Well that didn’t take long. Just a few days after Aurous launched its free, torrent-based music streaming service and hours after it won widespread media coverage, the RIAA announced an aggressive lawsuit to bring it down. So much for easy piracy.
It’s no mystery that the approach Aurous is taking to streaming copyrighted content lives in a legal grey area. Aurous is essentially a Popcorn Time for music, and Popcorn Time has proved to be rather resilient to litigation since it doesn’t actually host any infringing content. The RIAA’s lawsuit zeroes in on a key difference between the two players however. Aurous not only pulls from the BitTorrent network but also lets you connect with sites like MP3WithMe and VK, the popular Russian social network. The RIAA says that these sites are brimming with free, copyright-protected content.
“This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale,” an RIAA spokesperson told The Guardian. “Like Grokster, Limewire or Grooveshark, it is neither licensed nor legal. We will not allow such a service to wilfully trample the rights of music creators.”
It’s sort of weird for the RIAA to use the term “business model,” though. Aurous is so far completely free as well as entirely ad free.
For anyone curious the @RIAA principle complaint is that we're "profiting", anyone see any ads? We sure don't.
— Aurous (@aurousapp) October 13, 2015
If anything, its founder Andrew Sampson is losing money. The developer seemed defiant on Twitter:
Getting sued for 3 million when I haven't made anything; thats how you know your idea was a good one.
— Andrew Sampson (@Andrewmd5) October 13, 2015
Before the lawsuit, Sampson spoke publicly about how Aurous is designed to be a music player that can pull from existing playlists on the internet. It could essentially be an aggregator of playlists from ad-supported like YouTube or even paid streaming services like Spotify. “I’d refer to it as a player of players,” Sampson told Billboard a couple of days ago. “You can play content that you already own — we use licensed content APIs for that.”
That actually sounds quite useful! For now, we’re sure to see development slow as Sampson and friends are forced into the ring with the RIAA and its army of lawyers. So much for good ideas.