Graham Spanier’s Uphill Battle

A profile from today’s NYTimes: Students Shall Not Download. Yeah, Sure [pdf]. The selection of Penn State as the location for the profiles is truly ironic. (Although the injection of plagiarism as a parallel conundrum seems like yet another effort to find something to smear the P2P culture with)

One student articulates a comment raised elsewhere — some of this downloading is just collecting; no one really listens to all that’s downloade. She then raises a question that raises all sorts of ethical questions, far beyond that of copying.

Ann Morrissey, 19, confessed that she had not even listened to all the songs she had downloaded. “I have 400 songs, I listen to 20,” she said. “I don’t know why,” she added, then laughed self consciously, and answered herself, “You can, and it’s cool to have them.”

She, like others, does not see the harm done, and remains suspicious of the recording industry.

“How are you going to make downloading illegal when you can still smoke legally and give yourself lung cancer?” Ms. Morrissey asked. “There are a lot worse issues you could focus on.”

And some of the traditional arguments remain:

A common analogy — downloading music is like stealing a CD — does not sway students. Many argue that they are spending more money on music.

“I never went out and bought CD’s; now I go to concerts, because I know what kind of music people play,” said Kristen Lipski, 20. “If you can get your music out to a big group of people to listen to, they’ll go to your CD, go to your concert, spend money on posters. It’s really expensive, especially for college students, to buy the whole CD.”

Mr. Langlitz was on his way to a concert downtown by Taking Back Sunday, a band he said he would never have heard without downloading. “A lot of the bands I know about aren’t that well-known,” he said. “Before I saw their CD’s, I had them in my computer.”

These are the same arguments adults make. But while adults who remember the days of LP’s seem willing to pay 99 cents a song, students see any transition from free as a denial of basic right.