USD offers free music downloads

Katrina Sargent

Katrina Sargent

According to Student Monitor, in the spring of 2006, more than half of college students illegally download music and movies. Music programs such as Ruckus, Rhapsody, Napster, iTunes and eMusic offer alternatives to illegal downloading.

Downloading music and movies illegally have cost students. For example, last year Briana Duda, a sophomore at the University of Texas, was fined $5,000 for Limewire use beginning in January 2007.

In the United States House of Representatives, the Curb Illegal Downloading on College Campuses bill was introduced. It is currently stuck in a subcommittee. The purpose of this bill is as its title states: to help universities put anti-piracy programs in place to reduce digital piracy on their networks.

The bill would take funding from the fund for improvement of postsecondary education, because according to lawmakers, illegal downloading uses a large amount of university bandwidth that should be used for research and educational pursuits.

The University of South Dakota recently made Ruckus available to their students. Ruckus is a legal music downloading service available only to college students with e-mail addresses ending in .edu.

Ruckus has a library of over 3 million songs for its users to choose from. There are a wide variety of genres including contemporary, indie, jazz, latin, ska, showtunes and world. Students can download single songs or entire albums.

According to Rogene Thaden, the senior Web strategist at USD, more than 800 USD students used Ruckus within the first week of its introduction.

There are just over 200 schools involved with Ruckus. Large schools such as UCLA, Duke, Princeton and the Universtiy of Minnesota currently use the program, as well as three of SDSU’s peer institutions outlined by President Chicoine.

According to its Web site, Ruckus does not cost students or their schools anything. It is paid for through advertisers who are given a chance to reach college students who use the Ruckus player.

One of the major problems with Ruckus is its incompatibility with Apple. Music downloaded with the Ruckus player cannot be played on Apple computers or iPods.

Since SDSU has close ties to Apple, iTunes is one good possibility, according to Aaron Doughten, an electrical engineering sophomore who is a Tech Fellow with SDSU.

“It would probably be a good idea,” said Doughten, referring to the recent anti-piracy action.

On its Web site, Ruckus is compared to other music players such as Napster and Rhapsody. The login page lists the most popular songs from Ruckus across the nation as well as popular songs for the student’s college.