For more than ten years or so, Genius (formerly Rap Genius), has been publishing lyrics aggregated from all music genres, garnering serious traffic along the way and even becoming integrated into both Spotify and Apple Music. Now, as it was reported by the Wall Street Journal, the site has officially accused Google, of stealing its lyrics, and that it can prove it!
As Spin and Mashable note, in 2016 Genius introduced changes in its punctuation system so that when “the two types of apostrophes were converted to the dots and dashes used in Morse code, they spelled out the words ‘Red Handed.’” According to the site, it has found more than 100 instances of such infringement, telling Engadget that Google is “not only hurting its traffic with its lyrics cards but sometimes grabbing Genius’ lyrics verbatim.”
Of course, Google immediately denied any wrongdoing, stating to WSJ that, “we take data quality and creator rights very seriously and hold our licensing partners accountable to the terms of our agreement.” They added that they’ve partnered with other non-Genius organizations like LyricsFind Inc. to secure the rights to lyric content.
Spin adds that for its part, Genius was accused by the National Music Publisher’s Association in 2013 for being “blatantly illegal”, but it was later able to reach a licensing agreement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing which allowed the company to republish material owned by Sony. They also made a deal with Universal Music Publishing Group in 2014. And for their part, Google has already had accusations leveled at it concerning its Knowledge Graph system.