Dell, Napster Hit Legit Music Trail

In a deal that symbolizes how digital music providers originally intended to
make a legal buck, Napster has joined forces with Dell
to provide music files to colleges and universities.


Napster SuperPeer software will be deployed at the University of
Washington’s (UW) Seattle campus, powered by 10 Dell PowerEdge 1855 blade
servers.


SuperPeer ferries music and other Napster content stored on a caching server
located within the campus network. The blades, thin servers that will be set
up by Dell’s services team on the campus, will free up the necessary
bandwidth required for mass file sharing.


The deal could open the floodgates for Napster because students, the chief
culprits of illegal file-sharing when the peer-to-peer craze took off, can
download files from their schools’ servers without the threat of prosecution
from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) or government
agencies.


The legitimization of Napster’s brand in contrast to its days as a rogue
file-trading program also means the digital music service will be virtually
free of the viruses, spyware and other security risks that come along with
illegal file sharing.
The music may also be moved onto portable devices, such as MP3 players.


“In this era of pervasive broadband networks and extraordinary new personal
devices, it is important for universities to establish mechanisms that
provide our students with high quality, legal access to the growing body of
content available in digital repositories worldwide,” said UW President
Mark Emmert in a statement.


Dell and Napster are also working together on sales and marketing. This
fall, Dell sales executives will sell Napster digital music subscriptions to
colleges and universities at a discounted academic rate. Colleges will be
able to use Dell blade servers on campus to store music from Napster’s
library locally.


More broadly, Dell will help schools market the Napster service to students
and will offer special prices on its three digital music players, the Dell
Pocket DJ, Dell DJ 20 and the Dell DJ 30. These devices are compatible with
Napster To Go, Napster’s portable subscription service.


The agreement with Dell comes a year and a half after Napster announced the
Napster 2.0 music service, which offers consumers downloads for just 99
cents a song or $9.95 per album, CD burning and shared play lists.


Napster’s commitment to universities in the U.S. began shortly after the
launch of 2.0 as the Los Angeles-based company inked a deal with Penn State
University, which agreed to offer file sharing service at no cost to its
students.


Napster expanded its university reach to include Cornell University, George
Washington University, Middlebury College, University of Miami, University
of Rochester, University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University and
Wright State University.


While the company has capitalized on its once notorious brand name at the
universities where it once illicitly flourished, Napster has been busy
making deals with major high-tech players other than Dell. Napster has inked
distribution deals with Ericsson, Toshiba, Best Buy, Blockbuster and
Gateway.


The company also has an echo of the new Dell deal in its past: SuperPeer has
since 2004 used IBM’s BladeCenter systems running Linux to cache Napster
content in on-site servers managed by Napster.

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