Busted! Watch Genius typographic evidence in its case against Google
Music lyrics website Genius says it has proof Google is copying its lyrics, displaying them in search results, and driving down traffic to Genius.com reports PC Magazine and its evidence is pure typography. Genius has watermarked lyrics displayed on its website with patterns of apostrophes, which can alternate between the straight and curly single-quote, to make the punctuation marks spell the word “Red-handed” when translated into Morse code. Eventually, the Genius watermarked lyrics edition surfaced on Google's “information panels.”
“Google knowingly displays lyrics that are copied from Genius in search results in order to keep users from leaving Google to go to other sites. They have known about this for two years and it's clearly unfair and anticompetitive,” Genius told PCMag in a statement. According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story it all started back in 2016 when a Genius software engineer noticed that Google search results were displaying lyrics submitted by artists to Genius only. Genius began watermarking its song lyrics and has since found more than 100 examples of Google's search engine taking its lyrics. Reportedly, Genius notified Google about the lyrics copying in 2017 and told Google it was violating Genius's terms of service, not to mention antitrust law, the Journal says.
1: Google scrapes & republishes https://t.co/B8eAvFMYUv's lyrics in full in the SERPs— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) June 16, 2019
2: Genius tells Google to quit it
3: Google denies & ignores
4: Genius puts "red handed" in Morse code of their apostrophes
5: Proof is in the SERPs. And now in the WSJhttps://t.co/D2Hptz4jCT pic.twitter.com/29PEe5ud52
“The lyrics displayed in information boxes on Google Search are licensed from a variety of sources and are not scraped from sites on the web,” Google said in a statement. “We take data quality and creator rights very seriously, and hold our licensing partners accountable to the terms of our agreement. We're investigating this issue with our data partners and if we find that partners are not upholding good practices, we will end our agreements,” the company added.
The outcome in this “fractal plagiarism” as Kevin Marks, a well respected open source guy and someone who has been working at Google and other companies for years notes, is that Google will eventually be showing in the search results where they license (pay for) the lyrics by adding an attribution to the lyrics box. “To help make it clearer where the lyrics come from, we’ll soon include attribution to the third party providing the digital lyrics text” Google stated per Seroundtable.
Watch how Genius invested in typography to prove the case against Google below.