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Lyrics website alleges that Google steals its content

Genius is a popular lyrics website that many people visit everyday to read and articulate the meaning behind their favorite songs. Even though Google also shows the lyrics of songs that you query for, many still prefer Genius due to the user-contributed song meanings and discussions hosted on the website.

However, in an interesting turn of events, Genius is now claiming that Google directly lifts lyrics from the website and shows them in search results.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Genius alleges that it first discovered that Google was copying its lyrics when it saw the information panel in the search results for rapper Desiigner's song "Panda". While most websites had published incorrect lyrics for the difficult-to-understand track, Genius had the lyrics personally approved from the rapper himself, and as such, it was extremely surprised to see that the only other website with the correct lyrics was Google itself.

Following this revelation, Genius made a subtle change in the way that it places apostraphes in lyrics, alternating between straight and tilted variations of the punctuation mark. When these apostraphes are encoded to Morse code, they spell out "Red Handed".

Genius complained to Google about its alleged wrongdoing back in 2017, claiming that the search giant was violating terms of service and antitrust laws, which had resulted in considerable decline in viewership for the lyrics website. Google denied any misconduct, saying that it does not "create" the lyrics itself, just licenses them from partners.

However, following the publication of this report, the company has announced that it is investigating the claims made by Genius, and that it will terminate contracts with partners "not upholding good practices". Genius' allegations do not bode well for Google, which has already been the offender in several antitrust violations.

Source: The Wall Street Journal (paywall)

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