The suit was filed earlier this week in the U.S. District Court of Southern Florida by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group, plus subsidiaries Atlantic and Capitol. The labels are seeking maximum damages, which is $150,000 for each piece of infringing material. They also want Aurous shut down immediately.
These labels have taken exception to Aurous's streaming music model, which consists of a database of content that's drawn from other services (YouTube, SoundCloud, etc.). The service uses BitTorrent's file-sharing protocol as a way to save bandwidth and deliver the content faster. Sampson has claimed that the service is legal because it doesn't host any content and all the streams come from legitimate public sources.
Billboard reports that the labels claim that Aurous draws from overseas websites with catalogues of pirated music. The suit also alleges that Aurous allows users to stream music directly from BitTorrent — similar to the controversial movie service Popcorn Time — but Sampson has previously denied this, saying that his app piggybacks off of publicly available music services instead of using peer-to-peer sharing.
"This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale," the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wrote 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."
It sounds like Aurous has a fairly large database, so if Sampson is being sued for $150,000 for every piece of infringing material, this is a massive lawsuit indeed. The developer previously told Billboard that, if faced with a cease-and-desist, he would "ignore it."
Aurous has already responded to the suit with a series of defiant tweets:
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
Don't worry, we're not going anywhere, empty lawsuits aren't going to stop the innovation of the next best media player.— Aurous (@aurousapp) October 13, 2015
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
As of press time, Aurous' alpha version is still available.
Thank you everyone for your support. We plan to fight the @RIAA and win.— Aurous (@aurousapp) October 14, 2015
UPDATE (10/16, 2 p.m.): Due to temporary restraining order, Aurous has now been taken offline, but the app makers stated on Twitter that their lawyers are "actively working to secure our place in the music eco system."