Ruckus shuts down

‘Unfortunately, the Ruckus service will no longer be provided.’

That message appears when UW-Eau Claire students attempt to use Ruckus, the popular service that provided them with a legal means of sharing music, movies, and other copyrighted materials.

“I don’t think there is a clear cut (reason),” said Andrew Cooan, Student Senate Information Technology Director.

“Maybe its financial reasons, but I’ve also read that their licensing server shut down, which allowed them to offer all the music for free.”

In 2004, at the University of Northern Illinois, Ruckus made its official launch, becoming one of the first online music services. The Web site focused on students because colleges are typically hotbeds for media pirating.

“(Pirating) is a huge problem,” Cooan said. “College students are always looking to get something for free and if you can download music for free, why wouldn’t you?”

Sophomore Tim McManus agrees that pirating will be a likely alternative for some of the former Ruckus users.

“I think (Pirating) will definitely go up,” McManus said. “Ruckus was just a nice, convenient way to just download a (variety) of music free and safe. For a lot of people their only source of music is gone now. People need to listen to their music.”

In January 2006, Ruckus switched from a subscription-based service to a free service that relied on advertising revenue to generate income. The service became free for students, but only those who attended a college that had contracted with Ruckus. In January 2007, the services were made available to everyone with a valid .edu e-mail account.

“I probably listened to music on Ruckus every day,” McManus said. “(I have been using it) since last year – my freshman year of college.”

Ruckus became a popular service for some students, but was unable to stay afloat.

“.in these extremely hard economic times (particularly for those in the music industry) it’s hard to blame them from pulling the plug on a still-highly-speculative offering,” former VP of Ruckus Jason Herskowitz said in a post on his blog.

Before it shut down, Ruckus offered users more than 1.3 million songs, plus 3,000 movies and several hit television shows, according to the Student Senate’s Web site. Ruckus did, however, have its downfalls. Compatibility issues with Apple Macintosh and Linux operating systems, as well as having a library half the size of iTunes’ prevented some people from using Ruckus.

Finding a replacement is something Cooan said he is working on.

“We’re going to be looking into it within the Information Technology Commission to see if there is something to be offered to students,” he said. “I know Napster was available, but that’s not free service. Then you have stuff like Pandora out there, but obviously you can’t download that, you can only listen to it.

“From what I’m aware of, there is nothing exactly like Ruckus available, but it will be researched.”