Students will download songs and movies one way or another, so part of deterring piracy is offering free, legal resources. But now a go-to option for many colleges, Ruckus, has dropped out of the dwindling business.
“Unfortunately the Ruckus service will no longer be provided,” says a message that reportedly replaced Ruckus’s Web site on Friday evening. “Thanks.”
The Chronicle’s calls to the company’s headquarters, in Herndon, Va., were not immediately returned on Monday.
Colleges began signing up for Ruckus five years ago, and in 2005, almost one in five was considering a subscription to a music or movie service, according to a survey by the education-technology group Educause. At first Ruckus charged for campuswide access, but by 2006 it had shifted its focus from site licenses to advertising, still requiring colleges to sign deals, but not to pay.
Record-company executives hailed the service, with its extensive digital library, as a means of curbing copyright violations. But students weren’t convinced: Ruckus was incompatible with Macs, and files downloaded through the company’s free service couldn’t be uploaded to iPods and other portable devices, because of digital-rights-management protections.
Still, the end of Ruckus nearly dries up the old pool of legal file-sharing alternatives. The similar service Cdigix discontinued its music and movie libraries in 2007, and Napster has all but abandoned the collegiate market. Ruckus, a part of Sony BMG and Universal Music Group’s Total Music project, was a popular remaining option.
“help help help!!” one student posted on a Ruckus-devoted page on Facebook. “i can’t cope :-( bring back ruckus!” Another lamented the timing of the service’s demise: “I didn’t get to finish my Neil Diamond collection.”
Students reported that their previously downloaded files still play — as long as the individual digital-rights-management licenses haven’t expired — but colleges are going to have to look for new legal sources of music. Federal law now requires the institutions to deter students’ piracy by offering alternatives to illegal file sharing. In this changing market, what will those alternatives be? —Sara Lipka