Dell today announced that it has teamed with digital music provider Napster to help colleges and universities offer students a legal way to download music files.What do you think about this? Free music might be nice, but the details are pretty limited. Will it only be available on the campus network? Can commuter students use it? And of course, will this be another charge tacked on to our tuition bill (possibly as part of the STF fee)? Assuming it's like all other Napster-university partnerships, the songs will expire as soon as you leave the university, and you won't be able to play them on an iPod... unless you crack the DRM (which is highly illegal).
The offering, available immediately, combines Napster's digital music service with Dell PowerEdgeTM 1855 blade servers to help institutions increase network bandwidth availability while providing students with a premium, legal digital music service virtually free of the viruses, spyware and other security risks that often accompany the downloading of unauthorized music. The University of Washington (UW) will be the first school to employ this comprehensive solution starting this fall.
Edited To Add: The press release is pretty vague, with phrases like "comprehensive solution", and The Register seems to think that the UW is shelling out $$$ for it, but there's nothing that definitely says that the UW is paying anything. I'll see if I can get more info.
Edit 2: The Seattle Times now confirms that residence hall students will get free access to the Napster subscription service.