Lyrics website Genius sues Google and says that the company knowingly copies its lyrics and uses them in search results. Genius also claims that Google's practices are anti-competitive and requires more than $ 400 million in damages from Google and a partner.
Google displays lyrics provided by partners in response to certain searches. Genius claimed earlier this year that, in some cases, those texts were copied from his website, something that it could follow through a smart watermark scheme. Genius is now suing the allegedly superseded lyrics and accusing Google and a lyric partner, LyricFind, of violating its terms of service.
The Complaint filed December 3 in Brooklyn, New York, says that Google's behavior not only violates its terms of service, but also benefits from the "ten years and tens of millions of dollars" that Genius has spent building its business and database, thus representing unfair competition.
In addition to monetary compensation, Genius states that it is entitled to a permanent injunction against LyricFind, "which prohibits the continued misuse of content on the Genius website, including licensing such content to third parties, such as Google."
Genius, a platform that music fans can use to look up and annotate lyrics, first accused Google of copying the lyrics five months ago, but it said the search giant had been working on the practice since 2016. In April 2019, The Wall Street Journal obtained a letter that Genius wrote to Google in which he warned that he had violated the site's terms of service and that the reuse of the texts violated antitrust legislation.
The site used a watermark trick with alternating straight and curved apostrophes to prove that Google used the texts instead of generating their own. Google responded by saying it licensed lyrics from various sources, including LyricFind. The LyricFind then asked "to investigate the issue to ensure that they follow industry best practices in their approach."
The case of Genius does not look particularly strong, says John Bergmayer, legal director at the consumer interest group Public Knowledge, The edge. But Google can still worry, given the growing concern about the scope and size of the business. "I think Google should actually take the claims very seriously, not because one of the specific legal arguments is a slam-dunk winner," Bergmayer says. "It's just that they are too big, they are too powerful, and they are involved in too many things … That is Google's greatest danger here, that overall atmosphere."