Genius, founded in 2009, describes itself as a "platform for smart interpretation of lyrics" and has expanded to other types of music, where music lovers annotate and discuss their favorite songs. Genius Media reports that Google has been copying its lyrics, according to the Wall Street Journal. The website says it has been suing search giants for years.
In a statement to The Verge, Genius Chief Strategic Officer Ben Gross said that the company "has shown Google, time and again, irrefutable evidence that they have copied the lyrics from Genius in the Lyric OneBox. This is a serious problem that Google needs to solve.
The site uses an ingenious technique to find out if its lyrics are actually copied and redistributed: it uses a series of alternating straight and italic apostrophes to form a watermarking in the lyrics it hosts. The word "Red Handed" can be seen by converting the pattern to Morse code. Foreign media have contacted Google for comment, but the company told the Wall Street Journal that it authorized content from third-party LyricFind Inc, which "takes data quality and creator rights very seriously and holds our license partners accountable for the terms of our agreement. "LyricFind denied that it used Genius's lyrics.
In a statement to The Verge, a Google spokesman confirmed that the information in search results was licensed from various sources and said that the company was "investigating this issue with our data partners, and if we find that our partners have not adhered to good practices, we will end our agreement."