Genius’s Attempts to Sue Google Over Song Lyrics Are Basically Dead

supreme-court-google-genius.jpg US-JUSTICE-ABORTION - Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
supreme-court-google-genius.jpg US-JUSTICE-ABORTION - Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The Supreme Court has rejected a bid from Genius to revive the lyrics website’s lawsuit against Google, which had accused the search engine of lifting lyrics transcriptions from Genius for millions of songs.

Genius’s lawsuit goes back to 2019, with the company seeking $50 million from Google over claims that Google was “misappropriating content from Genius’s website” and using it “for [Google’s] own financial benefit and… Genius’s financial detriment.” The rejection, one of many the Supreme Court issued on Monday, virtually cements Google’s victory.

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Genius’s claims were rocky, as the company didn’t have any ownership over the lyrics it shared on its site; those are owned solely by a song’s writers and publishers. The case was rejected by a lower court in 2020 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed that decision in March 2022. In its affirmation, the Court of Appeals ruled that the complaint should be treated like a copyright case, which severely weakened Genius’s case given that they have no ownership over the content in question. The Solicitor General had recommended the Supreme Court to reject the case earlier this year. (A rep for Genius did not immediately respond to request for comment.)

“We appreciate the Court’s decision, agreeing with the Solicitor General and multiple lower courts that Genius’ claims have no merit,” Google spokersperson José Castaneda said in a statement. “We license lyrics on Google Search from third parties, and we do not crawl or scrape websites to source lyrics.”

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