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‘Genius’ Site Said It Used Morse Code To Catch Google Stealing Song Lyrics

“Genius.com says its traffic is dropping because, for the past several years, Google has been publishing lyrics on its own platform, with some of them lifted directly from the music site,” reports the Wall Street Journal:

Google denies doing anything nefarious. Still, Genius’s complaints offer a window into the challenges small tech companies can face when the unit of Alphabet Inc. starts offering competing services on its platform… Genius said it notified Google as far back as 2017, and again in an April letter, that copied transcriptions appear on Google’s website. The April letter, a copy of which was viewed by the Journal, warned that reuse of Genius’s transcriptions breaks the Genius.com terms of service and violates antitrust law.

“Over the last two years, we’ve shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius,” said Ben Gross, Genius’s chief strategy officer, in an email message…. Genius said it found more than 100 examples of songs on Google that came from its site. Starting around 2016, Genius made a subtle change to some of the songs on its website, alternating the lyrics’ apostrophes between straight and curly single-quote marks in exactly the same sequence for every song. When the two types of apostrophes were converted to the dots and dashes used in Morse code, they spelled out the words “Red Handed.”

Genius is a privately held company, and its investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Emagen Investment Group and the rapper Nas… Genius clients include the music streaming website Spotify Technology SA and Apple Inc.
The article also notes March study from web-analytics firm Jumpshot Inc. which found 62% of mobile searches on Google now don’t result in the user clicking through to a non-Google web site.


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