The RIAA’s backdoor to your wallet

The RIAA’s backdoor to your wallet.
Recommended reading: The Register’s report on the RIAA’s deliberate naming of colleges and universities where students illegally download music. In announcing 477 new lawsuits today, the RIAA said that 69 of those people did the deed through universities and named Brown University; Emory University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Gonzaga University; Mansfield University; Michigan State University; Princeton University; Sacred Heart University; Texas A & M University; Trinity College (Conn.); Trinity University (Tex.); University of Kansas; University of Minnesota; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. “Leaking” these names puts pressure on them to deal with the RIAA for legal downloads following a model created for two other schools.

As part of the pilot agreements, students at Penn State and Rochester get free music at almost no cost at all to their schools.

The Napster service allows students to download as many songs as they like for free onto a network-connected PC, with the schools, in theory, fronting the $9.95 per month charge for this service. If the student actually wants to keep the song for after-university use, they can pay 99 cents per tune to download the track onto an MP3 player or to burn the track on a CD.

In reality, however, the schools have admitted they receive massive discounts for the Napster service — close to free. Still, the RIAA bills Penn State and Rochester as the models deviant institutions should follow.

The problem for the other schools is that, unlike RIAA chums Penn State and Rochester, they will have to pay and pay big for Napster. So the “model” is a bit flawed.”

The actual “model” for the schools works out like this. If you have 10,000 students, the Napster cost would be close to $100,000 per month or more than $1m a year. For schools the size of Texas A & M University with tens of thousands of students, we’re talking many millions of dollars.

The total one-year Napster cost for just the schools mentioned today by the RIAA would be close to $27m.

So the RIAA is using the universities to help make up revenue losses they attribute to illegal downloading. And where, in the end, do you think that money will come from? You got it.

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