Over the last week or so, there have been a bunch of news stories about the (now gone, as we’ll explain in a moment) twitter account, 555uhz, which had been tweeting every half an hour what appeared to be a captioned frame-by-frame image from the classic 1980s movie, Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise. It was slightly weird and quirky, like plenty of random Twitter accounts. This one had picked up a little over 6,000 followers, but late last week Paramount began sending DMCA notices to the account, leading to Twitter shutting down the account entirely, likely for getting so many infringement claims.
So, this site was transmitting 1 frame every half hour. No way would anyone actually collect all the frames to recreate he movie. And it would still have no sound.
But it was such a threat to Paramount that it had to be shut down.
The name of the account gives that away – 555uhz:
But, the real framerate of @555uhz isn’t 24 frames per second, nor is the Twitter account sampling 24 frames per second. The real framerate is the rate at which the account posts frames to Twitter, just like the real framerate in a movie is the rate at which a spool of film projects images onto a screen. We can figure the Top Gun tweet-rate out easily enough: 48 tweets a day, two tweets an hour. That winds up being 2/60 or .034 frames per minute. Now, convert that to frames per second: .000555. Look familiar?
Frames per second is a more specific version of the unit Hertz (Hz), and 1 Hz is just one full cycle of some periodic thing (like sound waves, for example) happening in one second. So we actually have .000555 Hz, which converts nicely to 555 microHertz (uHz).
0.000555 frames per second! It would take over 9 years to collect the whole thing – they were actually simplifying things so it would only have taken a few months.
Yet this is such a threat to Paramount that they have to shut it down
If someone wanted to download the movie illegally there are much easier ways to download it. And much faster.
But the site was drawing interest because it was so unusual and reminded people of the movie. It was aggregating a community of people with an interest in Top Gun. For fno cost to Paramount.
Fans spend an inordinate amount of money and time on the things they are fanatic about. It can cost a lot to find them.
But Paramount was getting them for free. And it simply acted like the authoritarian organization it is. It crapped on its own fans, fans that it most likely spends a lot of money to engage –Paramount spends over $80 million in advertising each year.
A resilient and agile company would have recognized this and leveraged it. I mean, several people said they went and rewatched the movie simply because of this site. Paramount should be happy.
Paramount could have transmitted one of the frames out of sequence and then had a contest for the person who discovered where it was. They could have leveraged the community for all sorts of things instead of destroying it.
All without spending much money at all!
But, they showed themselves an authoritarian dinosaur, calling their own fans criminals and destroying the community.
Now they have a lot of ticked off people instead of fans.
Authoritarians simply act stupid because they know nothing else.