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Supreme Court rejects Genius lawsuit claiming Google stole song lyrics

A singer's microphone sitting on a piece of paper displaying musical notes.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | BushAlex)

The song lyrics website Genius’ allegations that Google “stole” its work in violation of a contract will not be heard by the US Supreme Court. The top US court denied Genius’ petition for certiorari in an order list issued today, leaving in place lower-court rulings that went in Google’s favor.

Genius previously lost rulings in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York and the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. In August 2020, US District Judge Margo Brodie ruled that Genius’ claim is preempted by the US Copyright Act. The appeals court upheld the ruling in March 2022.

“Plaintiff’s argument is, in essence, that it has created a derivative work of the original lyrics in applying its own labor and resources to transcribe the lyrics, and thus, retains some ownership over and has rights in the transcriptions distinct from the exclusive rights of the copyright owners… Plaintiff likely makes this argument without explicitly referring to the lyrics transcriptions as derivative works because the case law is clear that only the original copyright owner has exclusive rights to authorize derivative works,” Brodie wrote in the August 2020 ruling.

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