The lawsuit accusing Google of scraping song lyrics from the website Genius has been dismissed. The decision was made by Margo K. Brodie, a federal judge for the Eastern District of New York, who ruled that while the tech giant had in fact scraped the content, the act did not constitute a copyright violation since Genius does not own the lyrics it hosts.

Genius first brought Google to court in December 2019 after it noticed the tech giant had scraped hidden watermarks, which appeared in search results without crediting Genius. In particular, the site hid a Morse code message in certain lyrics that spelled out “red handed.” Google hit back at the claims of scraping, stating that the lyrics it shows in its results “come directly from lyrics content providers.”

Brodie ruled that while Genius licenses the lyrics it hosts and adds additional content like commentary and analyses, the lyrics are ultimately the property of the artists that wrote them or the labels that own them. Genius’ transcriptions of and additions to the lyrics were ultimately determined by Brodie to be derivative works.

Google has long faced criticism for possibly taking content from other companies, a practice referred to as “scraping.” Yelp has been one of the most significant voices accusing the search engine company of stealing its content. The criticism has been so present that it was a major area of questioning when CEO Sundar Pichai recently appeared before a House antitrust committee.

“When I run the company, I’m really focused on giving users what they want,” Pichai said in response to questions about scraping from committee head Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I. “We conduct ourselves to the highest standard.”

Google reported a rare drop in revenue in results that largely met expectations during what the company called "a difficult global economic environment Google reported a rare drop in revenue in results that largely met expectations during what the company called "a difficult global economic environment" Photo: AFP / Robyn Beck