Lyric media website Genius accused Google of stealing its content amid rising interest in investigating the search giant for potential antitrust violations.
Genius.com said its traffic has dropped over the past several years because Google has been stealing its content and publishing lyrics on its own platform.
Google denies the accusation; however, the report arises amongst interest in investigating America’s largest tech companies.
The Donald Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly preparing for an antitrust investigation of the search giant.
Genius said that it notified Google in 2017, as well as in April of this year, that it had copied transcriptions on Google’s websites. The April letter warned that reusing Genius’ transcriptions breaks the Genius terms of service, and also violates antitrust law.
“Over the last two years, we’ve shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius,” Ben Gross, Genius’ chief strategy officer, said in an email to the Wall Street Journal.
Gross revealed that the company used a watermarking system to embed patterns in the formatting apostrophes. Genius reportedly found more than 100 examples of songs on Google that came from its site.
Genius made changes to the song formatting on its site, alternating the lyrics’ apostrophes between straight and curly single-quote marks in the same sequence for every song. When one translates the two types of apostrophes into dots and dashes in Morse code, it spells out, “Red Handed.”
In a statement to the Journal, Google said the lyrics on its site, which arise in search result squares called “information panels,” are licensed from partners and not created by Google.
“We take data quality and creator rights very seriously and hold our licensing partners accountable to the terms of our agreement,” Google suggested.
On Friday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai warned against the “unintended consequences” of regulating large tech companies such as Google and Facebook.
The Google chief’s interview with CNN arises as reports suggest that the search giant has fired half a dozen of its largest lobbying firms in an attempt to revitalize its policy and government affairs operations.
Pichai explained, “I worry that if you regulate for the sake of regulating it, it has a lot of unintended consequences. It will have implications for our national security and … for other important areas of society. Having leadership ends up being really critical.”