Why are Brown University’s Mac students being forced to pay for useless Napster?

“In an attempt to curb illegal music downloading over the residential network, Brown University is offering the Napster 2.0 music service to students for free this year in a trial program. Napster is ‘the best we could offer at this point’ in terms of ‘a legitimate alternative to illegal file sharing,’ said David Greene, vice president for Campus Life and Student Services,” Ben Leubsdorf reports for The Brown Daily Herald.

Leubsdorf reports, “The Herald reported in February that a committee drawn from Computing and Information Services, Campus Life and Student Services and UCS met with representatives from four music services: Rhapsody, Cdigix, Ruckus and Napster. ‘There was strong consensus’ among the group of staff and students ‘that Napster was the best service at this time,’ Greene said. ‘Napster had the most to offer Brown,’ said Brian Bidadi ’06, UCS president. But, he said, ‘depending on the feedback we get from students, we can go in a different direction.’ Saxton-Frump agreed, ‘Napster seemed to make sense for a pilot program,’ noting its ease of use and large music library of 1.5 million songs.”

“However, the service is not compatible with either the Macintosh operating system or with Apple’s popular iPod music player, which has cornered more than 83 percent of the digital music player market, according to industry estimates,” Leubsdorf reports. “None of the four services examined were compatible with Macintosh or Linux, according to Saxton-Frump, so Napster did not stand out in that regard. ‘We did try to get a discount from Apple so that we could offer an alternative service for iPods, but the discount offered was not a great incentive,’ Ellen Waite-Franzen, vice president for CIS, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald… In the meantime, he said, Macintosh users can run Napster using the VirtualPC program. Saxton-Frump suggested that Macintosh users run their accounts on University computers in clusters around campus.”

Full article here.
Congratulations, Brown, on the purchase of your new Edsel.

Information for schools interested in including all of their students, including large communities of Mac users and iPod users should investigate Apple’s “iTunes on Campus” program, which includes volume licensing and features for BOTH Mac and Windows users.

Related articles:
The Mac is the ‘Nigger’ of the Computer Industry – Rodney O. Lain
Napster is a joke – April 05, 2005
Napster’s dirty little secret: changing subscription services into downloads is easy – February 19, 2005
Napster-To-Go’s ‘rental music’ DRM circumvented – February 14, 2005Why ‘Napster To Go’ will flop – February 03, 2005
Cornell University’s Mac users ‘uniformly unhappy’ with Napster – January 19, 2005
Cornell University wrestles with Napster’s exclusion of Mac and iPod-using students – September 08, 2004
Why are Cornell’s Mac students being forced to pay for useless Napster? – September 07, 2004Napster schools to Mac-using students: bend over and take it – September 04, 2004
Apple launches ‘iTunes on Campus’ institutional site license program – April 28, 2004


  1. MDN, On your related articles, why did Rodney O. Lain’s article with it’s somewhat irking title have to be listed first? Normally you list the articles in a reverse-chronological order with the most recent at the beginning. What’s up with ya! (I miss Rodney and before I heard of him, I thought I was the only Black person using Macs.) Just why did that article with it’s title have to be first? He’s written other stuff that explained the point as eloquently under different titles. Hollah at your boy … (Or do I take you out of my bookmarks?)

  2. Zupchuck, who said anything about a subscription service? Napster wasn’t chosen because of the subscription service, but probably despite it. Napster probably offered deeper discounts than Apple. In fact, I’m pretty sure Napster discounts all the way down to $2 or less per student for subscriptions. Had Brown gone with Apple, Apple would have given them volume discounts on all songs purchased from the iTMS. Basically, Brown buys a number of songs at a discount and passes the savings on to the students when they make the purchase. Either would have worked, but because Napster is on a subscription model it probably was cheaper for the school…pay one price and get unlimited songs. Of course, once those student graduate those songs will be unplayable. But hey, go Napster…right? Heh.

  3. “We did try to get a discount from Apple so that we could offer an alternative service for iPods, but the discount offered was not a great incentive”

    Apple: “We’re prepared to offer you this great software that is nothing more than an interface to our store, and we’re going to give it to you for free.”

    Brown: “Wow. How much does it regularly cost?”

    Apple: “Nothing.”

    Brown: “So why is this offer special?”

    Apple: “Well, we offer volume licensing.”

    Brown: “For a product that’s free and available to everyone already?”

    Apple: “Exactly”

    Brown: “So how does this benefit us? Doesn’t everyone that has an iPod already have the iTunes software? So in effect, is this just an attempt to try to get your store into all of our student’s computers without actually offering us anything in return?”

    Apple: “Ah, you’re using logic to defend against the reality distortion field. You’re obviously being paid by MS. We refuse your offer.”

    Brown: “Um, whatever… Let’s find someone that will actually work with us.”

  4. Well, Mac and Linux users could hit Brown with technological discrimination charges of some sort. No one should be left out in the cold.

    Apple should do something different for college campuses since Apple is the only one with any sort of cross-platform solution, though Apple needs to unleash iTunes/Quicktime for Linux to make it complete.

  5. As someone who actually goes to Brown, its nothing new here. The higher ups who make the decisions also went with Microsoft exchange server for email and that has been the expected disaster…

    you can’t run P2P software on Brown’s network anyway, they block it so the kidz just use iTunes….

  6. I think the kind of discount Brown was looking for from apple (perhaps less than 50 cents/song) is something that apple cannot do without cooperation from the music labels. Without cooperation, apple loses 20 cents on every song purchased.

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