A new app was released on Monday that generated a fair amount of interest from the media after being dubbbed (not by its developers) “Popcorn Time for music,” after the wildly popular super-slick BitTorrent-powered movie and TV streaming app.
Having tested Aurous, we can say that it shows some promise, but certainly has a long way to go before it can compete with Popcorn Time, which even when it was first released, impressed us with its professional and easy-to-use interface, and almost flawless ability to stream high-quality video content via the P2P BitTorrent protocol, and which has since gone from strength to strength.
Many of the current limitations are no doubt due to Aurous being at 0.1 Alpha stage, so teething problems are to be expected. We found that Discovering and streaming songs works very well, playing at good quality and without any noticeable delay, and that interface looks smart. We could, however, not add songs to a playlist, or download them to local disk (as should be possible.)
Aurous will also, in theory, allow you play from your own local music collection, but when we added our music folder in the options, Aurous began to behave erratically, and then froze after a couple of minutes whenever we restarted the app.
As noted, these are no doubt teething troubles that we are confident will be fixed in time by the devs. More serious, however, is that fact that unlike Popcorn Time, the app does not draw its content from the P2P BitTorrent network.
Florida-based Aurous developer, Andrew Sampson, told Billboard that the app searches for legal content on sites such as YouTube, SoundCloud, and “one of the other 120 public APIs” integrated into the app. The app then uses the BitTorrent protocol smoothly stream the content to users.
“At the most fundamental level, it’s a music player like any other. What stands out is that it can take advantage of other existing platforms and piggyback off those, and integrated those into platform.”
Although he concedes that content creators are unlikely to be too enamored with this “player of players,” he insists that what Aurous does is entirely legal,
“We’re pulling content from sources that are licensed. From a legal standpoint, what we’re doing is okay. All files are streamed from legitimate sources — we don’t host anything. We only share cached results over peer-to-peer.”
However… the current version of Aurous mainly uses notorious Russian pirate sites to find content. The default “Aurous Network” is, in fact, the Pleer search engine, while VK (a Russian version of Facebook) and MP3WithMe are offered as alternatives!
Unsurprisingly, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is very unimpressed. Just one day after the alpha version of Aurous became available, the RIAA has filed a lawsuit against Sampson and his company. According to the complaint,
“Three days ago, Defendants launched a service that blatantly infringes the Plaintiffs’ copyrights by enabling Internet users to search for, stream, and download pirated copies of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings for immediate listening and later playback. Defendants have designed their service specifically to search for and retrieve these copies from a carefully chosen set of online sources notorious for offering pirated music, and Defendants are openly encouraging and assisting infringement of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings.”
Aurous’ leveraging of the Pleer network appears to have drawn particular ire from the RIAA,
“By default, Defendants’ service directs users’ searches to what Defendants call “the Aurous Network.” The Aurous Network appears to consist of a single known pirate site based in Russia called Pleer (formerly known as Prostopleer) (“Pleer”). 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 Aurous team has responded with defiance:
Apparently not everyone is a fan of our service, the @RIAA doesn’t seem to like new technology and is suing us!
— Aurous (@aurousapp) October 13, 2015
Don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere, empty lawsuits aren’t going to stop the innovation of the next best media player. — Aurous (@aurousapp) October 13, 2015
For anyone curious the @RIAA principle complaint is that we’re “profiting”, anyone see any ads? We sure don’t.
— Aurous (@aurousapp) October 13, 2015
Interestingly, digital rights champion the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has leant its support to Aurous:
We await further developments with interest!