The success of school-backed technology initiatives is critical for providers of digital lifestyle equipment and services, which test early-adoption patterns and scramble for mindshare among tech-heavy spenders. But there’s a fine line between giving students access to cutting-edge technology and making them marketing guinea pigs, some critics warn.
[…] iPods aren’t the only technology trend schools are buying into. Several universities subsidize or pay for legal music download services such as Napster, Cdigix, RealNetworks’ Rhapsody and Ruckus Network. Pennsylvania State University got the ball rolling earlier this year, when it launched a pilot program that offered Napster 2.0 to a select number of students for free. Penn State’s offer has since been expanded to all students, and other schools are following suit.
Campus authorities say they are partnering with these companies to stymie illegal downloading over peer-to-peer networks. Universities have been targets of several lawsuits launched by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The RIAA has said that so far, its legal efforts, combined with these partnerships, has helped reduce illegal file sharing on college networks.
At least today’s Boston Globe interviewees had the decency to admit that these instruments are unlikely to have anything to do with reducing “piracy.”
Later: Slashdot’s The Changing Face Of Campus Tech