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Penn and Napster II - Togetherness
By Jon Newton,
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Penn State U has signed on the dotted line with Napster II, the emasculated Roxio version of Napster, the p2p app that first made file sharing universally popular.

Penn students will get unlimited streaming and 'tethered' downloads from more than 500,000 songs, as well as 40 radio stations, access to Billboard chart data, an online magazine and community features, says the university in a statement released by Napster here.

No details are given about who owns the radio stations or publishes the magazine, or what the community features will be.

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The announcement was made at the annual Educause meeting in Anaheim, California.

Also in attendance at the conference - for university information technology administrators - were MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) boss Jack Valenti, and RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) president Cary Sherman.

"Students can also purchase permanent downloads that can be burned to CDs or transferred to portable devices for 99 cents each," says the statement and, "We have already set up student focus groups at Penn State who have been testing the Napster service," says University President Graham B. Spanier.

"We will essentially deploy thousands of testers in the spring semester to use this program and give us feedback before we roll it out for even wider student use in the fall of 2004."

Whether or not information compiled during the testing, such as students' names, addresses, and so on, will be shared with Roxio for its marketing data banks, wasn't revealed.

Spanier is co-chair of the Committee on Higher Education and the Entertainment Industry, created with the enthusiastic help and support of the RIAA and MPAA. With him in the other chair is Cary Sherman.

The program will be phased-in beginning January 12th, the first day of classes for Penn State's spring semester, the statement says, going on:

"The Penn State-Napster agreement, and other similar arrangements expected to be formed by universities around the country, could revolutionize the way millions of college students obtain and listen to music through streaming audio and song file downloads via high-speed Internet and campus connections - all in a completely legal manner that complies with copyright laws."

It'll also revolutionize the way the record labels market product and gather data on users, with the MPAA observing closely from the wings.

"The spring roll out will provide access to Napster for about 18,000 Penn State students who live on Penn State campuses in residence halls, including the main campus at University Park," says the statement. "Penn State has 83,000 students on its 24 campuses. It intends to make Napster available to all eligible students, as well as faculty and staff, next fall.

"Another goal of our partnership is to extend the music service to members of our alumni association," Spanier says. "With nearly 150,000 dues-paying members, Penn State's alumni association is the largest in the country, and it would be great to also provide them low-cost access to music.

"There will be no additional costs to students for this service. It will be funded as part of the information technology fee that Penn State already has in place."

Rumours that selected students will become voluntary, unpaid Napster II organizers are entirely untrue.

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