UR recently partnered with Cdigix, a digital media service provider that caters exclusively to colleges.
The Cflix online video broadcast service that Cdigix offers will provide students with the ability to legally download movies onto their computers.
The decision to partner with Cdigix comes a year after UR’s partnership with online music service provider Napster, which allows students to legally download music onto their computers.
“The Napster service has worked about as we expected,” Provost Charles Phelps said. “Students who use it are accessing about 10 files per student per day, about the same as at other campuses who have the service. We have a little bit lower sign-up rate than some other campuses, but it’s going about as expected. From what I’ve heard, the system is pretty glitch-free, the music is high quality, and of course [it’s] completely legal.”
As with Napster, Cflix will only be available to Windows users. Unlike the Napster service, however, students will be charged a fee for each movie they download.
“The Cflix service will be a charge per movie to each student, by credit card or other arrangement,” Phelps said. “It’s a modest fee per use, far lower than renting a DVD. We are working on ways to make this as easy as possible for students. There is no other cost to the university or students for the Cflix service.”
Along with the Cflix service, the partnership with Cdigix also offers new educational opportunities.
“We will have some really interesting educational and community-builiding activities coming through other capabilities provided by Cdigix,” Phelps said.
“Their CLabs platform allows us to distribute educational material on campus, so [for example] beginning next semester, students in film studies classes will be able to watch the movies for class assignments from their dorm room in very high quality. And the CVillage capabilities will provide ways for student groups to keep connected with each other.”
UR joins other universities and colleges who are pioneers in their efforts to provide legal means to download movies and music. Some of the other universities include Ohio University, Purdue University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Tulane University, Wake Forest University and Yale University.
Along with UR, Cdigix has also recently signed agreements with Tufts University, University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina-Wilimington.
According to a press release, Cdigix has made successful relationships with its partner schools.
For example, around 1,000 undergraduates at Yale have accessed materials for their coursework, and at Purdue University students download thousands of songs every day using Ctrax.
However, some students haven’t had similar experiences. A sophomore at SUNY Geneseo, another school that has been considering a partnership with Cdigix, Allison Keddie, was less than enthusiastic about the idea.
“We have done a pretty extensive poll of the Geneseo campus, and in general the student body is less than excited about the prospect of having to pay for a great deal of equipment and perhaps even paying mandatory fees for something some people wouldn’t use anyways,” Keddie said. “The general feeling is that there are so many ways to get music illegally, students wouldn’t use it.”
Similarly, UR senior Bill Palin likes the legality of the idea. However, he doubts that many students will actually use the service.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” Palin said. “The school has to do something about the theft of intellectual property of movies and music. However, I don’t think anyone will use it.”
Freshman David LeBlanc agreed. “I think it’s a good idea, but any fee will deter a lot of kids,” LeBlanc said. Provost Phelps responded to the concern that if students are required to pay for movies, they will most likely continue to download them illegally.
“Some students will probably continue to steal the movies from the web – yes, steal is the right word,” Phelps said. “Some students probably also steal actual videos from stores. But a legal alternative will surely be attractive to many students who are intrinsically honest, once they understand (a) that it is stealing to use file sharing services that have not been authorized by the copyright owners, and (b) that they have a legal alternative.”
Another concern is the recent announcement from the Motion Picture Association of America that they will file suits against people who illegally download movies.
The MPAA estimates that 115,571 to 148,591 movies are illegally downloaded every day. Phelps warns that UR will fully cooperate with the MPAA in tracking down those who continue to download movies illegally.
“I also want students to know that if the UR is served with a legal subpoena to provide the identity of somebody on our campus networks illegally uploading or downloading movies, we will of course comply with the subpoena and provide the person’s name,” Phelps said. “It’s illegal, you can be caught if you do it and it will be very expensive to you if you are caught, both in legal feels and settlements. Why take the risk when you have a legal alternative?”
Lindstrom can be reached at