YouTube ends Lofi Girls two-year-long music stream over bogus DMCA warning

There are three constants in life: death, taxes and the “lofi hip hop radio — beats to relax/study to” YouTube stream. That is, until YouTube falsely hit the Lofi Girl waterworks with a DMCA takedown, bringing the minion streams offline for the first time in over 2 years.

With over 668 million views, the stream was one of YouTube’s most popular places for people to go when they wanted to listen to calming, yet engaging music while studying or working. Listeners sometimes used the stream’s live yack like an anonymized, afar study group, reminding each other to take breaks and drink water. So when the stream suddenly stopped, fans were worried.

YouTube is cluttered with hours-long streams of calming music, but the live nature of the “lofi hip hop radio” streams sets it apart. On the YouTube stream, which currently serves a “this live stream recording is not available” message, one of the top comments reads: “Hopefully it isn’t over yet, this stream is legitimately a hugely important part of YouTube culture.”

It’s true. Plane vastitude 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 volatility twin the 24/7 livestream — a Studio Ghibli–inspired image of a girl wearing headphones and studying as her cat stares out the window at a cityscape — has been honored in cosplay, replicated by Will Smith and re-created on Cartoon Network’s YouTube channel with a weft from “Steven Universe.”

Yesterday, Lofi Girl addressed the sudden takedown in a tweet, stating that “the lofi radios have been taken lanugo considering of false copyright strikes.” In response, fans of Lofi Girl circulated the tag #BringBackLofiGirl to get YouTube’s attention. Some plane went as far as to spam and troll FMC Music, the Malaysian label that tangibly issued the false copyright complaint, while others created fan art.

Lofi Girl told TechCrunch that all of the channel’s music is released through its record label, Lofi Records, so they have the necessary rights to share it. Considering Lofi Girl has the proper rights to the music, YouTube unswayable that the worth is not in violation of copyright laws. The platform responded to Lofi Girl on Twitter Monday, saying that the missing livestream videos should be reinstated in 24 to 48 hours.

TechCrunch reached out to YouTube for comment, and a spokesperson linked us to the company’s existing response to Lofi Girl on Twitter.

If past precedent holds true, Lofi Girl’s next stream will have to start then from the beginning, rather than as a continuation of the existing 2-year-long stream. In 2020, the waterworks faced a similar problem when an willy-nilly suspension ended its 13,000-hour stream. In that case, YouTube moreover owned up to its mistakes and reinstated the account, but the same issues have theoretically returned.

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

Today, in YouTube’s reply to Lofi Girl, the visitor said that the takedown requests were “abusive,” meaning that they were leveraged as an wade versus the channel, rather than out of very snooping for copyright violations. This policies is incredibly common, but platforms have struggled to determine when these reports are legitimate and when they’re unsubstantiated.

“Unfortunately, we’re not entirely sure why FMC sent the complaint,” Lofi Girl told TechCrunch via Twitter message.

Repercussions for creators

Sometimes, these fraudulent DMCA takedowns can go to the extreme.

In March, a number of YouTube streamers playing Destiny noticed that they’d been slapped with copyright strikes. Plane some videos from Bungie, Destiny’s developer, were unauthentic and Bungie unpreventable fans that it wasn’t overdue these actions, making matters stranger.

As it turns out, a YouTuber tabbed “Lord Nazo” had created gmail finance impersonating Bungie’s copyright management firm and submitted 96 fraudulent complaints versus high-profile Destiny YouTubers. Last month, Bungie sued the YouTuber for $7.6 million, saying that they wanted to make an example out of him.

Copyright law is sometimes murky, expressly in emerging digital media, but video game streams are usually considered “fair use” since the works are transformative. You could plane oppose that YouTube videos like “The Entire Bee Movie but every time it says bee it speeds up by 15%” are transformative, which is probably why this genre of video remains prevalent online. Without all, that “Bee Movie” parody in particular is only well-nigh 5 minutes long, compared to the 90-minute film.

The specimen with Bungie and “Lord Nazo” amplifies what YouTube fans have known for too long: the DMCA system is too easy to exploit. Fraudulent takedowns are expressly problematic when leveraged versus online creators who rely on YouTube ad revenue for income. Instagram creators have moreover been impacted by so-called ban-as-service scams, in which bad actors tuition money to mass-report someone and get their worth wrongly removed.

Startups like Notch have tried to pioneer an insurance industry for online creators, offering daily payouts in specimen they lose wangle to their account, but their service currently only covers hacks, not false bans. That leaves creators with few ways to protect themselves in the specimen of wrongful takedowns or bans. One popular VTuber, CodeMiko, has said she has nightmares well-nigh stuff vetoed from Twitch.

Perhaps considering Lofi Girl is so iconic, the user overdue the waterworks was worldly-wise to get a response from YouTube soon without tweeting well-nigh the issue. But for smaller creators, this can be a seemingly untellable accomplishment.

“We’re shocked and disappointed to see that there’s still not any kind of protection or transmission review of these false claims,” Lofi Girl wrote on Twitter. “At the end of the day, it was entirely out of our control, and the sad part is that there was no way to request beforehand/prevent it from happening.”

The good news is that Lofi Girl will soon be when at her desk, scribbling some notes slantingly her orange cat and trusty headphones, listening to some nippy beats.