Ruckus Ruckus

The headline of Saul Hansell’s send-up today of Ruckus Network’s new free (ad-supported) download service for the college crowd made it sound as if the music labels finally solved the loss-leading digital piracy problem:

“Big Labels Offer Free Music to College Students”

Other mainstream outlets effusively chimed in (at least in the bold print), e.g.,

“The four major record labels and several independent labels have agreed to license their music to Ruckus…”

However, a clause in the Times lead quickly put the kabash on any cause for celebration. It read:

“…with some substantial restrictions …”

Those bait and switch “restrictions,” I predict, will cause all kinds of PR agida for the legal file sharing service, Ruckus Networks. As Saul reports:

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

Did I read this correctly? Download the tunes, but immobilize them? Ruckus CEO Michael Bebel explains:

“Even iPod users on campus will use Ruckus because they can find music they like before they buy it from Apple or get it another way,”

Hmmm. Here’s the blogospheric beginning of the ruckus for Ruckus:

Engadget : “..stipulationn-laced tunes…”

Podcasting News: “…free, incompatible…”

CrunchGear: “Sure, it sounds good, until you actually see what it’s up to.”