Genius.com is accusing Google of copying its lyrics and displaying them in search results, contributing in part to a broader slide in the site’s traffic, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Music fans have for years relied on Genius to suss out what musical artists are saying as well as the meaning behind the words. But Google has jumped into the game as well, displaying lyrics in search results and cutting out the need to visit a particular lyrics company’s website.
A few years back, Genius got suspicious that Google was simply lifting its content wholesale — an accusation the search giant denies — and the website devised a ploy to catch them.
It started in 2016, when Genius got exclusive access to the lyrics for hit song “Panda” by Desiigner. That meant their rendition was spot on while lyrics at most other places were strewn with errors and miscues.
That is, except for Google.
“We noticed that Google’s lyrics matched our lyrics down to the character,” Dan Gross, Genius’ chief strategy officer, told the Journal in an email.
So Genius started creating unique patterns in its lyrics by alternating the font of apostrophes between curly and straight. When you converted the sequence of apostrophes to Morse code, it spelled out “red handed,” according to the Journal.