Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

According to The Wall Street Journal (via Rolling Stone), lyrics database Genius (formerly Rap Genius before it branched out into other genres) has accused Google of stealing its content and reposting it without permission, leading to a noticeable dip in Genius’ traffic that seems to coincide with an increased effort from Google to directly list song lyrics in search results instead of actually directing searchers to sites like Genius. Google can post all the song lyrics it wants to post, but Genius says it knows Google is stealing lyrics directly from its site because of a secret “Morse code” system that utilized two different kinds of apostrophes to spell out the words “red handed”—as in “you’ve been caught red-handed.”

Genius told The Wall Street Journal that it has confronted Google with “irrefutable evidence” that it is reposting Genius’ content, with the search result lyrics matching Genius’ “down to the character.” Google, of course, has denied all of this through a site called LyricFind, which Google says has been providing it with the lyrics in search results directly from music publishers. You could argue that shifting any blame to a third party is exactly what a massive company look Google would do in this situation, but all we have to go on are the two sides of this dispute. Until the original artist comes along to put in an official annotation, we’ll just have to interpret it for ourselves. (That’s a Genius joke. It’s how the site works.)

Advertisement