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RIAA To Start Marketing Direct To Schools
By Jon Newton,
(more articles from this author)
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The entertainment industry, fronted by the RIAA, is to start test marketing direct sales to US colleges next spring.

And the schools will use public money to pay for it.

Graham Spanier, president of Pennsylvania State University and co-chair of the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities, is quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education as saying a number of colleges are negotiating with online-music services to test a campuswide program under which colleges would pay the companies to let students download music.

Moreover, "Mr. Spanier said Penn State and other colleges would use institutional funds to pay for the pilot service on their campuses, rather than charge students individually. Penn State has yet to decide whether to make the service available for all its students or just a limited number, he said."

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He's also quoted in the same piece as saying, "If they can develop a brand name and service loyalty to millions of college students, they have a leg up in developing a customer base for decades ahead."

And why not? Hollywood, of which the labels and movie houses are but components, already routinely uses publicly funded police and other enforcement forces around the world to protect its business interests.

In the meanwhile, by an amazing coincidence, with Spanier as co-chair of the Joint Committee, which is the creation of the international entertainment industry, is RIAA president Cary-Sue Sherman.

"The negotiations are part of a broad effort by the recording industry and colleges to stem the online pirating of music by college students," says the Chronicle report.

"The Recording Industry Association of America says the sharing of music online by students and others has sharply reduced the sale of music on compact disks, and the group has begun a campaign of identifying and suing people who illegally share large numbers of music files."

Anyone who believe this is yet another entertainment industry marketing ploy baldly disguised as a way to thwart the wicked online pirates is, of course, a sadly misguided cynic. This is all being done to protect students from being dragged into court after being relentlessly and ruthlessly assaulted by subpoenas issued by...

...But NO! That can't be! The RIAA?

Anyway, "Mr. Spanier made the disclosure on Tuesday during a news conference at which he discussed the progress of a committee he heads with Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, that is charged with prodding colleges to find ways to reduce illegal file sharing by students," says the Chronicle, going on that last June the committee "asked for information from online-media companies" that could provide campuses with music and video service.

The committee asked for information from 'online-media companies'? Through the RIAA, Sherman and other committee 'members', are the online media.

"Another request for information went out to technology companies that could help colleges with blocking or filtering technologies to limit file sharing," says the report.

Is there any chance that the companies supplying these valuable technologies will be linked to the RIAA, MPAA or Hollywood in any way, shape or form?

Of course not.

"Penn State and the University of Rochester are expected to be part of the pilot program," the Chronicle goes on. "Other colleges that will be involved may be disclosed by the end of this month, Mr. Spanier said. 'We're hoping for a variety of institutions - some large, some small, public, private, universities which have different IT systems - to assess how the pilot is working', he said."

"If the pilot is successful, colleges could consider making it permanent. Higher-education officials have discussed the idea, for example, of having colleges include in tuition or student-activities fees a subscription to a music service for students.

"Online-music services would be well served by offering colleges a 'low priced' option permitting students to listen to music over the Internet, Mr. Spanier said.

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