Back in 2019 before we were arguing over the merits of masks, we heard about a lawsuit against Google brought by Genius.

That lawsuit alleged that Google had stolen lyrics from Genius. The way Genius discovered this was rather spectacular. The firm used different fonts for its apostrophes and quotation marks to create Morse Code.

It’s clever, there is no denying that, but does lifting lyrics from Genius qualify as a breach of its terms of service?

While Genius thought so, Google thought that perhaps Genius was trying to claim that copyright had been breached. This is where things start to get messy. Genius does have a license to use song lyrics, but that doesn’t mean it owns those lyrics.

“Plaintiff’s breach of contract claims are nothing more than claims seeking to enforce the copyright owners’ exclusive rights to protection from unauthorized reproduction of the lyrics and are therefore preempted,” wrote US District Court Judge, Margo Brodie.

While the judge did state that data scraping is a concern, overall Genius’ case was built on match sticks.

In short, Genius doesn’t own the copyright to those lyrics and has no say as to how they are used. Sure, Genius puts work into collating those lyrics, adding annotations and more, but that isn’t enough to give the firm ownership over the lyrics.

As far as the judge is concerned Genius doesn’t have a case.

As for Genius, well, now that everybody knows about its little Morse Code trick, we suspect that we won’t be seeing a case like this again.

[Source – The Hollywood Reporter] [Image – CC 0 Pixabay]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.