For a long time, there was no clear leading source for song lyrics online. Over the past few years, though, that has changed as Genius has emerged as the go-to destination for finding lyrics (and lyrical analysis). Google is a consistent source of lyrics as well: Searching for a song’s lyrics will result in a results page that shows the full lyrics natively on the page. With this feature, though, Genius believes that Google is up to no good, as they have accused the search giant of stealing their lyrics.
Genius chief strategy officer Ben Gross said to The Wall Street Journal, “Over the last two years, we’ve shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius.” Furthermore, he also told The Verge that Genius has “shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius in their Lyrics OneBox. This is a serious issue, and Google needs to address it.”
Genius was able to tell that their lyrics appeared in Google search results because they are watermarked: Genius lyric sheets feature a combination of quotation marks that can be converted to Morse code, and when deciphered, they read, “red handed.”
Google has responded to the accusation, saying that they are investigating the claims, and adding, “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. We take data quality and creator rights very seriously, and hold our licensing partners accountable to the terms of our agreement.” A Google spokesperson also told The Verge that the company is “investigating this issue with our data partners, and if we find that partners are not upholding good practices, we will end our agreements.”
Find the full Wall Street Journal report here.