Now that Ruckus has shut down a number of Universities in the U.S. have been caught unawares. No one had forewarning that their attempt to provide a legal alternative to file sharing was going to be taken away. Worse yet RIAA who said they weren’t starting an ‘new’ legal suits against students back in August has continued filing new suits since that time. So what is one to do?
I was asked recently to do a quick rundown of legal music services or retail outfits. I think information gathering at this point is the only sane approach to such a sudden cut in service. At the University where I work we posted an announcement that Ruckus had shut down and we were looking into it. What I noticed at two other Universities who had Ruckus was they put up notices that indicated while Ruckus was shutdown there are still other legal alternatives to Peer to Peer filesharing. So the question becomes does an institution still bear the financial responsibility to provide a legal alternative to file sharing?
In these tight financial times, University provosts an chancellors are going to have to really reconsider how much legal protection they need from the RIAA. There may have been a vain hope that students would be encouraged to use the legal music services. But most stayed away and either continued filesharing or buying music from iTunes.com. So in this second phase of Universities dealing with the peer to peer filesharing, I think we are at the point of advocacy ONLY. Providing a legal alternative at reduced cost and little to no choice is now too costly (in terms of Full Time Equivalent users). It is also too costly in terms of broken contracts when your music service goes out of business overnight. I did find one listing at a University website that had been a Ruckus customer pointing to our old friend Wikipedia.
What better way to provide an alternative than to permit the wisdom of crowds to prevail. Rather than me write up a review of all the possible alternatives, why not let the contributors to Wikipedia collect and edit all the reviews/stats on all the services. Then each and every individual can make the rational choice as to whether or not they want to buy music or steal it over the Internet.