YouTube ends Lofi Girl’s two-year-long music stream over bogus DMCA warning

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YouTube ends Lofi Girl’s two-year-long music stream over bogus DMCA warning: There are three things in life that are guaranteed to happen: dying, paying taxes, and the never-ending stream of “lofi hip hop radio — beats to relax/study to” on YouTube. That is, until YouTube issued a false DMCA takedown notice against the Lofi Girl channel, which resulted in the well-liked streams being unavailable for the first time in more than 2 years.

The stream was one of the most popular destinations on YouTube for people to go to when they wanted to listen to music that was relaxing but still interesting while they were working or studying. It had more than 668 million views. The live chat feature of the stream was occasionally utilised by viewers as if it were an anonymous and remote study group. Viewers would remind one another to take breaks and drink water. As a result, fans became concerned when the stream unexpectedly stopped.

There are numerous hours-long music streams available on YouTube, but what distinguishes the “lofi hip hop radio” streams from the rest is that they are broadcast live. One of the most popular comments on the YouTube stream, which is currently displaying a message that says “this live stream recording is not available,” reads as follows: “Hopefully it isn’t over yet, this stream is legitimately a hugely important part of YouTube culture.”

It is correct. Even beyond YouTube, the Lofi Girl brand lives on in a number of spin-off communities, such as the r/LofiGirl subreddit, which has 30,000 members, and a Lofi Girl Discord, which has 700,000 members. The animation that accompanied the 24/7 livestream is a Studio Ghibli–inspired image of a girl wearing headphones and studying as her cat stares out the window at a cityscape. This animation has been honoured in cosplay, replicated by Will Smith, and re-created on Cartoon Network’s YouTube channel using a character from “Steven Universe.”

In a tweet published yesterday, Lofi Girl provided an explanation for the sudden takedown, stating that “the lofi radios have been taken down as a result of false copyright strikes.” As a response to this, fans of Lofi Girl have been using the hashtag #BringBackLofiGirl to attract the attention of YouTube. Others went so far as to create fan art, while others engaged in trolling and spamming the Malaysian record label FMC Music, which is the label that is alleged to have issued the false copyright complaint.

TechCrunch was informed by Lofi Girl that all of the channel’s music is released through the company’s record label, Lofi Records, and that this provides them with the appropriate permissions to distribute it. YouTube came to the conclusion that the account in question does not violate any copyright laws because Lofi Girl possesses all of the necessary rights to the music. On Monday, the platform responded to Lofi Girl on Twitter by saying that the livestream videos should be restored between 24 and 48 hours from now.

TechCrunch reached out to YouTube for comment, and a spokesperson directed us to the company’s previous response to Lofi Girl on Twitter when we asked for more information.

If previous experience is any indication, Lofi Girl’s subsequent stream will have to begin all over again from the beginning, rather than acting as a continuation of the currently ongoing stream that has lasted for two years. In the year 2020, the channel encountered a similar issue when its 13,000-hour stream was abruptly terminated due to an accidental suspension. In that instance, YouTube acknowledged that it had made a mistake and reinstated the account; however, it appears that the original problems have reappeared.

It’s 2022, and there are countless smaller creators out there, many of which engaged in this discussion, that continue to be hit daily by these false claims on both videos and livestreams, Lofi Girl wrote in a tweet after the event. “This event has shone a light on an underlying problem on the platform,” she said.

In its response to Lofi Girl, which was published today on YouTube, the company called the takedown requests “abusive,” which means that they were used as a weapon in an assault on the channel rather than out of genuine concern for copyright violations. The occurrence of this behaviour is extremely common; however, platforms have had trouble determining when reports of it are genuine and when they are unsubstantiated.

“Unfortunately, we’re not entirely sure why FMC sent the complaint,” Lofi Girl said in a Twitter message to TechCrunch in response to the publication’s inquiry.

Consequences for the original authors

These fraudulent DMCA takedowns have the potential to reach absurd lengths at times.

During the month of March, a number of YouTube streamers who played Destiny noticed that they had received copyright strikes against their accounts. Even some videos from Bungie, the company that developed Destiny, were affected. However, Bungie assured fans that the company was not responsible for these actions, which makes the situation even more mysterious.

It turned out that a YouTube user by the name of “Lord Nazo” had impersonated Bungie’s copyright management firm by creating gmail accounts in their name and filing 96 false complaints against high-profile Destiny YouTubers. Bungie filed a lawsuit against the YouTuber for $7.6 million at the beginning of this month, stating that they wanted to “make an example out of him.”

The law governing copyright can be unclear at times, particularly when it comes to developing digital media; however, video game streams are typically considered “fair use” because the works are transformed. You could even argue that videos on YouTube such as “The Entire Bee Movie but every time it says bee it speeds up by 15 percent” are transformative. This is probably why this genre of video continues to be widely available on the internet. Considering everything, the “Bee Movie” parody in particular is only about five minutes long, whereas the actual movie is ninety minutes long.

The case involving “Lord Nazo” and Bungie brings to light something that users of YouTube have known for far too long: the DMCA system is far too easy to exploit. When used against online creators whose income is derived primarily from advertising on YouTube, fraudulent takedowns present an especially problematic situation. The so-called “ban-as-a-service” scams have also had an effect on Instagram content creators. In these scams, bad actors charge money to mass-report another user in the hopes of having their account mistakenly deleted.

Startups such as Notch have made efforts to pioneer an insurance industry for online creators by offering daily payouts in the event that the creator loses access to their account; however, their service only covers hacks at this time rather than false bans. Because of this, creators have very few options for defending themselves in the event that their work is removed or banned in error. CodeMiko, a well-known VTuber, has admitted that the thought of being kicked off of Twitch gives her nightmares.

After tweeting about the problem, the user behind the channel was able to get a response from YouTube rather quickly, which may be due to the fact that Lofi Girl is such an iconic figure. On the other hand, for more modest creators, this may appear to be an impossible feat to achieve.

On Twitter, Lofi Girl stated, “We are shocked and disappointed to see that there is still not any kind of protection or manual review of these false claims.” “We’re shocked and disappointed to see that there is still no manual review of these false claims.” “In the end, it was completely out of our control, and the unfortunate part is that there was no way to appeal in advance or prevent it from happening,”

The good news is that Lofi Girl will soon be back at her desk, where she can be seen scribbling some notes alongside her orange cat while wearing her reliable headphones and listening to some chill beats.