There are three constants of life: death, taxes andlofi hip hop radio — rhythms for relaxing/studying“YouTube stream. That is, until YouTube wrongly hits the Lofi girl channel with a DMCA takedown, taking the beloved streams offline for the first time in over 2 years.
With over 668 million views, the stream was one of the most popular places on YouTube for people who wanted to listen to soothing yet engaging music while studying or working. Listeners sometimes used the stream’s live chat as an anonymous, distant study group, reminding each other to take breaks and drink water. So when the stream suddenly stopped, fans got worried.
YouTube is cluttered with soothing music streams that go on for hours, but the live nature of “lofi hip hop radio” streams sets it apart. On the YouTube streamwhich is currently broadcasting a message “This live stream recording is not available”, one of the Best Comments reads: “I hope it’s not over yet, this stream is rightfully an extremely important part of YouTube culture.”
It’s true. Even beyond YouTube, Lofi Girl lives in spin-off communities, including the 30,000-member r/LofiGirl subreddit and a Lofi Girl Discord with 700,000 members. The animation accompanying the 24/7 livestream – a Studio Ghibli-inspired image of a girl wearing headphones and studying while her cat gazes out the window at a cityscape – was honored in disguisereproduced by Will Smith and recreated on Cartoon Network YouTube Channel with a character from “Steven Universe”.
Yesterday, Lofi Girl addressed the sudden takedown in a tweet, stating that “lofi radios have been taken down due to fake copyright strikes”. In response, Lofi Girl fans circulated the tag #BringBackLofiGirl to get YouTube’s attention. Some even went so far as to spam and troll FMC Music, the Malaysian label that allegedly issued the bogus copyright complaint, while others created fan art.
Lofi Girl told TechCrunch that all of the channel’s music is released through her label, Lofi Records, so they have the rights to share it. Since Lofi Girl owns the appropriate rights to the music, YouTube has determined that the account is not in violation copyright laws. The platform responded to Lofi Girl on Twitter on Monday, saying the missing live videos should be restored within 24-48 hours.
TechCrunch reached out to YouTube for comment, and a spokesperson put us in touch with the company existing answer to Lofi Girl on Twitter.
Whether previous past is true, the next Lofi Girl stream will have to start over from the beginning, rather than as a continuation of the existing 2-year-old stream. In 2020, the channel faced a similar problem when an accidental suspension ended its 13,000 hour stream. In this case, YouTube has also possesses to his mistakes and reinstated the account, but the same issues apparently returned.
“This event brought to light an underlying issue on the platform: it’s 2022, and there are countless smaller creators, many of whom have engaged in this discussion, who continue to be impacted daily by these false claims on videos and live streams,” Lofi Girl wrote in a Tweeter.
Today, in YouTube’s response to Lofi Girl, the company said the takedown requests were “abusive,” meaning they were exploited as an attack on the channel, rather than out of genuine concern for them. copyright violations. This behavior is incredibly common, but platforms struggle to determine when these reports are legitimate and when they are unfounded.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly why FMC sent the complaint,” Lofi Girl told TechCrunch via a Twitter post.
Implications for creators
Sometimes these fraudulent DMCA takedowns can go to extremes.
In March, a number of YouTube streamers playing Destiny noticed they had been slapped with copyright strikes. Even some videos from Destiny developer Bungie were affected and Bungie assured fans that it was not behind these actions, making things even stranger.
It turned out that a YouTuber called “Lord Nazo” had created Gmail accounts posing as Bungie’s copyright management company and filed 96 fraudulent complaints against high-profile Destiny YouTubers. Last month, Bungie sued the YouTuber for $7.6 millionsaying they wanted to make an example out of him.
Copyright law is sometimes murky, especially in emerging digital media, but video game streams are generally considered “fair use” since the works are transformative. You might even say that YouTube videos like “The complete bee movie, but every time he says bee he speeds it up 15%are transformative, which is likely why this kind of video remains prevalent online. After all, this particular “Bee Movie” parody is only about 5 minutes long, compared to the 90-minute movie.
The Bungie and “Lord Nazo” case amplifies what YouTube fans have known for far too long: the DMCA system is too easy to exploit. Fraudulent takedowns are particularly problematic when exploited against online creators who depend on YouTube advertising revenue for their income. Instagram creators have also been hit by what is called ban as a service scamsin which bad actors charge money to mass report someone and have their account wrongly deleted.
Startups like Notch have tried to launch an insurance industry for online creators, offering daily payouts in case they lose access to their account, but their service currently only covers hacks, not fake bans. . This leaves creators with few ways to protect themselves against unwarranted takedowns or bans. A popular VTuber, CodeMikosaid she had nightmares to be banned from Twitch.
Perhaps because Lofi Girl is so iconic, the user behind the channel was able to get a response from YouTube shortly after tweeting about the issue. But for smaller creators, this can be a seemingly impossible achievement.
“We are shocked and disappointed to see that there is still no kind of protection or manual review of these false claims,” Lofi Girl wrote on Twitter. “Ultimately, it was entirely out of our control, and the saddest thing is there was no way to pre-appeal/prevent this from happening.”
The good news is that Lofi Girl will soon be back at her desk, scribbling some notes next to her orange cat and trusty headphones, listening to some relaxing beats.