Clever Twitter user @555uhz delighted their followers by tweeting the entire Top Gun film through subtitled still frames, at a rate of about 2 frames an hour. The account’s roughly 5,200 followers got bite-sized shots of 80’s nostalgia until the fun police at Paramount sent a takedown notice and the account of @555uhz was suspended.
The takedown notice sent to Twitter explained:
No one is authorized to copy, reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use Top Gun without the express written permission of Paramount.
Notwithstanding this, it has come to our attention that a user of your website, @555uhz, is distributing the Top Gun film, frame by frame, via your website. The following URLs are some examples from the user’s Twitter account, with additional frames being uploaded continuously.
Forget the fact that a heavily edited, non-commercial version of the film shown over the course of many months could arguably be considered “fair use”; In what world does this account give the actual movie competition? Here’s one hypothetical scenario:
“Honey, how about we go old-school tonight and watch Top Gun? I’ll rent it from iTunes.”
“Great idea, stud-muffin! But, it’s on the Internet for free. Let’s cuddle up, while I painstakingly scroll through a tiny clipped version of the movie over the next 110 minutes.”
If anything, the amusing account would continue to give free publicity to Paramount and the potential Top Gun sequel. Instead, Paramount is now facing backlash because of its needlessly aggressive lawyering. The general public reaction over the takedown has ranged from “brain-dead” to “ridiculous“. The tweet below is probably my favorite:
Annie van Damme (@AngeloVanDamn) February 25, 2014
There is a very important public debate to be had about the balance between intellectual property, artist rights, and consumer convenience. But it’s hard to imagine a scenario where occasional tiny clips of Tom Cruise in aviators threaten the financial viability of Paramount.