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Media Education

University Tests Legal File Downloading System 260

Posted by timothy
from the another-one-that-is dept.
philospher writes "Dorm students at Northern Illinois University are testing a legal file downloading service. It is made by Ruckus Network, and was developed by a group of MIT students. NIU pays 5$ a month per student, and the students can get music, movies, TV shows, local content and community features. Sounds a lot better than having the RIAA sending you a court summons."
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University Tests Legal File Downloading System

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  • Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NG Resonance (794484) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:54PM (#10053219)
    I'd pay for a service like this. Not too expensive, and keeping me safe from RIAA/MPAA attacks.
    • Re:Good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dustinbarbour (721795)
      Keep ya' safe? Are you that worried about it? There are so many ways to avoid prosecution.. the sheer mass of people downloading stuff keeps ya' pretty safe. The RIAA has sued such a tiny fraction of a percent of P2P users that it is laughable. I download all day everyday without any fear from these organizations..
    • The problem is that it keeps the RIAA alive. A few years ago that would've been a good thing but not today after their years of refusal to give up their control of music distribution.
    • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Douglas_E_Morris (575482) * on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @05:43AM (#10054353)
      In the end this service is not unlike others you would get at a university. While I am sure this is not the same for all Universities, the one where I go to school at sells you services such as your phone, your cable, your internet (at least it is high speed) and this is all built into the price. The reason the prices are the way that they are is bulk pricing. Everyone chips in a little and it does not seem so bad overall. Also, as a member of Residence Hall Council we get to vote and approve such 'manditory fees' for services in the halls, and while i agree it seems rude to force fees on people we can often get services for all at the price of $5.00 per person where to simply leave one person out would raise the price as high as $20.00 per person because it is not 'all'. When we vote in these fees it is done in the intrest of all students, not just a few. We try to get the best deals we can, and offer the services that are wanted at discouted rates. You accept certain limitations by living in a residence hall, you likly have quite hours, you are reqiured to follow the house rules, and you agree to the manditory fees. It is alot like living in a house that is under the rule of a housing association. In wrap up this was not written to draw the ire of anyone, just to give another perspective that might not otherwise be viewed. Doug Morris
      • Re:Good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        The problem with this is that some students who don't end up using the service, pay for it anyway. Students who don't have computers pay the same price for residence, even though high speed internet is included. Everybody pays a little bit for the gym, but very few students use the gym. Computer science students pay to support the library, yet only an extemely small percentage of the books there deal with their subject, and even a smaller percentage are up to date. They get good pricing because everyon
        • Re:Good idea (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ViolentGreen (704134)
          Well you can't get around that. The point is that they have access to the service. Whether they use it or not is their choice.
        • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

          by silicon not in the v (669585) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @10:20AM (#10056529) Journal
          The problem with this is that some students who don't end up using the service, pay for it anyway. Students who don't have computers pay the same price for residence, even though high speed internet is included. ...gym. ...library. ...books.
          Yeah, my taxes pay for jails, but I don't get to use them. The criminals should pay for it. My taxes support schools, but I don't have any kids; that's not fair.[/sarcasm]
          The same kind of thing happens in society, but it's especially true in a university setting. You are getting access to amazing stuff because of the economy of scale of the students that are there. You get to use science and electronics lab equipment that you could never hope to afford. You get to use expensive software packages--autocad and such--that you could not get, gym and fitness facilities, high speed internet, etc., etc. Plus if you act now, you'll also get this great education that will help you get a job! And here's the best part: it's not like taxes where you have to pay it. If you don't like the service package of a university, DON'T GO. Or if you prefer, go to a smaller college or community college that is cheaper and has less features. Would you whine and cry about some place that sells a $15,000 computer that's packed with features you would never use? Instead, choose the one that has the things you do want at a reasonable price.
  • Yay... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geminidomino (614729) * on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:54PM (#10053223) Journal
    Force students to pay whether they want the Uni to sell their souls to the RIAA or not.

    Nothing new here. Move along.
    • And people wonder why record labels have been unwilling to try selling music online. When they do, people still criticize them.
      • Re:Yay... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by geminidomino (614729) * on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:09AM (#10053298) Journal
        I see this less as "Selling music" and more as "blanket extortion."

        "Pay us $5/student or risk being sued."

        Doesn't sound like "sales" to me.
        • Its more like pay $5 a month or we will investigate your students who are probably sharing music we own the copyright to and hold your network financially accountable for the infringement. The college of course took the easy way out. If you buy that the RIAA should be enforcing copyright then they are being reasonable with the college in offering a legitimate way for the students to continue the behavior of downloading music.
        • .

          Music isn't free.

          Period.

          This is not "blanket extortion," and really, with the money that the music industry rakes in, five bucks a month is probably more akin to their anal cavities being violated than anyone else's -- Not Everyone Pirates Music, ya know.

          $5/student is a good deal.

          Let's put it in perspective.

          TV is broadcast. Why shouldnt it be free?

          They're sending out one signal.. What's one more box on the cable system? It's not costing them anything.

          Yet I bet most of you (myself included

          • by geminidomino (614729) * on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @02:35AM (#10053793) Journal
            Reality check:

            $5/student, whether the student WANTS IT OR NOT, just to prevent lawsuits. That IS textbook extortion.

            You don't think this cost is gonna be passed onto the students, even the ones who don't even OWN computers?
            • You don't think this cost is gonna be passed onto the students, even the ones who don't even OWN computers?

              Well the cost for high speed internet gets passed to the students who don't own computers. The cost of cable gets passed to students who don't own tvs. The cost of the the free medical services that many universities have gets passed to students who don't use them.

              It's a service that the university provides. It's not extortion. The students know that they will be paying this fee before they
      • Re:Yay... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EzInKy (115248)
        And people wonder why record labels have been unwilling to try selling music online. When they do, people still criticize them.

        Only because they earned that criticism by their refusal to adapt to technological change. Many people have already delegated the former powerful record labels to the dustbins of history that include the carraige makers of the nineteenth century. They had their chance and the screwed up by choosing to sue people rather than offer a solution that would benefit all.
    • Re:Yay... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ChairmanMeow (787164) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:14AM (#10053326) Journal
      Force students to pay whether they want the Uni to sell their souls to the RIAA or not.

      That's what makes me angry... The college I go to signed a deal with iTunes, which basically means that students will be forced to pay an RIAA tax in their tuition, regardless of whether the students actually use the service or not. In my case, I don't want to use iTunes, and since there's no Linux client I can't use it anyway (yes, I know about the Crossover Office story a few days ago, but I'm not going to install Crossover Office to use the iTunes software I don't want). Also, going to a private college is expensive enough without bring forced to pay for academically useless things such as iTunes. Personally, I think it should be at the most an opt-in program: that is, students who wanted to use iTunes would opt-in to the program which would be organized by the college, and the fee would be added to their bill. In that case, any student that did not want to participate in that program would not sign up, and those who did want to participate would sign up. Then again, since when was there reason in the music downloading discussion?
      • Re:Yay... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Brad Oliver (604118)
        Personally, I think it should be at the most an opt-in program: that is, students who wanted to use iTunes would opt-in to the program which would be organized by the college, and the fee would be added to their bill. In that case, any student that did not want to participate in that program would not sign up, and those who did want to participate would sign up.

        If you make this an opt-in program, why not make other things you don't care for opt-in as well? Don't like your school's fencing program? Don't

      • Re:Yay... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jace of Fuse! (72042) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @02:04AM (#10053727) Homepage
        Since you're paying for it, use it. Yes, yes, I know, you use Linux and can't. Blah. Find a Windows PC, download a song. Follow me here...

        Now, since it's that DRM encoded garbage AAC or whatever, you're going to want to strip that crap out.

        Use Hymn [hymn-project.org] for that. Now add your unlocked song to your collection in iTunes. Use iTune's built in "CONVERT TO MP3" feature, which it will do nicely and you now have a file you can use on your Linux machine. iTunes has a built in converter that works really well, but it won't convert it's own DRM protected trash. So once you've taken that out....

        There are a few things to note. First off, when iTunes converts it to MP3 it will grow in size, nearly almost double it's original depending on the content. Next, your MP3 player has to support variable rate MP3s, which most do.

        I know supporting iTunes is kind of like saying you accept DRM, but if you have to pay for it then use it the way you want. After all, You paid and can't listen to it on your chosen platform. Exercise your fair rights!
      • The iTunes Music Store is a poor example for several reasons:
        as previously mentioned, there are no subscription fees for iTMS, so all the uni has done is agreed to provide the iTunes software on their servers (unless they also offer a certain amount of prepaid tracks per timeframe, in which case there is some cause for being upset)
        there is plenty of non-RIAA music on iTunes, as independent labels are free to submit their tracks along with the big boys (use iTMS in conjunction with www.riaaradar.com to ensur
      • Re:Yay... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @06:41AM (#10054511) Homepage Journal
        I wonder if Shawn Fanning ever realized that this was the logical end point of the revolution he started - deliberately create a network that makes it easy to infringe artist's rights and makes it difficult to identify specific infringers, and you end up with a situation where the innocent - be it "every broadband user" (as proposed by El Reg and the EFF - I'm serious, both are proposing the solution to P2P is a compulsory broadband tax) or in this case, "every student", ends up having to pay for the music instead, with the RIAA and MPAA desperately leveraging any single point of liability they can find.

        Kind of sucks, doesn't it? Everyone suffers because two groups - artists and copyright infringers - decide to take everything to the most extreme extents they can.

  • Legal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mobets (101759) * on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:54PM (#10053226) Journal
    I read the article... what makes this legal? not much in the way of details...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:55PM (#10053228)
    if its not illegal it's no fun.

    screw it.
  • by crem_d_genes (726860) * on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:55PM (#10053230)
    Cornell is giving away music downloads [cornell.edu] this year.
  • Good use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nos. (179609) <{ac.srrekeht} {ta} {werdna}> on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:56PM (#10053234) Homepage
    At least we're starting to see the Industry start using the technology to everyone's advantage instead of trying to quash it. Of course I'm in Canada and I'm pretty safe right now from the letters (mind you, I haven't downloaded an MP3 in a LONG time either). Of course with Morpheus's recent win in court, this sort of 'legal' P2P system may not catch on as well as hoped. Have to admit though, if I knew I could get high quality, legal MP3's I'd probably consider paying the $5/month.
    • Of course with Morpheus's recent win in court...

      Morpheus? Morpheus has been dead since they (were forcibly) switched to the Gnutella network. And if you read the legal opinion of the appeals court [com.com], it doesn't say that file sharing is inherently legal, just that the makers of the software are not liable for what their users do -- that's quite a large difference.
  • by marshac (580242) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:56PM (#10053239) Homepage
    How is this not illegal? If students are still downloading copyrighted content from each other... *scratches head*.... I don't get it.

    And yes, I did RTFA, and the company website.
    • by paulthomas (685756) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:09AM (#10053297) Journal
      It looks like they are partnering with individual labels and producers to get a (likely meager) cut to the copyright holder so everything is kosher. Otherwise they're probably just banking on Sound Exchange and paying flat royalties for Sound Exchange to distribute later on. This is how most radio stations work (Pay to a big holding group that redistributes based on a variety of factors like album sales).
      Also, it looks like the P2P part may only be a mechanism to locally cache and distribute content that they've licensed to reduce their overhead. The files are also Windows Media and "tethered" according to the article.

      Paul

      PS. I wrote the company to complain about the damn auto-playing music on the web site. This is no longer 1996!
    • A quick google shows that if something is tethered then the comapny can distribute certain copyrighted material to people, they just can't take it off their computer (legally anyway, technically they possibly can). Some companies (such as Napster) use this system, but have to have an agreeance with the copyright holders to do so.
    • This seems to be an implementation of compulsory licensing [yale.edu] (the 5 dollar fee) and probably the future of P2P, unless the whole "sue everyone" method actually works in the end.
  • by joeldg (518249) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:56PM (#10053241) Homepage
    Posting the following:

    "Bryan Ajuluchukwu, a freshman economics major, is one of more than 170 students living on the third floor of Grant Towers who is testing a new downloading service. The service, called Ruckus Network, allows for those students to download music and movies."

    is the equiv of posting a target on your forehead for the MPAA and the RIAA to make an "example" out of you, especially for the elusive college market (which is the one they are always, always, always after..)
    • by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:05AM (#10053277) Homepage
      From the same exact article you got your quote from:

      "It was better than other programs because it's legal," Ajuluchukwu said. "This is a good idea for the university to do for the students so we have some entertainment."

      It's legal.
      • What makes you so sure it's legal? Where did he explain WHY its legal?

        I get 400 emails every day trying to sell me mortages, make-penis-fast pills, and porn. 390 of them say "This is not spam." Guess what...

        Note: If you don't understand what the spam has to do with the parent post, please note that "guillible" is not in the dictionary.
      • It is very sparse in the "how exactly it is legal" areas. While stating they can download music and movies they don't own.

        That would be a "grey area" and the fact they are charing for general access is even more fuel for a lawsuit.

        I am not a lawyer, but I do follow the P2P stories pretty close and this touts legality without offering up anything new about how it manages to skirt around the law.
        • Read the site [ruckusnetwork.com]: "We are negotiating special volume-discount licensing fees for the academic community from music labels and studios"

          Sure, it's a sparse on who they specifically have deals with but anyone with half a brain will make sure there's an indemnification clause in the contract.

          • Yea, I also saw this [ruckusnetwork.com] which is about as much help.
            Basically, they are going to raise money to license content so they can be almost like an college-branded "iTunes buffet" service..
            In that case, yea maybe.. but with strict terms I am sure of passing around the data.
            I will belive it when I see it..

            bookmarked it in my HA profile to keep watch.
  • by Mordant (138460) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:57PM (#10053244)
    Without knowing any further details, I'll bet that'll about sum it up. ;>
  • by thewldisntenuff (778302) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:58PM (#10053247) Homepage
    Let's think this over a bit.....The downloads are "tethered", as TFA states...

    But let's consider something different.....

    Can't find the population of NIU...But we'll use my school's numbers....Assuming a yearlong (12-month) contract....

    $5 * ~40,000 students * 12 mos. = $2.4 million

    Why would I want my tuition money (which, at this campus, only pays for more construction, adminstrative wages, yet can't cover enough for class TAs) to be wasted on RIAA/MPAA/AAA-approved media? The schools are always bitching about lack of funds, yet they can somehow afford this? Bullshit...If they (students), would like to pay out of pocket, be my guest. But don't waste my tution money on it.
    • I find it funny that the Ruckus Network's homepage boasts that it "puts an end to Internet bandwidth problems." I don't understand how encouraging students to download files can put an end to bandwidth problems...
      • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:14AM (#10053330)
        It very well could help. If enought people switched to downloading things from Kazaa to this in-house network, it would actually probably substantially lighten the load where it counts: the connection from the on campus network to the rest of the world.

        (It sounds like this will just be within the university.)

        In campus network is much, much, much cheaper than the backbone out to the Internet. (For example, CMU has gigabit. So downloading within the campus would be almost free.) You increase the total exchange, but decrease the volume of transfer at the bottleneck.
    • While I don't necessarily disagree with you on this particular issue (I waffle back and forth on the worth of such a program), there are good reasons to charge more than just those who use it. It's how almost everything works.

      For instance, I go to PSU. There are organized activities each weekend night (LateNight Penn State) to try to get people to not go out and get drunk. Probably only a small fraction of students take advantage of it on a regular basis, yet the cost is subsidized by everyone.

      A lot of pe
    • This is for dormitory students who would have access to the university's bandwidth, most likely. The money for this would likely come out of those fees. Students already pay for things like phone service, internet access, cable tv, and more.

      With a total undergraduate population of 15,800, you can rest assured that the final tally will come to less than $2.4 million. But that's not the point.

      The point is, this has nothing to do with academia. This service won't help you get your Bachelor's degree in Co
    • Because then, (if the promises that Ruckus makes are anything like true), your tuition money wouldn't have to go to adding more t3 lines, or being sued by the RIAA, or buying CD's.
    • 2.4 mil is pocket change to a school of 40k students. when tuition clocks in at $20k per student per year (not figuring in room / board / activity fee / whatever), what's 60 bux per year? probably less than that even, as the summer / winter breaks are likely not covered.

      On the other hand, if you have a huge P2P fest happening on campus, the fee the univ end up paying for simple outbound bandwidth will exceed that amount.

      Anyway. On the other hand, I have never had downloaded anything from P2P *ever* (hard
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I am an NIU student.

      We had approximately 23k students last year, and given our growth, that figure is probably closer to 23.5k-24k students now.

      Personally, I believe this Ruckus Network thing is a fucking waste of my money. But that is all NIU does -- steal our money via student fees and spend it on shit I couldn't care less about [niu.edu].

      Our school is run like a socialist government on crack, except that our uni is in the red like our state budget and for a while was considering laying off some NIU profs, mean [216.239.41.104]
  • by b0r1s (170449) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:58PM (#10053250) Homepage
    $5/month is nothing compared to what they're going to be paying for the bandwidth used up by all of the downloading.

    • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:02AM (#10053266)
      I know Penn State has Napster servers on the campus network that has either 90% of the media on them or serves 90% of requests, I forget which.

      It's conceivable that enough people would switch from downloading stuff from Kazaa to Napster to actually save on bandwidth use where it counts, namely the backbone from the school network out into the real world.
  • by photonagon (721776) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:00AM (#10053256)
    ...at www.ruckus.net [ruckus.net].

    The link in the article didn't seem to work.

    I still can't find anything about what makes this legal, but the company claims it numerous times.
  • ...so how much can you download?

    "NIU pays $5 per student per month and is allowed unlimited access to the media for the testers. "

    So, what exactly? $5/month for unlimited access to a student to download whatever.

    Now THAT I could see take off.
  • by Trolling4Dollars (627073) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:00AM (#10053259) Journal
    ...this is sure to get more kids to want to go off to college. "Hot damn!! I can get free music and movies if I go to college? Sign me up!!!"
    • If you're only going to school for free downloads, take your tuition money and spend it buying albums and movies instead of using it for school. You'll get much more bang/buck than paying 20 grand a year (or $20,060 :) for an overpriced college.
  • by hazman (642790) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:01AM (#10053261)
    These students can download or stream music, television and movies (presumably fairly recent releases in a VOD arrangement) for $5 a month? And I'm paying $70 a month for my DSS service which has nothing on demand? And it's legal?

    This begs a few observations:

    There is no way this service will make it into the real world at this price.

    or

    This service is not legal.

    or

    My rectum problems are NOT due to a lack of fiber in my diet.
  • Not to nitpick... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nial-in-a-box (588883)
    "It is made by Ruckus Network, and was developed by a group of MIT students."

    No offense, but WTF does that mean? Made and developed are essentially synonyms in this case. I often wonder why so many poorly worded submissions make it to the front page of Slashdot. Is it because putting anything in quotes seems to remove all responsibility from the editor? Or is it sheer ignorance. I understand that the English language is a nasty, irregular bastard of a language, but for the love of corn let's try to be

  • Court Summons? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:03AM (#10053270) Homepage
    How many music downloaders has the RIAA actually brought to court? Not very many. Almost all of the RIAA's attacks against downloaders have been settled out of court. They're more of a publicity stunt than they are a legal tactic. Now that I think of it, I can't remember any case where the RIAA has brought a music downloader to trial (not that there weren't any, there may have been) almost all of their real court cases are against companies that produce filesharing software. The reason, I believe, for this is that there is a big legal distinction between downloading somebody else's content and making money from other people downloading that content. I'm pretty sure that if someone accused of downloading music actually proceeded to go into court that they could have a reasonable chance at getting off. We'll probably never see that though because for someone to do this they would have to have the money to front for a lawyer, not to mention the time to see the case through.
    • Re:Court Summons? (Score:4, Informative)

      by damiangerous (218679) <1ndt7174ekq80001@sneakemail.com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:23AM (#10053376)
      The reason, I believe, for this is that there is a big legal distinction between downloading somebody else's content and making money from other people downloading that content.

      Yes there is, but that's not relevant. The RIAA doesn't go after downloaders, they go after sharers. And there is no legal difference between sharing for free and sharing for pay, with the sole exception of the amount of damages that can be awarded.

      I'm pretty sure that if someone accused of downloading music actually proceeded to go into court that they could have a reasonable chance at getting off

      Luckily for them, the people being served are retaining actual legal council who don't talk out of their ass.

      Oh, and for the record, only about 600 people have settled as of June. The rest of the 3,249 are still going slowly through the court process [com.com].

      • Re:Court Summons? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by iamdrscience (541136)

        Oh, and for the record, only about 600 people have settled as of June. The rest of the 3,249 are still going slowly through the court process.

        If you actually read that article you'd realize that what is says is that cases were filed against these people without the RIAA having their names. They are in court with these peoples' ISPs trying to get their identities released, they are not in court with the peoples themselves. I think it's extremely likely that these people, like the 600 before them, will all se

        • You have to go deep into the Kazaa settings to change the shared folder destination, and oh look, on the same page as the shared folder destination is a tickbox to disable sharing. Oh my, look at that. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, these people are commiting copyright infringement.
  • by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:05AM (#10053278) Homepage
    If I got a court summons or (more likely) a cease and desist letter from the RIAA I could put it in a nice frame and make a really cool wall hanging out of it.
  • Quote (Score:3, Informative)

    by betanerd (547811) <segatech@ema[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:05AM (#10053279) Homepage
    "Ruckus is &#147;tethered&#148; so students can still download music and movies without officially owning, buying or burning downloads, said Marone"

    Wow on demand cable without the abialty to record the shows. Thank you MPAA/RIAA for this generous outporing of stupid liscense fee media. Yes, these are the best times of our lives/ /Sarcasm
    • You can still pipe it to a VCR (or audio tape for music) using analog connections. The quality is not optimal but it is sufficient to let you watch it again. Wanna own it? Buy it.
    • Tethered means it's on my computer. Well let's see:
      1> I have a cable connection so downloading isn't a hassle
      2> I don't tape any of my shows off tv to keep for good. I'd rather support them and do the legal thing, buy the series.
      3> $10AU/month is a hell of a lot cheaper then $80AU/month
      4> You can get whatever you want (provided it's available).

      This can be a good deal for some people. It isn't for everyone, but I know I'd be tempted to subscribe (provided non-USians can subscribe and provided I
  • by emidln (806452)
    Thanks for ruining the service we sprung $5 this month for. I guess my $5 is going to pay for a new server farm. Thanks again, slashdot!
  • Porn? (Score:5, Funny)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:10AM (#10053302) Homepage
    I get the feeling though that unlike most "illegal" networks, this one has considerably less porn.

    Obviously, it would be worthless to me.
  • Here's a copy (Score:5, Informative)

    by matz62 (74523) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:12AM (#10053313)
    Monday, August 23, 2004

    Ruckus starts in Grant with new downloading tool for students
    Network may expand to other residence halls if it is successful

    Article by:
    Michelle Gibbons - Staff Reporter
    mgibbons@northernstar.info [mailto]


    Bryan Ajuluchukwu, a freshman economics major, is one of more than 170 students living on the third floor of Grant Towers who is testing a new downloading service. The service, called Ruckus Network, allows for those students to download music and movies.

    Ajuluchukwu, who heard about Ruckus from his roommate, said he would definitely recommend the program to other students.

    It was better than other programs because its legal, Ajuluchukwu said. This is a good idea for the university to do for the students so we have some entertainment.

    Ruckus is a digital entertainment and downloading service that will provide music, movies, TV shows, local content and community features to students free of charge, said Joseph Marone, Ruckus account representative for NIU. NIU pays $5 per student per month and is allowed unlimited access to the media for the testers.

    On Thursday, Ruckus will be available for testing to residents in the third through sixth floors of all Grant Towers, said Keith Kruchten, president of the Residence Hall Association.

    Marone said NIU is very important to Ruckus development.

    This is the first time weve opened this program up to a school. We want to make sure students enjoy it.

    Still in the pilot testing process, the program is not only tested by students, but also developed and designed by graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Marone said.

    From Aug. 12 to Aug. 19, more than 20 NIU community advisers and Grant Towers staff tested Ruckus, and on Aug. 19, 170 students were added to the testing. By Aug. 26, a total of 700 NIU students will be linked to Ruckus.

    On Sept. 1, about 2,500 students in all Grant Towers will have limited access to the network. The full model of Ruckus will be open to all Grant students in October, Kruchten said.

    The network is located at www.betaruckus.net.

    Ruckus is tethered so students can still download music and movies without officially owning, buying or burning downloads, said Marone.

    He said students can share playlists and compare theirs with other students likes and dislikes.

    Kruchten also said even though the program is limited, students have been very impressed with what has been available thus far.

    © 2004 Northern Star. All Rights Reserved.
  • content is king (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:14AM (#10053329)
    The article seems weak on explaining exactly what you get for $5/month. One of the big attractions of filesharing software is the timely content being shared.

    The most popular downloads, which also account for the greatest bandwith used, are things like the latest DVD movies, theatre camera captures, popular albums. That's a simple fact, whether it's legal or not.

    I can't believe Ruckus or any other small media company is ever going to be able to offer these kinds of downloads on their networks. I mean, is WB going to make a deal with them so that they can distribute movies at $5/month right at the same time as those movies are released in theatres?

    So then, what kind of content *can* they distribute? Movies that came out two years ago, or Britney Spears' very first album, I guess. The same stuff that's on free to air TV.

    In that case, there is still going to be alternative "illegal" networks for sharing the latest popular media, and I suspect that the illegal networks will stay much more popular.

    • Re:content is king (Score:3, Informative)

      by tater86 (628389)
      "The same stuff that's on free to air TV."

      I'm not sure if that's just a typo, but there isn't much that's free to air on TV. TV stations pay for the right to show movies and syndicated TV shows. Radio stations pay royalities to BMI and ASCAP which distribute the royalites to the copyright holder. Ruckus is no different, once they work out licensing deals with various groups they will be able to show their copyrighted works.

      I would expect that the selection initially on a service like this would be q

      • Of course the content on radio, television and cable networks isn't free to those networks, nor can viewers/listeners do whatever they like with their own recordings. As part of the media publishers' end-to-end public distribution schedule, they're at the far end - ie theatre release in the US, followed by theatre release around the world, followed by DVD release, followed by cable, and finally TV, first prime time and eventually as late night filler. The full progression takes years, and exists on purpose
  • by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:19AM (#10053349) Homepage
    This download network, like many other legal, commercial networks that have struck deals with colleges, is paid for by the university, not by the students themselves. I never really understood this. I mean, I know most schools feel that it is in some way their responsibility to pay for their students entertainment, i.e. concerts and other performances, fairs, etc., but this seems like going a little over the edge. I mean, NIU has 25,000 students, so if they were to pay for this program for all of their students it would be 25,000 students times $5 times let's say 8 months of school (plus whatever they pay for the kids that are there in the summer) or $1,000,000. That's a lot of money to add onto whatever they budget for student entertainment functions.
    • Well, if they offered it directly to students, people might start asking "hey, why can't they offer this to the general public?" I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that this probably has a smaller profit margin than CDs and DVDs...
  • by atomic-penguin (100835) <wolfe21.marshall@edu> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:20AM (#10053354) Homepage Journal
    "...RUCKUS WILL NOT BE LIABLE TO ANYONE WITH RESPECT TO ANY DAMAGES, LOSS OR CLAIM WHATSOEVER IN CONNECTION WITH ACCESS TO OR USE OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS SITE. IN NO EVENT SHALL RUCKUS BE LIABLE FOR ANY SPECIAL, INDIRECT, EXEMPLARY OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE, COPYING OR DISPLAY OF THE CONTENT..."

    So where is the guarantee that this is in fact legal, and/or you won't get hunted down by the RIAA/MPAA? How is this not breaking copyright laws?

    It sounds like a nice advertisement, but might be too good to be true. The adage, "There ain't such a thing as a free lunch.", rings true. They want personal information in return. Oh, and the privacy statement reads like adware/spyware.

    If institutions are to adopt this for their College networks there has to be a guarantee in writing that I won't be sued for copyright infringement. Where is the guarantee I am legally licensing this for private use?
    • It might be possible to sue for false advertisements and recover damages that way. My torts book is packed away so I can't see exactly what's necessary for that or what damages you can claim, but that's an idea.
  • by meistaiwan (802173) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:22AM (#10053372)
    I used to have an emusic account way back in the day, when they were unlimited. It was great to be able to download legally independent label music(the stuff worth listening to) where my money went to the artist. Of course any time you deal with a corporation, you run into problems. They double billed me for no reason and refused to refund my money(yeah, WTF). So I canceled and managed to get my music other ways. But I'm not scared the RIAA is going to come after me, I don't have their music. Because it's crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:26AM (#10053389)
    University Tests Legal File Downloading System

    File downloading services are not, in and of themselves, legal or illegal. They simply exist. What makes file downloading systems legal or illegal is what people do with them.

    Much like Grokster and Kazaa were recently ruled to not violate the law, FTP, HTTP, Samba, AppleTalk, and other file transfer technologies are perfectly legal.

    The title would be better stated as "University tests new copyright management system". That's what this system really is, an RIAA sanctioned music distribution system wrapped in DRM.

  • Define Illegal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LuYu (519260) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:34AM (#10053427) Homepage Journal

    Dorm students at Northern Illinois University are testing a legal file downloading service.
    Which is to say that all other downloading is "illegal", right?

    This is the problem with the current debate. It seems that "file downloading" has become "illegal" in general because of the political campaigns by the RIAA/MPAA to change the way we think. This is more than a little wrong. Just because the *AAs say it is wrong or illegal, does not make it so. These are the same people who claimed that Spiderman [I] did not make any money so they would not have to pay Stan Lee.

    All file sharing systems, yes, including P2P, are capable of and indeed to share lots of legal files every day. There is no "system" for legal downloads. All systems can carry legal downloads.

    This is a system for controlled sales of *AAs products. Warning. Lanugage, when used in the wrong way, can be hazardous to your freedom.

  • True, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ArbiterOne (715233) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:04AM (#10053545) Homepage
    Why "tethered"? If I pay for a movie or music CD at a bricks-and-mortar store, I don't get it "tethered". I'm reminded of the Mark Twain quote when he was told that he could borrow a friend's books, but only read them in his library: "Sure, you can borrow my lawnmower, but for security reasons I cannot allow it to be used outside my lawn."
  • Does anyone else think this is exactly what Napster should've been turned into about 4-5 years ago? A service where users pay $5 a month to get whatever content is available (with the RIAA and MPAA behind it, this would be an enormous library). Too bad they couldn't at the time accept this possibility, because it doesn't milk as much money from people as their overpriced CDs did.

    Of course this legal Napster would've been opt-in for individuals, not extortion fees from the universities.
  • Reality Check (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kioti (593582) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:08AM (#10053557)
    If a system like this was ever supported by the MPAA/RIAA does anyone really think $5 a month would be the going rate here in the USA? More like $5 a song. The theft will never stop until the RIAA/MPAA stop alienating their customers. An amazingly large percentage of this country would actually tell you that the RIAA/MPAA are getting exactly what they deserve. The same group would then tell you that it's wrong to steal a candy bar. It has nothing to do with a misunderstanding or dis-association due to the internet. It has to do with people legitimizing the theft because they are angry and they know they have no other recourse in this country. File sharing has become a grass roots campaign to punish the music industry.
  • Umm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by L0phtpDK (711021) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:27AM (#10053618)
    Ok.. i'm currently an NIU student... in Grant Towers (tower B on the 8th Floor). And this is the first time that I heard of this. I dont remember EVER paying 5 dollars a month for anything related to "A Ruckus" or anything of that sort. So i could not tell you. But I will takea trip two floors down and try it out for you guys and give you some clue how it goes. But for now... WinMX and BT still work for me :)
  • by ArcticCelt (660351) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:41AM (#10053657)
    Those kind of deals are at last starting to make sense. First there was not option for downloading legal digital content. Even if the technology was easily available to the corporations who could sell the stuff, they where refusing to sell it. My opinion was then "fuck them" I will download my stuff for free because they are fucking greedy bastards so me too I will be a greedy bastard.

    Then they started offering some digital content at prices almost as ridiculous than the prices of the CD's that they sell on store but a least, you where able to select the songs that you want without buying the whole album. I was happy to see the progress but this wasn't good enough for me. "Fuck them, they can do better than that" was my opinion.

    Now those deals are starting to make sense. The only problem is that I am not a student anymore and I don't live on a campus. I would be interested to pay for a deal that give me those kind of options.Because they are not offering that to me right now... Well... Fuck them.
  • by MMHere (145618) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @02:55AM (#10053842)
    What ever happened to "buying" a book. Or a CD. Or a single track from a CD that only you want?

    This is like saying, pay us X per month, and then whenever you want to, you can download a book. Wouldn't you really rather just pay Y (which may be close to X) for the book, and then take it with and read ("play") it whenever/wherever you want?

    Subscriptions are all about long-term area under the curve. Once you suck somebody into paying X every month (whether X be $5 for this service, or +$30 for cable video), those dollars really add up over the long term.

    Unless you are a fairly regular user of the service, monthly subscriptions rarely make sense over purchasing and owning your own copy of the media and its content.

    Oh yeah: The University may be "paying" the $5 subscription here, but of course they will pass it on to students. So service fees (or tuitions) rise.

    The RIAA is still served, having passed the cost of their monopoly on to the end consumer. Previously accepted copyright practice is compromised in the process.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Piratebay [thepiratebay.org], the largest bittorrent tracker in Sweden, recently got a threatening letter [thepiratebay.org] from the lawyers at Dreamworks.

    Here [thepiratebay.org] is their response. Be aware of adult language, but I thought it was fun nevertheless :) (and it will be interesting to see dreamworks response on this).
  • I think it goes like this... Get both the schools and the the students all worried and hyped up about being sued by RIAA/MPAA by aggresively suing both for all sorts of copyright stuff both real and imaginary. The schools get worried about the costs of students doing "something illegal" on thier networks. Doesn't matter if they are inoccent or not, litigation could at the very least tie up $$$$ for several years. Students get worried about "large fines and possible jail time". Now say to the schools we can
  • for providing them with a wonderfully decentralized, efficient distribution system that allows them to make there music better known to a broader public without having to invest in costly bandwidth.

    If they'd only have a brain amongst them....

  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @06:53AM (#10054540) Homepage Journal
    Maybe I just don't "get" it. But I thought we send kids to college to learn stuff, not to download music and videos. If that's all they are going to do, they can stay home and work at 7-eleven and start paying rent.

    If you're going to be in college/uni soon I would highly recommend that you don't view it as an opportunity to get laid, a way to hone your counterstrike skills, or a chance to vastly improve your music and dvd collection.
  • by jridley (9305) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @09:20AM (#10055743)
    As hard as it is to believe, some of us didn't really listen to music in college. Also, some people may have ethical or religious objection to giving blanket payments to a group of artists who would include rap, punk, or even (yikes) Barry Manilow.

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