Major music labels announced they are going to offer a free music download service to college students, to fight music piracy:
The service, from Ruckus Network, will be supported by advertising on its Web site and on the software used to download and play songs. The four major record labels and several independent labels have agreed to license their music to Ruckus at lower rates than they charge other mass market music services on the theory that college students would rather steal songs than pay the $10 to $15 a month that such services normally charge.
Phil Leigh, president of Inside Digital Media, a research firm, said that the move also represented a way for labels to experiment with advertising-supported music, a model that he said might be better for the labels than radio, because they could share in the advertising revenue. Music publishers, which represent the composers, are paid by radio stations, but the labels, which represent performing artists, are not.
Ruckus had originally hoped universities would pay a fee to offer free downloads to their students, thereby reducing the legal risks and some of the network expense associated with the use of illegal file-sharing networks. Only 20 universities agreed.
Last year, however, Ruckus decided to switch to a free, advertising-supported approach, although it still required universities to agree and to install a server on their campus networks.
However, there are also major restrictions. The downloaded songs can only be played on your PC, you can't transfer them to your iPod or Zune. More info at NY Times.