A state court dismissed a high-profile case showing unsportsmanlike behavior by Google, which was caught using lyrics that were obviously ripped from Genius. Unfortunately for the second case, the claims lead to piracy – which is not what the plaintiffs claim, sinking the lawsuit.
It̵7;s fair game, except when the lyrics are taken directly from those sites (either directly or through an accomplice) without permission or credit – and Genius proved that Google is doing it. This is by cleverly hiding the “RED HANDED” inside the lyrics, using a Morse code formed from curly and straight apostrophes. Winding!
As a result, Google said it would fix it its way and quickly get caught again, doing the same thing using the same method. It’s sure enough to make you want to see the big G do some lick, and Genius filed a lawsuit in the hopes of getting there.
The problem is: Genius is not the copyright holder of these lyrics, it licenses them only. Judge Margo Brodie of the Eastern District of New York determined that its allegation against Google was copyright infringement, in essence, if not in its name, and that copyright was outside Brodie’s jurisdiction.
Plaintiff’s allegations that the Respondent “truncated” and used their lyrics for profit on allegations that the Respondent illegally copied Plaintiff’s lyrics records and profited from such unauthorized copies are subject to federal copyright law.
As for the unfair business behavior allegations, Brodie said that those are also disputes over copyright:
The Plaintiff has not accused the Respondent of violating any fiduciary obligation or confidentiality relationship, or that the Respondent has appropriated the Plaintiff’s trade secrets. Instead, Plaintiffs’ claims are exactly the type of property appropriation claims held by the courts that have been preceded by Copyright Law.
Since all the causes of the complaint are denied by federal law, Brodie really had no choice but to dismiss the case:
Given that the Court finds that all claims under the Plaintiff’s state law are preferred by the Copyright Act and that the Plaintiff does not affirm any claim under federal law, the Court will dismiss. Complaints due to not making complaints.
Of course, it’s a bit disappointing to see a company like Google get into the bizarre and get out of it (though let’s not forget that Genius got into some of its own scams). But the legal system is all about getting past your t and dipping on your ego. If someone steals your wallet, you won’t accuse them of embezzlement, though species the same thing.
In this case, Genius’s legal team needs to file a copyright claim, but it could be because it’s not the copyright owner. (Copyright law is notoriously confusing, especially in questions about digital copies and licensing.)
Genius could file a new lawsuit or just cut their losses, leaving Google public; tapping operations have even been played in recent technology antitrust hearings in Congress. Sure Google is paying attention – but make no mistake, they’ll open up champagne in Mountain View tonight.