Top Gun frame-by-frame tweeter shot down by lawyers

Tom Cruise in Top Gun The film was being tweeted in its entirety until lawyers intervened

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A Twitter account that was being used to tweet the film Top Gun frame by frame has been suspended following a complaint from the film studio.

Lawyers for Paramount Pictures said that the retelling of the 1986 film breached its copyright.

But the decision has been derided on social media sites as heavy-handed.

The user had been posting updates, which included captions, for more than a month, but still had the majority of the film to cover.

A letter from the studio's lawyers to Twitter dated 21 February read: "No-one is authorised 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 [Twitter].

"We request that you immediately remove all the Top Gun images from this website relating to the @555uhz user account."

Start Quote

I would have thought there is an argument that it is mean-spirited”

End Quote Emily Goodhand Copyright expert
'Mean-spirited'

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice was published on the Chilling Effects website, which documents legal complaints about online activity. The @555uhz Twitter account has now been suspended.

The move proved unpopular with some. Writer Holly Brockwell said on Twitter: "Ridiculous - Paramount gets Top Gun Twitter account taken down because they're big bullies."

It was, nevertheless, to be expected, according to copyright expert Emily Goodhand.

She said: "In terms of the law, it is even the frames, so even a photograph of a film is classed as a film in law, rather than as a stand-alone photograph."

Ms Goodhand, who works at the University of Reading, said: "A court would look at the amount of frames and the substantiality of them. If it was considered to be a substantial portion that was being tweeted, that would be copyright infringement.

"If it was a single frame, [the letter] would be strongly disproportionate."

But she was less sure about the extent to which the tweets could have affected Paramount Pictures financially.

"I would have thought there is an argument that it is mean-spirited. If he is taking a potshot at the movie industry, that is one thing. But if it was just a joke, then perhaps it is mean-spirited," she said.

"It is quite an unusual case because you would expect it to be on YouTube. But to tweet it frame by frame, it is an interesting approach."

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