Genius, a website of music-annotation based in Brooklyn, analyzes and transcribes lyrics of the popular songs and uploads on its website. It claims that Google is stealing lyrics of some songs and showing them on its search results. The company has also sent notices to Google back in 2017, and recently in April.
According to some news sources, an employee from Genius observed it the first time during 2016; when the song “Panda” by Rapper Desiigner was transcribed by Desiigner himself, when Genius asked him to. The song had very difficult lyrics and could not be understood easily. Soon after their version was out, it was shown on Google search results. To prove that Google was illegally stealing their lyrics, the developers from Genius changed the apostrophes of the lyrics in curly and straight styles. After the apostrophes were converted to Morse code, they turned to spell “red-handed”.
Genius collaborates with artists and record labels to transcribe their songs correctly. It also has partnerships with companies like Spotify, which gives an exposure to the company by displaying the transcriptions by Genius on some songs.
According to Google, the lyrics of the songs are not taken from any site on the web but other sources which have a license to display the lyrics. The creator rights and data quality are taken very seriously and the licensing partners are accountable for the terms of their agreement. Google also claims to take lyrics from the company LyricFind from Canada, and not from Genius. When approached, LyricFind was not available for any comments.
A law professor from the University of New York, Christopher Jon Sprigman said that only the artists and record labels can claim the lyrics and not Genius, as the lyrics don’t belong to Genius. Although Genius has not filed any legal complaint against Google, the former won’t stand a chance if it did decides to sue the latter.