File-sharing programs to be explored at April 7 event

WUSTL students may soon be able to download music legally through a file-sharing program contracted by the University.

A vendor fair called “Digital Expo” will be held from 4:30-9:30 p.m. April 7 in the Mudd House multipurpose room. It will aim to educate students about legal and illegal file sharing and provide an opportunity to learn about shared music products and services.

“This is a unique opportunity for students to directly impact the technological services available on our campus,” said Danielle Matilsky, speaker of the Congress of the South 40. “Student input is essential to this endeavor and will provide the administration with the opinions necessary to make a purchase that best fits the needs of Washington University students, especially those who plan on living in campus housing in the years to come.”

Jan Weller, assistant vice chancellor and director of network and library technology, said Student Union has considered several file-sharing options.

“Last fall, the Technology Resource Committee, a Student Union subcommittee which I help to advise, decided it was time to research legal music file-sharing resources,” Weller said. “Members of the committee surveyed University students about file sharing, vendor awareness and business models that students would support if the University directly contracted for the service.”

After learning of a successful vendor fair at Indiana University, Weller decided to hold a similar event at WUSTL.

In addition to the vendors, the fair will include music, food, prizes and a 10 p.m. panel discussion featuring members of the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, and Rebecca L. Brown, associate general counsel at the University.

“It’s important to note that no one has made any commitment at this time to contract for this type of service,” Weller said.

“Shortly after the fair, Matt Arthur (director of residential technology services) and I plan to meet with Jim McLeod (vice chancellor for students and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences) and Justin Carroll (assistant vice chancellor for students and dean of student affairs) to discuss whether this is a service the University should make available to the students. If the answer is yes, then we’ll move on from there.

“Right now, this is all about information — gathering and sharing.”

Weller said she thinks a decision on whether to offer this service or not will be made by early June. If the decision is to go forward, she hopes to have the service available for the fall semester.

“Our aim is to provide an environment for our students that fosters good network citizenship,” she said.