YouTube Apologizes for Removing Iconic Lofi Girl

Copyright takedown reporting abuse to study/chill to.
Loi Hip Hop Girl
Screenshot via YouTube

YouTube took down two of the platforms’ most popular live-streaming music videos after users abusively reported the channel with false copyright claims.

The Lofi Girl channel tweeted on Sunday that its videos were taken down, and received a copyright strike, one of the more severe punishments the platform doles out for creators—if a channel receives multiple strikes, it’s removed permanently. 

According to the screenshot of the takedown notice Lofi Girl tweeted, the copyright claim came from “FMC Music Sdn Bhd Malaysia.” 

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As of Monday morning, the videos “lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to” and “beats to sleep/chill to” were still down, with “This livestream recording is not available” errors over the videos. Together, these two videos have a total of 797,341,998 views. YouTube admitted in a tweet on Monday that it mistakenly took them down after people abused the reporting system.

Anyone online in the last seven years likely knows the Lofi Hip Hop girl. In one of the longest-running videos on YouTube, the viewer is a voyeur into the room of a studious young woman hunched over a desk, her huge headphones supposedly streaming the same lyricless, low-fidelity downtempo drum-and-jazz beats that the listener is there to study/relax to. She’s an example of the “body doubling” technique for quietly getting things done alongside someone else, focusing on your respective tasks together. The channel was created by French mononymous musician Dmitri in 2015 under the name “ChilledCow” and rebranded as Lofi Girl in 2021

This isn’t the first time the channel’s been removed over trolling copyright claims: In 2020, YouTube similarly mistakenly removed the channel for violations of the Terms of Service, and the platform admitted on Twitter that it was an error. And when the channel first started, it used a looping GIF from the 1995 anime Whisper of the Heart, of the character Shizuku Tsukishima studiously sitting at a desk. In 2017, YouTube removed the channel following a copyright claim from Studio Ghibli, but reinstated it after the image was replaced with a custom illustration of the slightly different-looking student that we know today.    

Over the years, the Lofi Hip Hop girl has been cosplayed to death and the inspiration for endless Halloween costumes. In the comment sections for the two removed videos, people lament their takedowns and talk about their importance to their daily lives: “I would like to thank this stream for getting me through some tough anxiety naps,” one viewer wrote. “Hopefully it isn’t over yet, this stream is legitimately a hugely important part of YouTube culture,” wrote another.

According to YouTube’s tweet, it can take up to 48 hours for wrongly removed videos to be reinstated. 

Abuse of the copyright strike system has been a problem on YouTube for years, with people falsely reporting channels and sometimes extorting them for money to get them reinstated. 

This article was updated 8/16/22, 9:15 a.m. EST, to correct the release date of Whisper of the Heart.