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Hypothetical Napster-UA deal could let students listen to music for free

By Tim Lake
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday November 24, 2003
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If the UA paid to let students download music, the university could save money, UA officials said.

If the UA makes a deal with Napster similar to a deal made at Penn State University, it could save money by not having to spend so much on bandwidth, said Ted Frohling, a network systems analyst for the Center for Computing and Information Technology.

A recent deal between Napster and Penn State University will allow students unlimited access to Napster's catalog of music in an effort to curb illegal downloading on campus.

The deal allows students at Penn State to listen to an unlimited number of songs on their computers, but students will still have to pay for songs they want to burn to a compact disc or download to portable players.

Penn State will be copying Napster's extensive music catalog to systems located on campus in an effort to minimize the amount of bandwidth the university uses, Frohling said.

In the last three to four years, the UA has essentially doubled or tripled the amount of bandwidth, which is the size of the university's connection to the Internet, in order to accommodate all the music that students are downloading, Frohling said.

By finding an option that does not require the UA to continue expanding its bandwidth, the university could save money.

"By looking at the traffic statistics, we're spending money to support (illegal downloading)," he said.

Because dollar amounts are not available for the Penn State deal, Frohling said he could not quantify any potential savings.

"It could be worth looking into," he said.

But he did say that the UA could only save money if students opt to download music with Napster instead of other programs such as Kazaa.

While a similar deal would allow UA students to download legally, not all students are enthusiastic about the prospects.

"I would (still) use Kazaa or something else the university can't block," said Chip Cochran, an ecology and evolutionary biology sophomore.

Cochran said he doesn't like the fact that students would still have to pay to download music on to a CD.

Kit Zecy, a business freshman, said he would still use Kazaa over the new Napster because he doesn't have to pay to burn music to a CD.

Mark Daigle, an education freshman, said he has CDs to match most of the approximately 10,000 songs on his computer.

Daigle said he would also not use the new Napster.

Penn State ended up paying for Napster because the university was under intense pressure from an executive at the Recording Industry Association of America who is on the university's governing board, Frohling said.

In September the RIAA filed more than 200 lawsuits against individuals for downloading copyrighted music.

Although no UA students were the targets of the RIAA lawsuits, the university has received a substantial number of complaints from the RIAA and other organizations alleging copyright violations by UA students, said Karen Williams, the copyright librarian who handles downloading complaints.

There have been about 420 complaints filed so far this year, compared to 174 filed in 2002, Williams said.

When the RIAA filed the lawsuits, the UA stopped receiving complaints, Williams said.

"The coincidence was uncanny," she said.

But the number of complaints has shot back up to pre-lawsuit levels, she said.

When the university receives a complaint, the violation is traced back to the location where it occurred, Williams said.

"The vast majority of them are in residence halls," she said.

After a network manager investigates the violation, the student is given a warning, Williams said.

Residents are given a written warning and have to commit a second violation for any serious consequences.

Most students admit to downloading the copyrighted material and say they didn't know it was illegal, Williams said.

"We try to use this as an educational tool," she said.

The RIAA and other organizations are able to find violators because they have software programs that sit on the Web and sniff for illegal activity, Williams said.

Students are not anonymous when they download from the Internet, Frohling said.

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