Aurous, a "Spotify for pirated music" service that launched this weekend, has already begun to draw the wrath of the music industry.
On Tuesday the RIAA filed a lawsuit against the company, requesting the service be destroyed and a $150,000 fine levied on each instance of copyright infringement it contributed to, according to Bloomberg.
Aurous’ team built up the buzz for its release by describing it as the “Popcorn Time for music.” Popcorn Time is a decentralized method for watching movies, a dubiously legal Netflix-like streaming service that leverages the power of BitTorrent to let users stream torrented video without downloading it. Popcorn Time’s success was built on its interface, which was so easy to use that even people who didn’t know what a torrent file was could stream movies to their heart’s content.
Aurous seems to be going after the same market, but one question beyond legal issues is whether there is a demand for such a service.
“I can see how this would appeal to a certain audience,” Product Hunt’s Ryan Hoover said to Aurous founder Andrew Sampson. “But I think the majority of people are satisfied with Spotify, Rdio, Apple Music, and other services today.”
Sampson responded forcefully: “I think if the majority were happy I wouldn't have as many users as I do right now. I see no reason why Aurous can't be real competition for some of these ‘major’ players.”
But to compete with these players, Aurous will have to give itself a clear edge. Spotify, in particular, has a robust free option on desktop—albeit with ads.
Much of Popcorn Time’s appeal comes from its content selection. It gave users access to movies that were simply not on services like Netflix. But Aurous isn’t there yet for music, and loses in a content side-by-side, according to TorrentFreak.
Perhaps this will be ironed out as Aurous evolves, if it's not shut down. Right now, though it was billed as a service that would leverage BitTorrent, it doesn’t. To get its music, Aurous snatches MP3 files from other services, like Russian sites Pleer and VK, which the RIAA says are built around copyright infringement, Bloomberg reports.
But the source of the music could change, if Aurous can survive. At least in public, Sampson is optimistic. “But we’re not hosting anything, we’re decentralized, similar to BitTorrent, so we can share data without hosting it,” Sampson told Bloomberg. “Nothing goes through our servers.”
This may, however, not be enough to save it.