So by now, everyone on campus probably understands what is meant by “the network.” On a campus where each computer is connected to a lightning fast central server, the exchange of documents and files is pretty quick business. Well, the administration started testing out legal filesharing programs in the hopes of curbing illegal sharing. They tried out two programs: eMusic and Ruckus.
What was the difference? Well, digital rights management software or DRM. Ruckus files are crippled by DRM so you cannot use* them on your iPod** or even on other audio software (without paying a fee); You can only use them on the Ruckus player. With eMusic, there was no DRM, but you could only download 15 songs each month. The selection of each was different, with Ruckus catering to more mainstream tastes and eMusic to the indie crowd.
This year, the school only renewed Ruckus. You can download unlimited songs off of Ruckus, provided you don’t mind dealing with the player and the limitations on how you use the music. The music you download, you do not “own,” instead, it is more along the lines of “borrowing.” You cannot access your music library when you are not online (though off-campus is fine). There are ads embedded in the player. Should you for whatever reason decide to quit your Ruckus account, your files would be useless. Lastly, it doesn’t work on Macs, only in Windows.
David Abravanel ’08, who I asked most of my questions to in regards to this post, discusses the controversy involving services like Ruckus and DRM:
Right now, companies that use DRM are treating us all like potential criminals. The end user license agreement has turned bonkers. When you buy a CD, you expect it to play in any CD player you put it in. There are services with independent clients who have done just fine without DRM. My personal favorite is www.bleep.com. I cannot recommend Bleep more– high quality, DRM-free mp3s, great site, excellent selection, specifically if you’re into obscure electronic music like I am (it’s run by Warp records, though it includes many more labels). eMusic is another example.
Of course, it’s going to be harder to convince major labels to do this. They have higher costs, it’s really a different industry for them. With videos, promotion, and other absurd shit, they can be in the hole millions of dollars with an artist before his/her album even drops. Though labels have started to adapt; recently, Korn signed a contract with their label to share a portion of their live profit. Live music will never be replaced by downloads.
More about Ruckus:
- Upenn’s Daily Pennsylvanian
- Wesleyan’s ITS page
- Stupid Ruckus marketing gimmick on Facebook (threesome with girlfriend group)
More about DRM:
**iTunes also uses DRM, so whatcha gonna do?