Major music labels are suing the ad-free music streaming app Aurous just days after its launch, claiming that the software "blatantly infringes" copyright. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of labels including Sony, Warner Bros, and UMG, alleging that Aurous' creators are "well aware of the copyright infringement caused by their service and willfully intend for it to happen."
Aurous uses peer-to-peer BitTorrent technology to stream, not download, music, and has drawn comparisons with illegal video streaming app Popcorn Time for its familiar and polished user interface. The app's developer, Andrew Sampson, claims that the software is completely legal as it uses public APIs to collate tracks from different sources including YouTube, Spotify, and SoundCloud. The RIAA, however, says that Aurous' catalog of music is sourced from pirating sites including Pleer, MP3Skull, and MP3WithMe. The industry body describes the latter site as one that "brazenly offers free unauthorized downloads of top tracks by major recording artist."
"[Aurous] is neither licensed nor legal."
“This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale,” said an RIAA spokesperson in a statement given to The Guardian. “Like Grokster, Limewire or Grooveshark, it is neither licensed nor legal. We will not allow such a service to willfully trample the rights of music creators.”
Aurous and Sampson are defiant though, with the latter tweeting: "Getting sued for 3 million when I haven't made anything; thats how you know your idea was a good one." Aurous' official Twitter account described the suit as "empty," noting: "For anyone curious the @RIAA principle complaint is that we're 'profiting', anyone see any ads? We sure don't."
Apparently not everyone is a fan of our service, the @RIAA doesn't seem to like new technology and is suing us!— Aurous (@aurousapp) October 13, 2015
However, the fact that Sampson doesn't currently sell advertising on Aurous won't deter the RIAA. The lawsuit notes that by infringing copyright, Sampson and any fellow developers are "receiving a direct financial benefit [...] in the form of a growing base of users." Aurous, the RIAA claims, can therefore "monetize now or later with advertising and other methods of generating revenue."