Music App Aurous Sued by Major Labels Three Days After Debut

The three major labels and two of their subsidiaries filed suit alleging "blatant" copyright infringement by the nascent app maker.

Well, that didn't take long. After launching its alpha version this past Saturday following months of hand-writing by rights holders, Aurous developer Andrew Sampson — who spoke to Billboard just yesterday — has a lawsuit on his hands.

The three major labels — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group — and two of their subsidiaries, Atlantic and Capitol, filed suit in the U.S. District Court of Southern Florida, alleging "blatant" copyright infringement by the nascent app maker, whose development was led by Andrew Sampson.

“This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale," writes the RIAA in a statement. "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."

The complaint hinges on two accusations. The first, that Aurous pulls music from "websites offering vast collections of pirated copies of popular recorded music," which are located overseas. As Sampson explained to Billboard yesterday (Oct. 12), the app employs over 120 public APIs, which allow his app to pull content from places like YouTube and SoundCloud, and which may include those illegal sites.

The second accusation made by the labels is that Aurous allows users to stream music directly from BitTorrent, which Sampson told Billboard is not the case. "We go to other sites that offer up ways to search for music, and put that on one place in our network, which uses BitTorrent, without having to go back to the Internet for those search results," explained Sampson. According to his description, the app uses the file sharing protocol that underpins BitTorrent to serve its users search results much faster than making "calls," or back-end requests, to those 120 APIs previously mentioned.

Aurous' defense may be that it hosts no content of its own, a strategy that has failed for other, similar startups in the past. That's not to mention the substantial resources required to defend oneself effectively, regardless of culpability, against the combined might of the major labels. It may be that Aurous ends before it even (officially) began.

The complaint seeks the maximum per-infringement damages allowable, $150,000 per piece of copyrighted material, and an immediate injunction against the application's availability and operation.

This article first appeared on Billboard.com.

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