Google: A Tuneful Allegation about Indexing and Search Results

June 17, 2019

Google continues to attract criticism. DarkCyber noted an interesting twist on cleverness. Google has been a clever outfit. Now there may be evidence that a company with song lyrics may be slightly more clever. According to Boy Genius Report, a company with a database of song lyrics allegedly believed that Google was copying the lyrics and using them without permission. Remember. This is an allegation, and anyone not clever can make an allegation do a two step. The company with the lyrics is named Genius, and allegedly Genius inserted a coded message within its lyrics. Thus, when Google acquired these lyrics, Genius alleges that the coded messages appeared in Google’s lyrics. Smoking gun? How long has Genius been aware of the GOOG’s alleged improper use of lyrics? The answer, according to the article, is two years.

Several observations:

  1. This is an allegation, so it seems that legal eagles will take flight
  2. The use of “codes” is interesting because it suggests that the intake, indexing, and content processing system in use at Google may operate in an indiscriminate manner. The scraping may give a bad actor an idea for injecting certain types of data into a Google system. (I cover this type of exploit in my lectures about the flaws in the most widely used algorithms in content processing. Now we have allegations of a big time use case.)
  3. The allegation may provide some additional information about how Google allegedly favors its own content over that of third parties. The idea which could inspire some legal analysis is that: [a] Google knows via its analytics which content is hot, [b] Google seeks to acquire that content in some manner; and [c] when a query is run for something in that corpus, Google displays its content, not that of a third party.

Net net: Google is indeed clever, but this may be an example of a smaller company being clever-er. Worth watching what fancy dancing the Google uses to deal with this allegation of “genius.”

Stephen E Arnold, June 17, 2019


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