YouTube has said sorry for taking down two of its most popular music streams in response to a bogus copyright claim.
The Lofi Girl channel – famous for its anime-inspired thumbnail – plays relaxing hip-hop music on a loop as a study and sleep aid.
On Sunday, its creator announced its “radios” had been silenced after two years of continuous streaming, sparking an outcry from fans.
YouTube has since confirmed the original claim was “abusive”.
Lofi Girl has built up 10 million subscribers with its regularly updated mixes of low-fidelity, instrumental music.
It has inspired countless memes, Halloween costumes and even a quarantine parody version by Oscar-winning actor Will Smith.
The channel’s two streams – beats to relax/study to and beats to chill/sleep to – have almost 800 million combined views and have racked up 21,000 hours of playtime.
When both went down, fans were quick to assume it meant the death of “a hugely important part of YouTube culture”.
One wrote: “Lofi girl has helped me survive so many stressful study times. I loved watching ‘live’ and knowing that many people were also listening too.”
But some managed to find a funny side to it, joking that the anime character was “finally ready for her exams”.
When the ban was reversed, Lofi Girl’s owner thanked fans for their support but said they were “shocked and disappointed” that false claims were not checked more thoroughly.
“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,” they tweeted.
“We put in our best efforts to maintain high-quality livestreams around the clock for our audience and ensure they comply with streaming policy, leaving no reason for them to be taken down.”
What is copyright?
Copyright is a legal right that gives the person who created something control over how it is used. It applies to many types of work, including music, films, books and photos.
If someone feels their work is being used by someone else without permission, they have a right to challenge them.
In some circumstances, such as criticism or commentary, it is acceptable to use a small section or clip without permission but laws vary between countries.
YouTube’s copyright claim system has faced lots of complaints from creators, who say it favours big companies and can be too easily exploited.
The company has promised to look at the issue, and in a report last year it said 2.2 million claims were overturned.
Lofi girl has remained offline for now but YouTube said it could “take 24-48 hours for everything to be back to normal”.
It also said it had terminated the account responsible for the copyright strike.