Napster officials agree to new membership, fee-based system

Melinda Rogers

After a year of battling record companies, Napster officials reached an agreement that would keep the service operational, but might ultimately cause its most loyal customers — college students — to turn their backs on the service.
Bertelsmann AG, a company based in Germany that owns the popular BMG music service, dropped its lawsuit and decided to team up with Napster to create a new version of the Internet music-swapping service.
The new system will be membership-based, charging a fee for people to use the service. With key details of the new system including the cost of the service unsettled, University students show mixed opinions on the future of the popular site.
Institute of Technology sophomore Nick Stepaniak doesn’t see himself paying to use Napster’s services.
“If I wanted to buy music, I would go out and buy a CD,” Stepaniak said.
“Even if they charge me (for Napster’s service) there are always other places I can go, like Scour Exchange,” added College of Liberal Arts senior Geoff Yoong. “All that Napster does is make (music downloading) convenient.”
Other University students said they wouldn’t mind paying a fee to access their favorite music-swapping service.
“If it was a reasonable amount like $10 a month, I’d pay it,” said IT junior Jason Lembcke.
Napster reports that the use of a fee will allow artists to be rewarded for music that is traded on the Internet, providing a solution to the issue of copyright infringement that sparked the current lawsuits against the company.
But with only Bertelsmann on its side, the attempt to end Napster’s legal woes by enacting a fee for its services might be ineffective. Without the support of other major music companies the new service will likely be an unaccepted standard.
“Instead of cracking down on Napster, they should crack down on other programs,” Lembcke said. “The whole music industry needs to re-gear towards changing times and technologies.”
— Associated Press contributed to this report.

Melinda Rogers covers science and technology and welcomes comments at [email protected]