Five months after it accused Google of publishing lifted song lyrics, music website Genius Media Group is suing the search giant over what it alleges amounts to anticompetitive behavior that has harmed its business.
The lawsuit, filed in state court in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Tuesday, seeks $50 million in combined minimum damages from Google and LyricFind, a Canadian company that provides the music lyrics.
The case puts the spotlight on growing concerns that big tech companies like Google can stifle smaller competitors through some of their business practices. The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have started investigating some of the actions of tech companies. Companies such as Yelp and TripAdvisor are among others that have accused Google of unfairly preferencing its own content in search results.
Genius, based in Brooklyn, says traffic to its site, where it posts hard-to-decipher lyrics to hip-hop songs and other pop hits, began dropping because Google has been publishing lyrics on its own platform, and alleges some of them were lifted directly from the music site.
Genius holds no copyright claims on the lyrics, but says that lifting lyrics from its website is a violation of its terms of service.
Google has said it doesn’t scrape websites, but rather secures its licenses and lyrics transcriptions from business partners such as LyricFind, which licenses the lyrics from music publishers, giving companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft a way to publish lyrics online.
LyricFind and Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit. LyricFind said on its website in June that while it doesn’t copy lyrics from Genius.com, it is possible that it had “unknowingly sourced Genius lyrics from another location.”
LyricFind also said the scale of the alleged copying was “minuscule and clearly not systemic.”