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Google won't face Genius lawsuit over claims of copying song lyrics

A federal judge has dismissed Genius' lawsuit over claims Google was scraping song lyrics.

Published onAugust 11, 2020

  • A federal judge has dismissed Genius’ lawsuit over claims Google was scraping song lyrics.
  • Genius was supposedly just trying to enforce someone else’s copyright law, not its own claims.
  • The court also tossed out allegations of unfair competition.

Genius has lost its bid to sue Google for allegedly scraping song lyrics.

The Hollywood Reporter has learned that New York federal judge Margo Brodie dismissed Genius’ claims against Google in a ruling on August 10. Brodie determined that Genius was overstepping its limits by launching copyright claims it didn’t have the authority to make.

Genius’ breach of contract claims were just attempts to “enforce the copyright holders’ exclusive rights” against unauthorized copying, the judge said. It only controlled “derivative works,” and the copyrights in this case ultimately belonged to the musicians. Precedent required that Genius show there was an “extra element” (such as contractual requirements) for a state claim to survive, and Genius reportedly couldn’t show this.

Brodie also tossed out Genius’ unfair competition claim, noting that the lyrics provider hadn’t accused Google of violating any duty or “confidential relationship.”

The judge also rejected Genius’ move to have the case returned to a state court, effectively shutting down the lawsuit.

Read more: Google finally shows song lyrics in search results

It’s not certain what Genius will do next. Android Authority has asked Genius and Google for comment.

Genius claimed to have “irrefutable” evidence of Google scraping lyrics for its own purposes, pointing to a special pattern of apostrophes used to catch thieves. There were over 100 examples, Genius said. Google denied the accusations, noting that it got lyrics from partners. If there was any copying going on, Google argued, those third parties were to blame.

The decision ends uncertainty over Google’s lyrics, at least for now. You can search for the verses from a favorite song and still expect to find them as you have before. Not that Google can rest at the moment. It’s still facing close scrutiny from Congress and other government bodies, including claims it tried to sink Yelp by stealing content. This is one victory in a war it’s not guaranteed to win.

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