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Maligned Music Startup Aurous Officially Shuts Down, Settles For $3 Million
For Aurous, the writing has been on the wall since the beginning. Less than two months since the much-maligned streaming and download service debuted in alpha on Oct. 10, the company has officially shut down and ceased all operations after reaching a settlement in a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by Atlantic Records, Capitol Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Bros. Records.
In the end, Aurous never really had a chance. The labels slapped the app with the lawsuit just three days after its alpha launch -- and a day after its developer Andrew Sampson attempted to explain how it worked in an interview with Billboard -- alleging that the service offered its users access to pirated music and allowed them to stream copyright-protected material and demanding an immediate injunction. The ban took effect on Oct. 15, when the court demanded Aurous suspend its activities while the lawsuit was ongoing.
That injunction became permanent today, as Sampson also agreed to transfer all its intellectual property to the majors, effectively preventing Aurous or any similar copycat app to emerge from the wreckage. “Aurous appropriately agreed to shut down,” said RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman in a statement. “We hope this sends a strong signal that unlicensed services cannot expect to build unlawful businesses on the backs of music creators.”
The settlement also levied $3,000,000 in damages against Aurous, a significant victory against an app that had only been operational for five days. In response to the settlement, Sampson sent the following statement to Billboard:
"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. 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.
"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."