LAMP Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: October 20, 2004

* What is LAMP?

LAMP is an electronic music library of classical and contemporary CDs that may be accessed across the MIT campus, including in student dormitory rooms and faculty offices. While at MIT, patrons can listen to CDs in the collection on demand, free of charge, over the MIT cable television system. We are using LAMP to research the effects of a more-accessible music library on education and music-listening behavior at MIT. More information is at

* Can I use LAMP?

MIT's LAMP library is available to students and employees of MIT, on the MIT campus. We are publishing the complete plans and the software royalty-free so that other universities and towns can make their own electronic music libraries.

* How does LAMP work?

Using a Web browser, patrons visit and create programs of about 30 minutes by requesting songs from the library in a particular order. In response, an array of robotic CD jukeboxes records those songs onto a hard drive. After the program is recorded, it becomes available for all patrons to play over one of 16 analog TV channels on MIT's analog cable TV system. Anyone on the MIT campus with a television, VCR, stereo, or computer tuner peripheral can tune in, but only 16 users can control playback at a time.

* Can I donate music to LAMP?

Yes! We are happy to add your donated CDs to the collection. Please contact to arrange a donation.

* What happened with last year's opening?

We bought 48,000 MP3 files on a hard drive from a Seattle company, Loudeye Corp. Loudeye represented in writing that it had permission from the record labels and music publishers to sell us the MP3s. Unfortunately, it looks like they made a mistake. After we announced the opening last October, Loudeye told us that they had not had permission to sell us the music they sold us. So, as a show of good faith, we announced on October 31, 2003 that we were temporarily closing LAMP until we could make sure the recordings in our collection were made under authorization from the record labels and music publishers. Since then, we have replaced Loudeye's MP3s (on hard drives) with actual CDs, stored in robotic jukeboxes.

* Can any university/town implement an electronic music library like LAMP?

Any university or town that operates a cable television system could implement its own electronic music library patterned after LAMP. We are publishing the complete plans and the software royalty-free so that other universities and towns can make their own electronic music libraries.

* How much did LAMP cost?

So far, we have spent about $15,000 on the transmission equipment and CD jukeboxes, and about $19,000 to buy 1,770 CDs. We received a donation of 10 StreetFire RBX1600 music servers from StreetFire Sound Labs. The RBX1600 servers control our 10 CD jukeboxes.

* Will MIT share the collection of its music libraries over LAMP?

No, the MIT Lewis Music Library's collection will remain separate. LAMP has its own collection of CDs that were requested by students and faculty during a year-long survey.

* Does MIT really think LAMP will stamp out illegal file-trading?

We certainly hope the ease of access to music through LAMP will cut down on students breaking the law just to listen to music. LAMP offers on-demand listening to about 25,000 songs more reliably than KaZaA can. And LAMP, unlike downloading songs through KaZaA, is legal.

* Is this really legal? How?

We are transmitting music over the non-digital portion of MIT's internal cable television system. Because it is impossible to record exact copies of CDs from a non-digital cable television system, under the copyright law the licensing requirements are less stringent than for over the Internet: similar to the requirements for radio stations.

MIT, like most universities and radio stations, pays for blanket licenses from the three organizations -- ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC -- that have the power to authorize analog transmissions of virtually all songs. These blanket licenses cost about 60 cents per student per year in total, including cable television rights.

* Who's behind LAMP?

LAMP is a joint project of the MIT Student Information Processing Board (Josh Mandel/Keith Winstein) and MIT Cable Television (Randy Winchester/Jon Ward). LAMP is generously supported by MIT iCampus (MIT/Microsoft Research) and StreetFire Sound Labs, and is supervised by Professor Hal Abelson.

* What is MIT's policy on students who do participate in illegal file-swapping?

MIT's policy is described at

* What's behind LAMP?

LAMP's hardware is off the shelf. We use a rackmount PC from Net Express with two Delta 1010 sound cards to drive 16 Blonder Tongue AMCM-806 television modulators. Ten Sony CDP-CX455 400-CD jukeboxes hold the CDs, managed by ten StreetFire RBX1600 music servers. The software is implemented using the other LAMP: GNU/Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl, and PHP. We also use C++ for time-critical code (audio playback and display).