Editor's take: I'm no legal expert but it sounds as if this was a failure by Genius' legal team. In hindsight, had they taken a different route with their lawsuit, perhaps it would have stood a better chance at success. Maybe they should regroup and try again?
Google added song lyrics to its search results in 2014. Not long after, one of the web’s largest lyrics providers, Genius, suspected the Mountain View-based tech giant was scraping lyrics from its site to power its own lyrics service.
The company set a trap in which it embedded a series of straight and curly apostrophes in some song lyrics. When decoded, the string of characters spelled out “Red Handed” in Morse code. According to Genius, it found more than 100 examples of its booby-trapped lyrics being used by Google.
Genius took the matter a step further and filed a lawsuit against Google in December. This week, however, those efforts ended in defeat.
US District Judge Margo Brodie of the Eastern District of New York rejected Genius’ claims on Monday, essentially noting that Genius isn’t the copyright holder of the lyrics in question. Those rights remain with the artists that wrote the 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,” Judge Brodie wrote.
“Given that the Court finds that all of Plaintiff’s state law claims are preempted by the Copyright Act, and Plaintiff has not asserted any federal law claims, the Court dismisses the Complaint for failure to state a claim,” the judge added.