The YouTube channel Lofi Girl, known for its two beloved livestreams playing lo-fi hip hop beats and other relaxing music, had its two livestreams taken down on Sunday, July 10 after a false copyright takedown request.
Lofi Girl proved the takedown request, submitted by FMC Music BHD Malaysia, was false, and Youtube later reinstated the channel’s livestream. But not before the channel voiced its concern over the number of false copyright claims occurring on Youtube’s platform – approximately 4.4 million a year – and noted how false copyright takedown requests disproportionately affect small content creators like themselves.
You sit down to write an essay for school or a report for work and quickly come to realize you can’t focus. Your roommates are howling in the living room over Joe Biden falling off a bike. The birds outside your window screech every time you’re about to have that eureka moment. So, you open YouTube and type in “study music.” One of the top results is a livestream titled, “lofi hip-hop radio – beats to relax/study to.” Seems unassuming enough, so you give it a shot. You’ve never studied to anything else ever since.
Sound familiar? Well, that’s because, to many, it is. Founded in 2015, Lofi Girl has established itself as a staple of Youtube culture through its endless catalog of videos offering soothing hip-hop instrumentals coupled with anime characters in relaxing settings, from a bed to a forest shimmering in glowing moonlight. The channel, which today has 10.9 million subscribers, is most known for its two livestreams cherished by the YouTube community: “lofi hip hop radio — beats to relax/study to” and “lofi hip hop radio — beats to sleep/chill to.”
Lofi Girl received a letter from YouTube on July 10 informing them their two livestreams were taken down due to a copyright takedown request submitted by FMC Music Sdn Bhd Malaysia. The channel quickly filed an appeal, otherwise called a counter-notification, and YouTube discovered the takedown request was incorrect. The livestreams were restored on July 12.
False Copyright Claims are Nothing New for Small Content Creators
False copyright claims are nothing new for the small content creator, and nothing new for Youtube either. Lofi Girl has had its livestreams taken down multiple times since its inception due to false copyright takedown requests, with the most recent occurring in February 2020. Each time, Lofi Girl was required to submit a counter-notification, and each time YouTube acknowledged its error, quickly reinstating the livestreams.
YouTube has faced increasing criticism recently over the number of false copyright claims that occur on the site. In a transparency report published by YouTube last year, data showed YouTube’s false copyright claims reached 2.2 million from January to June 2021, and nearly 4.4 million for the year. The report also states that “data from the report shows that the majority — over 60% — of resolutions are resolved in favor of the uploader.” In other words, 60% of the time, the copyright claim was unwarranted, providing evidence of a broken copyright claims process.
So, if Youtube can acknowledge that false copyright claims are a serious problem, why do they continue to hit small content creators? Lofi Girl is asking the same questions of Youtube, and the creator took to Twitter last Monday to voice their concerns.
We’re shocked and disappointed to see that there’s still not any kind of protection or manual review of these false claims. 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. (2/7)— Lofi Girl (@lofigirl) July 11, 2022
“We’re shocked and disappointed to see that there’s still not any kind of protection or manual review of these false claims. 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 tweeted.
And they are right. Youtube offers no sort of recourse for accounts that have had false copyright takedown requests previously submitted against them, such as marking them for manual review. Instead, as soon as a takedown request is submitted, Youtube is required through a copyright law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) to immediately take down the video. This is regardless of whether an account has been hampered with a false copyright claim before, hence Lofi Girl’s repeated copyright takedowns. Copyright takedown claims can also be filed by anyone at all.
The burden of proof is then placed on the content creator, who can submit a counter-notification and jump through a number of hoops if they want to keep their channel and have their videos reinstated.
While copyright takedown requests make up a small portion of the copyright claims made on Youtube – with most falling under Content ID claims – these false copyright takedowns are having massive negative impacts on small content creators like Lofi Girl.
.. many of which engaged in this discussion, that continue to be hit daily by these false claims on both videos and livestreams. (6/7)— Lofi Girl (@lofigirl) July 11, 2022
“This event has shone a light on an underlying problem on the platform: 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 continued in the Twitter thread.
Calls for Youtube to change its copyright claims process continue to gather as smaller content creators like Lofi Girl bear the broken processes’ ill effects. The platform seems to declare that the creators, those that make the site viable to begin with, are guilty until proven innocent. Is the copyright claims process something Youtube should consider revising? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.