(Andrew Sampson github profile image)
Aurous may not be the infringement monster the music industry think it is.
The following testimony was offered this week by Aurous co-founder Andrew Sampson in a sworn affidavit in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In it, the 20-year-old coder describes something far less menacing than the ‘Popcorn Time for Music,’ while noting that to his knowledge, not even one copyright violation has occurred on Aurous.
Aurous was sued last month by Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
I, Andrew Sampson, the undersigned, hereby declare as follows.
I am 20 years old and the co-founder of the Aurous Group. I have been coding since the age of 11. I launched Aurous on October 15, 2015. I am in charge of the development of the Aurous project and run day to day operations. The opinions expressed, unless otherwise implied, are my own and of my personal knowledge. I intend to testify at the November 5th hearing to facts and opinions including those contained herein.
Our goal with Aurous was to produce a multi-media player capable of centralizing content from a plethora of different websites such as YouTube, SoundCloud, and Spotify; a “player of players.” Aurous would be able to utilize existing content from platforms users already have accounts to so their content can all be in one place. I have read in today’s age of technology an individual has to use 24 different services to have access to all the latest content. Our player’s aim is to bring all those services together.
In paragraph 35 of the TRO the Plaintiffs argued that “appears” to consist of a “single known pirate site” based in Russia called Pleer (formerly known as Prostopleer). The truth of the matter is Aurous Group exists for the purposes of bringing together multiple sites. The characterization to the contrary, of a single site, is not only unfounded by completely counter to the entire function and purpose of Aurous Group in the first instance.
The whole point of Aurous Group is to bring multiple websites together.
The websites (SoundCloud, Pleer, VK, YouTube) we chose to implement into the first public version of Aurous all adhered to DMCA (takedown) laws and had terms of service that disallowed the uploading of infringing content. No operational sites in the first version of Aurous allowed for the uploading of infringing content.
Plaintiffs claimed we utilized sites such as MP3Skull and MP3WithMe. Plaintiffs could only have knowledge of these sites by reverse engineering our application. Plaintiff’s “experts” were incorrect.
MP3Skull was never utilized outside of a testing environment since we suspected it to contain infringing content, thus we avoided implementing into Aurous. MP3WithMe was also removed for this same reason; only its “dead code” was left behind in the application, and never able to be used by the user.
Aurous acts as a search engine. It simply utilizes the search capabilities of other sites and displays their data in a clean cohesive manner which users can then import or stream. Aurous also allows users to listen to content they already own on their devices. Our search functionality is just one of many Aurous features.
Aurous differs from services like Napster and Grooveshark as it does not use Peer-to-Peer/BitTorrent nor does it actually store or serve music from our own servers. The Aurous client is simply a handshake between the user and the third party website it is searching.
In terms of control, Aurous has no control or knowledge of what users can search for, nor do we have the ability to remove content from third party websites as we have no official partnerships with any of the websites we’ve implemented. The Aurous client directly “connects” to third-party websites and no traffic or queries go through our own official servers. It is because of this we have no knowledge of what content is being searched for.
Before our launch we planned to launch user accounts and a community, but due to time constraints we did not fully implement this feature. We would have to had spend three weeks at minimum designing and securing the account process.
Aurous clients are able to set a display name and profile picture, and in the first release, the client had an option below the display field that read “Please click here to change your email and password on aurous.me”.
Prior to this lawsuit we publicly stated we were developing a content-id/DMCA system that could be utilized down the line, we also maintain an active DMCA email (DMCA@Aurous.me) that we received no take down requests to, in the event one was received we would have added a filter to our software and built a comprehensive list of all future take down requests in order to filter out content people did not want being shown on our website. This would have been easy to implement and we would have quickly filtered out any content had we received a legitimate DMCA request.
However, due to the nature of how Aurous works, if a DMCA was filed with a third-party site, for example YouTube, and a video was removed, the video would no longer show up in the Aurous search results. This is true for all sites Aurous has integrated, if content is removed from these sites, the Aurous client cannot see these removed results.
I have no knowledge of any search that was performed on Aurous that violated the the copyrights of the Plaintiffs. Aurous has not received any DMCA requests to date.
Aurous had an investor who backed out after evaluating our company at $3 million. We have spent years worth of development time and thousands of dollars just to get to the stage we are at. Due to the TRO [temporary restraining order], we have spent thousands in legal fees which is personal money to fight this lawsuit and TRO all while we have been unable to fix our application thus potentially losing user interest in our product.
Aurous has lost goodwill in conjunction with the TRO and a preliminary injunction would add further add serious harm to our business which has done nothing wrong.
Aurous in no way encourages infringement and has simply designed a player of players for our users to install all their services that they pay for or otherwise, so that all of them can be brought together into one place. In reality, users are unable to utilize certain searches without a paid subscription to that particular third-party account.
Aurous utilizes websites that, from what I understand, Plaintiff uses themselves to promote their music.
Our application received mass amounts of positive press and support from thousands of individuals, artists, and regular persons alike. Artists even contacted us to display their music on our service. Ironically, even artists managed by the plaintiffs contacted us asking how they could get their music on our service. Aurous also gave voice to aspiring artists by featuring their music on our application giving them thousands of new fans with only three days of service. Aurous strives to build a community of music lovers who can promote their own creations through our application to gain new fans.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the forgoing is true and correct.