Dell Inc., the world's largest personal computer supplier, and Napster Inc. on Wednesday said they will provide colleges with a legal online music hardware and software package.

The offering combines Napster's digital music service with Dell's PowerEdge 1855 servers that will boost network bandwidth at schools. Colleges will be able to use the servers to store music from Napster's library locally, allowing network processing speed to remain fast while hundreds of students simultaneously download music.

The University of Washington is the first school to sign up for the package, set to launch this fall, the companies said.

This partnership will augment Napster's previous university initiative, which provided the service at 13 universities.

Under the deal, Dell will sell Napster subscriptions to additional colleges and universities at a discounted academic rate and also offer special prices on bundles that include Dell's digital music players.

The pact follows closely on the heels of last week's landmark Supreme Court ruling that found Internet file-trading networks such as Grokster and Morpheus can be held liable when their users copy music, movies and other protected works without permission.

The ruling was hailed by recording and movie companies and was considered a boost for lawful Internet businesses such as Napster, Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes online music store and RealNetworks Inc. Rhapsody music subscription service, while it put the future of file-sharing networks such as Grokster in doubt.

Entertainment companies have been waging war on file- sharing networks for the last six years, blaming illegal copying for cutting into sales by more than 25 percent.

The entertainment industry managed to shut down Napster in its original renegade file-trading form after it introduced millions of fans to the concept of unauthorized peer-to-peer song-swapping. After undergoing several changes and owners, Napster now offers a legal music subscription service similar to Rhapsody.


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