Via the Shifted Librarian, I see that some universities in the States have started offering legal downloads of music and videos for their students. Some unis charges students a couple of dollars a month, while it’s free for students at Cornell. The librarian herself recommends Rhapsody, which she uses. They let you stream any song in their library whenever you like for $9.95 a month, though you pay more if you want to burn a song or download it for your mp3-player. Providing this kind of service certainly makes more sense than simply outlawing downloads.

7 thoughts on “let students download music

  1. H?•kon Styri

    Nice story, but somehow I cannot get rid of the idea that universities should attempt more challenging tasks than usic distribution. What if they started offering lectures? Then the following quote in USA Today would make some sense.

    “I listen to it all day long,” he says. “It’s really convenient for me.”


  2. Jill

    LOL 🙂

  3. nick

    Why, exactly, is it a good idea for universities to use their resources to enrich the recording industry by supplying companies with special retail technologies and access to their students, to allow the recording industry to use their campuses as test markets and for pilot programs for their retail projects?

    “What we hear from our students is ‘We don’t want to be sued,’ ” says Tom Warner, director of coordinated technology management at the University of North Carolina.

    It’s a good idea because students need to be saved by the university from being sued by the recording industry?

    Not only does this have nothing to do with the educational and research missions of the university, it has nothing to do with business. Companies interested in business could, for instance, simply open the iTunes Music Store, no need for college campuses to be involved. This is just extortion.

    University computer networks are mainly for education, research, creative work by students, staff, and faculty, and for the free exchange of information to further these sorts goals. If they’re being used for something inappropriate (copying files in violation of copyright) the answer is not to add in another inappropriate use (retail sales of recorded music), but rather to address the problem in a way that doesn’t overlook the main purpose of university computer networks. In this case, why should the university bother with this matter at all? Let the “injured party” and the alleged infringers deal with it – the university has enough to deal with in considering the relevant uses of the networked computer.

  4. Anonymous

    Please note: In order to use Rhapsody, you will need to have Internet Explorer 5.0 or newer installed on your computer.


  5. Jill

    Well, I don’t know whether money’s being spent on this that would otherwise have gone to pay lecturers or buy better chairs for auditorium ms – perhaps they’re using money that might otherwise have gone to buy an extra elliptical trainer in the student gym or to buy another channel on the cable tv in the student dorms or to sponsor the student radio or buy entertainment magazines for the library.

    Student welfare is one of the concerns at most universities, and certainly this could be seen as a legitimate student welfare issue. Whether or not it’s more valuable than other good causes that money might be spent on is another matter.

    Also the article states that several of the schools are chargnig students for the service – they’ve just got a collective deal, where students pay $2 a month if they like, instead of $10 a month as they would if they were subscribing as individuals. It sounds like it’s voluntary.

    I do see your point, though – obviously the recording industry’s getting a lot out of these kinds of deals, too.

  6. nick

    Any company in the world is free to offer student discounts if they like; they don’t need to partner with a university and set up systems on their network in order to do that. This is not about student discounts, but is presumably about allowing one company a privileged or monopoly-like position, benefiting from students’ abillity to easily check off a box at the beginning of the semester and have mom and dad pay.

    Universities very well may be using money that would have gone to sponsor student radio. If they paid for student radio instead, students could learn to run a radio station, determine its programming, broadcast community announcements, disc jockey, have guests on their shows, and so on. Installing a special music service is just a way to enrich the very same companies who are threatening to sue students if they aren’t paid off. Not only does this frame the students as consumers rather than as active participants in a university community, it frames them as thieves who need to be saved from themselves by corporate America.

    This seems less like buying entertainment magazines for the library and more like letting Barnes and Noble set up a store inside the library. I would find even that development less distasteful, though, because at least Barnes and Noble hasn’t been going around suing libraries.

  7. Jill

    You’re right that the digital music people could simply give all students a discount. And I completely agree that a student radio is a worthier thing for a student welfare body to fund – working in the student radio was one of the best things I did as a student, both socially and in terms of practical learning and professionalism.

    Don’t most universities have bookshops on campus though? Sure, not in the library, but commercial sales are not only permitted they’re encouraged to some extent. Monopolies are worrysome. I was horrified to realise that Stockton college’s cafeterias apparently don’t sell real orange juice because they can only sell Coca Cola’s products and Coca Cola’s idea of orange juice is that strange Minute Maid stuff in cans. I know there are plenty of colleges who’ve signed that particular deal with Coke.

    So yes, your points are good. It’s not an easy matter.

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