University sponsors free music downloading service

Alessandro Roco

This semester, Villanova will become among the first 50 universities in the nation to offer a free music downloading service. Other such universities include Seton Hall, Arizona State and Syracuse University. The Student Government Association worked with administrators to bring the service to campus. Villanova students will soon join the hundreds of thousands of college students who have already subscribed.

The service will be provided by Ruckus, which is considered to be the premier digital entertainment service for universities.

They offer 1.5 million licensed music tracks from major and independent labels, along with music videos, Hollywood blockbusters, cult classics and independent films.

The robust Ruckus offers features that allow students with similar music, video and programming interests to connect, share and explore on campus.

SGA negotiated a deal with Ruckus that includes an incentive for students to join.As long as 3,000 students register on the Ruckus network before Oct. 31, 2006, the service will be free of charge to the University.

Servers will be located throughout campus to make downloads safe, efficient and free of unwanted spyware and adware. The Ruckus community features allow students to either share their music library legally with other students on campus or to keep them private.

Students will have to pay to store songs on an iPod device or CD, but SGA President Jon Ambrose said the fee is much lower than that charged by iTunes and other services.

Ruckus, however, is far from just a music hub. Containing Facebook- and MySpace-like features, Ruckus allows its users to create their own profile and have online friends, mainly intended for users who want to meet other users with similar music interests.

Ruckus even contains its own “wall” to increase intra-network communication. The “wall” allows others to post messages for a particular user.

According to its website, “The Ruckus experience blends college students’ top interests – friends and entertainment – to create a strong sense of community at universities across the country. Whether looking for a roommate with similar interests or someone who enjoys R&B music as much as they do, Ruckus members are able to find friends through media and media through friends.”

Ambrose and other members of SGA worked with Vice President of Student Life Rev. John Stack, O.S.A, and Director of Student Development Tom Mogan to select the best downloading network. They looked at several options, but through a formal selection process chose Ruckus in January because it is specifically tailored to college use.

Ambrose also noted the initial work put into the project by previous SGA leaders.

“The last president put a lot of influence behind the project,” he said. “Our administration made it a reality. SGA is the representative body for Villanova students, and we are always looking for new and exciting ways to improve student life.”

Based in Herndon, Va., Ruckus is backed by Battery Ventures and Shelter Capital Partners, leading technology investment firms that invest in businesses at all stages of growth with a focus on high-value contributions to companies that have the potential to become industry leaders.

Ruckus is headed by President Farrell Reynolds, now a visiting professor at North Carolina State University. Before heading up Ruckus, Reynolds had worked for companies such as TNT and IBM.

He was then employed by New World where he eventually became the chairman and CEO. In 1997, the company was sold to Fox Inc. for $2.3 billion.

As of now, many Villanova students have subscribed to the popular home of Direct Connect at Villanova, better known as VUDC. While VUDC offers a myriad of multimedia ranging from hundreds of movies to thousands of songs, the service illegally offers the multimedia on its hub for free and is not associated with the University.

While previous versions of the program were shut down because of its usage of the University network, according to the VUDC website, “Villanova has no legal right to shut down this server.”

Though students have the security of knowing that the University will not prosecute, the website does not address whether the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) or other outside agencies can file charges against students who illegally store music and share music with others.

Ruckus, on the other hand, will have the direct University affiliation and support, offering no possible legal repercussions.

Another major advantage Ruckus has over the current DC++ program is that all students, both those who live on campus and those who live off campus, have the same accessibility.

Though DC++ does offer a package to students who want to log onto the hub off campus, there is an extra fee that those students must pay.

Through a student’s registration on Ruckus, however, students will no longer have to worry about extra fees or not being able to access the hub when they go off campus, such as when students leave for winter or spring break.

Students can register now by going onto the Ruckus website,, and completing the simple online registration. The only information students need to provide are their names and Villanova e-mail addresses.