YouTube accidentally took down dozens of K-Pop music videos distributed by Universal Music Group Saturday evening, triggering fan outrage and online flash campaigns to restore the flicks.
The take-down affected “several dozen” videos uploaded prior to 2010 and managed by UMG on behalf of Korea’s Cube Entertainment, according to executives knowledgeable with the situation but who were not able to speak on behalf of the companies. Artists affected include 4Minute, G.NA, B2ST and HyunA. Each has produced videos that have attracted hundreds of millions of views.
Within hours of being unavailable, fans took to Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook on Sunday to protest, rallying under a GIVEUSKPOP hashtag. More than 1,000 people even signed a petition on Change.org to lobby UMG and YouTube to restore the videos.
Universal on Sunday issued a Tweet saying, “Glitch at YouTube blocking videos. We’re doing all we can to get them back online.” The company declined to provide further comment.
YouTube confirmed that the takedowns were the result of a technical error on its end, one that affected a handful of primarily older videos.
“Over the course of a routine clean up procedure, a small percentage of videos were accidentally switched from ‘monetize’ to ‘block,’” YouTube said in a statement. “We're working to remedy the situation and expect this to be fully resolved shortly.”
Universal executives who declined to be named said its own engineers worked on Sunday to re-upload as many of the affected videos as possible. By Monday, most of the videos, through not all, were back up.
The swift fan reaction is a testament to how popular K-Pop has become worldwide -- even before PSY’s “Gangnam Style” burst through Western consciousness. One video, 4Minute’s “Hot Issue” from 2009, for example, garnered 13.7 million views.
Though the GIVEUSKPOP went viral, many fans incorrectly floated conspiracy theories -- blaming overzealous copyright enforcement or corporate intrigue, which is also popular on the Web.