Supreme Court rejects illegal downloading argument

Ruckus—a download service supported by advertisements and available free of charge to college students—went under in early 2009, continuing a string of early departures by low-cost music sites. Ruckus shut down after Universal Music Group and Sony did away with their Total Music venture, which owned Ruckus.

Napster, which switched to a legal downloading service after beginning as a controversial free file-sharing program in the late 1990s, and Cdigix were other affordable music sites that have closed down or stopped catering to colleges in recent months.

Low-cost digital music services have failed on college campuses in part because music choices were so limited that students were driven to illegal file-sharing programs where more songs were available—and free.

Some online music experts said Ruckus’s business model never had a chance for long-term success.

A limited number of songs were available on the site, and Ruckus never worked adequately on Macintosh computers or measured up to Apple iTunes, officials said.

Jean L. Boland, vice president for IT services at Morrisville State College in New York—a Ruckus customer—said students’ most frequent complaint about Ruckus was their inability to download songs to iPods. Students could  listen to Ruckus music only on their laptops.

As recently as last fall, university IT departments complained about a flood of warnings and lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against students who shared songs and movies illegally over campus networks.

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