MU students get new free, legal music downloads

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 | 7:38 p.m. CST; updated 7:19 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — “Free” and “legal” are normally two words not used in the same sentence when talking about downloading music. However, those words describe a new media downloading program available to MU students: Ruckus.

“Ruckus is the world’s only free, legal and ad-supported music discovery service for college students,” Chris Lawson, director of corporate development for Ruckus Network, said via e-mail. “We have over three million tracks from all of the major record labels as well as thousands of indies that can be downloaded safely in seconds.”

To sign up

If you are an MU student, go to and provide your name and a valid .edu e-mail address. A school address is required because Ruckus is free only for college students. After registering, download the Ruckus Music Player. Ruckus costs $8.99 a month for nonstudent users such as faculty, staff and alumni. In a move that Ruckus’ Chris Lawson said “takes social media to a whole new level,” Ruckus has recently built a Facebook application. Called My Ruckus, the application lets users view reviews and playlists made by other students, as well as see the top 10 downloaded songs at their school. Right now, “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles, “Bubbly” by Colby Caillet and “Kiss Kiss” by Chris Brown featuring T-pain are the three most downloaded songs at MU.

The idea is to get students to stop illegally downloading and sharing music through peer-to-peer programs such as LimeWire or Morpheus.

“In the past, there has been a problem with file sharing,” said Terry Robb, director of information and technology at MU. “What we’re doing is offering an alternative to illegal downloads.”

The difference between peer-to-peer, also known as file sharing, programs and Ruckus is that Ruckus downloads songs to users’ computers from a central database, whereas a program such as LimeWire relies on users sharing files among personal computers. Although file sharing itself is not illegal, when used to share copyrighted material it violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

MOREnet, an Internet provider for the four-campus University of Missouri System as well as other state universities, established a contract with Ruckus Network that allows Ruckus to put its servers on MOREnet’s network, said Megan Gill, MOREnet’s marketing and communications manager. That will lighten traffic on MOREnet’s network, or ease its bandwidth usage.

No money was exchanged as part of the contract.

Although Ruckus is available to all MOREnet clients, Gill said it is up to each school to grant access to its users.

Lawson said Ruckus was started in 2004 under the premise that college students are the most engaged users of digital media.

“We knew we could help students, universities and the record labels by providing a legal, safe and free service,” he said.

After registering, students must download the Ruckus Music Player. Because of the music encryption required by the Recording Industry Association of America, Ruckus files will only work with Ruckus Music Player or Windows Media Player, which are not compatible with Macintosh computers.

However, “Ruckus is currently working on a Mac solution as we speak,” Lawson said. “We will be making it available in the coming weeks.”

MU is working on marketing Ruckus to its student body. The division of information technology has included information about Ruckus in its e-mails to students as well as in its technology newsletter. Robb said that Fall and Summer Welcome leaders will talk about Ruckus and that future student literature will include information about it.

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