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Mon, Jul 19, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Colleges in US to offer students free music downloads

TUNES Coming under heavy pressure from the recording industry to stop file-sharing, colleges are finding it expedient to pacify business interests


George Washington University and other colleges and universities are trying to stop students from illegally downloading music on the Internet by offering it free through a deal with Roxio Inc's music download company Napster, The Washington Post reported.

The Post said that officials at the university in Washington would not say how much it will cost to provide Napster subscriptions to all 7,100 students who live on campus.

The program is being funded by a gift from a donor who wanted to be anonymous, the paper said.

The service is marketed to individual consumers for US$9.95 a month, the Post said.

Tech-savvy students are accustomed to easy access to high-speed computer networks and to using computer file-sharing services to download music, most of it unauthorized.

It has become an issue for university administrators because they are facing intense pressure -- and in some cases subpoenas -- from recording industry concerns, which are in some cases filing lawsuits to stop the practice.

Napster, known as a file-sharing system that began during the Internet boom of the late 1990s, was once the bane of the recording industry because it allowed music lovers to trade copyrighted songs for free.

It was shut down by court order, but it revamped itself and now has an authorized library of more than 700,000 songs.

Napster also has signed contracts with universities in Pennsylvania and New York as US college campuses have been in the forefront of efforts to combat illegal downloading.

Several colleges, including George Washington University, were subpoenaed by the recording industry for information about students identified as illegally downloading music, the newspaper reported.

The new solution was first tried earlier this year at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Rochester, the newspaper said.

Napster is expected to announce agreements with six institutions of higher education, including George Washington University, next week.

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