Not many companies can say competitors are tearing them apart after less than a week of operation. Aurous, a torrent-based music streaming service that launched Saturday (Oct. 10) and was hit by a lawsuit three days later, can.
A decentralized music player with a Spotify-like interface, Aurous lets users listen to millions of songs from various sources, all for free and without ads. The app uses the BitTorrent network to link to streamable music that already exists, instead of downloading songs for itself. Its creator Andrew Sampson describes the app as a “music player like any other” that can simply “piggyback off” other platforms.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), however, doesn’t see it that way.
As the trade group representing record labels and distributors making 85% of the country’s music, the RIAA slapped Aurous with a chiding lawsuit this week, alleging that while some of Aurora’s content sources (like YouTube) are legitimate, many of its others (like Russian sites Pleer and VK) are barely-regulated operations that violate copyright law and essentially engage in rampant piracy.
“This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale,” an RIAA spokesperson told The Guardian, comparing Aurous to piracy-riddled services like Limewire, which paid out a $105 million settlement to the trade group in 2011. Sampson responded that that the app is merely an interface that doesn’t play any music itself, and therefore isn’t responsible for its content.
It’s a fight familiar to other online content types. Prior to its launch, Aurous had been billing itself as the musical equivalent of Popcorn Time, another torrent-based free streaming service, but for videos. Popcorn Time, a thorn in the side of Netflix and other paid content makers and distributors, is now facing its own slew of piracy-related legal troubles.
The RIAA, which condemned Aurora as a service that “willfully trample[s] the rights of music creators,” is a fierce enemy. When chasing down other file-sharing services in the past, the organization has usually prevailed.