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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 Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:54AM (#10053219)
    I'd pay for a service like this. Not too expensive, and keeping me safe from RIAA/MPAA attacks.
  • Legal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mobets (101759) * on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:54AM (#10053226) Journal
    I read the article... what makes this legal? not much in the way of details...
  • by crem_d_genes (726860) * on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:55AM (#10053230)
    Cornell is giving away music downloads [cornell.edu] this year.
  • by marshac (580242) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:56AM (#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 joeldg (518249) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:56AM (#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 thewldisntenuff (778302) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @12:58AM (#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.
  • by photonagon (721776) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:00AM (#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.
  • Court Summons? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:03AM (#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.
  • But.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thewldisntenuff (778302) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:13AM (#10053317) Homepage
    This has been going on for quite some time now....And no university/coporation has ever been hunted down by the RIAA/MPAA/AAA....

    The universities (so far) have been more than willing to turn in a few students...The lawsuits serve only to scare people from downloading..Most are settled, and I can't think of a suit that has actually gone to court over it.

    When you think about it, there really isn't a case...The U is like an ISP, and no ISP has been seriously targeted over downloading (only for not willing to turn over info to the courts)
  • by atomic-penguin (100835) <wolfe21&marshall,edu> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:20AM (#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?
  • by meistaiwan (802173) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:22AM (#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 scottking (674292) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @01:50AM (#10053495) Homepage
    that's true, also backwards it Sukur...
  • Re:Good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dustinbarbour (721795) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @02:00AM (#10053529) Homepage
    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..
  • Re:Court Summons? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @02:07AM (#10053553) Homepage
    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 settle out of court.
    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.
    That's not entirely true. If you're sharing for pay it's clearly intentional, but on networks like Kazaa, "sharing" only consists of keeping a file in the same folder kazaa downloads to. I could easily see somebody deciding to make their kazaa folder be the same as the folder in which they keep any legal rips of their own CDs that they might have. To make a real world analogy, this is like if your friend let you use his bike, you left it unlocked and somebody decided to steal it. Is it somewhat foolish for you to leave the bike unlocked? Probably. Is it your fault it got stolen? No, it's the fault of the person who stole it.
  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @02:11AM (#10053563)
    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 boijames (641781) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @02:27AM (#10053617) Homepage
    .

    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) pay over $75 a month for this, in one form or another (mine is near $100, for DirecTV and a couple DirecTiVos).

    But music.. $5 a month.. is extortion?

    Reality check.... cmon....

  • Umm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by L0phtpDK (711021) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @02:27AM (#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 @02:41AM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @02:53AM (#10053689)
    I try to see your point as a way to provide money for common benefits.

    But perhaps, they should make a deal with Blockbuster, that for $5 per month, you as a student can rent any number of movies per month, 3 at a time.
    (They could even have a Blockbuster store within campus.)

    That should decrease the downloads and everyone benefits.

    Would you like this way to provide content to the students?

    Cheers.

  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @03:35AM (#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?
  • by aichpvee (631243) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @03:42AM (#10053806) Journal
    My cable company is extorting money from me. A few months ago they started charging 10$/month more for cable internet access because I don't subscribe to cable tv and they're too lazy to block access to it. Never mind that they have NEVER informed me of the price increase and that I haven't watched any tv in longer than I can remember.

    Only an idiot would pay those kinds of prices for tv. The same kind of idiot who fails to see how charging 5$/month for everyone when everyone isn't involved is extortion.
  • Re:Yay... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sotonboy (753502) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @03:52AM (#10053835)
    Why dont you get it ? Parent was saying he DOES NOT WANT ITMS. He wasnt saying he was going to steal the music from elsewhere. I dont want iTMS. I buy my music at higher quality in a shop.

    What is it you dont understand about this ?

    Im now charging YOU $5 a month for the right to listen to my next door neighbours dog barking.

    Please mail it to me.

    Its exactly the same thing.
    Extortion, pure and simple.

  • by MMHere (145618) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @03:55AM (#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.
  • Re:Good idea (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @06:00AM (#10054205)
    > This is like the third time in 24 hours I've read this
    > analogy and it's really lame.
    > If you don't pay mafia protection fees, then "bad things
    > happen to you".
    > If you don't pay the RIAA for its monthly fee or buy it's
    > content, then the only things that could happen to you > (such as not listening to Britney Spears) are good.

    If the Mafia shakes down your restaurant, you can always choose to go out of business rather than pay them. Likewise, you can choose not to listen to music, rather than pay the RIAA toll. This is not freedom of choice.

    The analogy with the Mafia is actually a pretty good one. Both the RIAA and the Mafia are parasites on society... they contribute little or nothing to the industries that they are associated with. Both are networks of good old boys who rake in tremendous profits for doing relatively little.

    Both use fear and intimidation to try to cow the masses into submission. Really, what difference is there between "pay this fee or we will break down your door and cut your throat" and "pay this fee or we will sue you and steal your child's college money"? The difference is one of degree, not of kind.

    And don't think that the RIAA takes care of its artists. If you mail a single $10 bill to the band of your choice, that will probably get them more money than buying half a dozen of their albums through RIAA channels.

    I would sooner tip the waitress at Denny's $20 than give it to that fat son-of-a-bitch Jack Valentti or his cronies.
  • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Douglas_E_Morris (575482) * on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @06:43AM (#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) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @07:45AM (#10054519) Homepage
    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 everyone pays, and only a fraction use the service.
  • by ViolentGreen (704134) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:33AM (#10054726)
    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 pay their tuition and have every right to go to another school to save their $45 or so.
  • by Asterixian (806481) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:50AM (#10054833)
    Extortion (dictionary.com): 1. ... the act or practice of wresting anything from a person by force, by threats, or by any undue exercise of power; undue exaction; overcharge.

    IANAL. No, it's not textbook extortion. Threatening to sue someone for a bona fide violation of law is not extortion. It's deterrence. Also, five dollars a month per person cannot be considered "overcharge" even if the student can't avoid the charge. It's a legitimate service that the school has decided to pay for. We can question the merits of such a service but it's not illegal.

    My main objection to "deals" like this is the effective imposition of an "RIAA Tax". I don't like monopolies charging for things someone might not even use just because they can. That said, for people who do like downloads, it's a pretty small price to pay for being legal. I wonder if it's still worth it after all the DRM restrictions (if any) are factored in.
  • by jridley (9305) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @10:20AM (#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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