Friday, September 22, 2023

YouTube restores Lofi Girl account after false copyright claims

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Shreya Christina
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A beloved YouTube account of quiet hip-hop beats is back online today, after two popular radio live streams (the oldest of which has been playing non-stop for two years) were ripped off the platform over false copyright claims. In a tweet, the owner of the Lofi Girl channel – which has been streaming relaxing ambient music since 2017 – announced that the streams after a break of almost 48 hours.

The origin of the DMCA claims came from FMC Music, a Malaysian record label. After YouTube received a counter-claim from the makers of Lofi Girl, YouTube manually reviewed FMC’s complaint and concluded that the record label had no ownership over the music.

“Confirmed that the takedown requests were abusive and terminated the plaintiffs’ account 😔 we’ve fixed the warnings + restored your videos – it can sometimes take 24-48 hours for things to get back to normal! I’m sorry this happened and thank you for your patience while we get it resolved,” wrote YouTube on Twitter, following Lofi Girl’s request Monday to restore the streams.

But FMC Music also claims to be a victim in this affair. A spokesperson for the label local news site malaysiakini that hackers broke into his YouTube account to file the copyright infringement claim. The record label said it reported the incident to Google. His YouTube account has since been back online.

The relatively unknown record label was hit hard by online abuse this weekend, as Lofi Girl fans flocked to its social media channels, demanding why it was making the false claim. Most of Lofi Girl’s largely Gen-Z and younger Millennial fans rely on the music to study, relax or meditate.

In an ironic twist, Lofi Girl also has a sizable Malaysian fan base, which was also quite unhappy about the channel’s removal. On a Reddit on r/Malaysia titled “Who the hell is FMC Music Sdn Bhd Malaysia and why do they have copywrite strike lofi girl?”, one despondent fan urged others to “make some noise” on the record label’s socials.

“For context, I was studying while listening to lofi girl before both their streams were removed by a certain FMC Music Sdn Bhd Malaysia. Now their live streams are not accessible in Malaysia. What gives them the right to remove the best channel on YouTube,” the user wrote.

Malicious copyright warnings are hardly a new incident on YouTube. Game creator Bungie decided to bring one creator along after they reportedly filed nearly 100 false copyright claims. Lofi Girl noted that an accidental deletion in 2020 also took the account offline and called for a stronger vetting process for DMCA claims on YouTube. “This event has shed light on an underlying issue on the platform: It’s 2022 and there are countless smaller creators, many of whom are engaged in this discussion, who continue to be affected daily by these false claims on both videos and live streams” Lofi Girl” in a tweet.

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