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Proof that College Students Are Not Stupid

Wall Street Journal: Free, Legal and Ignored. 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. 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.

The entertainment industry’s belief that we should all be in a pay-per-view world runs contrary to common sense. Digital restrictions management is more than a speedbump; it is an outright barrier.

The worry for citizen media is several-fold. First, the entertainment companies are trying to force technology companies to build restrictions into pretty much everything, and to block technologies and services that will be essential for access to edge-in media. Second, we are losing the right even to quote from copyrighted works, a huge barrier to creativity and new art.

2 Comments on “Proof that College Students Are Not Stupid”

  1. #1 TheBizofKnowledge
    on Jul 6th, 2006 at 3:11 pm

    I am definitely on the side of this college student. I hate it when companies or institutions place a time limit on “ownership” of digital content. For example, the MP3’s that I have on my cell phone can’t be transferred anywhere else and are essentially available to me only as long as I own the phone. Once I figured that out, I stopped purchasing/adding music to it.

  2. #2 Jon Garfunkel
    on Jul 6th, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    Hmm. Admitting in a national newspaper to downloading music illegally? If that’s taking a stand for freedom, then I have a bridge for you to download.

    This paragraph better captured the essence of the article:
    “Universities also have another reason for reducing illegal downloading: The large amount of bandwidth used by movie and music downloads chokes universities’ computer networks. The subscription services complement university filtering programs that can identify users who are misusing school networks. “The bandwidth that I recovered saved us $75,000 a year in network costs,” says Matthew Jett Hall, assistant vice chancellor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn…”

    Hey, I took Jazz for Slackers with Phil Schaap some 9 years ago at the dawn of file-sharing, and it annoyed me that we were still making copies of tapes to listen to Duke and Coltrane. Admittedly my collection is more respectable now, but at the time it would have made perfect sense to have DRM-limited music.

    This is just another case where the aims of “citizen media” get mired in “I want free stuff.” For every genius like Danger Mouse who doesn’t flinch in the face of copyright law, there’s a thousand of us who just remain the audience.

    And we remain the audience, not because of a childhood lacking in music, but in lacking interest in playing an instrument.