Ruckus quiets down, folds early this month

Joe Zucker

University researches alternatives for legal music downloading

After online music service Ruckus folded earlier this month, the department of Information Services wants to inform students about other legal alternatives for downloading music.

Ruckus, which was a monthly membership service that offered free music downloads, ended its services earlier this month. With the loss of Ruckus, Information Services is worried that students will turn to illegal file-sharing sites.

“Many students are unaware that a lot of illegality is involved with many of these file-sharing sites,” said Brendan Walsh, acting manager of Security and Access Management. “We just want to make sure students stay away from illegal file-sharing programs.”

To help students, the Information Services department researched the best free downloading services. Walsh said they tried to find the sites that stood out from the rest.

Of the sites they researched, SpiralFrog, Deezer, Pandora and Imeem were the services highly recommended to students. Walsh also said Kent State students can always use pay services like iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody and Zune.

According to Information Services policy, if a student is caught using a file-sharing site on campus Internet services, they will immediately lose access to the Kent State network. The student is then notified that they must delete any music or other material that was illegally downloaded. The last step is to watch two movies from the Kent State Web site that discourage illegal file-sharing.

The process can take only a day to complete, but Kimberly Price, Information Technology Security Manager, said many students choose to ignore the notifications and delay the process.

The consequences can also turn costly as a student can also be sued by the Recording Industry Association of America. In this case, the student could settle out of court for anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000. If a student chooses not to settle, he or she can take their case to court. One student from Minnesota went to court and had to pay $225,000 to the RIAA, Price said.

Many students may feel safe after hearing the RIAA say it would no longer specifically target universities for illegal file-sharing.

“They’re not going after students with as much intensity,” Walsh said.

Price wanted students to know she has still received infringements for students illegally downloading music.

Walsh said some might think that by paying for a membership to a file-sharing site, they can legally download any music they want.

“People think that if they pay $25, they are in the clear, but they don’t realize that they are paying for the software and not the music,” Walsh said. “That is still illegal, and they can get in serious trouble.”

“We would hate to see infringements go up because students don’t understand,” Christa Skiles, editorial communications manager of Information Services, said.

According to Information Technology Security, the number of infringements at Kent State has decreased steadily since August 2006 when 176 infringements were reported. Only 74 have been reported in the last eight months.

Price warned students who have downloaded Limewire or other file-sharing software at home not to use their computer at Kent State. As soon as they use the Kent State wireless network or hook up their Ethernet cable on the Kent campus, their computer is being monitored. While Kent State does not police computer use, they will react when notified of copyright violations.

Limewire was among the programs Information Services advised students to avoid. The list included BitTorrent, Morpheus, Ares Warez, and Kazaa.

Contact College of Library and Information Services reporter Joe Zucker at [email protected].