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View Full Version : Penn State and Napster

2003-12-12, 03:40
Penn State announced in early November 2003 that it was signing up students for the Napster service. 18,000 students will be able to use it in Winter 2004. By Fall of 2004, 83,000 students are scheduled to use it. There is no immediate increase of the fees the students will have to pay. The funds will come from their information technology fees.

Prior to the Napster agreement, there was a connection between Penn State and the RIAA. The president of Penn State, Graham Spanier, and the president of the RIAA, Cary Sherman, cochair the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities Technology Task Force (http://www.educause.edu/issues/rfi/), which is a group set up by the universities and the record companies to combat piracy on campuses. Also, Barry Robinson, a Penn State trustee, is the Senior Counsel for Corporate Affairs for the RIAA. He oversees the lawsuits and any other legal matters at the RIAA.

Penn State recently sent e-mails to the students with information about Napster. The full text can be read here (http://p2pnet.net/ez/index.php/content/view/full/360/). What I found to be of concern was this part of the e-mail:
"Students will have to enroll in the service using their Access Account ID and password just as they do to get email, look at their grades, etc."
This must be a security and privacy violation, because in order for Napster to verify the student information, they have to be in possession of it.

Penn State is demonstrating that it is not interested in educating its students. Instead it sees them as sources of income. They are a disgrace to the words "learning institution". What they have done by cooperating with the RIAA, and marketing their students without regard to security or privacy, is taken the path of intellectual cowardice and self-prostitution. That is no lesson to be teaching students.