Genius announced earlier this year that it suspected Google of copying its lyrics and serving them up in search engine query results. At the time, the company said it would use watermarks to prove it.
Several months later, now Genius says it has proof. Genius is suing Google based on "anticompetitive behavior" and unfair competition, and wants $50 million in combined minimum damages.
In June 2019, Satyajeet Salgar, group product manager of Google Search, posted a blog about how lyrics appear in search. “We do not crawl or scrape websites to source these lyrics,” he wrote. “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.”
Perhaps that why the basic claim for the lawsuit, filed in New York state court in Brooklyn on Tuesday, focuses on Google and its licensing partner. The claim suggests that Google misappropriated song lyrics Genius had posted to its website, either directly or through Google’s licensing partner LyricFind.
One report from a media outlet suggests that traffic from Google to Genius has declined since the search company began serving up lyrics directly into the search engine — boxes on the side of listings in Google search results, rather than providing a link to Genius’s website.
The filed complaint alleges that Google not only violated its terms of service, but also profits from “ten years and tens of millions of dollars” that Genius has spent to build its business and database.