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Music Piracy The Courts

Limewire Being Sued For 75 Trillion 545

DarthVain writes "13 record companies are trying to sue Limewire for $75 Trillion. The NYC judge in the case thinks it is 'absurd'. Its almost like these media companies are their worst enemy trying to make themselves look ridiculous. From the article: "The record companies, which had demanded damages ranging from $400 billion to $75 trillion, had argued that Section 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Act provided for damages for each instance of infringement where two or more parties were liable. For a popular site like Lime Wire, which had thousands of users and millions of downloads, Wood held that the damage award would be staggering under this interpretation. 'If plaintiffs were able to pursue a statutory damage theory predicated on the number of direct infringers per work, defendants' damages could reach into the trillions,' she wrote. 'As defendants note, plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877.'"
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Limewire Being Sued For 75 Trillion

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  • Yeah.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mongoose Disciple ( 722373 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:44PM (#35590816)

    I'm sure that stone will start producing blood any time now. Lots and lots of blood.

    • Some perspective (Score:5, Informative)

      by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:53PM (#35590958) Journal
      Putting this figure into context, $75 trillion is about $250000 per person in the USA. If the rest of the world wants to shoulder its share, it becomes a mere $12000 per person over the entire planet.
      • Re:Some perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:07PM (#35591218)

        More accurately, it's about $750,000 per tax-payer in the USA. And ridiculously more when you break down the people who only pay a small percentage of the taxes.

        A bundle of $100 bills totaling 75 trillion bucks would weigh 10,000 tons (20 million pounds). It would be what you see in the linked photo below (notice the human for size comparison, in the very left bottom corner) . . . MULTIPLIED BY 75 MORE PILES HIGH. []

        • by Chowderbags ( 847952 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:45PM (#35591748)
          Even more accurately, $75 trillion is the GDP of the whole fucking planet. Even $400 billion is more than the GDP of Belgium.

          The only thing I can possibly assume is that they'll try to act like they're really hurting to "only" sue for a few tens of billions, then when they don't get paid, they'll find some way to write it off on their tax returns for the next INTEGER_OVERFLOW years so that they won't have to pay a cent of taxes ever again. Heck, they might come crying to the government saying that their balance sheets show a loss of trillions of dollars, so they need a bailout. I so very much want to see a judge listen to their entire argument very calmly, then just chuckle.
          • by ThePromenader ( 878501 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:02PM (#35592594) Homepage Journal

            The record companies' "losses" == "money we 'could have' made": a falacious argument for many reasons, but even if piracy never existed, how can they claim that every downloader would have gone out and bought a cd?

            • by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Thursday March 24, 2011 @05:39AM (#35596380) Homepage

              It's actually a lot worse than "money we could have made", because actual sale-price, assuming every downloader would ALWAYS buy the song, is on the order of $1/song.

              Meanwhile, statutory damages for copyright-infringement is between $750 and $30,000 per infringement, at the discretion of the court, but willfull infringement can be up to $150.000.

              These absurd numers is thus the results of claiming up to $150.000 of damages, for a copy that, if legally bought, would have cost a maximum of $1. (and in the real world, offcourse, only a small fraction -would- have bought the same amount of music if copying wasn't possible)

              Claiming "money we could have made" would merely be ridicolous. But they're one-upping that - they're claiming damages equal to 150.000 times what they would have made if everyone bought all the music.

      • Or seventy bloody five times the size of the Obama Bailout Package. Remember how shocked the world was to hear that figure?

      • by afidel ( 530433 )
        To put it in perspective it's 125% of 2010's world economic output.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        According to the CIA's World Factbook, $75T is also $0.51T more than the 2010 GDP of the world using its Purchasing Power Parity algorithm. That's $510B short, if _every single dollar made in the entire world_ last year was paid out (including, of course, the record industry's own profits).

        I do wonder, though: if the record industry somehow managed to successfully sue someone for more money than the entire world combined made last year and also magically managed to get payment in full, how much would the ar

      • Re:Some perspective (Score:5, Informative)

        by Patch86 ( 1465427 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @05:37PM (#35592324)

        To add more fun statistical context, the CIA World Factbook tells me that Planet Earth's entire money supply coincidentally equals (at the broadest estimate) $75.86 trillion.

        So, the music industry is basically asking Limewire for all of Earth's money. I hope their lawsuit is backed up by a frickin' "laser" on the moon.

      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        To put this figure even more into context...

        The entire Beatles copyrights were sold to MJ a few years back for 47.5$ million. (
        Wikipedia lists 305 Beatles songs (
        So -- if my math is correct -- for 75$ trillion, you'd be able to buy the full copyright to over 480 million songs, assuming each copyright would cost as much as a Beatles' song (most probably don'

      • Putting this figure into context, $75 trillion is about $250000 per person in the USA.

        Let's try an even better context: if they won the suit and this amount were taxed at 18%, the US Federal deficit could be paid off.

      • by jrumney ( 197329 )
        Or put into music industry terms, a kilo of coke a day for every music industry employee.
    • I don't think contributory copyright inducement allows for statutory damages like that. I believe they are far less. These music cartel members need to still prove contributory inducement--they don't get to just float a bunch of numbers out there. So, these numbers are really just for sensationalistic headlines meant to scare the kiddies into not downloading. As far as I know there's no such thing as criminal copyright inducement.

      Come on RIAA member companies, die already. End the misery. Either you a

  • 75 trillion (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:45PM (#35590822)


    • Re:75 trillion (Score:4, Interesting)

      by halfEvilTech ( 1171369 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:52PM (#35590946)

      and out of curiousity what is the current combined GDP of every country on the planet? I am fairly sure it would be less than this.

      I guess they will never be truely satified with their revenue stream until every last penny, yen, euro, etc is in their infinite pockets.

      • Re:75 trillion (Score:5, Informative)

        by adonoman ( 624929 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:58PM (#35591062)
        According to Google [] it's $58 trillion. So yes.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Shikaku ( 1129753 )

          *facepalming so hard, I might push through my face*

          • by zill ( 1690130 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:07PM (#35591214)
            Stop being so pessimistic. This is a very good thing if you look at it from a different perspective: "RIAA doubled mankind's GDP with a single lawsuit"
          • Re:75 trillion (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:46PM (#35591762) Journal

            I think the only proper reaction to such an idiotic figure would have to be this one []

            That said I'm personally all for this, as the more complete idiocy and court wasting the *.A.As do the more likely we are to wake up the average Joe from their slumber and get them to realize what a total fucking joke the copyright system has become. I mean for the love of Pete Walt Disney's first works are STILL under copyright and the man has been a corpse for longer than many of us have been on this earth.

            Now how in the hell does that promote "progress of the arts and sciences"? Answer: it doesn't, it is simply a way for a "leecher class" to make eternal checks off locking up the entire culture of a race. How many works have already been lost simply because nobody could legally make a copy and the copyright holders couldn't figure out a way to "monetize the IP" and just let it rot?

            As someone who has tried dealing with the minefiled that is copyrights (had an idea with an engineer friend of mine to have "DOSbox...on a stick" where we would take rare old DOS games and have them preprogrammed to run on a USB stick, no muss, fuss, or hassle, run the games anywhere on any hardware) I can tell you that many of the "IP" is forever locked in a maze of dead companies and murky rights and the few we actually found would rather the games be lost forever than to get less than 80% or 6 figures for a game that frankly wasn't even a third stringer, which means that by the time the copyrights on these early games expire in another 80 years or so all copies will have long since been lost forever.

            How does this enrich us as a culture? How does this help us preserve our history? We need to go back to the original 25 years and have a "use it or lose it" clause where if you don't sell a product for three years after release it goes PD so that we aren't losing our history as what is happening now. And it isn't just games, rare old bootlegs and artist's early demo releases before they made it big, early show and movies that some now defunct studio couldn't figure out how to monetize ALL of these things are being lost on a daily basis because of nothing but sheer greed by the leecher class and it needs to end.

            Lenin says "a capitalist will gladly sell you the rope with which to hang him" and let's hope the greed of these leechers will help to destroy the bloodsucking business they've created. Because as it is our entire culture is being locked behind paywalls and anything the lecchers can't figure a way to make buckets of cash on is left to die, and it is frankly disgusting and wrong.

            And sorry about the length, but as a musician who hopes to make a living plying his trade I find the leechers a disgusting drain and barrier to access to the world. I uploaded the singles from my last 2 bands to P2P and I'll upload this newest one as soon as we get it mastered as we want you to hear us and hopefully come to the shows, by a shirt, hell we'll even put your name in the raffle to win one of our guitars if you buy the CD (which will have a link to download the entire album in MP3 as well as some not released tracks in the liner notes) and I have NO doubt that like my last two bands we'll make damned good money by treating people right instead of dealing with the lechers. Personally the sooner that whole payola system DIAF the better.

        • Good. Nothing I've seen more fully demonstrates the ludicrous nature of the damages that the media industry is seeking. Surely now a clear argument can be made that these damages violate the Eighth Amendment.

  • by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:45PM (#35590830)
    for only 40 Trillion
  • PR Stunt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chemicaldave ( 1776600 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:45PM (#35590834)
    They're just trying to show the public how much "lost revenues" "pirating" has cost them.
    • Re:PR Stunt (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:51PM (#35590938)

      Didn't seem to bother them when they "pirated" artists works for Greatest Hits CDs, and then never paid the royalties. They Canadian record companies owe trillions of dollars.

      A case of "Laws don't apply to we, but they apply to thee." Double standard. Class system.

      • Re:PR Stunt (Score:5, Funny)

        by swanzilla ( 1458281 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:28PM (#35591534) Homepage

        They Canadian record companies owe trillions of dollars.

        I'd consider the score settled if they took back Celine Dion and Beiber.

        • Okay, I have to ask. What's the deal with this Bieber kid and why do people hate him so much?

          • Re:PR Stunt (Score:5, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @05:02PM (#35591960)

            Okay, I have to ask. What's the deal with this Bieber kid and why do people hate him so much?

            1) Manufactured pop star.
            2) Incredibly fake-sounding music.
            3) The "rush to stardom at an early age and cash in" mindset the recording industry has adopted recently.
            4) Basic human dignity; taken from an entirely humanitarian aspect, we've all seen what this has done to other early-age manufactured pop stars (i.e. Britany Spears), so people with a concern for human life at its basest sense are appalled.
            5) We hate the ear-grating sound of large groups of prepubescent girls shrieking like banshees continuously until they collapse from exhaustion or self-induced asphyxiation.
            6) Look at him! Just look at him already! We grew up as nerds and social outcasts, and we all agree that's just the sort of face WE would punch in!

    • Actually, you raise an interesting point.... That number pretty much throws that "one download equals one lost sale" thing out the window.
    • This always cracks me up, I mean what's wrong with people spending their money on things other than music?

      Is this idea so outside of the RIAA that they cannot acknowledge that just because money isn't spent on music, it might be spent on tickets, or music downloads, or other things within the economy?

      • Re:PR Stunt (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:24PM (#35591474)

        Nope. They're used to it.

        For the longest time, there were two things teenagers spent their allowance on: Fashion and music. And for 50% of the teens, the male portion, it was mostly music for the longest time in our last half decade. Everything else was covered by your parents, wasn't it?

        That changed a decade or so ago. Computer games ain't exclusively a geek pastime anymore and neither are game consoles. Cellphones compete as well, having become an important part of our teens' interests. And with them a lot of new gadgets and services vie for the allowance of our teens. They simply don't have that much money to spend on music anymore.

        The music industry doesn't care. It's worked in the past and it has to work today. They react very slowly and often wrongly to the changing markets of today, and now they blame their customers, and rather than offering me a product that I'd want to buy, they react in such a way that the bought item is worth less to the consumer than the one ripped (for reference, see crippling copy protection and unskipable ads).

        What the content industry fails to see with such lawsuits is that the "shock and awe" effect is worthless with their target audience. A teenager can neither imagine the amount of a million nor a trillion dollars. It's just "a lot". And whether you try to sue him for either or for just 40k nets you the same outcome, he cannot pay either, so he doesn't care.

        Punishment, and its severity, has never worked as a deterrent. Or do you think the average train of thought of a burglar is "for 5 years I'll do it, but for 10 I'll rather not rob them"?

    • The public is dumb. I agree. The average person is dumb and 50% of the people are even dumber. I give you that. But I doubt anyone is SO dumb to actually believe that the damage of all copying combined (not just on limewire, but WORLDWIDE, on ALL possible or impossible venues) is TWICE that of the GDP of the WORLD.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:45PM (#35590842)

    In many of these cases, the RIAA and media companies making the absurd assumption that everyone who hosts a song on a P2P network is somehow costing them tens of thousands of $ in CD sales, as if everyone who downloads a pirated song would have run out to buy the CD otherwise (leading to a scenario where someone who downloads 10 songs from the same CD would have logically bought ten copies of the same CD, if only for those darned pirates). Following that logic out, if it weren't for the pirates, the music industry would be the largest and richest entity in the world--with revenues bigger than that of the U.S. government.

    • by Oxford_Comma_Lover ( 1679530 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:53PM (#35590970)

      ...making the absurd assumption that everyone who hosts a song on a P2P network is somehow costing them ...

      No. Damages are not awarded based on what it *costs* the RIAA and media companies. This isn't a contract case (which would be closer to that model). This is based on a statutory damage award, where the statutory damages are hugely inflated. The theoretical reason they are inflated is to discourage people from pirating, and to make it worthwhile to enforce copyrights. Obviously those rationales don't apply when you're dealing with limewire to the extent they do when dealing with an individual defendant--as a result, the statute is ridiculous in this case. Unfortunately, there isn't a constitutional provision that laws have to make sense. It would be an interesting argument that money damages this high constitute "cruel and unusual punishment" of a corporation, but almost certainly wouldn't actually get you anywhere.

    • >>>as if everyone who downloads a pirated song would have run out to buy the CD otherwise

      Precisely. I certainly don't buy songs; why should I, when the music is available 24/7 on youtube or pandora? Nowadays the only music I buy is on Greatest Hits CDs (because you get ~20 songs for less than a dollar each).

      The real thing harming music companies (and radio) is the internet and the fact you can access almost anything at anytime you desire. Maybe they should try suing that. (LOL)

      • by The Grim Reefer2 ( 1195989 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:06PM (#35591200)

        The real thing harming music companies (and radio) is the internet and the fact you can access almost anything at anytime you desire. Maybe they should try suing that. (LOL)

        Obviously they have no grip on reality, so please stop giving them additional stupid ideas. If they think suing Limewire for $75 trillion is rational, obviously the internet, as a whole, must be worth exponentially more money. When this happens and they shut down the internet, I'm blaming YOU.

  • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:45PM (#35590846) Homepage Journal

    There aren't seventy five trillion dollars. Now go away until you have a reasonable grievance.

  • This is good (Score:5, Informative)

    by ravenspear ( 756059 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:47PM (#35590864)

    Because it does highlight the absurdity of the statutory damages for copyright infringement.

  • by h00manist ( 800926 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:47PM (#35590866) Journal

    It's almost a compliment for a tiny software company to be sued for that amount. No matter what the result, the authors will become part of history. That's practically the budget of a country.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Practically? It's several times the GDP of the US.

    • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:50PM (#35590918)

      75 trillion dollars is more than the GDP of the planet in 2010.

      62 trillion dollars was the total global GDP in 2010 according to the IMF []

      • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:39PM (#35591662)

        To be fair. wealth and GDP are not the same.

        The only figures I have are for 2005, but the UK had worth of 5.8 trillion pounds (, with a GDP of 1.2 trillion, giving a roughly factor of 5 difference. Assuming that ratio roughly holds for 2010/2011 and to other countries, the total net worth of the world is about 300 trillion dollars (nominal but I'm not sure on PPP it would be much different).

        It's not like they are claiming damages for just one year, so we probably shouldn't claim total economic output for just one year.

        I mean, obviously the music business is worth nearly 1/4 of everything on the planet, food, cars, TV's aircraft, computers, houses, and limewire must have scurried away all that money. Put another way, the total inhabited land area of the planet is 150 million square kilometres, so the music business is worth approximatedly 1/4 of that, which is the total area of russia, the USA and china combined.

  • if it weren't for people making illegal copies of wax cylinders on day 2...
  • Your logic that $75 trillion is more than the entire music industry has made in recorded history is irrelevant, we are the MAFIAA, you will submit to our will.
  • by WoodburyMan ( 1288090 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:48PM (#35590876)
    Dr. Evil would be proud...
  • by FSWKU ( 551325 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:49PM (#35590898)
    I assume THIS [] will suffice for payment? I do, however, expect them to return the proper amount of change to me. If they are not able to handle denominations this large, then I will assume the debt to be null and void as it has been proven the funds are available, but they are refusing to take the money.
  • Frivolous damage claims should be punishable by a payment of 10% of the claims to the defendant. That'd put a stop to this shit at once.

  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:51PM (#35590928)

    Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed." "OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!" His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands. Finally, the President looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"

  • At first I thought this was an early April Fool's joke.

    And for some reason, I read "75 trillion dollars!" in Dr. Evil's voice.

  • by ifiwereasculptor ( 1870574 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:52PM (#35590948)
    Does that mean they really think that, were it not for LimeWire, each and every person on Earth would buy 625 albuns more than they currently have, at about 20 bucks each? It amounts to about 75 trillion.
  • Ummm.. How else will big record labels stay in business? If people will not buy CD's because the prices are too expensive... But they can't lower prices because they want to make X dollars per CD sold (non-negotiable)... then they need to find alternate sources of income

    Lawsuits are the next best source...

    Personally, I'm sticking to "Radio" like sources.. Pandora for instance... and going with Creative Commons music

    I Have not seen a band in ages that I liked enough to buy their CD's unless they were far out

  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:56PM (#35591026) Homepage Journal
    So.....Limewire's supposed to be responsible for lost profits in excess of 5 times the GDP of the world's largest national economy? []. Yeah, good luck with that one dipshits.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:00PM (#35591086) Homepage

    Stop blaming the RIAA for this stupidity. The law lists a fixed amount of statutory damage per infringement. So their calculations are correct. Even though the RIAA lobbied for these stupid laws, the ultimate blame lies with the "representatives" who voted for it.

    I would just love one of these Senators, or their family members, to get hit with one of these lawsuits. As long as they are above the law they can pass this crud without fear.

    • Maybe one should bring it to their attention and tell them just how much of an idiot they're making out of themselves by passing that law?

      Write your congressman! Maybe someone picks it up and shoves it into their relevant other side's face to make them look bad, if nothing else.

    • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:01PM (#35592580)

      Stop blaming the RIAA for this stupidity. The law lists a fixed amount of statutory damage per infringement.

      Are you serious? The RIAA wrote the relevant laws.

    • The law lists a fixed amount of statutory damage per infringement. So their calculations are correct.

      The judge says you're wrong. See page 3 (PDF page 4) of the ruling [].

      an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just.

      It has long been held that st

  • If they were really serious, they would have sued for one-hundred and eleventy-three kajillion dollars and 37 cents. The 37 cents would be there to show that they weren't just estimating.

  • ...just ask for $Texas or Eleventy Billion while you are at it?
  • I can't afford to pay you 75 trillion, but here's a picture of a spider I drew...
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:08PM (#35591240)

    Raising his pinky to his mouth and saying "We'll sue them for 75 TRILLION dollars!"

  • I actually hope they win because it will show how massively out of touch everybody is in regards to the value of money.

    Today's $75 Trillion is tomorrows chump change. Let the hyperinflation come fast and swift and redistribute all value properly.

  • RIAA boss: We'll hold Limewire ransom for ... ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
    Number 2: Ah-hem ... Don't you think we should ask for *more* than a million dollars? A million dollars isn't exactly a lot of money these days. Why, EMI's music division alone makes over 75 million dollars a year.
    RIAA boss: Ok then, we'll hold Limewire ransom for ... SEVENTY-FIVE TRILLION DOLLARS!

  • by Stregano ( 1285764 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:11PM (#35591274)
    They might as well have asked for a gazillion, billion, dollars, as they would have just as much of a chance getting that
  • by Khopesh ( 112447 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:30PM (#35591554) Homepage Journal

    I strongly approve.

    The RIAA assumes that each copy of each song is worth a dollar and is independently covered by copyright violation fines. This couldn't be farther from the truth. People end up with freely obtained music that they would never (in any world) pay for. Separately, the immature behavior of the RIAA (primarily their scare tactics and markup) couples with the enormity of copyleft content now freely available to spell a significantly reduced value (supply and demand). We're heading towards a new media paradigm [] that just doesn't have room for the RIAA.

    I think by calculating the value as perceived by the RIAA, we have this on display for all to see. The press and the courts will have no choice but to see this for the fear-mongering death flails of a dying industry.

    Talk about shooting themselves in the foot — they may have just blown off their whole leg — and the ground they stood on.

  • by sorak ( 246725 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:31PM (#35591566)

    The US GDP is 14.12 Trillion []...

  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:53PM (#35591842)

    If the recording industry obtains a judgment in their favor in this case, then everyone who has ever shared music via Limewire is off the hook. Since Limewire's users aren't joined to the case, the RIAA can't also sue those users after getting a judgment against Limewire, because they would be double dipping.

    Never mind that obtaining these sorts of damages (or anything even approaching their actual damages, for that matter, never mind the statutory damages) is a ridiculous proposition. If the RIAA wants the masses to still be liable, then they should join the masses to this lawsuit. Then they could get what Limewire is worth, and still take the rest out on the remaining defendants.

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer