CU students get free music

BOULDER, Colo. – On Sept. 28, University of Colorado at Boulder introduced a music service allowing students to download more than 2.2 million songs to as many as three computers per student.

Downloads are free for students living in resident housing, and those living off campus can subscribe to the service for $6.99 a month.

“This allows people to download all the music they want from the largest legal music download library – that I know of — and substantially larger than a lot of the other music sources. And they can listen to it all they want,” said Robert Dixon, IT Director of Housing and Dining Services.

Ctrax provides music to more than 75 universities across the nation. Its catalog currently consists of 100,000 artists in 23 different genres pulled from major record companies and various independent labels.

“That [service] sounds excellent,” said CU senior Tyler Beebout. “I’ve read about colleges doing that same sort of thing. I hadn’t read about our college doing it, but that sounds nice.”

Dixon has monitored the progress of parent company Cdigix, Inc. for the past four years and is confident in its ability to provide a quality no-cost service to those living on campus.

“I’ve worked on this [Ctrax] for quite sometime to get it this point, and it’s been a good effort,” Dixon said. “It is free for the school as well so it doesn’t come out of any fees. They’re not taking [money] out of tuition or housing fees. I think they’re [Ctrax] building the structure in such a way as future years – they’ll be able to continue offering this for free.”

Macintosh users, however, cannot receive this service.

“It’s an industry standard issue of the Digital Rights Management proprietorship,” Dixon said.

Apple Computer’s DRM – a system that controls the access and distribution of digital data – does not allow users to operate Ctrax.

“This is not a Cdigix problem – it’s an industry problem,” Dixon said. “And the music industry will not allow that [Ctrax] to be downloaded to Macintosh computers, unfortunately. Hopefully someday they change this or other options are provided.”

In the mean time, Cdigix is negotiating a plan to connect Macintosh users to MacRadio.

Other restrictions to the Ctrax service include the amount and nature of the devices that can be used to hold downloaded songs.

While the student subscription does allow users to download any song to as many as three computers, the songs cannot be transferred to a portable MP3 player such as an iPod, or burned to CD.

Some students said this could affect people’s decision to use Ctrax in lieu of other sites – in particular those that allow illegal downloads.

“I don’t listen to all that much music on my computer, so if I can’t take it [downloaded music] elsewhere, I definitely won’t be using it,” said CU junior Chris Sherrere. “Make it [available for] limited use on other devices.”

John Nguyen, a freshman at CU, doubts legal music limited to personal computers will have a large impact on the number of students who illegally download music.

“If they were able to put it into an iPod or put it into CDs, I think students would use it more,” Nguyen said.

Dixon disagreed.

“It helps with giving students an option that they don’t have to steal the music or break copyright laws and [they] get to listen to all kinds of music,” he said. “We are serious about that [copyright infringement]. We’re trying to teach students that there are laws that we intend to keep and obey and so I think this is a really good win-win middle ground.”

Beebout said there are advantages of using a service like Ctrax.

“It’s always easier to get it from a legal source in the first place, and generally it’s a higher quality of music, or some of the files are better quality,” he said. “So, if you could already do it for free, I’d definitely imagine that would cut down [on stealing].”