Students at Ball State University who choose to download music and movies will no longer have to worry about the legal consequences.
BSU decided to provide the Ruckus Digital Entertainment Service free of charge for its students, joining 24 other universities already using the service.
BSU's Student Government Association decided to provide access to Ruckus for students as a way to address the issue of illegal file-sharing and downloading.
"We wanted to give students a safe and legal way to [download music and movies] that was also cost-effective for a college budget," SGA Vice President Chris Kurtz said.
Kurtz went on to say students at BSU are particularly excited about the new program because the university is very effective at blocking illegal file-sharing and downloading.
The service will be available to any BSU student who lives on campus, or any student who uses the university's wireless server. Other students can pay $20 for a year of use, with additional charges for downloading onto portable music players.
According to the Ruckus website, the service provides 1.5 million licensed tracks of music from both major and independent labels, as well as a rotation of 45 major studio movies rotated weekly.
The BSU Student Government Association chose Ruckus after hearing bids from other file-downloading programs, including Napster, according to Kurtz.
"We compared some of the contracts and agreements [of other providers]," he said. "[Ruckus] was continually contacting us, and they have quite a bit of music on their network."
Kurtz added BSU hopes to have Ruckus up and running sometime this semester.
The installation of the Ruckus server would normally cost $10,000, but SGA agreed to promote this service in exchange for free installation.
Once the final contract has been signed, the service will be advertised using the student newspaper, the Facebook website and mass e-mails, Kurtz said.
Other universities who are partnered with Ruckus include the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, both who have used this service since last year.
Chuck Eckardt, chief information officer at UW-Eau Claire, said he was surprised by the small number of students that have been downloading music using Ruckus, despite the implementation of several strategies to inform students that this opportunity is available.
"I would have thought free music would attract 75, 80 percent of students," he said. "I think the [actual percentage of students] … is around 20 percent."
Eckardt said one reason for this limited student response is Ruckus is not able to download music onto the iPod portable music device — something that, he said, affects a large number of students at UW-Eau Claire.
University of Minnesota sophomore Jonny Sadeh said he chooses to use other programs to download music because they are easier to use, regardless of legal issues involved.
"The threat of actually getting caught illegally downloading is so small that it doesn't worry me," he said.
Eckardt said Ruckus has been running well from a technical standpoint, but there has been a mixed response from the student body.
"Students have complained that the interface is quirky," he added. "It is really slow to find your music, but … to download the music is lightning fast."