Some students still download for free

More than 500 University students tried Rhapsody in its first week of service.

by Anna Weggel

Since the University launched a new online music service this fall, more than 500 people tried the program during the first week of service, Shih-Pau Yen, University deputy chief information officer said.

RealNetwork’s Rhapsody, a discounted digital music service, is designed as a legal alternative to people who seek digital music files but want to download legally.

Out of approximately 40 students who were contacted during the weekend, no users of the program could be found. Many said they still prefer the free peer-to-peer file-sharing networks such as Kazaa or Morpheus.

First-year electrical engineering student Eric Mueller said he has heard about the service but is not interested.

“It’s not like we don’t have money, but we can get it free so much easier,” Mueller said.

Mueller said he uses free downloading services to find music he likes and then buys that music in stores.

“The sound quality is so much better,” he said.

First-year biomedical engineering student Ben Bienert said buying compact discs is not the way to find music. He said he uses Kazaa Lite.

“We’ve gotten spoiled by the free ones,” he said.

First-year political science student Rachel Stene said she doesn’t think it’s the University’s job to cut down on illegal file-sharing.

“Record companies should do stuff,” she said.

Stene said she will not likely use the Rhapsody service.

“It’s kind of inconvenient when you can get so much for free,” she said.

Yen said he has not yet begun promoting the program. He wants to let students settle in to the University first, he said.

“Students need to focus on their school work,” Yen said.

He said he has only received positive feedback so far.

“Most people who I talk to, they’re all favorable because the price is so cheap,” Yen said.

Rhapsody normally costs $9 a month, but the subscription is offered to University students for as little as $2 a month, and songs can be downloaded for 79 cents each.

Other universities have inquired about the service, perhaps as a model for their schools, Yen said.

“People think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

“I don’t want to control student behavior, but I want to lead them in the right direction.”

The Recording Industry Association of America has sued two University students. The association said it suspected students shared copyrighted music on file-sharing programs in April.