This summer, lyrics aggregator Genius discovered its content was being copied by Google and its Canada-based lyrics partner LyricFind, after spelling “Red Handed” in Morse code through a sequence of punctuation in its posts. On Tuesday, December 3, Genius officially filed a lawsuit in New York against Google seeking “no less than $50 million” for “combined minimum damages” from both Google and LyricFind for copying its content.
“Defendants Google LLC and LyricFind have been 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 lawsuit reads. “This action seeks to halt Defendants’ unethical and unfair anticompetitive practices, as well as to recover damages for violations of Genius’s Terms of Service as a result of defendants’ misappropriation.”
While LyricFinds originally argued in a June 2019 blog post that its lyrics are taken from “numerous sources (including direct from artists, publishers, and songwriters), and then [they] proceed to stream, correct, and synchronize that data,” it still admitted to “the possibility that our team unknowingly sourced Genius lyrics from another location,” offering “to remove any lyrics Genius felt had originated from them, even though we did not source them from Genius’ site.”
Since its founding in 2009, Genius has maintained a vast archive of annotated music lyrics from artists themselves and its own community of over two million contributors. A new Wall Street Journal article published today notes that the new lawsuit “puts the spotlight on growing concerns that big tech companies like Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., can stifle smaller competitors through some of their business practices.”