Last October saw the much hyped public release of Aurous, a music player that tapped into a library of pirated music.
The major record labels were not happy with the emergence of the “Popcorn Time for Music” and wasted no time trying to take it down.
Just days after Aurous’ alpha launch, Florida-based developer Andrew Sampson and his company were targeted by the major music labels. The RIAA accused the owners of copyright infringement and demanded millions in damages.
Initially Aurous seemed determined to put up a fight. The court shut down the application through a preliminary injunction but Sampson was convinced that his application was not breaking any laws.
After several scathing replies from the RIAA, who went into full attack mode, things went quiet. Behind the scenes both parties agreed that it was best to settle their dispute which they officially announced a few minutes ago.
In a filing submitted at a Florida federal court both parties agree that Aurous did indeed violate the copyrights of the major labels. They agree to settle the dispute for $3 million, which is described as a reasonable damages award.
The filing (pdf) also includes a permanent injunction preventing Sampson and Aurous co-founder Danielle Astvatsaturova from committing any infringing actions in the future.
In addition, Aurous agreed to sign over its domain name and all intellectual property to the music labels.
The consent judgment is only part of the full settlement. The RIAA and Aurous signed a separate agreement outside of court. It is not uncommon for the true settlement amount to be much lower than the figure stated in court, as we’ve previously seen in an MPAA case.
Commenting on the announcement, RIAA Chairman & CEO Cary Sherman says the RIAA is happy with the settlement.
“Aurous appropriately agreed to shut down. It was the right thing to do. We hope this sends a strong signal that unlicensed services cannot expect to build unlawful businesses on the backs of music creators,” Sherman says.
Aurous’ creator, meanwhile, accepts his losses but doesn’t agree with how the law works. He hopes that other developers will be spared what he had to go through.
“I implore Congress to amend the statute to reflect the realities of file sharing. There is something wrong with a law that routinely threatens teenagers and students with astronomical penalties for an activity whose implications they may not have fully understood,” Sampson informed us.
“The injury to the copyright holder may be real, and even substantial, but, under the statute, the record companies do not even have to prove actual damage,” he adds.
According to Sampson it’s easy for rich companies to attack new services, as they have few means to defend themselves.
“In the US courts its not about who is right or wrong, people can judge this for themselves, its about how much money can you spend. My only fear is that this lawsuit opens up other websites and services to attack.
“Aurous operated in the blind, our client just allowed people to utilize the API’s of 3rd party websites (YouTube, Soundcloud), even then look where we ended up,” he adds.
While Aurous is done, Sampson is not done developing just yet. Sampson informs TF that he has moved on to a new project which will see the light of day in the near future.
“It’s still music related, but more centered around live performances. I will be showcasing it soon,” he says.
Taking the past few eventful weeks into account, we assume that his new creation is lawsuit proof. In any case, the RIAA is bound to watch his every step.