December 07, 2019

Genius says it caught Google stealing lyrics in $50M suit, can they win?

Lyrics service Genius is suing Google for allegedly copying its song lyrics and using them in search results. Genius is asking for $50 million in damages from Google and its partner LyricFind, the Verge reports. Genius says they caught Google twice - first they placed straight and curved apostrophes within the lyrics of 301 songs so that, if viewed as the dots and dashes of Morse code, the apostrophes would spell out the word “REDHANDED”. Google ended up displaying the watermarked lyrics for 116 of the songs. After the watermarked lyrics disappeared from Google’s searches. Genius came up with another watermark, this time using the “four-per-em space,” a special character that looks like a regular blank space but that a computer sees as unique. By using four-per-em spaces as dashes and regular spaces as dots, Genius spelled out the word “Genius” in Morse code in hundreds of song lyrics - and then found more than 1,000 of them in Google’s results. Rolling Stone questions whether Genius has any chance of winning the lawsuit against Google (probably not), but it will most certainly damage the search engine's reputation in a time of public sentiment turning against big tech.