Students assess Napster deal

Students said they will start looking for alternative sources of free online music after Napster announced Tuesday it would begin charging for use of its service. The online company will charge users a monthly fee for downloading MP3 music files from its site as part of its strategic alliance with Bertelsmann AG, which owns BMG music.

The Recording Industry Association of America, backed by its five major record labels and 13 other labels, sued the Web site for copyright infringement in July.

BMG was one of the companies involved in the RIAA lawsuit. The other four major labels involved in the lawsuit – Sony, Universal, Time Warner and EMI – have not settled, and have not commented on how they will proceed, now that BMG has partnered with Napster, according to a Nov. 1 Washington Post article.

Napster has 38 million users, according to a press release from Bertelsmann, but students said they plan to stop using the service when Napster begins charging. The MP3 files that Napster provides its users are computer data packages that hold the compressed information necessary to store songs without sacrificing quality.

I wouldn’t pay to use Napster, junior Jessica Butkera said. Right now there is so much music already downloaded that people can swap songs without any central base.

It’s more convenient to listen to free music then to pay, junior Justin Arenis said. I guess I’ll just listen to my old music.

Napster’s membership fee will be about $4.95 a month, said Hank Barry, chief executive of Napster, according to an Oct. 31 Washington Post article. Napster officials said the service will continue to offer free, promotional file sharing, according to the Post article.

Some students said it is not the price that will deter them from continuing to use Napster’s services, but the idea that Napster sold out to corporate America.

You’re paying $4.95, but you’re still stealing music, junior Nizar Wattad said. It just proves to demonstrate that in a materialistic society principles get pushed to the wayside.

Bertelsmann will invest an undisclosed amount into the music service and withdraw its lawsuit when Napster establishes a membership-based service, according to the Bertelsmann press release.

Some students said Napster was in a unique position to shape the future of free online music, and said they are disappointed Napster will charge for the service.

Napster wasn’t built to make money, junior Chung Lee said. It was made to share music.

Junior Steve Auyeung said the company should be able to make profits.

It’s not good for college kids, but its good for the company since they’ll actually make money now, Auyeung said.

Students said they think they will still be able to find free downloads elsewhere on the Web.

As long as the internet exists, there will be some program with free music, Lee said.

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