Jeremy Fischer, business management junior, said he uses music downloading program Ruckus to sample songs that he may later buy. ORACLE PHOTO/JOE ROBERTS
USF students don’t have to keep music downloads on the down low anymore.
A software program that allows USF students to legally download free music will be fully operational Monday, according to a University official.
The free software service, called Ruckus, is available to any college student in the nation with a ‘.edu’ e-mail address.
USF’s two-year agreement with the Herndon, Va.-based Ruckus Network, Inc. includes the University in a club of 170 “partner” schools with free Ruckus servers installed on campus to speed up download times and offer video content.
Ruckus finances the free server, like the media content, with advertising.
USF students can download and listen to any music in the 3 million-track library for Ruckus, which is set up and operated like Napster To-Go and iTunes.
The server will host the most popular songs so that a student can download a complete album in eight seconds.
But burning the tracks onto a CD or importing them to an MP3 player costs between 79 cents and 99 cents.
Ruckus tracks are not iPod-compatible, but can be used on MP3 players with Plays for Sure format, including many SanDisk or Creative brand models, a spokesperson for Ruckus said.
The server will prevent University network bandwidth from being bogged down by downloads, according to Associate Director of Academic Computing Alex Campoe.
“If the downloads are from a local network (and) stay in a local network, it’s faster and uses less resources,” he said.
Campoe said USF will bear no additional costs from maintaining the server.
His biggest concern is getting the word out about the new software to students.
“To tell you the truth, the biggest increase in man hours have been mine – in getting the P.R. ready.”
University officials hope Ruckus will curb illegal downloading on the campus
Since February, the Recording Industry Association of America has cracked down on USF Network users accused of illegally sharing copyrighted media with peer-to-peer software, eventually sending pre-litigation letters to more than 80 USF Network users.
In June, RIAA filed 40 lawsuits against University Network users who refused to settle out of court.
In a written statement released Tuesday, an RIAA spokesperson said the music industry supports systems like Ruckus and wants other universities to follow suit.
Campoe described Ruckus as USF’s own effort to stop illegal downloading and said its implementation reflected a national trend to provide students with a legal means to share files.
“I think for the past couple of years, there’s been an evolution in the educational process in which we’re saying ‘illegal file sharing is wrong; don’t download illegal music, use this free service,'” he said. “Ruckus was one of the next steps in that evolution.”
So far, it’s unclear how many students will sign on to the service, when programs like LimeWire let them illegally burn and import tracks for free.
Chris Utah, director of campus marketing for Ruckus, said he thought the trend in students using the program at USF would mirror Penn State, which also recently signed up to be a partner school.
“(Ruckus is) edging up on the student body,” Utah said. “We hope to see the same results at USF, and we expect it.
“At the end of the day, it’s free, legal music. It doesn’t take a lot of advertising to pitch that to students.”
Advertisers love Ruckus since it’s only for college students and captures the
coveted 18- to 22-year-old demographic.
Jeremy Fischer, a junior majoring in business management who has used Ruckus for about a month, said he was generally happy with the program.
“If you want to find new music, it’s great,” he said.
Other students, though generally unaware of Ruckus, had a more lukewarm response to news of the program.
“To tell you the truth, I would probably be more inclined to use things like LimeWire,” said Peter Shaw, a senior majoring in biomedical science.
Shaw said he would visit Ruckus’ Web site because he plans to pay for music when he graduates.
Fernando Quinanos, a junior majoring in general business, said he probably wouldn’t switch to a program that required him to pay for music.
“I’m all about getting something free,” he said. “I have no idea what Ruckus is, but I do use LimeWire very well.”
Victoria Bekiempis can be reached at (813) 974-6299 or oraclebekiempis