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Napster adds more schools to US university programme

Company grooms students for download consumption

Napster has reached agreements to extend its music subscription service, Napster 2.0, to six additional schools as it continues to roll out its marketing plan aimed at converting university students into devotees of the legal, fee-based service.

Napster and its parent company, Roxio, said today that Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York; the George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont; the University of Miami; the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, will soon begin offering campus-specific versions of Napster's subscription service. Exact dates were not available.

It was not disclosed how each university planned to pay for the service. Each school is expected to begin offering the Napster service when students return to school in September and October.

As part of the program, users can stream and locally download an unlimited amount of music from the company's 800,000-digital song catalogue. Students also have the option to purchase music, burn it to CDs or transfer it to portable devices for $0.99 per song or around $9.99 per album.

Pennsylvania State University and the University of Rochester, in New York, were the first universities to begin offering Napster services to students. Penn State, which last November became the first school partner with Napster, claims that users are now downloading as many as 100,000 songs each day and that school officials plan to expand the offering in the fourth quarter to allow students at all its 23 campuses to participate, Napster said today.

Napster's main rival, Apple Computer, last April also moved to tap into the student market with the launch of an iTunes on Campus program, offering a license to educational institutions to distribute the software for download or on CDs to students. Additionally, MusicNet struck its own deal with Yale University.

But not every university is enthralled with the idea of providing legal digital music services over its peer-to-peer file sharing networks. In May, the Tennessee Board of Regents, which is responsible for 45 state universities and 180,000 students, rejected Napster's overtures. Napster has proposed a deal that would have cost $9.99 per student, per month for its service.

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