Being Too Successful [4:31 pm]
he Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings code - G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17 - is so familiar that the initials are used in everyday conversation about subjects that have nothing to do with movies. But that doesn’t mean that the association wants just anybody to use them.
Recently the association sent e-mail messages and letters to people who write online fan fiction, demanding that they stop tagging stories with the ratings. Fan fiction, which uses characters from popular TV shows, movies and novels in original stories, has used movie ratings for years as a way to help adults find stories with mature content and to steer children away from it. Too many children looking for Harry Potter stories were stumbling onto new and unexpected uses for wands.
[...] Wendy Seltzer, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that the association would have a point only if the fiction sites had claimed that association reviewers had rated the works. Using the ratings as a rough comparison is not a trademark infringement, she said: “It’s like saying a beverage tastes like Coke.”