A terrible thing happened to me last week.
I woke up at my usual time about 9 a.m., climbed down my rickety ladder and plopped into my computer chair. Stirring my laptop’s mouse, I called up the screen prepared to listen to some “wake-up” tunes. Only there weren’t any tunes.
My eyes saw a terrible message, “UNFORTUNATELY THE RUCKUS SERVICE WILL NO LONGER BE PROVIDED.”
I gaped at the message on my Ruckus player waiting for the mirage to clear, for surely my laptop was playing a cruel trick on me. But, no, the music refused to play. I went to the Ruckus Web site and, as it turns out, the entire site has been shut down.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been plagued for the past few weeks by posters all over campus. These posters tote one simple message, “Downloading music from peer-to-peer file sharing is the same as SHOPLIFTING!”
Whenever I saw these messages on the Internet or on campus I could brush them off by thinking, “Well Ruckus is legal, so there’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing.”
But now students across campuses are without simple access to music with approved licenses.
I checked into the Web sites on these posters such as musicunited.org. The Web site offers about 20 different sites, all of which provide free music but there is a very sneaky catch. I have never heard of any of the artists on these sites.
I appreciate that these sites would like to provide students with access to free music. But personally, I want to listen to specific bands and artists and find new ones on my own time.
If I cannot listen to my own library from Ruckus anymore, it makes it incredibly seductive to download music. Not that I am condoning file sharing or saying I do it. I’m just saying it starts to look good.
Back in the day there were many forms of file sharing. They were called CDs and if your friend had a new CD you really wanted, said friend would burn the disc for you. Then you would probably fall in love with this band and continue to support them in other ways by buying tickets to their shows, splurging on this band’s merchandise and basically broadcasting their awesomeness to all your friends.
The act of file sharing is not at all unlike the days of CD sharing. The artists will still gain support from people if their music is good enough. And they can make money through other outlets such as tours, merchandise, music videos and often times iTunes sales.
I think the government would be smart to fund programs such as Ruckus so college students and other people can access music in a legal way. This really helps artists get recognized.
I have personally bought music on iTunes that I downloaded off Ruckus first. They wouldn’t be giving away completely free music anyway since the Ruckus program did not let you put the files on an mp3 player without paying first and could never be put on an iPod due to differing file types.
In any case, I think the “poor, defenseless” music industry and the government are both making a mistake by not supporting programs such as Ruckus.
Lauren DiSandro is a sophomore journalism major from Plainfield. She is a Scout staff reporter.
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