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Sunday, August 29, 2004
University Offers Real Network's Rhapsody Music Service to Students
As part of its strategy to reduce its liability vis a vis the music downloading litigation, the university is bringing students a discounted version of Rhapsody, Real Networks online music service.
This semester the school is offering a special promotion, free access until October 31st for undergrads, to get students to sign up for the discounted 2$ a month service.
Rhapsody is a decent compromise between making music widely available to internet users and the concerns the music industry has regarding intellectual property. For the 2$ a month you get access to the full Rhapsody library, listening privileges (you can essentially listen to any song at any time), and the ability to create playlists. If you want to go further and download a song you will have to pony up an additional fee of 79 cents a song.
The obvious here is that this is an attempt to wean students off legally dubious methods of downloading and acquiring music over the internet.
But I don't think this service will make a major effect on student downloading patterns for several reasons.
1. Similar services such as I-Tunes music store have been out for some time now... and this is purely conjecture but I think most of the people who were going to switch from downloading free music to paying for it have already done so. This is not to say that a lot of people won't use Rhapsody, but it is to say the availability of Rhapsody will not deter people from downloading music "illegally".
2. Rhapsody is currently only available to PC users. While this is not significant for the broader market it is somewhat significant among Berkeley students.
That said, I see the deal with Rhapsody as a positive step by the University in both addressing its own legal problems and the legal problems + happiness of its students.
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