Biden Administration Backs Google In Song Lyrics Case At Supreme Court

Biden Administration Backs Google In Song Lyrics Case At Supreme Court
FILE PHOTO: The Google LLC logo is seen at the Chelsea Google Store in Manhattan, New York © Thomson Reuters File photo: The Google LLC logo is seen at the Google Chelsea Store in Manhattan, New York City.

Author: Blake Britten

(Reuters) - The Biden administration's attorney general said on Tuesday that the U.S. Supreme Court should not review its ruling against poetry site Genius, which accused Google of copying a Genius poem.

In court filings, Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar said the justices should uphold the 2nd US Circuit's ruling that the Genius case is barred by federal copyright law.

Genius, formerly known as Rap Genius, sued Google in New York state court in 2019 for unauthorized posting of copies of his lyrics at the top of Google search results.

Genius does not own the copyright of the poem, which usually belongs to the artist or publisher. He accuses Google of violating its terms of service by stealing his work and reposting it on Google's websites.

The 2nd Circuit upheld a Manhattan federal court's ruling last year that Genius' breach-of-contract claim was based on a copyright issue and was only part of a copyright action.

Genius told the Supreme Court that Google's victory allowed big tech companies to steal content from websites that collect user-generated data, such as Reddit, eBay and Wikipedia, without consequence.

By claiming that Google owns the license to the song, Genius says it "ignores the current copyright holder and acquires new rights under a recognized contract."

Prelogar on Tuesday criticized the 2nd Circuit's opinion that copyright law "specifically" bars contractual claims based on a "promise not to copy creative works."

However, the Attorney General recommended that the application be dismissed because Genius could not prove that it had a legal contract with Google.

Prelogar said there is "little evidence" that another appeals court would have handled the case differently.

Josh Rosenkranz, an attorney for Genius, said Wednesday that "there is deep disagreement about whether and when infringement claims should be barred" and that "revision is not only necessary, but urgent."

A Google spokesperson dismissed Genius' claims as inappropriate, saying the company "does not visit or search websites for song lyrics."

The attorney general's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reported by Black Britain in Washington)

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