Google Says It Didn’t Scrape Data from Genius

Posted on June 19, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google with 34 Comments

Two days after the Genius media website accused Google of scraping its song lyric data, the online giant issued a simple retort: We didn’t do it.

“We do not crawl or scrape websites to source [song] lyrics,” Google’s Satyajeet Salgar explains. “The lyrics that you see in information boxes on Search come directly from lyrics content providers, and they are updated automatically as we receive new lyrics and corrections on a regular basis.”

In other words, it was one of Google’s lyric content providers that scraped Genius’s lyrics. Not Google.

“We’ve asked our lyrics partners to investigate the issue to ensure that they’re following industry best practices in their approach,” he continues. “We always strive to uphold high standards of conduct for ourselves and from the partners we work with.”

Google hasn’t named the partner that it suspects of scraping data from Genius.

This incident is an interesting example of the knee-jerk reaction that often occurs in the wake of news stories involving Big Tech. As our own Brad Sams noted, “Google wields a significant amount of power over what and how users see content,” and this alleged lyrics scraping represented “one more piece of evidence of the company potentially abusing its position in the marketplace.”

The assumption by many, of course, was that Google was guilty. But it seems now that it was a Google partner, and not Google, that stole Genius’ data without attribution.

Tagged with

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (34)

34 responses to “Google Says It Didn’t Scrape Data from Genius”

  1. wright_is

    So, they are only guilty of receiving stolen goods? Fencing stolen goods? ;-)

  2. Sprtfan

    Doing a little digging and it seems more complicated than this but ultimately Google probably didn't do anything wrong and the story got blown out of proportion. Sounds like Lyricfind might have been the 3rd party that Google was getting lyrics from and Genius has been going after them for a while about taking their lyrics. Little was being done to stop it so Genius might have pointed at Google in hopes of making something happen?

    All that said, as long as you license the lyrics from the publisher, it really might not make a difference were you actually get the lyrics from. Genius license to the lyrics does not grant it any other rights beyond being able to display those lyrics itself. It has no exclusivity. It doesn't hold the copyright. I'm sure someone will point out if I'm wrong but this was my take on it and maybe Genius is adding something unique of value but if it is just the lyrics, I can't see that being the case.

  3. nbplopes

    Why would a tech company with the expertise of Google hire another company to do the scraping?

    heck they already scrape the data for indexing an search. How do people think they feed the search engine?

    • rxminus

      In reply to nbplopes:

      They didn't hire a company to do scraping...that's the point. They license buckets of content from partners so they don't have to individually license every song. If that partner doesn't have a license themselves and instead scraped the data then they are in violation of their agreement with Google.

  4. Bats

    "Morse Code Helps Prove Google is Stealing Content from" - Brad Sams

    "Google has been found to be using content from without attribution, this is one more piece of evidence of the company potentially abusing its position in the marketplace" - Brad Sams


  5. nobody9

    This is such a long-standing non-story, along the likes of that other over-hyped topic, aka millenial bartender-turned-politician. Why should public song-lyrics be the exclusive property of anyone that didn't write/sing them in the first place? Get a life people!

    • rxminus

      In reply to nobody9:

      They are not public lyrics. They are copyrighted works the moment they are written down by the author (although often those rights are transferred to the publisher). They then they have the option to give other people the right to copy / distribute those lyrics. It's as if you buy an expensive painting, a friend comes by your house and makes a picture of it and starts selling that picture online.

  6. dontbe evil

    LOL ... what a surprise /s

  7. dnwheeler

    Google is licensing the lyrics from the publishers and has a legal right to display them. Where they got the copies they display isn't relevant. Genius has no copyright on their copy - switching the apostrophes doesn't make this a new creative work.

  8. markmagnus

    Since Google never deletes any data, it should be simple for them to scan their own records and identify whose submissions had the Morse code in them. Be interesting to see if it came from more than once source. Any bets?

  9. melinau

    The "Nuffink to do wiv me guv" gambit.

    Google published the lyrics, so in any context other than Internet Lala land should take responsibility for what they publish. Typical of the arrogance of Big Tech

  10. train_wreck

    They actually did name the partner. “LyricFind”.

  11. lvthunder

    Wow what a pass you are giving. I bet you wouldn't be giving Apple that same pass you are giving to Google.

    It is Google who is ultimately responsible for what ends up on Google's website. Obviously just their content that isn't user generated. Google is big enough they should of bought the rights for the lyrics from the song writers and not some third party.

  12. MikeGalos

    Either way Google is responsible.

    Their defense is equivalent to saying, "We didn't steal those televisions, your honor. We just based our business off retailing sets we bought from a guy who told us they fell off the back of a truck."

  13. John Muir

    Don't suppose you could list the evidence or an example of the morse code in the source ?

Leave a Reply