Google vs. Genius


So for this weeks assignment we were supposed to read a relevant music industry article and do a little more research on it. I did some research on the Google vs. Genius scandal which has to do with the ownership of lyrics on the Genius site. I unfortunately was not able to talk to my employer about what I found because I have been out of town this week.

I first read about this situation when Billboard released an article about it with the title “Genius Accuses Google of Displaying Copied Lyrics: 'It's Clearly Unfair and Anticompetitive'“. This said that Google was directly copying lyrics from the Genius site. The chief strategy officer of Genius said in summery that Google was using their lyrics to put as the first info section of Google so that consumers wouldn’t have to go to other sites to find the answer. This would make Google’s practices “anticompetitive”.

I was wondering how Genius would actually know that Google was taking their lyrics directly because, in theory, all of the lyrics to a song should be exactly the same if they are accurate. I learned from more research on BGR’s site that Genius created a Morse code message hidden in all of their lyrics. They used a mix of straight and curly apostrophes to spell out “Red Handed”. This essentially caught Google at fault. When Google was confronted with the evidence, they said that they rely on a third party to distribute their lyrics and that they would look into it.

This whole situation raises the question about copy-write, and ownership of lyrics especially when they are not yours and you are only using them for informational purposes. Does having more than one lyric distributor make sense when Apple Music and other streaming services are starting to provide lyrics straight from the writer? If yes, how do we facilitate the “originality” of the content creation when it is not the companies to begin with?

Let me know what you think in the comments!