Due to false copyright claims, YouTube took down — and then reinstated, with an apology — the radios of popular YouTube streaming channel Lofi Girl, a popular music channel that broadcasts relaxing hip hop music its subscribers say they listen to while studying.
Lofi Girl relaunched its channels at noon ET on Tuesday, two days after YouTube removed the radios due to copyright takedown notices.
The record label “FMC Music Sdn Bhd Malaysia” issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, takedown of Lofi Girl’s streams, according to a screenshot of the notice Lofi Girl tweeted on July 10.
On Monday, a YouTube spokesperson responded to Lofi Girl’s tweet, confirming the “takedown requests were abusive” and terminating the claimant’s account.
The takedown sparked broader online criticism — including 3,500 tweets under the hashtag #BringBackLofiGirl — of YouTube’s copyright strike policies, where three valid DMCA complaints in 90 days results in account termination.
Critics have emphasized that bad actors can weaponize the policy by falsely reporting videos they want taken down.
Throughout the takedown, YouTube users left comments on the now-defunct stream expressing their gratitude for the online community Lofi Girl’s stream has created through music and the in-stream chat function.
YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
20,843. That’s the length, in hours, of Lofi Girl’s continuous music livestream before YouTube took it down. Although a new stream has started, the original video still displays YouTube’s “This live stream recording is not available” notice.
Lofi Girl is far from alone, as any content owner can issue a DMCA takedown if they claim their content was published online on any platform without their permission. The system is part of a United States copyright law that Congress passed in 1998. In the years since, the number of copyright claims has exploded. As early as 2016, Google — which owns YouTube — said it handles approximately two million copyright takedown notices per day.
And with the growth of the content creator industry, YouTubers who depend on the platform and its ads for income have repeatedly called for change. Even for Lofi Girl, this weekend’s takedown was the channel’s third, following incidents in 2017 and 2020.
“We’re shocked and disappointed to see that there’s still not any kind of protection or manual review of these false claims,” Lofi Girl posted on Twitter Monday. “At the end of the day, it was entirely out of our control, and the sad part is that there was no way to appeal beforehand/prevent it from happening.”
Lofi Girl’s avatar, which is an animated depiction of a girl listening to music while writing an essay, is inspired by the protagonist of the anime film Whisper of the Heart. Over the years, she has expanded into a beloved internet presence and is often the subject of cosplays and Halloween costumes.
YouTube removed popular ‘Lofi Girl’ streams after it received false and ‘abusive’ copyright claims (Business Insider)
YouTube Apologizes for Removing Iconic Lofi Girl (Vice)
YouTube says it will reinstate Lofi Girl’s livestreams after false copyright claim (NBC)
YouTube channels are being held hostage with false copyright claims, but the platform’s hands are tied (Business Insider)
YouTube’s copyright claim system abused by extorters (BBC)