With the newest laws against peer-to-peer downloading, the business of composing, producing and listening to music has gone through some harsh times. Between the idea of intellectual property and liability issues, colleges have been indecisive of what course of action to take. What better place to be on the cutting edge of music than the Eastman School of Music? The liability of colleges for the infringement of music became an issue when the popular rock band Metallica filed suits against Yale University, Indiana University, the University of Southern California and five other unnamed universities for the failure to block access to Napster, an Internet search software. Metallica alleges that universities knowingly contribute to the downloading by being the provider of Internet and that they don’t adequately take steps to prevent the illegal use of music. Though Metallica dropped a number of the lawsuits once the schools blocked Napster, universities are looking for ways to protect themselves and their students.UR and Eastman recently implemented a pilot study for a campus wide subscription to Napster, the largest digital library thus far. The university is the first private university to take part in this groundbreaking program. It provides any students living in campus housing with the ability to access 500,000 songs, radio stations and other benefits off of Napster at no additional cost to them. The relationship between Napster and Eastman will prove to be the most important and exciting benefits of Napster for students. Students and faculty of Eastman will be able to make their own compositions and recordings available on Napster and the student-to-student option of downloading will prove to be useful. The ability to have their music and performances heard and shared has the possibility of opening up many doors and career opportunities. “Concerning getting my music distributed, I think Napster is a good thing,” student composer and sophomore Ethan Borshansky said.In fact, Napster was chosen, out of a number of digital downloading programs, in part because they were open to getting Eastman recordings onto their library. Dean of Eastman James Undercofler was most concerned with how a digital downloading program would benefit Eastman. “The possibility of student-to-student downloading means that Eastman recordings and compositions can be shared and distributed,” Undercoffler said. Another concern was the amount of classical music available in the digital library. Napster said that there would be classical music in their library, though they did not specify how much. Napster is still in negotiation with recording companies to make more music available. The hope is that with Eastman being a subscriber, they will push to make more classical music available. As of this semester, only music will be available for download on Napster. There are no plans to date for movies and video files to be available. Also, downloads will be encrypted so that burning of MP3 files will be restricted. Personal music libraries will only be available on the computer that it was downloaded on.Funding for the program has been an issue of concern for the university. Money is being taken out of current general funds to aid the pilot study. If the College or Eastman decides to continue with Napster for next year, student fees might be increased. Some students are apprehensive about this. “I believe that the introduction of Napster as a student service places an unnecessary burden on the already cash-strapped budget. Ultimately the students will feel the strain as they find that funds for other projects have disappeared,” junior Lewis Wong said.Napster is only available for computers running Windows. This poses some concern for Eastman since Macs are the primary computers used. This, along with the small percentage of Eastman students living in campus housing may, impact the future of Napster use. Less than half of Eastman students live in on-campus housing. Student input will be the deciding factor in whether Eastman will continue with the subscription next year. Undercofler believes that the interactive benefits of Napster will generally be an advantage to students and hopes that Eastman can continue to be a part of this innovative service. Reguero can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
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