As a company with a keen interest in protecting intellectual property, IPR License is always on the look-out for outstanding stories from our industry and beyond. We hope you will enjoy this latest trending story about a music website facing off against a search engine giant.

A digital media company has used an ingenious method to catch the theft of their content.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Genius, the “world’s biggest collection of song lyrics and musical knowledge”, has accused Google of publishing lyrics on its own platform, thus resulting in a drop in traffic to the Genius website.

How can they prove it? Morse code.

The discovery of lyric lifting first came in 2017, when Genius noticed lyrics (particularly from difficult to understand songs) published on the search engine’s results page were identical to the error-free lyrics published on their own website. After Google denied copying lyrics from the lyric website, it was up to Genius to prove the theft.

The Wall Street Journal reports Genius built in subtle changes to a few of the songs on its website, alternating straight versus curly apostrophes in the same places for each song. Once the apostrophes were converted to dots and dashes (the markings used in Morse code), they formed the words “Red Handed”.

Google has claimed the lyrics used in the information panels on their results pages are from licensed partners and, following the publication of The Wall Street Journal‘s investigation, Google has since stated it will be investigating the issue and will terminate agreements with partners who were not operating in good practice.