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Aurous shuts down after $3m settlement with RIAA


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Well, that was that. Filesharing service Aurous has shut down after agreeing a $3m settlement deal with labels that includes a permanent injunction and judgement against it.

The deal will see developer Andrew Sampson barred from operating the Aurous website or similar services, while the plaintiffs – Atlantic Records, Capitol Records, Sony Music, Universal Music, and Warner Bros Records – now own the Aurous intellectual property.

Quite where the developer of an app with no funding that hadn’t charged users during its five days of availability will find $3m remains to be seen, but the RIAA – which led the shutdown efforts – is happy.

“Aurous appropriately agreed to shut down. It was the right thing to do,” said chairman and CEO Cary Sherman. “We hope this sends a strong signal that unlicensed services cannot expect to build unlawful businesses on the backs of music creators.”

Sampson isn’t entirely cowed, mind. In a statement posted on his blog, he urged the US Congress to “amend the statute to reflect the realities of file sharing”, and hit out at the penalties that Aurous would have been liable to without a settlement.

“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 wrote. “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.”

Sampson went on to suggest that the lawsuit “opens up other websites and services to attack”, repeating his claim that Aurous merely used APIs from YouTube and SoundCloud to source its music.

Yet the plaintiffs in the case had directly challenged that defence: claiming that the software directed users to Russian pirate site Pleer – with options to search on MP3WithMe, VK and MP3Skull.

“Empty lawsuits aren’t going to stop the innovation of the next best media player,” claimed Aurous’ Twitter account at the height of the legal dispute.

The settlement suggests the lawsuit wasn’t so empty after all, yet there remains plenty of potential for music apps connecting up the APIs of the various (legal) services.

While some rightsholders may see Sampson as a pariah now, we wonder if there’s potential for him to turn his ideas and coding skills to something positive for musicians and music listeners. At least once his current mood – see below – has faded.

Stuart Dredge

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