About 16 months after an appellate court ruled in favor of Google and lyrics platform LyricFind as part of a lawsuit levied by competing lyrics database Genius, the Supreme Court has refused a request to hear the case.
The Supreme Court formally rejected Genius’ push for certiorari today, with the corresponding order list showing only that the petition (like the vast majority of those filed) had failed to garner the required support of at least four justices. At the time of this writing, Brooklyn-based Genius, which has since September of 2021 been a subsidiary of Imgur owner MediaLab, didn’t seem to have addressed the development on social media.
But the rejection arrives almost three years after a district court first sided with Google and LyricFind; Genius in a $50 million December of 2019 complaint accused the latter entity, which has an agreement with Google, of lifting lyrics without permission. Genius – which currently boasts 110 million monthly users and 174 million average monthly pageviews, per MediaLab’s website – said that it had confirmed the alleged copying by alternating between both straight and curved apostrophes in its work.
Spelling out “red handed” in Morse code, these alternating apostrophes subsequently appeared on certain of Google’s search results pages; LyricFind then responded by describing the copied lyrics as a “miniscule” portion of its overall database.
Consequently, Genius in the nearly four-year-old suit accused the defendants of (among other things) violating its terms of service, diverting web traffic, and, in turn, causing it to miss out on “licensing and advertising revenue.” But in the August of 2020 dismissal and the initially noted March of 2022 appellate ruling alike, the court found that the Copyright Act preempted the breach of contract claims because Genius itself didn’t own the rights to the protected works at hand.
“To be sure, we do not hold that breach of contract claims concerning copyrighted material are never preempted,” the appellate court explained of the matter in its 12-page ruling. “We hold only that, given the specific facts Genius pleaded in its complaint, its breach of contract claim is not qualitatively different from a copyright claim and is therefore preempted.”
Two weeks back, YouTube and Grammy-winning composer Maria Schneider ended their legal battle over alleged Content ID discrimination, after Schneider failed to secure class-action certification for the long-running suit. And earlier this year, on the heels of a lengthy testing period, YouTube Music made real-time lyrics available to users on both Android and iOS devices.