The Null Device
The MPAA show their bizarre, fundamentalist views on intellectual property yet again, this time by sending legal nastygrams to websites using the MPAA's ratings code; i.e., if you claim that your website, photo gallery, Harry Potter fan-fiction story or whatever is G (or PG or R or whatever)-rated, you can expect a cease-and-desist notice in the mail:
"We have a right to go after people who use our trademarks without permission, big or small, whenever we find out about them," said John Feehery, executive vice president for the association. "Our ratings are not supposed to be ripped off."
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."
I'm hoping that this does go to court and the MPAA get a good caning, which, if anything resembling common sense prevails, they should.
Meanwhile, if you're content with the G, PG and R ratings, you can always claim that you're using the Australian ones and not the U.S. ones; the Australian Office of Film and Literature Censorship may be Bowdlerites, but they're probably not Galambosians.
The mother of the boy allegedly abused by the world's only living fairytale prince, Michael Jackson, feared that her children would be abducted from Neverland by hot air balloon. Well, you've got to give him (or her, if she's making it up) points for style.
It looks like Michael Jackson's legacy may be to do for the old-fashioned trappings of childhood (fairgrounds, hot-air balloons, and fairy-tale-style theme parks; all those things seen as somewhat twee, a touch anachronistic, but harmless and innocent), what John Wayne Gacy did for clowns.