All too often, people find themselves wondering what someone said in some song and they type what they think they heard in Google, and Google spits out the right words. That’s an solution that Genius is taking issue with, as the lyrics site has now claimed that Google is stealing lyrics… and Genius claims they can prove it, too.
Genius is more than just a lyrics website, as it allows users to annotate lyrics in real time to give them more context and allow visitors to more deeply understand the words behind a song. But for a majority of users, they’re just wondering if Jimi Hendrix wanted to kiss “the sky” or “this guy.” And Genius claims that Google is usurping its traffic by intercepting users on their way to the site.
The site claims it can prove this, as they’ve devised a system of alternating apostrophes within lyrics to create a watermark of sorts. When this series of alternations was found in lyrics on Google, Genius marked the case solved. To add insult to injury, Genius says it ordered the different apostrophes in such a way that when the two styles are converted to dots and dashes they spell out “red handed” in Morse code. Ouch.
Google, of course, denies the allegations.
“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,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
Google further told WSJ that it uses a third-party site called LyricFind to source the lyrics that appear on the search engine. LyricFind also, predictably, denied that it took the lyrics from Genius.
In a statement to The Verge, Genius Chief Strategy Officer Ben Gross said that the company has “shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius in their Lyrics OneBox. This is a serious issue, and Google needs to address it.”