3 min read

Have you ever noticed that when you google lyrics of a particular song, Google displays them on its Search results card all along?

A lyrics website Genius Media Group Inc. has accused Google of stealing lyrics from its site and reposting them in search results without permission. Additionally Genius claims to have caught Google “red handed” with the help of a Morse code embedded in their lyrics.

On 16th June, the Wall Street Journal reported that Genius’ web traffic has dropped in recent years as Google has posted lyrics on its search results page in “information boxes” instead of routing users to lyric sites like Genius. In March, 62 percent of mobile searches on Google did not result in a click-through to another site.

Companies like Genius and other such lyrics website depend on search engines like Google to send music lovers to the website who stock hard-to-decipher lyrics of hip-hop songs and other pop hits.

While Google posting song lyrics themselves is not a crime, Genius claims that Google has been lifting the song lyrics directly from Genius without permission and reposting them on the search result page. They have also shown evidence by inserting two forms of apostrophes embedded in Genius-housed lyrics.

The company started to collect proof in 2016, the team at Genius positioned both “straight” and “curly” apostrophes in their lyrics. So when the apostrophes were converted into dots and dashes like Morse code, it spelled out the words “Red Handed.” Genius added that, using these apostrophes, they found over 100 instances of Google using Genius’ own lyrics in the Google search results.

Check out the below video posted by WSJ to see how Genius caught Google copying the lyrics from its website:

“Over the last two years, we’ve shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius,” Genius’s chief strategy officer Ben Gross told the Wall Street Journal. “We noticed that Google’s lyrics matched our lyrics down to the character.”

The Wall Street Journal confirmed Genius’ accusations by matching the results of a set of randomly chosen three songs from the list of 100 instances. The songs included Alessia Cara’s “Not Today” – as well as Genius’ lyrics for Desiigner’s near-indecipherable “Panda,” which the rapper himself submitted the lyrics to the site.

According to the New York Post, Google has denied the accusations through their partnership with LyricFind, which provides the search engine with lyrics through a deal with music publishers.

“We take data quality and creator rights very seriously and hold our licensing partners accountable to the terms of our agreement,” Google said. 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.” “We do not source lyrics from Genius,” LyricFind Chief Executive Darryl Ballantyne said.

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Being a Senior Content Marketing Editor at Packt Publishing, I handle vast array of content in the tech space ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development. With prior experience and understanding of Marketing I aspire to grow leaps and bounds in the Content & Digital Marketing field. On the personal front I am an ambivert and love to read inspiring articles and books on life and in general.