October 24, 2007

Ruckus Installs Server at C.U.

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Ruckus Network, a digital entertainment service that offers free, legal and safe media to over 1,000 colleges nation-wide, has recently partnered with Cornell to bring its services to campus.
This past summer, Ruckus Network contacted Cornell administrators regarding the possibility of installing its server on campus. After collaborating chiefly with Kent Hubbell ’67, dean of students, and Polly McClure, vice president for information technologies, Ruckus was brought to campus last month. Approximately 3,400 Cornell students have downloaded Ruckus. This agreement came after Cornell’s two-year partnership with Napster ended in 2006. The Napster agreement dissolved after the Student Assembly decided that the cost of the music service was an inappropriate use of the Student Activity Fund.
“I am confident that [Ruckus] will spread as a viable alternative to Napster and illegal music downloads,” said Elan Greenberg ’08, Student Assembly president.
Unlike Napster, Ruckus Network operates on an advertisement supported business model, allowing students to download tracks for free. Tracks downloaded from Ruckus will remain on students’ computers as long as they are enrolled in the University.
“It’s a music version of cable TV. You get to enjoy and listen to it, but when you are no longer a subscriber, it’s gone,” said Hubbell.
Although downloads are free for students, files must be purchased from Ruckus in order to burn a CD or transfer media files from a computer to a portable music device. Students are charged $0.79 to $0.99 a track, while alumni, faculty and staff must pay $8.99 per month for unlimited music downloads.
In addition to music files, Ruckus features other forms of media entertainment.
According to Director of Corporate Development Chris Lawson, Ruckus offers free full-length indie, foreign and student films and a free gaming channel. It has also established an application through Facebook where members can share media and interests.
Cornell administrators feel a digital music service on campus benefits both the University and students.
“It’s a legal, virus-free way to download. There’s no cost for it, and the partnership minimizes traffic over the internet,” said Robert Bourdeau, assistant director of marketing for Cornell Information Technologies.
“There is the sense that having a digital music server on campus perhaps makes illegal file sharing less prevalent,” Hubbell said.
University officials hope that illegal downloading will decrease. This would potentially lower the number of Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices that students receive if caught illegally downloading or sharing material through the internet, according to the administration.
“DMCA [notices] let individuals know that the copyright owner thinks an infringement is taking place,” said Tracy Mitrano, director of IT policy at Cornell.
Risks associated with illegal downloading and sharing files include large fines and potential lawsuits from angered copyright owners. In order to increase awareness, Cornell is changing the how recipients of DMCA notices are handled.
“The University’s greatest interest is in educating students about digital copyright, the law, the technology and the politics. To that end, CIT has created a copyright education program, which is an automated tutorial and test that first-time recipients of DMCA notices will be required to take,” Mitrano said.
Although educational programs and Ruckus might work to decrease illegal downloading, there are still some drawbacks to the Ruckus Network.
Ruckus is not compatible with Apple Macintosh or Linux systems,and can only be played through Microsoft PlaysForSure. Additionally, only purchased music can be burned onto compact discs, and the music files are not compatible with some portable music devices, such as iPods. Ruckus downloads must also be renewed every month.
Philip Stathis ’09 admits that he was sad to see Napster go, and that although he does not personally haveRuckus, he has heard that it is not ideal in terms of its compatibility and music quality.
“It’s hard to move around the files, and it’s a bit bulky, while [using] Napster you can just stream the music. The quality of the sound is not as good because the file size is smaller,” Stathis said.
Despite these issues, Ruckus seems to be garnering some positive feedback as well.
Dara Perl ’11 said she enjoys using Rucking on her laptop and will possibly purchase new music.
“I think there are certain things that I would end up buying — probably newer music that I don’t have at home,” Perl said.