Did you ever notice how you tend to google the lyrics of a song and then you’re not going to Genius’ website because Google is displaying them on the Search results all along? Well, Genius alleges that Google has been copying its lyrics for years and posting them directly on Google Search, thus preventing visitors from going to its own site. And Genius says it hid a Morse code message within the lyrics to prove Google was doing it.
Genius first suspected Google of ill doing in 2016, when a software engineer discovered that Desiigner’s Panda song lyrics on Google matched the ones on Genius. The song has hard-to-understand lyrics, the Wall Street Journal reports, but Genius had the error-free version of the lyrics straight from the artist.
“We noticed that Google’s lyrics matched our lyrics down to the character,” Genius’ chief strategy officer, Ben Gross, told the Journal.
Genius notified Google in 2017, and then in April of this year that copied transcriptions appeared on Google Search.
“Over the last two years, we’ve shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius,” Gross said.
What the company did to catch Google was to watermark lyrics with the help of apostrophes — by alternating between straight and curly single-quote marks in exactly the same sequence for every song. When turned into dots and dashes, the apostrophes spell the words Red Handed, which is a smart trick.
However, Google claims that the lyrics found inside those “information panels” on its site are licensed from partners, not created by Google.
“We take data quality and creator rights very seriously and hold our licensing partners accountable to the terms of our agreement,” Google told the Journal. Moreover, Google issued a second statement to say it’s investigating the issues and would terminate its agreements with partners that aren’t “upholding good practices.”
The report notes that Google partnered with LyricFind in 2016, but the company’s chief executive, Darryl Ballantyne, told the Journal that it doesn’t source its lyrics from Genius, relying on its own content team for the lyrics.