Legal, free music makes more sense

On a list of the top 25, being No. 17 sounds pretty good.

Kent State has the honor of holding that place on the list of the worst offending piracy schools put out by the Recording Industry Association of America last February. Seeing as the university doesn’t want this kind of recognition, it worked out a deal with Ruckus Music Inc., a legal music downloading platform.

Now students can download free music without having to worry about getting busted. This sounds like a great idea. It’s a swift response from the university that strengthens copyright laws and benefits students.

That’s not to say there aren’t some problems. The songs come in WMA format and only work on Windows-based computers. Users can’t burn the songs onto CDs. For $20 a semester, students can listen to the songs on MP3 players made by Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and some others, but not Apple’s iPod.

The advertisements on the Ruckus Web site pay for the music, so the university doesn’t spend any student money in its contract with the company. While the program won’t work with Macintosh computers, at least it means students who use Mac computers aren’t paying for a service they can’t use.

Another hassle comes from having to re-download music every month. While that’s a small price to pay for free music, it’s not the most convenient situation.

Even with these problems, Ruckus is still a worthwhile investment for the university. It’s impressive how quickly the university responded to this problem. Instead of just complying with the RIAA, the university realized many students are going to download music regardless of the law. This gives students an opportunity to do the same thing, except now it’s legal.

Now, all praise aside, it’s time to be logical. Regardless of where you stand on Digital Rights Management and whether music belongs to the artists or to the public, this is free to students. It’s a chance to get free music. Free. Not free because you already paid for it through some hidden student fee, it’s free free.

If you are a PC user who downloads music, take advantage of this. Honestly, why not? Sure, there are some extra inconveniences with the program, but in the long run, it’s much better than a cease-and-desist order or a lawsuit.

This is not a paid advertisement for the university or for Ruckus. It just makes sense to us. We hope it makes sense to you as well. Why use programs for illegal downloading and risk getting caught when a free alternative is available?

Obviously, if you want to still use iTunes or Windows Media Player instead, that’s perfectly fine. You’ll still get to use the same music you already have without having to install a new program, worry about re-downloading music every 30 days or get a new MP3 specifically for Ruckus.

If you still use programs such as Kazaa and Limewire, that’s entirely up to you as well. Just remember the RIAA is watching, and you had an alternative.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.