Twitter has started to shoot down images of the Top Gun movie that were posted on a maverick user’s account.
The @555uhz account had been tweeting each scene of the film frame by frame, with some of the images including dialogue.
But they were soon noticed by Paramount Pictures, the producer of the 1986 action classic, which demanded Twitter remove them.
Paramount, through Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, sent Twitter a takedown request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on February 21. It said that “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 your website,” it added.
“We request that you immediately remove all the Top Gun images from this website relating to the @555uhz user account,” it said.
The email was published on chillingeffects.org, a site that aims to protect lawful online activity from legal threats.
Despite being widely reported that Twitter suspended the account, @555uhz appears to be live. Some images are still on the account’s feed, but @555uhz has not tweeted any images since February 25.
When asked about the account’s status, a Twitter spokesman told WIPR that the company doesn't comment on individual accounts for privacy reasons.
The @555uhz account, which now has more than 7,000 followers, began posting pictures in January this year.
Lawyers have said it is unclear why someone would want to post pictures of a film in this manner.
“It’s such a painstaking exercise, so it’s not immediately obvious why they’re doing it,” said Adam Rendle, associate at Taylor Wessing LLP.
Margaret Esquenet, partner at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP, said she has never seen such a case before.
It is unclear why some of the pictures are still live, while others have been removed.
“I’m a bit surprised that some are still up,” said Esquenet.
Rendle said this may be due to procedural restrictions on Twitter.
“When you submit a complaint to Twitter, it’s quite difficult to report a whole stream of tweets in one go, so you can’t just ask to remove all tweets from an account.”
Asked whether he thought Paramount should have taken action, Rendle said: “It’s a slightly tricky question, but these kinds of screen shots are probably a substantial part of the film.”
Esquenet said the use of the Top Gun images and text “certainly constitutes copyright infringement” and that Paramount was within its rights to file the DMCA takedown request.
“I don’t see how you could justify fair use or some other defence,” she said.
The owner of the @555uhz account could file a counter notification to Twitter, which would have to forward it to Paramount. If after 10 days Paramount did not indicate that it would take legal action to prevent further (alleged) infringement, Twitter could restore the images.
This article was first published on 27 February 2014 in World IP Review
Twitter, digital millennium copyright act, top gun, @555uhz, copyright infringement