Lyric annotation website and new hub of hip-hop Genius has filed a lawsuit against Google for US $50 million, alleging that the search engine lifted the website's published annotations without permission.
In the court documents, which you can view here, Genius claim their distinctive watermark can be found in lyrical content published by Google and LyricFind, the search engine's licensed lyric sourcing partner. Although these allegations went down back in June, it's only now that Genius have moved ahead with legal action against Google LLC, claiming that the search engine overlords were “repeatedly confronted by Genius with incontrovertible evidence regarding their conduct,” but that they "assigned blame elsewhere but otherwise continued their unlawful behavior.” Genius are filing for a minimum of $50 million USD - around $73 million in dollarydoos.
It's worth reading the aforementioned court documents to get a full grasp of how this watermark works, but essentially, Genius alternate the apostrophes in their lyric annotations between straight and curly apostrophes (for example, ' and ’). When these two types of apostrophes are converted into dots and dashes, they spell out 'red handed' in Morse code. Genius have literally caught Google red handed; the whole thing is pure genius. Check out an example below.
Look, we don't want our search engine rankings to dip, so we're not going to neg too hard on Google here - plus, the notion of filing a lawsuit over lyrics other people wrote is a bit hard to wrap your head around. However, Genius is probably one of the most important digital media outlets in music today - particularly to hip hop - and they cultivate an incredible online community who continue to support the website with user generated content. Given how damning Genius's evidence is against Google here. it'll be interesting to see how this one pans out.
Head to Genius and explore their content here.