More Crummy Reporting on Penn State’s Music Service

Reuters reports: “Song-swap pioneer-turned online music store Napster is expected to announce a deal with Penn State University to offer its newly relaunched music service for free to tens of thousands of students, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday.” (emphasis added)

Yes, Roxio and the RIAA are providing this service all out of the goodness of their hearts. And Penn State will not be charging their students directly or indirectly for the service.  As I’ve said before, this is one heck of a spin machine.

Whatever contractual or technological restrictions that Napster decides to impose on to its typical users are likely passed on to these students. If they want to buy songs from a service with better contractual or DRM terms, they get double charged.  For instance, a student who owns an iPod will have little reason to use his “free” Napster account.

Isn’t it interesting that Roxio’s getting this exclusive deal, rather than the University building its own system and using a license from the RIAA?  It adds a whole other dimension of clumsiness to this – as if it weren’t bad enough that the students are being forced into paying for the RIAA’s music regardless of their listening habits, they now have to fund Roxio specifically, too.

Is this the way to a more competitive market in online music stores? To have the colleges choose ahead of time for all student consumers?

Did I mention that this is a state university subsidizing Roxio and its selection of artists only, not musicians in general?

Update: Frank’s got links to other stories on the matter.