Google To Start Attributing Lyrics In Search To Third Parties

Google announced that it will begin attributing song lyrics to third-party companies after the music lyrics repository Genius publicly accused the search engine of scraping lyrics and serving them up in query results.

The company said it will include the attribution to the third party providing the text for the digital lyrics to respect and compensate rights-holders and ensure that music publishers and songwriters are paid for their work.

Some lyrics, which serve up in the boxes at the top of search results, included a code created by Genius using a watermark and apostrophes. After repeatedly contacting Google for about two years, Genius took its story to The Wall Street Journal, along with complaints that its site traffic dropped.

Google, however, denied any wrongdoing, but said it would investigate the issue. On Tuesday, Google published a blog post detailing how lyrics appear in search and where the text comes from.

“We do not crawl or scrape websites to source these lyrics,” wrote Satyajeet Salgar, group product manager of search at Google, in a blog post. “The lyrics that you see in information boxes on Search come directly from lyrics content providers, and they are updated automatically as we receive new lyrics and corrections on a regular basis.”



Salgar’s post did not name any companies, but Google has partnered with LyricsFind since 2016. LyricFind’s chief executive told the WSJ that it does not source lyrics from Genius.

He also wrote that Google pays “music publishers for the right to display lyrics, since they manage the rights to these lyrics on behalf of the songwriters.”

Genius’ watermarking system was pretty ingenious. It used apostrophes, both straight and curly single-quote marks, to embed watermark patterns in its lyrics. The two types of apostrophes are converted into dots and dashes similar to Morse code, spelling out the words “Red Handed.”

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