Three years ago, Pennsylvania State University banned its students from using Napster 1.0–the controversial file trading wares. Students protested. Today, the university has dramatically changed its tune. Access to Napster 2.0, the newfangled “legal” download service, now comes with the tuition. And, guess what: students are protesting again. According to CNET, some Penn Staters are up in arms that the school is spending a portion of each student’s $160 “information technology” fee on a campus-wide subscription to Napster. Beginning in January, students will get free access to stream from a choice of 500,000 songs; it will cost 99 cents to burn a song to a disc or save it on a hard drive.
This is nothing more than a crass collaboration between schools and major corporations to steer students away from peer-to-peer networks. I agree with the protesters. Let the students decide if/when they want to subscribe to an Internet service. And let them choose which one they like. Napster is far from the only game in town.