Back in 2019, the lyric annotation site ended up suing Google alongside Canadian lyric sourcing company LyricFind for allegedly using content from its website without compensation or attribution.
According to reports from Variety, the complaint pointed out a hidden “watermark” used in Genius’ lyrics in order to identify their work. That mark was said to be consistently found in Google’s search results page, which indicates that the search had lifted the lyrics straight from Genius’ site.
“Genius set the 2nd, 5th, 13th, 14th, 16th and 20th apostrophes of each watermarked song as curly apostrophes, and all the other apostrophes straight,” the complaint states. “If the straight apostrophes are interpreted as dots and the curly apostrophes are interpreted as dashes, the pattern spells out ‘REDHANDED’ in Morse code.”
In the suit, Genius was seeking at least $50 million to recover damages from the alleged misappropriation of lyrics. Google denied any accusations that it had stolen data from Genius’ website.
The tech giant also ended up addressing Genius’ allegations in a June 2019 blog post, claiming it does “not crawl or scrape websites to source their lyrics. The lyrics that you see in information boxes on Search come directly from lyrics content providers, and they are updated automatically as we receive new lyrics and corrections on a regular basis.”
Judge Margo K. Brodie of the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed this lawsuit on Monday, stating Genius does not own the copyright to the original lyrics and “the case law is clear that only the original copyright owner has exclusive rights to authorize derivative works.”