Paramount Pictures is not happy about the way a Twitter user is sharing one of its movies. The Twitter user @555hz attempted to show the entire film “Top Gun” on Twitter through tweets of the film as frame-by-frame clips and images.
The Twitter user posted content from the film every half hour, generating over 1,500 tweets in one month. The user has gained a following of over 6,900 other Twitter users. The handle “@555hz” is suggested to reference the number of frames per second at which the film was being “shown” on Twitter. According to this calculation, the film could be tweeted in 7,000 postings at a rate of two tweets posted per hour. At this rate, the entire film would be on Twitter within 145 days.
Paramount obviously caught this well before the 145-day mark. The last frame was posted on Twitter on February 25, 2014, with Paramount threatening legal action. Paramount issued a Digital Millennium and Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice on February 21, 2014. The DMCA provides a safe harbor for internet service providers and imposes no liability on providers for transmitting information that may infringe a copyright. However, the DMCA requires that the providers remove material from their users’ websites when they receive proper notice that their users are engaging in acts of copyright infringement. This gives copyright holders an avenue to limit those who are infringing their rights.
Though Twitter has not removed @555hz from its site, the user has not posted any Tweets since February 25, 2014. Many of the tweets showing frames of the movie are still available on the user’s Twitter feed, while a few posts are unable to be seen, with the message, “This image has been removed in response to a report from the copyright holder.”
Generally, infringement of a film through the use of film clips would typically be seen on video-based platforms such as YouTube. Additionally, Twitter ostensibly seems like an unlikely candidate as a platform for viewing copyrighted materials, however we now know otherwise with advancements in social media that can lend to such potential infringements. So this case shows the ease, or maybe we should say creative ways, in which individuals may potentially infringe copyrighted material. It enforces the need for lawyers to be quick in responding to infringement (at two frames uploaded per hour, @555hz got quite far!), and the need for the law to keep up with the ways in which users may interact with developing platforms and technology.