mitchell-luo-jz4ca36oJ_M-unsplashAmong the many benefits that the proliferation of the internet and search engines have provided, finding song lyrics wouldn't rank among the most important, but it would certainly be a more popular use than, say, looking up academic papers for school work. And it's an underrated benefit; for years prior, you had to rely on liner notes from records or CDs, and that's even if the artist put the lyrics there. Otherwise, you were left guessing as to whether you heard the words correctly over the radio, only to be corrected years later.

Google is the most obvious tool for finding song lyrics for most people, but as with everything else, Google is merely presenting what's out there on the internet, which can occasionally get them in trouble (if one of the most valuable companies in the world can ever be said to be in trouble.) Google was the subject of scrutiny in France after new copyright laws in the country would have prevented the use of snippets from news stories in previews without paying the publishers for the rights (Google simply stopped displaying previews) and now they've dodged further legal action, albeit on something of a technicality.

Genius, the website that complies song lyrics, sued Google for misappropriating their work in displaying lyrics scraped from their site in their search returns. Of that there's little doubt of Google's culpability; Genius laid a clever trap to prove Google was pulling from their site, and Google promptly obliged by continuing apace with the work. But despite the open-and-shut nature of the accusation, the case has been thrown out, on the grounds that the issue is ultimately one of possible copyright infringement, which the judge ruled beyond the purview of the count, and which isn't the province of Genius either, as they aren't the copyright holder to any of the songs whose lyrics they transcribe.

While Google states that it will now attribute the lyrics moving forward, it's still likely an unsatisfying result for Genius, even through they can't have any complaints on procedural grounds. Such is the risk inherent in basing your business upon the works of others, although you could argue that is entirely what Google does, at least with its search engine. Having the case against them thrown out doesn't mean Google was in the right, but as is often said, right has little to do with the law.

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