U students will have digital media service access

Those who subscribe will be able to share files and playlists with each other.

Matt Graham

The University announced Tuesday that it will offer a new digital-media service to subscribed students starting this fall.

Ruckus Networks is a firm based in Herndon, Va., that focuses on providing college campuses with legal digital-media downloads. The University is the 11th school to sign with the firm.

Ruckus will provide approximately 1.2 million audio tracks from major record labels Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Bros. Records and EMI Group, as well as a group of independent labels including Koch Records, Artemis Records and Sanctuary Records Group.

The service will also provide a selection of feature-length movies available for download.

Steve Cawley, associate vice president and chief information officer of the Office of Information Technology, said students who take out the semester-long subscriptions will pay $3 per month to download music and the same amount to subscribe to the movie service. Users will receive unlimited downloads.

For an additional charge, users can get the Ruckus portable client, which will allow them to upload tracks onto Janus-supported MP3 players.

No other University money will go toward paying for the service.

When a student downloads a file from Ruckus, that file will be placed on an on-campus server, allowing any other student on the campus to download the track at higher speeds, said Ryan Schradin, account executive from RLM Public Relations, Ruckus’ public relations firm.

University students who subscribe to the program will be able to share files and playlists with one another.

Students will also be able to create music and video that they can make available on the network.

The program will also give subscribers what Cawley called “community-building tools” similar to what is available on thefacebook.com, the popular online social network on college campuses.

The partnership comes a year after the University’s decision to partner with Rhapsody, the online jukebox service, and amid pressure from the government and the record industry to curb the use of illegal file-sharing services such as Kazaa and Morpheus.

Legal issues aside, Cawley said the program will benefit students by assuring the files they download are the same and free of viruses.

Some students have expressed support for legal, pay-to-use, digital-media services.

“I do think it’s bad that the artists who are making the music are losing money,” said Kristin Atchison, a sixth-year Spanish and nutrition student.

But others, such as continuing education student Mikow Hang, are less impressed.

“I don’t think that downloading music legally is going to catch on,” he said. “People are always going to find loopholes.”

– Jamie VanGeest contributed to this article.