Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, has come up with a free music download program for its students that will be in place very soon if it is not already. Did I forget to mention that this plan is legal? Very important point. The University has teamed up with Ctrax, which is the music division of the Denver based company known as Cdigix to make the plan work. Cdigix offers not only music but movies, television programs, sports films etc., to students at various colleges and universities. Their primary mission is to "offer college students compelling content that they can enjoy and frequently access." It is made up of four different service components including Cflix (entertainment VoD), Ctrax (digital music), Clabs (educational media) and the Cvillage (campus showcase service). The material offered through Cdigix is of a very high quality that is delivered locally on-campus to the various computers in the residence halls.
Sound too good to be true? Well, the students do have to pay a small fee (.89 cents) to burn the downloaded song onto a cd or to transfer the music file to another site. The fee is to cover copyright priveleges and is the same for off campus students and faculty and staff although they must pay an additional monthly fee of 2.99 and 5.99 respectively.
Cdigix was chosen over Napster as the University felt that Cdigix was more geared towards university and college students in addition to the fact that they provided the infrastructure to set up the system. Cdigix offers access to over one million songs which isn't too shabby. Some students have made the point that despite the low price for the music, the option to download the same song for free at minimal risk will still seem the better option.
This is an idea that could catch on and spread like wildfire across the country if the University of Purdue sees positive results. I think it could be a compromise that everyone would feel comfortable with at this point. Despite the fact that .89 cents is .89 cents more than free, people might be willing to pay for it if for no other reason than to ease their slightly guilty conscience. The music industry, if they were smart, would agree to this because this just might be as good as it gets for them. This might be something that the University of San Diego should consider putting into place....