Last year, Genius made headlines when it used a "watermark" made up of alternating styles of apostrophes that spelled out "red handed" in Morse code to highlight what it said was Google scraping its annotated lyrics. While the move was clever, it hasn't paid off.
On Tuesday, a federal court dismissed the lawsuit Genius had launched against the search giant when it shared the evidence it collected. While the judge who presided over the case said Genius' concerns about data scraping were legitimate, he ultimately didn't agree with the company's argument that Google's actions constituted copyright infringement. According to The Hollywood Reporter, at the center of the case was whether Genius owned the copyright to the song lyrics on its website. In Judge Margo Brodie's view, adding elements like annotations to lyrics did not give Genius ownership over them. Those rights ultimately belong to the musicians who wrote the songs in the first place, he said.
Google has consistently maintained it does not scrape other websites for their data. "We do not crawl or scrape websites to source these lyrics," Google said in a blog post before Genius sued the company. "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.”
Despite the legal win, the issue is unlikely to go away. As The Verge points out, the topic of Google scraping data from its competitors is something that came up during the recent antitrust hearing the company took part in last month. Another company that has accused Google of stealing its data is Yelp. In one of the more heated exchanges during the panel, lawmaker David Cicilline questioned Google CEO Sundar Pichai about Yelp. Touching on Yelp's complaints, he asked the executive if he thought Google had acted in a way that was anti-competitive toward the company. "When I run the company, I'm really focused on giving users what they want," Pichai said. "We conduct ourselves to the highest standard."