This week, YouTube cut off the well-liked Lofi Girl radio channel due to copyright complaints that YouTube later referred to as “abusive” and misleading. Streams from the channel, which had been active for more than two years, were reinstated today after being shut off on July 10. A Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) request, allegedly made by the Malaysian record company FMC Music Sdn Bhd, led to the removal. The strikes were quickly restored by YouTube, but Lofi Girl exploited the occasion to demand stricter regulations for the system’s infamously open to abuse.
In response to claims of “false copyright strikes,” the owner of Lofi Girl (formerly ChilledCow) published a copy of the DMCA takedown notice for its two lo-fi hip-hop “beats to relax/study to” video streams on Sunday. A day later, YouTube formally verified the claim. The films had been restored, but it may take 24 to 48 hours for the channel to go back to normal. It added that it had “confirmed the takedown requests were abusive [and] canceled the claimants [sic] account.” On July 12, Lofi Girl reopened its channels at midday.
The films have been mistakenly removed before, according to Lofi Girl. Due to a rules of service violation that YouTube later referred to as a mistake, it momentarily disabled the feed in 2020. In 2017, the channel was also shut down due to legitimate copyright issues with the usage of a clip from the Studio Ghibli film Whispers of the Heart. In this instance, according to Lofi Girl, it should have full legal authority to play its lo-fi beats without any restrictions. In actuality, the record label told Malaysiakini that hackers exploited their channel to issue the notification. The label has also been contacted by The Verge for confirmation.
After YouTube’s comment, Lofi Girl expressed her dissatisfaction with the system, complaining that it left creators vulnerable to unfounded accusations with little options. “We’re surprised and disturbed to see that there is still no safeguard or manual assessment of these bogus claims. The terrible aspect is that there was no way to appeal in advance or stop it from happening, so ultimately it was completely out of our hands,” the account said. “We remain optimistic and hope that YouTube will take into account making improvements to their copyright reporting mechanism to avoid a situation like this from happening again, and safeguard all content producers against this threat once and for all,” the statement reads.
Although YouTube’s system has also permitted takedowns based on blatant impersonation, it appears that FMC utilized its genuine YouTube account to deliver copyright strikes. Bungie filed a lawsuit against a YouTuber last month for allegedly imitating one of its contractors and issued hundreds of copyright warnings against other content producers in an apparent attempt to damage the company’s reputation by portraying an aggressive copyright crackdown. (Users who abuse the system have been sued by YouTube. False strikes have also been used as a form of extortion.) Similar to Lofi Girl, Bungie claimed that YouTube’s design made it too simple for criminals to get films taken down; but, in this instance, Lofi Girl’s popularity helped bring the videos back online rapidly.