Nyan Cat is the name of a YouTube video, uploaded in April 2011, which became an Internet meme. The video merged a Japanese pop song with an animated cartoon cat with the body of a Pop-Tart, flying through space, and leaving a rainbow trail behind it. The video ranked at number 5 on the list of most viewed YouTube videos in 2011.
On April 2, 2011, the GIF animation of the cat was posted by 25-year-old Christopher Torres of Dallas, Texas, who uses the name "prguitarman", on his website LOL-Comics. Torres explained in an interview where the idea for the animation came from: "I was doing a donation drive for the Red Cross and in-between drawings in my Livestream video chat, two different people mentioned I should draw a 'Pop Tart' and a 'cat'." In response, he created a hybrid image of a Pop-Tart and a cat, which was developed a few days later into the animated GIF. The design of Nyan Cat was influenced by Torres' pet cat Marty, who died in November 2012 from feline infectious peritonitis.
An excerpt from the song
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The original version of the song "Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!" was uploaded by user "daniwell" to the Japanese video site Niconico on July 25, 2010. The song features the Vocaloid Hatsune Miku. The Japanese word nya is onomatopoeic, imitating the call of a cat (equivalent to English "meow").
On January 30, 2011, a user named "Momomomo" uploaded a cover of "Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!" featuring the UTAU voice Momone Momo. The voice source used to create the Momone Momo voice was Momoko Fujimoto, a Japanese woman who lives in Tokyo.
YouTube user "saraj00n" (whose real name is Sara) combined the cat animation with the "Momo Momo" version of the song "Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!", and uploaded it to YouTube on April 5, 2011, three days after Torres had uploaded his animation, giving it the title "Nyan Cat". The video rapidly became a success after being featured on websites including G4 and CollegeHumor. Christopher Torres said: "Originally, its name was Pop Tart Cat, and I will continue to call it so, but the Internet has reached a decision to name it Nyan Cat, and I’m happy with that choice, too."
The Nyan Cat music video reached ninth place in Business Insider's top ten viral videos of April 2011, with 7.2 million total views. The original YouTube video has received over 131 million views as of 3 March 2016[update]. Due to its popularity, many new remixes and cover versions have been made, some several hours long. There are also ringtones, wallpapers and applications created for operating systems and devices including Windows, iPhone, iPad, Symbian, Android, Windows Phone, and HP webOS. "Nyan Cat Adventure", by 21st Street Games, is an officially licensed game. An officially licensed cryptocurrency entitled "Nyancoin" with the domain name nyanco.in (later nyan-coin.org) was launched in January 2014.
Christopher Torres criticized the website nyan.cat, which originally featured a similar-looking cat with the pop tart replaced by a slice of toast, and the same background music. The site, which uses the .cat sponsored top-level domain, was described by Torres as "plagiarized". Since 2012 the website has been operated by Torres, and shows the authentic version of the cat.
Temporary DMCA takedown
On June 27, 2011, the original YouTube video was taken down from the site following a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint from someone claiming to be Torres. Torres immediately issued a statement on his website LOL-comics denying that he was the source of the complaint, and contacted Saraj00n and daniwell, who hold the copyright for the video and the song, in order to file a counter-complaint to YouTube. During the period that the video was unavailable for viewing, Torres received numerous abusive e-mails from people who wrongly believed that he had filed the DMCA complaint. On June 28, 2011, the Nyan Cat video was restored to YouTube.
In May 2013, Christopher Torres and Charles Schmidt, the creators of Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat respectively, jointly sued 5th Cell and Warner Bros. for copyright infringement and trademark infringement over the appearance of these characters without permission in the Scribblenauts series of video games. Torres and Schmidt have registered copyrights on their characters and have pending trademark applications on the names. Torres released a statement saying that he had tried to obtain compensation from 5th Cell and Warner Bros. for commercial use of the character, but was "disrespected and snubbed" multiple times. The suit was settled in September 2013, with Torres and Schmidt being paid for the use of the characters.
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- "daniwell" is variously credited on the web as daniwellP and Daniwell-P; the account that uploaded the song "Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!" uses the name daniwell.
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- Van Syckle, Katie (2013-09-26). "Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat Come Out Ahead in Lawsuit Against Warner Bros.". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02.