A state court docket has dismissed a high-profile case exhibiting unsportsmanlike conduct by Google, which was caught red-handed utilizing lyrics clearly scraped from Genius. Sadly for the latter, the complaints quantity to a copyright violation — which wasn’t what the plaintiffs alleged, sinking the case.
The lawsuit, filed in December, accused Google of violating Genius’s phrases of use and unjustly enriching itself by scraping lyrics on the location to be displayed on searches for songs. So, as an example, somebody looking for “Your Love is Killing Me lyrics” can be proven the lyrics instantly as an alternative of being despatched to a website like Genius that hosted them.
That’s honest play, besides when the lyrics are taken instantly from these websites (instantly or by way of an confederate) with out permission or attribution — and Genius proved that Google was doing this by cleverly hiding “RED HANDED” inside lyrics, utilizing Morse code shaped from curly and straight apostrophes. Devious!
Caught thus, Google stated it will mend its methods, and shortly was caught once more, doing the identical factor utilizing the identical methodology. It’s definitely sufficient to make you wish to see the massive G take some licks, and Genius filed a lawsuit hoping to realize simply that.
The issue is that this: Genius isn’t the copyright holder for these lyrics, it simply licenses them itself. Its allegations towards Google, Decide Margo Brodie of the Jap District of New York decided, quantity to copyright violations, in nature if not in identify, and copyright is outdoors Brodie’s jurisdiction.
Plaintiff’s allegations that Defendants “scraped” and used their lyrics for revenue quantity to allegations that Defendants made unauthorized reproductions of Plaintiff’s lyric transcriptions and profited off of these unauthorized reproductions, which is conduct that falls underneath federal copyright legislation.
As to allegations of unfair enterprise conduct, Brodie says these too are copyright disputes:
Plaintiff has not alleged that Defendants breached any fiduciary responsibility or confidential relationship, or that Defendants misappropriated Plaintiff’s commerce secrets and techniques. As a substitute, Plaintiff’s claims are exactly the kind of misappropriation claims that courts have constantly held are preempted by the Copyright Act.
As a result of all of the causes for grievance are preempted by federal legislation, Brodie actually has no alternative however to kick the case out:
On condition that the Courtroom finds that every one of Plaintiff’s state legislation claims are preempted by the Copyright Act, and Plaintiff has not asserted any federal legislation claims, the Courtroom dismisses the Criticism for failure to state a declare.
It’s a bit disappointing, in fact, to see an organization like Google have interaction in shenanigans and get away with it (although allow us to not overlook that Genius has engaged in some shenanigans of its personal). However the authorized system is all about crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s. If somebody steals your pockets, you don’t accuse them of embezzlement, although they’re sort of the identical factor.
On this case Genius’s authorized group wanted to carry a copyright grievance, however probably have been unable to because of not being the copyright homeowners themselves. (Copyright legislation is notoriously obtuse, particularly in questions of digital copies and licensing.)
Genius might file a brand new lawsuit or simply reduce their losses, having given Google a really public black eye; the scraping observe even bought some play through the current tech antitrust hearings in Congress. Actually Google is on discover — however make no mistake, they’re popping champagne in Mountain View tonight.