WEB UPDATE: GW-Napster relationship up in the air

Posted Friday, July 8, 7:00 p.m. After a year of providing students with free access to Napster, GW has not announced if it will continue a now-expired contract with the music filesharing network this school year.

In fall 2004, GW signed a contract with the online music program allowing students to access more than one million songs. Students were able to play songs through the Internet for free, but had to pay to download songs to their hard drives.

In fall 2004, GW signed a contract with the online music program allowing students to access more than one million songs. Students were able to play and download songs through the Internet for free, but had to pay to burn them onto a CD or transfer them to portable media players like iPods.

“The contract has not officially been renewed yet, but we are working with the school and hope to get that done soon”, said Avery Kotler, senior director of business and legal affairs at Napster.

Last fall, the University inked an agreement to begin a pilot program at a 70 percent discounted rate for the 2004-2005 academic year. An anonymous donor paid the remaining costs for the service, giving GW students free access to the system until the end of classes in May.

“Our relationship with GW has been great, and we would like to do more on campus,” said Kotler, who added Napster hopes GW will be ready to make a new agreement by fall 2005.

“I do not think there will be an effect on most students if the contract was not renewed because they use iTunes or different downloading services,” said senior Ross Mankuta, who used Napster last year but canceled his summer service because he would have had to pay a fee.

If GW does not renew the contract, students would still be able to pay the regular price of $9.95 a month for the music.

“I loved Napster,” sophomore Scott Fryman said. “I used it all the time and would be very upset if GW canceled it. This program helps to prevent illegal downloading.”

Napster and GW have said they are concerned with illegal downloading after the Recording Industry Association of America filed suits against three GW students who downloaded music on illegal networks such as KaZaA and Morpheus in 2004. They hoped allowing students to use a legal file-sharing network would keep them from using illegal programs.

“Students are not informed about copyright laws,” Kotler said. “A free subscription to Napster offers a great alternative for downloading music to college students.”

Kotler said Napster’s ability to offer legal music downloads has prompted relationships with universities around the country, including the University of Pennsylvania.

Kotler added, “Since we launched at GW and elsewhere, students and their student body leaderships as well as administrators at many schools from all over the country have asked us about how they could enter into a similar arrangement.”

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