Ruckus Network, a free and legal online music resource, has expanded service to include all U.S. colleges, not just subscribers, reports eSchool News.
The service, currently used by over 100,000 students, used to be only available through universities that had an agreement with the company. Now, any student that has a valid .edu email account can download music for free. There is, however, a charge for transferring music to a portable music player such as an iPod or MP3 Player.
The company is banking on the move to boost its ranks among college students and thus improve its profile with advertisers.
"Free and legal digital music has just become broadly available to the most active and engaged music consumer group on the planet," said Michael Bebel, Ruckus' president and chief executive.
Movies will also be available for download but only to users in Ruckus' network of affiliated universities. The unaffiliated colleges will still have access to the company's more than 2.1 million music tracks.
If the university has an agreement with Ruckus, it can cache movies and music on college servers. This method uses less bandwidth, a boon both for the school and for Ruckus. Ruckus hopes colleges will encourage students to use the service to discourage illegal downloads.
"We think this will create some champions from among the student base to really bring [our service] to the attention of administration at those schools and help drive sales, said Ruckus spokesman Tim Hurley."