Genius Accuses Google of Lifting Lyrics

Genius Accuses Google of Lifting Lyrics
Google campus in Mountain View, California (AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images)

Google publishes lyrics directly in search pages, and Genius claims that the search engine giant lifted lyrics without permission. In a new report from the Wall Street Journal, representatives from Genius said the site’s “watermarked” lyrics are showing up on Google. Representatives from Google say the company is currently investigating Genius’ claims.

Genius’ watermark, established sometime around 2016, makes it so apostrophes within lyrics alternate between straight and curly single-quote marks (' and ’) in the same sequence for every song. When you convert the two types of apostrophes to dots and dashes, they spell “red handed” in Morse code.

“Over the last two years, we’ve shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius in their Lyrics OneBox,” Genius’ Chief Strategy Officer Ben Gross said in a statement. “This is a serious issue, and Google needs to address it.”

“The lyrics displayed in the information boxes on Google Search are licensed from a variety of sources and are not scraped from sites on the web,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “We take data quality and creator rights very seriously, and hold our licensing partners accountable to the terms of our agreement. We’re investigating this issue with our data partners and if we find that partners are not upholding good practices we'll end our agreements.”

Google says its lyrics results come from a licensing partnership with the Canadian company LyricsFind. “We do not source lyrics from Genius,” LyricFind Chief Executive Darryl Ballantyne told the Wall Street Journal in a statement.