Using a portion of students’ $160 IT fees, Penn State is providing free access to Napster’s streaming service. Some students think this is a misuse of those funds. Penn claims that they are paying significantly less than the $9.95 per month standard fee, so maybe this deal does make a certain amount of sense. It’s definitely a smart move for the recording business because they get cash from Napster and possibly reduce the amount of filesharing happening on campus. Once the students leave Penn, they’ll then have to buy all of that music they enjoyed as students. This even seems like a better solution than the one from MIT that uses the cable system.
All of that said, there are holes in the plan. One: it only runs under Windows, and I’m sure there are plenty of students running Mac or Linux systems. Two: what about portable players? Maybe college campuses today have enough WiFi that students can play their music anywhere from their laptops. If not, it seems like they would have MP3 players and would want to be able to listen anywhere. They have that freedom today with the MP3 files they trade.