songs available for download on Napster,” states the report. “Napster has more than 50 of its own radio stations. The creation of a college station would be easier to set up, Haldeman said, if he received enough interest.
“It’s a chance for bands on a college level to have millions listen to their music,” he said. “I don’t know why it hasn’t happened yet.”
And last, but not at all least, Skepticism remains, concludes the article.
“Brian Morrison (junior-film and video) began posting fliers around campus last semester titled ‘Do You Know About Bad Napster?’
“Several weeks ago, a friend told him that MTV News did a piece about Penn State and Napster, and for a brief couple of seconds, showed his flier to millions of people worldwide.
“The gist of Morrison’s anti-Napster campaign was to show that Napster is feeding an already rich music industry and disguising itself as a medium for free entertainment. Although he isn’t willing to admit defeat, Morrison said the odds are stacked against him.
“When Napster held information sessions in the HUB-Robeson Center, Morrison distributed copies of his flier in front of the company’s table.
” ‘They know I am not a force to be reckoned with. They know that the $20 I spent to distribute the fliers almost broke the bank. You can’t fight city hall,’ he said.”