«UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA Miami Division Case No. _ ATLANTIC RECORDING CORPORATION, WARNER BROS. RECORDS INC., UMG ...»
popular copyrighted recorded music, the vast majority of which is owned or controlled by the Plaintiffs here.
30. In early 2015, at the website www.getstrike.net, Defendant Sampson publicly released a search engine called “Strike Search,” specifically designed to promote copyright infringement on the BitTorrent network, which is notorious as a source for pirated music, movies, games, and software. Sampson promoted Strike Search as “[a] modern approach to BitTorrent searching [–] download music, movies, games, and software. Right at your fingertips.” Sampson even boasted of the searches for infringing content made possible by his service, and demonstrated his specific knowledge of such infringing activity, by showing off the results of a temporary live feed of searches using Strike Search. Sampson declared: “Want to see Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 9 of 20 what the pirates of the world fancy? Check out the temporary live search feed getstrike.net/torrents/live/.”
31. Sampson also published Terms of Service that brazenly flaunted his service’s facilitation of copyright infringement. The terms stated: “You promise not to sue us or tell our mothers we’ve been naughty.” They also promised users: “We don’t log[,] and tracking information is thrown away every 24 hours.” Finally, to copyright owners: “If you have a take down request, go away.” Sampson sought donations via a link to online payment service PayPal, until PayPal limited his account in response to complaints by copyright owners.
32. As a stand-alone search engine, Strike Search finds infringing content on BitTorrent but needs to be used with other software and services in order to download the content onto users’ computers. Efforts by services profiting from infringement to evade copyright liability have led to the disaggregation of features for finding and downloading content via BitTorrent that normally would be provided in a single application.
33. For instance, users of legitimate services like Apple Music or Spotify can use those applications to search for music, download or stream it, and play it back. By contrast, users seeking to infringe via the BitTorrent network typically must first download a BitTorrent application that has no search function. Then they must use their web browser to locate a “torrent” site, or other source, that may provide search or browsing functionality to help the users locate a “torrent” that contains information that can lead to the download of the infringing content the users are looking for. These sites are often located overseas to try to evade U.S.
authorities. Once the “torrent” is selected, the users’ BitTorrent application works behind the scenes, typically by interacting with another type of Internet service, known as a “tracker,” that Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 10 of 20 facilitates the download of the content from the computers of multiple other BitTorrent users.
Then the users must choose another application to play back the content.
34. Defendants garnered significant attention for their new service, Aurous, by promoting it as a way to make it easy for anyone to gain access to infringing music files on the BitTorrent network and from other sources with a single easy-to-use all-in-one infringement and playback service for unauthorized music. With easy-to-use features, including an interface familiar to users of services like Spotify or Google Play, Aurous indeed makes the unauthorized streaming and downloading of infringing content over the Internet so easy that anyone can use it.
To date, instead of using the BitTorrent network, Defendants have programmed their software to retrieve music files exclusively from a carefully selected set of pirate websites notorious for distributing unauthorized copies of popular recorded music.
35. 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.
36. Defendants’ service also gives users the option, instead of using the Aurous Network, to retrieve music files from either MP3WithMe or VK.com. MP3WithMe is another known pirate site, based overseas, that also brazenly offers free unauthorized downloads of top tracks by major recording artists. VK.com is a Russian website notorious for the availability of infringing music and other media files. Copyright owners have sent infringement notices regarding more than 2 million infringements on VK to Google alone. The U.S. Trade Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 11 of 20 Representative has for four years in a row included VK.com in his periodic list of “Notorious Markets” – overseas sites that engage in and facilitate substantial piracy.
organization of these components suggest that in addition to the aforementioned sites, Defendants’ service also can search a site known as “MP3Skull.” This is another notorious pirate site, based overseas, whose homepage also brazenly offers unauthorized copies of recording artists’ top tracks. The U.S. Trade Representative has also included MP3Skull in his periodic list of “Notorious Markets” – overseas sites that engage in and facilitate substantial piracy. Earlier this year, Plaintiffs here and certain affiliates sued MP3Skull in this District for its massive infringement of their copyrights. MP3Skull failed to appear to defend the action, and the plaintiffs have moved for a default judgment.
38. Defendants have no authorization or permission to copy, distribute, or publicly perform Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings.
39. Aurous nevertheless advertises that “[w]e’ve made it easier than ever to search for the songs you want. Want to listen to your favourite [sic] bands [sic] newest album? We have it.
Want to enjoy an obscure 80’s hit? We have that too.” Once users download the free Aurous software from the website www.aurous.me, they are instantly able to use Aurous’s search functionality to find wide selections of unauthorized copies of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings. For example, searches on Aurous enable users easily to download top hits from such major recording artists as Katy Perry, Lady Antebellum, Neon Trees, Brandon Flowers, Neil Young, Collective Soul, Alicia Keys, and Miley Cyrus.
40. Once users have selected the content they want, Aurous behind the scenes does all the work. Aurous finds sources for the files and then streams the files to its users in its custom Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 12 of 20 media player and allows users to download (copy) the files by simply pressing a “+” sign next to a track. Aurous thus also builds for users libraries of pirated sound recordings.
41. By providing this all-in-one infringement service, Defendants give themselves a significant unfair advantage over competing legitimate services for music streaming and downloading that charge a fee or are supported by advertising. Defendants even prominently promote their service with the slogan: “Enjoy music how you want to for free.”
42. By providing and operating their pirate service, Defendants are causing the infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights by others. Defendants also have evidenced the intent to cause such infringement. By way of example only, in a conversation on Twitter, Defendant Sampson referred to Popcorn Time, software notorious for facilitating copyright infringement of movies and TV shows via the BitTorrent network, and agreed that “I guess you can call” Aurous “the [P]opcorn [T]ime of music,” adding that “I contribute to Popcorn Time a bit.” By way of further example, it is well known that anti-piracy services attempt to diminish infringement of copyrighted works on the Internet by offering fake, or spoofed, files on networks where infringement is common. In a media interview, Defendant Sampson promised that Aurous is “able to spot fakes.”
43. By providing and operating their service, Defendants are materially contributing to the infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights by others, and are doing so with knowledge of the infringing activity that they are facilitating. By way of example only, users have already informed Defendants of specific infringing activity on their service, and Defendants have provided technical assistance to facilitate the infringement of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings specifically.
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44. By providing and operating their service, Defendants are receiving a direct financial benefit from copyright infringement in the form of a growing base of users that Defendants can monetize now or later with advertising and other methods of generating revenue.
Defendants have stated their intent to display advertising on Aurous. Defendants have the right and ability to stop or limit the infringing activity occurring via their service but they take no steps to do so. Defendants are able to supervise or control the infringing activity of their users in many different ways, including by deciding the sources from which Aurous can and cannot retrieve music files, and through the ability to remotely alter the behavior of the Aurous service by issuing automatic updates to software installed on users’ computers. Defendants have admitted that if they wanted to they could exercise control over their service to help copyright owners remove infringing works by applying filters to block certain content from Aurous. In addition, Defendants design and maintain their service to optimize its usefulness for infringement. By way of example only, in a conversation on Twitter, asked about “shield[ing]” himself and his users from “take down” requests from copyright owners, Defendant Sampson responded: “Don’t worry, we’re taking every measure to protect ourselves and our users.” By way of further example, in response to a comment on social media that infringing users’ computer addresses might be exposed to anti-piracy services, Sampson responded that the addresses would be hidden because “VPN [virtual private network] is built in.”
45. Defendants’ causing and facilitation of copyright infringement is knowing, intentional, and willful.
46. Plaintiffs repeat and reallege every allegation contained in paragraphs 1 through 45 as if fully set forth herein.
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47. As detailed above, users of Defendants’ service are engaged in repeated, widespread, and rapidly growing infringement of Plaintiffs’ exclusive rights under the Copyright
48. Defendants are liable under the Copyright Act for inducing the infringing acts of the users of Aurous. Defendants have designed and launched and are operating Aurous with the object of promoting its use to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights.
49. Defendants knowingly and intentionally induce, entice, persuade, and cause users of Aurous to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights in their sound recordings, including but not limited to those sound recordings listed in Exhibit A hereto, in violation of Plaintiffs’ copyrights.
50. Through these activities, among others, Defendants knowingly and intentionally take steps that are substantially certain to result in direct infringement of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings, including but not limited to those sound recordings listed in Exhibit A hereto, in violation of Plaintiffs’ copyrights.
51. Despite their knowledge that infringing material is made available to users by means of Aurous, Defendants have failed to take reasonable steps to minimize its infringing capabilities.
52. The infringement of Plaintiffs’ rights in each of their copyrighted sound recordings constitutes a separate and distinct act of infringement.
53. Defendants’ acts of infringement are willful, intentional, and purposeful, in disregard of and indifferent to the rights of Plaintiffs.
54. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights and exclusive rights under copyright, Plaintiffs are entitled to the maximum statutory damages, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504(c), in the amount of $150,000 with respect to each work Case 1:15-cv-23810-XXXX Document 1 Entered on FLSD Docket 10/13/2015 Page 15 of 20 infringed, or such other amounts as may be proper under 17 U.S.C. § 504(c). In the alternative, at Plaintiffs’ election pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504(b), Plaintiffs are entitled to their actual damages, including Defendants’ profits from infringement, in amounts to be proven at trial.
55. Plaintiffs are entitled to their costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, pursuant
56. Defendants’ conduct is causing and, unless enjoined by this Court, will continue to cause Plaintiffs great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money. Plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 502, Plaintiffs are entitled to a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights and exclusive rights under copyright.
57. Plaintiffs repeat and reallege every allegation contained in paragraphs 1 through 45, and 47 through 56, as if fully set forth herein.
58. As detailed above, users of Defendants’ service are engaged in repeated, widespread, and rapidly growing infringement of Plaintiffs’ exclusive rights under the Copyright