Google Wins Legal Battle Against Genius Over Song Lyrics

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has emerged victorious once again in a legal battle that has been ongoing for the past four years. The lawsuit, filed by the website Genius, alleged that Google had violated its contract by using Genius’s song lyrics without obtaining a valid license.

Despite this being a significant milestone for both copyright laws and online aggregation, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. This decision further reinforced lower New York state court’s ruling in 2020, stating that Genius has no claim on the copyrights to its lyrics, as they are held by the songwriters and publishers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the decision back in March 2022.

Notably, earlier this year, the Solicitor General had recommended that the case be rejected by the Supreme Court.

Previously known as Rap Genius, Genius maintained that Google had breached the terms of their contract, consequently causing millions of dollars in losses for Genius by scraping lyrics and showcasing them in Google Search results without due attribution. Genius created a secret code, the word “red-handed,” which illustrated how Google was illegally stealing its lyrics.

This verdict reinforces the importance of abiding by contractual terms while encouraging creative ownership, especially in terms of intellectual property rights. The outcome could have far-reaching implications for future lawsuits concerning copyright laws and fair use.

Lawsuit Alleges Google Copied Lyrics from Genius

Genius, a lyrics annotation website, filed a lawsuit against Google alleging that the tech giant copied song lyrics without permission. The suit claims that one of the earliest Google posts that Genius suspected of being copied was the lyrics for the song “Panda” by rapper Desiigner. Lyrics for songs by Kendrick Lamar, Selena Gomez, and Alessia Cara were also allegedly copied.

According to Genius, Google’s actions could threaten the contractual protections of other companies that aggregate user-generated content or information. The lower court’s decision could have far-reaching consequences.

Google denies the allegations, stating that it licenses lyrics from third-party sources and does not crawl or scrape websites for information. The company also dismissed Genius’s warnings of damage to other businesses as “alarmist hyperbole.”

Google won a case in May in the Supreme Court, which found that YouTube cannot be held liable for hosting terrorist videos.

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