A pair of MIT students have developed a music sharing system that is in compliance with current copyright law:
- Keith Winstein and Josh Mandel may soon be the most popular guys on campus. They say they've discovered a way to give their fellow students at MIT and elsewhere dorm-room access to a huge music library without having to worry about getting slapped with a lawsuit from the recording industry.
On Monday, the pair planned to debut a system they've built that lets MIT students listen for free to 3,500 CDs over the school's cable television network. They say it's completely kosher under copyright law.
The students will share the software with other schools, who they say could operate their own networks for just a few thousand dollars per year.
....Here's the catch: The system is operated over the Internet but the music is pumped through MIT's cable television network. That makes it an analog transmission, as opposed to a digital one, in which a file is reproduced exactly.
The downside is the sound quality: better than FM radio, but not as good as a CD.
But the upside is that because the copy isn't exact, the licensing hurdles are lower. The idea piggybacks on two things: the broad, cheap licenses given to many universities to "perform" analog music, and the same rules that require radio stations to pay songwriters, but not record companies, to broadcast songs.
....The MIT project is called "Library Access to Music," or "LAMP," and here's how it works: Users go to a Web page and "check out" one of 16 cable channels in the MIT system, which they can control for up to 80 minutes. The controller then picks songs from among 3,500 CDs — all suggested by students in an online survey over the past year — that Winstein, 22, and Mandel, 20, have compiled.