As I'm currently in the "poor college student" demographic, I feel as if I can give a little insight into what these "alternative offerings" actually end up being.
I attend a rather well known college, and we were supposedly one of the first in the country to adopt a service that provided an 'alternative' to media piracy for students to obtain material by. This was originally provided by Napster, and for the the most part it wasn't a bad deal. At no extra cost to the students, you were able to get (mostly) DRM free music for your listening pleasure (or, it could be stripped out easily; through various methods)
Fast Foreward to 2007 -
As soon as my university's contract ran out for the Napster service, they picked up another service called "Ruckus" which, unlike Napster, is a dismal failure in what a digital media service should be. The catch line was "Expanded digital offerings then just music", but the reality of the situation ended up being:
- Almost no mainstream record companies signed up with the service. Most of what was provided is from independent or self publishing labels. Not the popular music people want
- There are 'movies' you can download with the service, but they consist almost entirely of music videos, again, of those strange bands you've never heard of. They also delete themselves after 2 days.
- Massive, MASSIVE amounts of DRM. Everything WMA or WMP formatted, and cannot be ported to multiple devices. Files expire after x period, etc.
The result of this means that for the student, you're back to square one, with piracy usually the most desirable option for obtaining media. It's not uncommon for underground networks to pop up, such as Dtella in such an environment, and if anything seems to further encourage such behaviour.