3 Count: Genius Lawsuit

Well, at least from the site named Genius...

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1: Music Site Genius Sues Google Over Alleged Lyric Copying

First off today, Michael Kan at PC Magazine reports that the music lyric site Genius has filed a lawsuit against Google and its partner LyricFind alleging that the two have been stealing lyrics from Genius’ site and it using to drive visitors to their own sites rather than Genius.

The allegations first came to light in June when Genius revealed that it had proof Google and LyricFind were taking their lyrics. They claimed to have been “watermarking” their lyrics with a pattern of apostrophes that they then found in Google’s results. However, Google would feature the results in “informational panels” that appeared as the top result, making it unnecessary to click through to the Genius site.

Google denied the scraping and said it partners with LyricFind to provide the lyrics. LyricFind said that the copies in question can be found in multiple locations and may be completely by accident. In commenting on the lawsuit, LyricFind said that they have not heard from Genius since June and that the lawsuit is “frivolous and without merit”. To that end, Genius may have some significant challenges with the lawsuit as it doesn’t own the copyright to the underlying lyrics. This is prompting them to argue that the defendants violated their terms of service rather than their copyright.

2: Spinal Tap’s UMG Case Might Be Over, But Vivendi is Not Off the Hook Yet

Next up today, Murray Stassen at Music Business Worldwide reports that, even though the members of the band Spinal Tap reached a settlement with Universal Music Group, the case against Vivendi and its agent SudioCanal is ongoing.

According to the band members, Universal Music Group (UMG) severely underpaid royalties for their music they made as part of the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, which brought the then-fake, now-real band to fame. However, last month the band reached a settlement with UMG over those royalties but a separate claim against StudioCanal, a film production and distribution company owned by UMG’s parent Vivendi, is ongoing.

In that claim, the band is arguing that StudioCanal, which released the film, manipulated accounting data and failed to properly care for the rights entrusted to them. They are suing to reclaim their rights and get access to millions of dollars in earnings they say StudioCanal hid from them. That lawsuit is now moving forward after a hiatus and is entering the discovery phase.

3: Universal Music Group Can’t Pause Discovery in Backlot Fire Lawsuit

Finally today, Ashley Cullins at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that Universal Music Group has been told it can not delay handing over information about master recordings lost in the 2008 backlot fire.

In June 2008 a fire erupted at the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood that, among other things, destroyed master recordings stored there by Universal Music Group (UMG). However, details about the fire did not become public knowledge until June 2019 when the New York Times Magazine published a piece on it. This prompted several artists (or their estates) to sue UMG claiming that it had failed to protect the works and that they would be denied future royalties from them.

UMG, however, had argued that they should pause the discovery until after the motion to dismiss. The reason was that they had evidence that some of the individuals suing them had not lost their recordings. The judge, however, has determined UMG needs to go ahead and provide the full accounting of all the artists whose work was destroyed before the motion to dismiss, expediting when others will likely learn the fate of their work.

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