The NYTimes on Ruckus

Another university-targeted music delivery/student addiction/RIAA-litigation-avoiding/WMA-promoting mechanism: Big Labels Offer Free Music to College Students

In one more attempt to counter music piracy, major music labels have agreed to support a service that will offer free music downloads — with some substantial restrictions — to any college student.

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.

[…] Ruckus uses Microsoft’s Windows media technology, so songs can be played only on a user’s personal computer. For $4.99 a month, users can buy the right to transfer the songs to portable devices compatible with the Microsoft format, including those made by SanDisk and Creative.

But the music will not play on Microsoft’s Zune player or, more important, on the Apple iPod.

User Content and the Big Media Challenge

Hollywood is seeing fans pull a power playpdf

Sorkin may spend much of his show exploring the conflict between artists like himself and soulless media conglomerates, but in the new era of You Stardom, Sorkin and GE are in the same leaky boat. Just as the music industry saw its business crumble before its eyes as kids began sharing songs from unauthorized downloading services, media behemoths are scrambling to protect their content as it migrates to and other fan-driven video sites.

“Ultimately these big media companies are all wrestling with the same thing — the power is being taken out of their hands,” says Jordan Levin, the onetime WB network chief who now helps run Generate, a production and management firm active in Internet projects. “This is an industry that for its entire history has imposed its model on consumers. They’ve always said, ‘We’ll tell you when you’ll watch our TV show or see our movie.’ But that’s fundamentally changing. The whole structure of people who control content is being supplanted by the content users themselves.”

[…] The day isn’t far away when some studio executive, instead of buying a bestseller, will acquire the rights to a Web thriller that’s become a lonelygirl-style phenomenon. “The problem for us will be that people are going to create a movie character on the Web and they’ll own the content — we’ll end up just renting it,” says Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal. “We’ll buy the movie rights, but they’ll own everything else. We haven’t bought anything from YouTube yet, but it’s going to happen. Trust me, when ‘lonelygirl’ was happening, everyone was asking, ‘Is that a movie?’ ”