Free, legal and ignored: Mac- and iPod-incompatible beleaguered Napster dying at colleges

“As a student at Cornell University, Angelo Petrigh had access to free online music via a legal music-downloading service his school provided. Yet the 21-year-old still turned to illegal file-sharing programs,” Nick Timiraos reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“The reason: While Cornell’s online music program, through Napster, gave him and other students free, legal downloads, the email introducing the service explained that students could keep their songs only until they graduated. ‘After I read that, I decided I didn’t want to even try it,’ says Mr. Petrigh, who will be a senior in the fall at the Ithaca, N.Y., school,” Timiraos reports.

“College students don’t turn down much that’s free. But when it comes to online music, even free hasn’t been enough to persuade many students to use such digital download services as Napster, Rhapsody, Ruckus and Cdigix. As a result, some schools have dropped their services, and others are considering doing so or have switched to other providers,” Timiraos reports.

Timiraos reports, “There’s also the problem of compatibility: The services won’t run on Apple Computer Inc. computers, which are owned by 19% of college students, according to a 2006 survey of 1,200 students by the research group Student Monitor. In addition, the files won’t play on Apple iPods, which are owned by 42% of college students, according to the survey.”

“USC decided last year that it was finished with Napster after fewer than 500 students signed up, and it moved to Ruckus, hoping students would find that service more appealing,” Timiraos reports. “Meanwhile, both Cornell and Purdue will no longer offer their students free music next year. An anonymous donor had paid for Cornell to offer Napster for two years, but the student government passed on a chance to keep the service by charging students a fee. ‘There hasn’t been an overwhelming response to keep it,’ says Kwame Thomison, Cornell’s student assembly president. ‘Students that enjoyed the service enough can pay for it themselves.'”

“The number of students using Napster at George Washington University dropped by more than half between the first and second year, from one-third to one-seventh of eligible users. Alexa Kim, who oversees the Washington school’s program, attributes the higher use at the start to the service’s novelty and to press attention during the inaugural year. She adds that the university hasn’t decided if it will renew its contract,” Timiraos reports. “Colleges started offering the services in part because they were concerned that the recording industry might try to hold them liable for their students’ copyright violations. So far no schools have been sued by the recording industry.”

Full article here.
The end is near. Finally. Last year, to the day, on July 6th, 2005, we wrote in response to the news that The University of Washington was the first school to sign up to market some cobbled-together mess involving Napster and Dell’s now-discontinued Dell DJ portable players to students, “Any school that takes Dell and Napster up on this ‘offer’ should also post signs around campus that read, ‘Mac-using and/or iPod-using students not welcome here.'” Can you imagine that places of “higher learning” would sign with exclusionary services that are incompatible with so many students’ hardware choices (Mac and iPod)?

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Related articles:
Survey: Apple iPod bigger than beer among college students – June 08, 2006
NCCU becomes first Apple ‘iTunes U’ school in North Carolina state system – June 06, 2006
Ohio University chooses Apple’s iTunes U for students and faculty – May 11, 2006
University of California puts video lectures on Apple’s ‘iTunes U’ – April 25, 2006
University of Pennsylvania excludes Mac users with Windows-only music service – March 21, 2006
Apple and Stanford University open ‘Stanford on iTunes’ to the public – January 25, 2006
Apple expands free, hosted ‘iTunes U’ service for colleges and universities – January 24, 2006
Cornell Student Assembly to vote on funding Mac- and iPod-incompatible Napster for another year – November 01, 2005
Why are Brown University’s Mac students being forced to pay for useless Napster? – September 06, 2005
College students refuse to buy a single song from Napster – July 10, 2005
Colleges should not exclude Mac and iPod users with Dell, Napster music hardware, software offering – July 06, 2005
Colleges offering students music services that aren’t cross-platform, don’t work with iPod – March 22, 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, 2004
Napster schools to Mac-using students: bend over and take it – September 04, 2004
Florida State University to sign deal with Apple for iTunes software – August 27, 2004


  1. What means this word . . . how you say in English . . . “illegal?”

    It’s a non-issue in Canada. Music downloads are legal here. Two federal courts told the goose-stepping jackbooted RIAA-type stooges to get stuffed.

  2. Free? If you can’t keep it or own, what’s the point? Better descriptions would be temporary, transitory, provisional, gone before you know it. Any music “vendor” that mimics Napster’s restrictive service will find their popularity and existence short-lived as well.

  3. Gee I thought Napster had already folded, you never hear about them anymore ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    They need to fold that company and give the stockholders back their money.

  4. Music Subscription services might be viable if there were an option to buy music that you like from what you’ve downloaded. This could potentially be a fairly attractive option.

    But, then how would you buy the music that you like?
    Download “unlocked” music files?
    Purchase an unlock code for each song you want to buy?
    Then you could swap song unlock codes with your buddies and we’re back to where we started.

    It quickly turns into a nightmare.

    Maybe Apple’s got it right after all.

  5. maczealot took the words right out of my mouth, this service isn’t free, they’re lending you the songs for you to listen to when you want, but you have to give them back…?

    Who came up with that amazing business plan?

  6. …From his office in Cupertino Jobs cracks a sneer as he looks into the setting sun, sitting behind his sleek jet-black gloss G6 Macpro prototype.

    …’it ain’t over yet’ he thinks to himself …’ain’t nothing over yet’.

  7. Students are smart, put poor. They have enough on their plate trying to survive and educate themselves.

    Money is tight, they look to bend the rules and “free music” with “no DRM” and “no restrictions” is just what they want.

    The universities and colleges were scared, they played the RIAA ball to show them what they already knew, that college students, by and far are poor and desperate, there is no money to be had out of them.

    These institutions for learning are trying to give these students a chance at life, with much needed skills, so they can get well paying jobs to pay the artists for their music.

    If the RIAA sues these schools, they are real son of a b*tches.

  8. I’ve said it many times, renting music doesn’t work! People collect music so they can listen to it over and over and maybe not even in the same year but years from now. These offerings from Rhapsody and Napster will take all the music back once they leave. Students and people in general don’t like that approach and never will. People who like music want to listen to it for there life time. Not just for a few years or less, it just doesn’t work that way and so nobody wants it even if it is free, sort of.

  9. “USC decided last year that it was finished with Napster after fewer than 500 students signed up, and it moved to Ruckus, hoping students would find that service more appealing.”

    Seeing bureaucrats at work is like driving past an accident. You just have to slow down and watch with morbid fascination.

    Especially with the evidence that subscription services are of no interest to students whatsoever, why wouldn’t schools be clamouring to sign up for iTunes U? Then they would both satisfy the NAZIs, and make a few bucks to boot.

    Much of the world really does hate Apple, I guess.

  10. I will lend you all my free diatribes.

    That way you will be forced to later buy my official Diatribe Hardware Player to listen to them.

    And I will be rich beyond dreams.

    You have no quarrel with MacDoodyStaticChannelMesh.

    I’m a dingus.

  11. @ Johnny Canuck.

    Music sharing has NEVER been legal in Canada. The downloading just wasn’t “illegal” because we never had a law that covered it. Now we do. The uploading was always illegal and immoral.

    Nice try, though.

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