The Genius Way Google Was Caught Scraping Lyrics


Music site, Genius has recently accused Google of scraping lyrics from its site. If you listened to your favorite song and wanted to look up the lyrics to ace up your karaoke skills, you probably went to Google, searched for the song or part of the lyrics and Google would show you a box of the said lyrics in full as part of its search results – Genius now thinks Google has been copying its lyrics.

Genius claims traffic to its site has dropped in recent years as Google has posted lyrics on Lyrics OneBox instead of directing users to lyric sites like Genius.

It is worth noting that 62% of mobile searches on Google didn’t result in a user clicking through to another website. For desktop searches, its 35% which is up by 9% since 2016.

Genius changed its site in 2016 and started watermarking their lyrics in a rather interesting way. The music site started alternating apostrophes between straight and curved marks in exactly the same sequence for every song to form a type of watermark. When translated to morse code, the apostrophes spell out “Red Handed”

This allegation was first revealed in 2016 by a Genius software engineer who noticed Desiigner’s Panda lyrics looked familiar, according to the Wall Street Journal. The rap artist had submitted the lyrics himself to the site. Genius has found more than 100 instances since then who also notified Google.

Google said that the lyrics are licensed from partners such as LyricFind and that it is going to investigate the matter and cut ties with partners with bad practices. LyricFind has denied that it scraped the lyrics from Genius.

Some people already have an issue with this whole drama as evidenced by this reply:

This other tweet confirms it

And this interesting thread that summaries everything:


Apparently, this isn’t the first time these two have been in conflict. In 2012, the music site Genius( at that time it went by RapGenius) used dubious methods such as spammy SEO tactics to outrank itself on Google’s search page. Google clapped back and banished the site to the bottom of the 6th page of results of searches for “Rap Genius.” where nobody really clicks.