Next week, the online music service Ruckus will be launched at UR. This partnership with Ruckus will provide all students with free and legal music downloads.

In a Feb. 28 press release, Ruckus CEO Mike Bebel stated that one of Ruckus’ main goals is to combat the increasing rates of media piracy on college campuses via peer-to-peer networks. Ruckus will replace Napster, which will no longer be free to students after May 31, and Ctrax, which will suspend its music service on May 1.

Associate Vice Provost of Academic and Research Technology Eric Fredericksen said that UR had been in contact with Ruckus for some time.

“The University has been a pioneer in legal music services for students and pays close attention to that marketplace,” Fredericksen said. “While we offered Ctrax (from Cdigix) and Napster this past year, we were also talking with Ruckus about their service.”

Ruckus Network, Inc. provides the leading digital entertainment network designed for colleges and universities across the United States. Ruckus was co-founded in 2003 by two MBA students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, David Galper and Vincent Han. Launched in September 2004, it became the first online music service that exclusively targeted the college population.

In January 2006, it switched from a subscription service to one that is free and ad-supported. On Jan. 22, Ruckus became available for free to all college students with .edu e-mail addresses. Additionally, Ruckus offers alumni, faculty and staff with .edu e-mails the option to subscribe to the service for $9 a month.

Ever since Ruckus became free in January, its membership has increased greatly across U.S. universities.

“The breadth of Ruckus’ offerings and the rapidly growing list of other colleges and universities using their service were noteworthy,” Fredericksen said.

Despite its indisputable benefits, Ruckus has several restrictions. Since it uses Microsoft’s Windows media technology, songs downloaded from Ruckus can only be played on PCs and not on most Macs.

“Ruckus communicated that the newer Intel-based Macs that can dual boot Windows will work,” Fredericksen said.

Moreover, encrypted songs cannot be burned on CDs or be played on iPods.

Another shortcoming is that the Ruckus Web site and software is cluttered with distracting advertisements.

On the positive side, Ruckus offers over 2.5 million free, licensed tracks from four major record labels as well as several independent labels. Additionally, its extensive social networking features allow students to view each other’s playlists and connect with similar college students nationwide, thus creating an online community.

Barbosu is a member of the class of 2010.

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