While the folks at RIAA continue to do battle with P2P file sharing services, Ruckus Networks, Inc. http://www.ruckusnetworks.com, has a better idea. The legal downloading service announced on January 22, they would provide free, advertising supported media for all college students nationwide.
Through licensing agreements with major international record labels, as well as thousands of independent labels and artists Ruckus users have access to "more than 2.1 million high fidelity, virus-free music tracks," Click this link to read the company press release. Premium features include the ability to download unlimited movies and television shows for a monthly fee, and "Ruckus-To-Go," for transferring to portable devices of Microsoft format, including Creative and SanDisk.
Social networking also plays a large part in the Ruckus experience. Users can browse profiles, leave comments, and send playlist recommendations to friends and neighbors.
With a mostly-slick interface, the Ruckus media player looks impressive, but some users may find aspects of it counter-intuitive and clunky. The built-in search function must launch a separate browser window to download media, and ad displays are not subtle. I also experienced some difficulty with the player failing to recognize the default browser and had to copy and open links manually. The site may not be compatible with all screen readers, but I had no problems browsing the music or attempting a download.
That aside, the service has a lot of potential for starving students that love media but don't have the means or desire to pay for .99 cent downloads through iTunes or similar services.
Ruckus is available to anyone with a valid .edu email account, but is currently only compatible with Windows systems. Check your portible device for compatibility.