Who Owns Your Feed? Film Reviewer's Tweet Becomes Full-Page NY Times Ad

Who Owns Your Feed? Film Reviewer's Tweet Becomes Full-Page NY Times Ad

A.O. Scott

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Movie marketers: Meet the 'twurb.'

On Saturday, a full page ad comprising a single tweet appeared in the New York Times to promote Inside Llewyn Davis ahead of this Sunday's Golden Globes.

Plucked from the feed of the paper's film critic, A.O. Scott, the ad reads: "I'm gonna listen to the Llewyn Davis album again. Fare thee well, my honeys."

While critical blurbs have long been used in promotional materials to considerable impact, the incorporation of a tweet into a movie ad raises new issues of ownership and calls into question the legalities of appropriation.

Who Owns Your Feed? Film Reviewer's Tweet Becomes Full-Page NY Times Ad
Scott's tweet ran as a full page ad in Saturday's New York Times.
Image credit: Jen Chung/Gothamist

Related: Have 1,000 Followers? You're in the 96th Percentile of Twitter Users.

According to Twitter guidelines, "explicit permission of the original content creator" must be received for use in ads, and "the full text of the tweet" must be incorporated--both of which tenants seem to have been neglected in this instance.

When asked on Twitter if he had ceded permission to CBS Films--the studio behind Davis--Scott replied, "kind of." And the tweet had in fact been altered to omit the mention of two of the film's competitors. Initially, it read:

Scott himself seemed mystified that something he'd written in passing would be reclaimed as a full-blown ad. "I'm sorry," one of his followers joked, "but I see all of your tweets now in hard copy in the middle of a sea of white space."

While CBS Films declined to comment, the New York Times stated, "Generally we accept movie ads that include quotes from our critics from reliable sources."

Twitter does not comment on individual violations, and so the question remains about what the social networking service can--and should--do to enforce its terms of use. 

Related: Fake Twitter Followers: How Many Do You Have?

Edition: July 2017

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