Google publishes lyrics directly on web pages, and Genius, a lyrics site, claims that the search engine lifted the lyrics without consent. In a new report from the Wall Street Journal, representatives from Genius stated that their “watermarked” lyrics are showing up on Google. Representatives from Google say that currently, they are investigating the claims.
This accusation actually dates back to 2017, when Genius first noticed something odd going on when one of its staff noticed that Google’s lyrics of Desiigner’s song Panda matched Genius’s own lyrics, despite Desiigner exclusively posting the official lyrics of the complex rap song to Genius first.
Genius’ watermarks, which were established sometime around 2016, makes the apostrophes within lyrics alternate between straight and curly single-quote marks (‘and’) in the same sequence for every song. When one converts 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’ said Chief Strategy Officer Ben Gross in a statement. “This is a serious issue, and Google needs to address it.”
To this, a Google spokesperson said, “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. 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.”
Considering these looming threats of an antitrust investigation into Google, the damage caused by the company by alleging the giant search engine of both copying lyrics and later placing them on search pages isn’t going down well with the investigators. We’ll come to know very soon whether the allegations get proved or not, but for now, it’s a very bad look for Google.