LyricFind: It’s possible that we ‘unknowingly’ pinched Genius lyrics for Google search results

Google’s lyrics partner LyricFind has responded to Genius’s accusation that its lyrics have been copied and published in Google search results.

A Wall Street Journal article on June 16 suggested that Google has been publishing lyrics taken directly from Genius.

Genius knows this, explains the article, because it inserted a sequence of punctuation into its lyrics that spelled out “Red Handed” when converted to Morse code.

Ben Gross, Genius’s Chief Strategy Officer, told the WSJ: “Over the last two years, we’ve shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius.”

Now LyricFind has addressed the claim in a blog post published on Monday (June 17) that seeks to “address the inaccuracies in the initial article and the reporting that followed”.

LyricFind explains that the lyrics it uses are taken from multiple sources before being edited, corrected and then published.

As a result, it concedes that its team may have “unknowingly” taken lyrics from a source that originally copied them from Genius, but that it “offered to remove any lyrics Genius felt had originated from them, even though we did not source them from Genius’ site”.

Genius allegedly declined that offer.

“Genius provided a few examples [of where it said lyricfind had pinched its lyric transcriptions]… All of those examples were also available on many other lyric sites and services, raising the possibility that our team unknowingly sourced Genius lyrics from another location.”

LyricFind

“Some time ago, Ben Gross from Genius notified LyricFind that they believed they were seeing Genius lyrics in LyricFind’s database,” writes LyricFind.

“As a courtesy to Genius, our content team was instructed not to consult Genius as a source. Recently, Genius raised the issue again and provided a few examples.

“All of those examples were also available on many other lyric sites and services, raising the possibility that our team unknowingly sourced Genius lyrics from another location.”

Adds LyricFind: “It should be reiterated that Genius themselves have no ownership of the lyric rights – music publishers and songwriters do.

“Genius sources lyrics from user submissions, and those users may not be transcribing from scratch.”


As reported today (June 19) by Music Ally, Google published its own blog post yesterday (June 18) denying the allegations.

“We do not crawl or scrape websites to source these lyrics,” writes Google.

“The lyrics that you see in information boxes on Search come directly from lyrics content providers, and they are updated automatically as we receive new lyrics and corrections on a regular basis.”

“We do not crawl or scrape websites to source these lyrics.”

Google

“We’ve asked our lyrics partner to investigate the issue to ensure that they’re following industry best practices in their approach.

“We always strive to uphold high standards of conduct for ourselves and from the partners we work with.”

Google adds that it will start including attribution to third parties that provide lyrics text, to make it clearer where they come from.

Adds Google: “We will continue to take an approach that respects and compensates rights-holders, and ensures that music publishers and songwriters are paid for their work.”


New York-based Genius was founded in 2009 as ‘Rap Genius’ focused on “annotating clever rap lyrics”.

The company says that it currently serves lyrics to over 100 million people each month and boasts a network of 2m contributors, editors, and musicians.

Genius closed a $15 million funding round in March last year.

Genius made Apple Music its official music player in October, but continues to power Spotify’s ‘Behind the Lyrics’ feature.

You can read the full statement from LyricFind below, and Google’s blog post can be found here.


Recently, a Wall Street Journal reporter proceeded with an article accusing Google of scraping lyrics from Genius and placing them in Google’s search results, despite clear responses from both LyricFind and Google that this was not the case. To address the inaccuracies in the initial article and the reporting that followed, we would like to correct the record in this matter.

The lyrics in question were provided to Google by LyricFind, as was confirmed to WSJ prior to publication. Google licenses lyrics content from music publishers (the rightful owner of the lyrics) and from LyricFind. To accuse them of any wrongdoing is extremely misleading.

LyricFind invests heavily in a global content team to build its database. That content team will often start their process with a copy of the lyric from numerous sources (including direct from artists, publishers, and songwriters), and then proceed to stream, correct, and synchronize that data. Most content our team starts with requires significant corrections before it goes live in our database.

Some time ago, Ben Gross from Genius notified LyricFind that they believed they were seeing Genius lyrics in LyricFind’s database. As a courtesy to Genius, our content team was instructed not to consult Genius as a source. Recently, Genius raised the issue again and provided a few examples. All of those examples were also available on many other lyric sites and services, raising the possibility that our team unknowingly sourced Genius lyrics from another location.

As a result, LyricFind offered to remove any lyrics Genius felt had originated from them, even though we did not source them from Genius’ site. Genius declined to respond to that offer. Despite that, our team is currently investigating the content in our database and removing any lyrics that seem to have originated from Genius.

Genius claims, and the WSJ repeated, that there are 100 lyrics from Genius in our database. To put this into perspective, our database currently contains nearly 1.5 million lyrics. In the last year alone, our content team created approximately 100,000 new lyric files. The scale of Genius’ claims is minuscule and clearly not systemic.

It should be reiterated that Genius themselves have no ownership of the lyric rights – music publishers and songwriters do. Genius sources lyrics from user submissions, and those users may not be transcribing from scratch. LyricFind has a fifteen-year history of proper licensing and payments to rightsholders, and we’re extremely proud of our role in creating this valuable revenue stream for songwriters. We’ll continue that mission.Music Business Worldwide

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