UR has reached an agreement with the online music company Napster to give students access to its legal online music catalog before the end of the semester in an effort to curb the widespread downloading of copyright-protected music. While Penn. State was the first university to reach an agreement with a digital music provider, UR is the first private university to sign a digital music agreement. Provost Charles Phelps led the effort to bring Napster to campus on a trail basis and chairs a Task Force on Technology for the Joint Committee on Peer-to-Peer File Sharing, along with representatives from the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America and other universities.”We’ve been working for a while to get a handle on this file-sharing,” Phelps said. “I view this as a quasi-experiment in some ways.”Currently, the university will pay a discounted monthly fee for Napster’s premium service, which is regularly $9.95 for each subscriber, until the end of the 2005 academic year. At that point, the university will evaluate the system based on student feedback, bandwidth usage and cost, and decide whether to continue and how to fund it. The service will allow students obtain tethered-downloads of any of the 500,000 songs on the catalog, meaning that students will not be able to burn tracks on CDs or put songs on MP3 players without paying a fee. Students will be able to purchase individual song titles for $.99 or an entire album for $9.95 in order to copy songs onto CDs and MP3 players. “Schools and students have been a hotbed and at the forefront of the culture. It’s an important market,” senior Vice President of Business Affairs at Napster Aileen Atkins said. “It’s a place where people are really psyched about music.” UR’s decision to use Napster comes after increased pressure from the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and the RIAA. “‘If [universities] don’t fix this, [the government] will, and you won’t like it,'” Phelps said of the government’s opinion. “As long as we make some headway, they won’t press action.” Phelps warns that if the government were to take direct action against file-sharing at universities, UR and others could potentially be held liable for illegal use of the network. As a result, “the only thing I can think of would be to sever the Web connection and scrub every student’s computer clean, but I just think [that] would be a horrible outcome,” Phelps said. “I am gravely concerned about that risk.”Napster also offers an unique opportunity for the Eastman School of Music, which may have students and faculty uploading original pieces of music. “I saw this as an opportunity for us to provide some music,” Dean and Director of the Eastman School of Music James Undercofler said. “In addition, it will teach [students] about how music is provided today and tomorrow.””It enables Eastman students and faculty to make [their] music available,” Atkins said. “Eastman would be like a little record label.”In addition, music groups on the River Campus may be able to produce music on Napster.There are, however, a couple of restrictions on the availability of the system. In the opening stages of implementation, Napster will only be available to students living in the residential halls, and the file-sharing software is solely compatible with Windows 2000/XP. Napster will only work on Apple computers if running under PC emulation software.Some students were upset about the lack of compatibility. “I’m very, very upset because its not compatible with Macs,” sophomore Ian Areces said. Despite the purchase of legal downloading software, some students still would rather use illegal software programs. “I fully plan on continuing my illegal downloads as long as I can,” freshman Felix Jurow said. Other students disagree. “I usually buy my CDs from stores,” junior Matt Cavagnaro said. “I don’t want to rip off musicians. If you are going to pay that much, you might as well buy the CD.”A news conference will be held at 10:30 a.m. at ITS, today.In addition, UR will host a free discussion entitled “What part of ‘Jailhouse Rock’ Don’t You Understand?” featuring President of the RIAA Cary Sherman, Special Advisor to the CIO at the University Marjorie Shaw, senior and director of the Yellowjackets David Marvin and others at 8 p.m. on Feb. 16 in the Hoyt Auditorium.Additional reporting by Sandeep Madhur. Schnee can be reached at cschnee@campustimes.org.

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