Earlier this year, lyric annotation site Genius accused Google of lifting its published lyrics without permission. Now, Genius is suing the search engine giant and LyricFind for a minimum of $50 million, according to court documents viewed by Pitchfork. Google’s lyrics results come from a licensing partnership with LyricFind, a Canadian lyric sourcing company.
In the complaint, Genius alleges that Google LLC and LyricFind were “caught red-handed misappropriating content from Genius’s website, which they have exploited—and continue to exploit—for their own financial benefit and to Genius’s financial detriment.” The suit also states that the Defendants were “repeatedly confronted by Genius with incontrovertible evidence regarding their conduct,” however they allegedly “assigned blame elsewhere but otherwise continued their unlawful behavior.”
Genius’ accusations first came to light in a Wall Street Journal report back in June. Genius claims that they discovered Google’s alleged content misappropriation by way of their watermark. Genius’ watermark was established sometime around 2016, and it makes apostrophes within lyrics alternate between straight and curly single-quote marks (‘ and ’) in the same sequence for every song. When you convert the two types of apostrophes to dots and dashes, they spell “red handed” in Morse code—hence the corresponding language in the lawsuit.
LyricFind previously denied lifting content from Genius. “We do not source lyrics from Genius,” LyricFind Chief Executive Darryl Ballantyne told the Wall Street Journal in a statement.
Pitchfork has reached out to representatives at Genius, Google, and LyricFind for further comment.