The Motion Picture Association of America is going after fan-fiction sites that use its movie rating system -- G, PG, R, etc. -- accusing them of trademark infringement.
A story in the New York Times reports:
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.But others are arguing that it's not a slam-dunk case for the association.
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."One person pointed out that the ratings system is also used by some foreign film board and is therefore not exclusive to the MPAA.
But many of the fan-fiction sites are taking the cease-and-desist letters seriously -- one could see why -- and are switching to new rating systems.
(Link via Charles Apple at the Visual Editors board)