Earlier this week, Genius, a song lyrics web site, accused Google of stealing its lyrics without a proper licensing agreement. Google responded to those accusations in a blog post Tuesday, saying, again, that it “licenses the lyrics text from third parties” and does “not crawl or scrape websites to source these lyrics.” However, it is going to begin attributing licensed content to its partners.

Why we should care. Google said it will “soon include attribution to the third party providing the digital lyrics text.” This is something Google does not often do when it comes to content it licenses to show in search results. It does show the source of information for featured snippets and other forms of content but typically not for licensed content. Now users and site owners will know for certain where licensed content was sourced from.

Payment for content. Because “music publishers often don’t have digital copies of the lyrics text,” Google said, “In these cases, we—like music streaming services and other companies—license the lyrics text from third parties.”

Google said it licenses this content to “ensure that the songwriters are paid for their creative work.” Google wrote, “To do that, we pay music publishers for the right to display lyrics, since they manage the rights to these lyrics on behalf of the songwriters.”

LyricFind. LyricFind is a Google licensing partner, and may be the source of the Genius content appearing in Google’s search results. LyricFind published an explanation on its web site Monday, saying, “Some time ago, Ben Gross from Genius notified LyricFind that they believed they were seeing Genius lyrics in LyricFind’s database. As a courtesy to Genius, our content team was instructed not to consult Genius as a source. Recently, Genius raised the issue again and provided a few examples. All of those examples were also available on many other lyric sites and services, raising the possibility that our team unknowingly sourced Genius lyrics from another location. As a result, LyricFind offered to remove any lyrics Genius felt had originated from them, even though we did not source them from Genius’ site. Genius declined to respond to that offer. Despite that, our team is currently investigating the content in our database and removing any lyrics that seem to have originated from Genius.”


About The Author

google-to-add-attribution-to-licensed-lyrics-providers Google to add attribution to licensed lyrics providers
Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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