Supreme Court refuses to hear Genius v Google and LyricFind’s Stolen Lyrics case

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About 16 months after an appellate court ruled in favor of Google and text platform LyricFind in a lawsuit by rival text database Genius, the Supreme Court has denied a request to hear the case.

The Supreme Court today formally denied Genius’ request for a certiorari. The relevant list of orders shows only that the petition (like the vast majority of petitions submitted) had not received the necessary support from at least four judges. At the time of writing, Brooklyn-based Genius, which has been a subsidiary of Imgur-owner MediaLab since September 2021, didn’t seem to be concerned with social media development.

But the rejection comes nearly three years after a district court first sided with Google and LyricFind; In a $50 million complaint in December 2019, Genius accused the latter company, which has an agreement with Google, of removing lyrics without permission. Genius – which currently has 110 million monthly users and 174 million average monthly page views, according to MediaLab’s website – said it confirmed the alleged copy by alternating between straight and curved apostrophes in its work.

These alternating apostrophes, written “caught in the act” in Morse code, later appeared on certain Google search results pages; LyricFind then responded by describing the copied lyrics as a “tiny” part of its overall database.

As a result, in the nearly four-year-old lawsuit, Genius accused defendants (among other things) of violating its terms of service, redirecting web traffic, and in turn, forfeiting “license and advertising revenue.” But in both the August 2020 dismissal and the March 2022 appeal decision originally mentioned, the court found that copyright law barred the breach of contract claims because Genius itself did not own the rights to the protected works at hand.

“Clearly we do not believe that there are any breach of contract claims relating to copyrighted material never anticipated,” the Court of Appeals explained the matter in its 12-page ruling. “We merely believe that Genius’ claim is qualitatively indistinguishable from a copyright claim based on the specific facts alleged by Genius in its complaint and is therefore anticipated.”

Two weeks ago, YouTube and Grammy-winning composer Maria Schneider ended their legal battle over alleged Content ID discrimination after Schneider failed to obtain a class action lawsuit in the long-running lawsuit. And earlier this year, following a lengthy trial, YouTube Music made real-time lyrics available to users on both Android and iOS devices.