Last Saturday saw the first public release of Aurous, a music player that taps into a library of pirated music.
Speaking with TorrentFreak, founder Andrew Sampson previously likened the app to Popcorn Time. This attracted quite a bit of attention from the media, as well as copyright holders.
The major record labels are not happy with the new pirate tool and they have wasted no time trying to take it down.
Today the RIAA filed a lawsuit at a Florida district court on behalf of several major labels including UMG and Sony Music. In the complaint they accuse Aurous and its developer of several counts of copyright infringement.
“This service is a flagrant example of a business model powered by copyright theft on a massive scale,” the RIAA says.
“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 (pdf) describes Aurous as an application that is mostly intended to pirate music. Instead of the planned BitTorrent integration, it uses the Russian pirate site Pleer as its main source.
“Pleer has been the subject of repeated copyright complaints by rights holders to the Russian government. Its home page brazenly offers free unauthorized downloads of major recording artists’ top tracks for the week, year, and all time,” the RIAA’s lawyers note.
The RIAA also references several comments the developer made in the media before the official launch, confirming that Aurous will be used to pirate music. After the debut of the alpha release, Aurous allegedly provided technical assistance to pirate specific tracks.
In addition, the complaint also mentions Sampson’s torrent search engine Strike, which he released earlier this year.
“As a stand-alone search engine, Strike Search finds infringing content on BitTorrent but needs to be used with other software and services in order to download the content onto users’ computers,” the RIAA notes.
The complaint lists a total 20 popular tracks that are freely available through Aurous. This means that Sampson faces up to $3 million in statutory damages if the case goes to trial.
Finally, the RIAA requests a broad preliminary injunction which would prevent domain registrars, domain registries, hosting companies, advertisers and other third-party outfits from doing business with the site.
However, in comments posted to Twitter tonight, Sampson seems unfazed.
“Don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere, empty lawsuits aren’t going to stop the innovation of the next best media player,” he said.
“Hey @RIAA @UMG and everyone else, we challenge every CEO to an arm wrestling competition, we win you drop your empty suit.”