Students turn to legal file-sharing

RIAA's upbeat on campus activities

WASHINGTON — Legitimate online file-sharing is flourishing on college campuses, but students don’t have the music biz off their backs yet.

That’s the message the Recording Industry Assn. of America and music industry reps sent in the last week.

Alan McGlade, the CEO of MusicNet, a leading legitimate online music service provider, told a House Judiciary subcommittee Tuesday that more and more students are turning to legal Internet sites for their digital music choices.

That did not, however, prevent the RIAA from slapping 32 college students at 26 universities with lawsuits nearly a week ago as part of its latest offense against a total of 762 individuals accused of illegally sharing music online.

Still, the industry tried to concentrate on the positive at the Tuesday hearing before the subcommittee on courts, the Internet and intellectual property.

For example, McGlade noted that in the first week that the company, along with partner Ctrax, offered students monthly subscription rates, about 2,000 students signed up at Purdue U. alone, downloading some 150,000 songs. In addition to Purdue, the monthly service is currently offered at the U. of Denver, Tulane, Wake Forest, RIT, Ohio U. and Yale.

Monthly subscriptions average about $3, although some universities cover the cost for students. McGlade anticipated that Ctrax will be available at 20 schools by the spring 2005 term.

Penn State prexy Graham Spanier co-chairs the Joint Committee of the Higher Education Entertainment Communities with RIAA prexy Cary Sherman. The group recently submitted a report to Congress outlining the progress made combating illegal file-sharing on college campuses during the past academic year.

“Compared to the beginning of last year’s school session, there has been a sea change in the university digital music landscape,” Sherman said in a statement released along with the report.