Genius hid Morse code in song lyrics to prove Google was cheating

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Credit: Olly Curtis/Future Publishing via Getty ImagesLyrics site Genius has reported dropping traffic since Google introduced its information panel feature for song words in 2014. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Genius Media is known to let users search for hard lyrics in rap and hip-hop songs.

While Google says it's working with LyricFind in this regard, Genius.com claims that it discovered the search company was copying its content after implementing a hidden watermarking system.

Genius notified Google in 2017, and then in April of this year that copied transcriptions appeared on Google Search.

Genius changed its site in 2016 and started watermarking their lyrics in a rather interesting way.

Ask Google what the lyrics to a particular song are and the chances are that the search results will display them in an info pane as well as links to lyrics sites. After the Journal story was published yesterday, Google released a new statement saying that it was investigating the claims made by Genius and would cut ties with the third party lyric suppliers who were not doing the right thing.

So how did Genius find out Google is stealing from them? They were the only ones to use this method and they knew when Google showed the quotes in this fashion that Google was indeed picking up the lyrics from their web site. Genius might not have much success if it pursues a case directly, since it doesn't own the lyrics - it's just allowed to display them. The search giant on the other hands said that the lyrics that show up in a small box (called Information Panels) in search results were licenced from partners and were not created by Google. Converting the two distinctive apostrophe marks into the dots and dashes used in Morse code, the sequence used by Genius spells out "Red Handed" as in, "We've caught you red-handed".

"We take data quality and creator rights very serious and hold our licensing partners accountable to the terms of our agreement", Google told the Wall Street Journal in a statement.

You wouldn't have thought that Google would need to cheat on its homework considering it's one of the most powerful and well funded companies in the world.

Google also said that it would review its licensing agreements with partners and terminate those "not upholding good practices".

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