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Google Accused of Lifting Content From Lyrics Site

     
10:41 am on Jun 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The lyrics site, Genius, says it has evidence that Google is lifting content from its site and publishing it in information panels (rich snippets) on Google, and that since the change, the lyrics site has lost traffic.

Although the news of the accusation is new, most of us here know this has been going on.

When Google started it was sending traffic to the sites in its search. In recent years Google has become far more of a content display system and that traffic webmasters and publishers benefited from is going away.
Starting around 2016, Genius said, the company 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.”

In a written statement, Google said the lyrics on its site, which pop up in little search-result squares called “information panels,” are licensed from partners, not created by Google.

“We take data quality and creator rights very seriously and hold our licensing partners accountable to the terms of our agreement,” Google said.


[wsj.com...]

It's interesting that these are lyrics, which are, in the most part, not owned by Genius, so the argument might be about rights to display.
12:36 pm on June 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The traffic it "lost" was being given by the site it accuses. It never belonged to Genius so they really don't have a claim that they've lost anything. That being said the search engines produce NO content and what they show is 100% "borrowed". It's borrowed with the intent of helping the visitor find the source of borrowed content, or that's the unwritten agreement, and Goodle seems to be taking for it's own benefit a lot. On that front perhaps they have a case, as do we all.
1:37 pm on June 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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...is lifting content from its site

Genius has evidence that google is displaying content that may have (likely did) originated from their site, they do not have evidence that google "lifted" or scraped it.

It is possible, albeit a long shot, that Genus could have some recourse against the party that sold the content to google.

At the end of the day, good publicity for Genius but not much more.
2:11 pm on June 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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>At the end of the day, good publicity for Genius but not much more.

It's more than that, imho, because it's highlighting potential scrapers which become content sources. In addition, it's raising the profile of an issue we've all known since the decline of ten blue links.
2:42 pm on June 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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[slate.com...]

It's good to see that the full issue is getting coverage in the general press.
3:16 pm on June 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It's more than that, imho, because it's highlighting potential scrapers which become content sources.

This is an important topic. As Google seeks to use content in ways where there is no chance for the source of the content to benefit Google becomes the scraper.
4:23 pm on June 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Same type of issue as with Getty right? Google has no problem putting in licensing agreements (paying for other people's content) but for everyone else who is being scraped? Well, you don't have PR and you don't have a "voice", so you go without any type of agreement. Not because you deserve to be scraped, but rather it's because the web is all about whatever you can get away with, for as long as you can. Google responded to this story saying that they do pay for this type of usage. They don't however talk about all the other content that they lift from everyone else that populates the answer boxes. Only a matter of time for people to start caring. I hope I'm still alive to see that day. The funny thing is of course, that all the Google content will become "sponsored" content which is as trustworthy as what? What's worse? Sponsored posts or sponsored content? Full disclosure please for the sake of credibility.
10:05 am on June 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Same type of issue as with Getty right?


Getty is insufferable --

Stock images that in 2001 were free to use suddenly in 2013 were not free to use because Getty "claimed" the rights to them. They tried to extort quite a bit of money from us once upon a time, threatening court action.

Unbeknownst to Getty at the time, I happened to know "personally" the people that created those works (neither one of them were, and had never been, represented by Getty), and both I and one of those people paid Getty a visit at their branch office in Seattle -- Getty said that they had purchased the rights but were unable to produce any proof of the purchase.

As a result of that meeting, Getty vanished. They quit scraping our sites and I never heard from them again. They had been caught literally red-handed stealing for profit the very thing they claimed that someone else was stealing for profit.
11:16 am on June 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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One thing that I'm liking more and more... a kind of schadenfreude.

I think everyone has realized that Google's goal is to replace all "facts publishers" and present those facts right in the SERPs.
If this is your current business, better search for a new one.

Yet, as Google does this more and more, it becomes a publisher.
And, as it becomes a publisher, it gets more attention, more scrutiny.
Before, that attention, that scrutiny, went to the "original" publisher.
Google was only a mean to an end.
The public attention focus/scrutiny was dispersed, you had 10 results in the SERP, you had 10 entities to cry about.

As Google's replaces that 10 publishers with itself, all that public scrutiny will go to Google.
There's already some pressure but, it will be huge... the calls for regulation... the accusations of bias... the wrong facts...

Well... I can only imagine a giant pan filled with water and the fire under it is getting higher and higher.
It will boil but, when will it boil? And, when it boils to the point of no return, will it spill?

Poor Danny Sullivan, Google has rewarded his previous scrutiny over Google with a nice job.
How is it said? Revenge is a dish best served cold. :D
6:35 pm on June 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I would agree with your commentary. I disagree with your advice, but whatever.

My point with Getty was more around Google willing to pay people is enough of a S storm is created. It's called making problems go away, quickly. Lots of cash in-hand it seems. But of course once you start paying some, then the others will start asking why not us too? This conversation doesn't veer to far from what Cutts said prior to leaving when he was commenting on Google showing people's content. As in, Cutts was wondering out loud about paying for that usage.

As Lagonda stated, what's going on now will just amp up the scrutiny and the negative PR.

Bing is equally to blame in this type of activity but they are nothingburger in terms of impact. Same level of unethical though. Who needs video sites? Just need Bing video "search".
10:56 am on June 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I had not realised how much Google shows. It shows a large chunk of the lyrics. Not fair use, so they need a license. If their source does not give them a license AND have the right to give them a license then its a clear breach of copyright.
11:07 am on June 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Two articles that may be of interest here, at least for those who want to find out how ths system works or is supposed to work. I'm including some large excerpts from each, larger than what I'd normally consider fair use, as these are both effectively press releases, intended to be disseminated, and the stories are complex....

From Google...

How we help you find lyrics in Google Search
Satyajeet Salgar - Group Product Manager, Search
Published Jun 18, 2019

[blog.google...]

...Where the lyrics text comes from

Here’s something you might not know: music publishers often don’t have digital copies of the lyrics text. In these cases, we -- like music streaming services and other companies -- license the lyrics text from third parties.

We do not crawl or scrape websites to source these lyrics. 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....
And, in reaction to Genius's complaints....
...To help make it clearer where the lyrics come from, we’ll soon include attribution to the third party providing the digital lyrics text. We will continue to take an approach that respects and compensates rights-holders, and ensures that music publishers and songwriters are paid for their work.


Also... here's a clarification on the original WSJ story, from LyricFind... the company that Google used to provide the digital copies of the lyrics text for the songs in question.

LyricFind Offers Corrections to Inaccuracies in Wall Street Journal Reporting
Mon Jun 17, 2019
[lyricfind.com...]

Recently, a Wall Street Journal reporter proceeded with an article accusing Google of scraping lyrics from Genius and placing them in Google’s search results, despite clear responses from both LyricFind and Google that this was not the case. To address the inaccuracies in the initial article and the reporting that followed, we would like to correct the record in this matter.

The lyrics in question were provided to Google by LyricFind, as was confirmed to WSJ prior to publication. Google licenses lyrics content from music publishers (the rightful owner of the lyrics) and from LyricFind. To accuse them of any wrongdoing is extremely misleading.

LyricFind invests heavily in a global content team to build its database. That content team will often start their process with a copy of the lyric from numerous sources (including direct from artists, publishers, and songwriters), and then proceed to stream, correct, and synchronize that data. Most content our team starts with requires significant corrections before it goes live in our database...

The LyricFind article then describes the back and forth between Genius and and LyricFind, and details LyricFind's efforts to avoid using Genius content... and how this turned out to be more difficult than LyricFind assumed it would be.

Their summation, with my emphasis, below...
It should be reiterated that Genius themselves have no ownership of the lyric rights - music publishers and songwriters do. Genius sources lyrics from user submissions, and those users may not be transcribing from scratch. LyricFind has a fifteen-year history of proper licensing and payments to rightsholders, and we’re extremely proud of our role in creating this valuable revenue stream for songwriters. We’ll continue that mission.

7:14 pm on June 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Making lyrics the red herring of the bigger issue...
7:49 pm on June 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@MrSavage, yes, it is an even bigger problem that they are licensing content. That removes barriers to them becoming more of a publisher. If they become a monopoly publisher of web content, then that makes the enough of a monopoly to be a problem.

There is a similar problem with Amazon and ebooks, or Apple and iOS apps - they decide the payment system and rates, and if you want to reach their users you have to agree to their terms.
9:46 pm on June 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Here is an interesting article from SE Roundtable on the topic:
[seroundtable.com...]
Brian White, called out Google's ranking team for crediting the wrong band for the song Behind Blue Eyes.


Excerpt from the tweet in the article:
I don't think the third party is responsible, rather the ranking team who chose the Limp Bizkit version as canonical performance for that query (see [behind blue eyes lyrics who]).


<sarcasm>Very professional... </sarcasm>