Friday, July 07, 2006

I don't want it if I can't keep it


The Wall Street Journal reports: (edited)

As a student at Cornell University, Angelo Petrigh had access to free online music via a legal music-downloading service his school provided. Yet the 21-year-old still turned to illegal file-sharing programs.

The reason: While Cornell's online music program, through Napster, gave him and other students free, legal downloads, the email introducing the service explained that students could keep their songs only until they graduated. "After I read that, I decided I didn't want to even try it," says Mr. Petrigh, who will be a senior in the fall at the Ithaca, N.Y., school.

College students don't turn down much that's free. But when it comes to online music, even free hasn't been enough to persuade many students to use such digital download services as Napster, Rhapsody, Ruckus and Cdigix. As a result, some schools have dropped their services, and others are considering doing so or have switched to other providers.

To stop students from pirating music, more than 120 colleges and universities have tried providing free or subsidized access to the legal subscription services over campus networks in the past few years.

Purdue University officials say that lower-than-expected demand among its students stems in part from the frustrating restrictions that accompany legal downloading. Students at the West Lafayette, Ind., school can play songs free on their laptops but have to pay to burn songs onto CDs or load them onto a digital music device.

There's also the problem of compatibility: The services won't run on Apple Computer Inc. computers, which are owned by 19% of college students, according to a 2006 survey of 1,200 students by the research group Student Monitor. In addition, the files won't play on Apple iPods, which are owned by 42% of college students, according to the survey.

"Music listeners like owning their music, not renting," says Bill Goodwin, 21, who graduated in May from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. USC decided last year that it was finished with Napster after fewer than 500 students signed up, and it moved to Ruckus, hoping students would find that service more appealing. Meanwhile, both Cornell and Purdue will no longer offer their students free music next year. "There hasn't been an overwhelming response to keep it," says Kwame Thomison, Cornell's student assembly president.

The number of students using Napster at George Washington University dropped by more than half between the first and second year, from one-third to one-seventh of eligible users.

Even at schools where more than half of the students use Napster, few choose to buy songs. Only 2% of students at the University of Rochester in New York reported buying a song that they had downloaded from Napster in a fall 2005 survey of about 700 students. In the same survey, 10% said they downloaded songs from other services - not necessarily legally - after finding one they liked on Napster.

"There isn't that much we can do," acknowledges Aileen Atkins, Napster's senior vice president for business affairs and general counsel. "If they have an iPod, they're going to buy it on iTunes. It's a fact of life."

(Thanks to Conrad for the link)
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4 comments:

ConradGempf said...

Your title might be misleading. Plenty of people are happy to listen to the radio -- even to pay for a radio to allow them to listen to things that they can't keep.

But music stores like Napster and iTunes aren't radio -- you've got to make selections, download them. Rather than "I don't want it if I can't keep it" this scenario is probably more like "I don't want to spend time building collections I can't keep."

brett jordan said...

Fair comment Conrad. However, as a headline writer I think you make a really good theologian :-)

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