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.”
Fledgling technology that helps parents prevent children from watching movie scenes depicting sex, violence or foul language won new legal protections Tuesday under a bill Congress is sending to President Bush.
The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act would assure manufacturers of DVD players and other devices using such technology they would not be violating copyrights of the Hollywood producers of movies.
[…] The bill also would make it a federal crime to use video cameras to record films in movie theaters, and it would set tough penalties of up to 10 years in prison for anyone caught distributing a movie or song prior to its commercial release.