Genius.com Accuses Google of Lifting Its Content

From the WSJ:

“Over the last two years, we’ve shown Google irrefutable evidence again and again that they are displaying lyrics copied from Genius,” said Ben Gross, Genius’s chief strategy officer, in an email message. The company said it used a watermarking system in its lyrics that embedded patterns in the formatting of apostrophes. Genius said it found more than 100 examples of songs on Google that came from its site.

Starting around 2016, Genius made a subtle change to some of the songs on its website, alternating the lyrics’ apostrophes between straight and curly single-quote marks in exactly the same sequence for every song.
When the two types of apostrophes were converted to the dots and dashes used in Morse code, they spelled out the words “Red Handed.”

This is a pretty egregious report if you ask me. Also, it’s a really badass way of catching Google redhanded. Love that.

Google just loves to get down-and-dirty, and equally so, loves to play coy in these kinds of scenarios. Google was lifting content verbatim (through a third-party or not). Gave the stolen content search prominence. To top it off, — genius.com lyrics, links to the artist, and god-forbid, links to the actual song were seemingly buried.

Everyone knows people don’t like to scroll in search results. It’s tiresome and takes time. Precious time. Getting relevant search results to users as fast as possible is the name of the game for Google — but at what cost? Why is Google regurgitating crawled content as their own?

It also means Google is directing a smaller share of those queries to other sites. In March, 62% of mobile searches on Google didn’t result in a user clicking through to another website, according to the web-analytics firm Jumpshot Inc.

Apparently, it’s in their absolute best interest to not send you to a search result anymore. My thought process is, if you search for X at google.com for 20 seconds, then later begin a search for Y, you no longer have to “go back” to begin the search process over again. You can just re-open your last window and start searching again. Which, I get it — but I’m searching for something. Please give it to me. I don’t want Google’s remixed results (or any AMP content for that matter), I want a damn link.

The longer Google can keep you on-site, the higher probability you may be served an ad, or click through a privacy-violating vortex. Genius might not have a solid case against Google, especially considering the lyrics in dispute are owned by artists and/or record labels. But that’s not the point here — the point is we now have a record of Google actively lying about sourcing crawled content, claiming it as their own, and actively promoting in search results over websites.

If this pattern holds, the web will become a grim, cold place. A place of unconnected nodes, where good ideas, and links go to die because Google doesn’t give a shit what we want. Don’t get me wrong. Google makes some insanely great products. Search and display ads are their bread-and-butter, so why on Earth is Ben Gomes mucking up search like this? Something tells me, this isn’t coincidence. Ever since Giannandrea departed, stories like this have become more and more frequent. Something is going on at The Googleplex.

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