Federal appeals by Genius song lyrics copyright lawsuit
Genius had sued Alphabet Inc.'s Google alleging unfair competition and breach of contract regarding its misuse of Genius' transcribed lyrics in its search engine. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favour of Alphabet Inc.'s Google on Thursday. Google is being sued for allegedly using Genius's song lyrics transcriptions without permission or attribution.
According to a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit, the Copyright Act 301 statutorily pre-empted any unfair competition and breach of contract claims made by Genius. Upon reviewing Genius' unfair competition claims, the Court found that Genius's allegations of misappropriation of content and subsequent deceptive behavior were insufficient to avoid statutory pre-emption under the Copyright Act. Consequently, the bench ruled as follows:
Defendants' "unauthorized publication" of Genius' transcriptions of its lyrics is the "gravamen" of Genius's claim, so Genius's unfair competition claims are pre-empted.
Accordingly, the Second Circuit held that Genuis' breach of contract claims was not qualitatively different from a typical copyright claim in order to avoid pre-emption by statute. According to the Court:
The Court does not hold that claims for breach of contract relating to copyrighted material are never preempted. As a result of the specific facts pled in Genius' complaint, we hold only that its breach of contract claim is not qualitatively different from a copyright claim, and is therefore preempted.
Genius's "hot news" exemption from copyright pre-emption was also rejected by the Second Circuit, which noted that the company had failed to demonstrate that its transcriptions were time-sensitive.
In the aforementioned proceedings, Lyric Find was also a defendant.