Censor Watch
 2009: August
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31st August   

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Nutters get wound up by Jimmy Carr
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Jimmy Carr DVD Comedian Jimmy Carr is in trouble with stopwatch wielding nutters for swearing once every 60 seconds in his 90-minute stand-up show.

He used the F word 36 times and the C word four times in the first hour of the Channel 4 show.

Jimmy Carr In Concert was broadcast an hour after the 9pm watershed on August 22 and caused further nutter 'outrage' by containing jokes about the Paralympics, incest and homosexuality.

A spokesman for the watchdog group Mediawatch-UK (identified as John Beyer on the Mediawatch-UK website) said: This is a disgrace. It is typical of Channel 4 not to take any notice of guidance surrounding bad language.

Carr also defended his friend Jonathan Ross as a national treasure after the presenter was suspended for making obscene prank phone calls to actor Andrew Sachs.

Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe  said last night: His idea of wit is just a barrage of filth.

Carr has previously refused to apologise for his material. He said: It's not for the easily offended. It's not even for people that are difficult to offend. It's for people who are without a moral compass.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said the show had been broadcast after the watershed and contained a strong language warning.

 

31st August   

ASA Payne...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe
 

ASA whinge at TV advert for Max Payne DVD
Link Here

Max Payne DVD A TV ad, for the DVD of the film Max Payne , showed scenes from the film, which included a character loading a shot gun, explosions, a woman removing her top and another woman in bed, as well as several characters who fired a range of guns. Text on screen, which was also shown with images of guns, stated MORE HEAT MORE PAIN HARDER CUT. A voice-over at the end stated Max Payne harder cut. Out on Blu-ray and DVD now.

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with a post 19.30 scheduling restriction.

One viewer, who saw the ad at 20.45, complained that the ad was too violent to be shown at a time when children might be watching.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA noted the ad did not show physical contact or violence occurring directly between the characters. We noted that there were guns and shooting but considered the overall impression of the ad was one of fictional content of an action gangster film. The presence of guns in that context were unlikely to be interpreted as a suggestion that the use of guns in real life was acceptable. We considered the ad did not encourage or condone violence or cruelty and was unlikely to be seen to glorify guns.

We considered that the ad was unlikely to cause mental harm to children, because it did not present violence in a way which was likely to be seen as condoning comparable behaviour in real life. However, because it showed some violence and several scenes involving guns and shooting, we considered the ad was inappropriate for young children and a post 19.30 restriction was not therefore sufficient. We concluded that a post 21.00 restriction would have minimised the possibility of young children seeing the ad.

 

31st August   

Update: Media Power...

Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

RAI refuses trailer for documentary about rise of Berlusconi's TV stations
Link Here

RAI logo In Italy state-owned TV channels have refused to show the trailer of the latest documentary by Erik Gandini, Videocracy , which looks at the rise of Berlusconi's TV stations and impact on the Italy's customs and ethics.

In a press statement state-owned Rai TV executives justified their decision by saying that the documentary is critical of the government.

 

31st August   

Unappealing Advert Censor...

ASA review their appeals process
Link Here

ASA logo Britain's advert censor is launching a review of its operations following concern from advertisers that it is too difficult to overturn rulings against their ads.

The Advertising Standards Authority review will cover areas such as its processes for handling an ever-growing number of complaints and how appeals against its rulings are judged.

Outside consultants will conduct the review for the ASA, which is expected to be completed by the first half of next year.

The review also coincides with a review of the UK's advertising codes currently taking place and the likelihood that the ASA's remit will soon be extended.

An ASA spokesman said: It's a good time to take stock of how our systems work. It will cover everything from how complaints are handled to how investigations are carried out and how the ASA council makes its decisions.

 

31st August   

Offsite: A Bluer Rinse?...

Daily Mail online forums to change to user flagging of comments rather then moderator pre-approval
Link Here

Daily Mail logo Mail Online, the UK's most visited newspaper website, is to stop moderating user comments.

Mail Online, owned by Associated Newspapers, will continue to use an automatic filter that prohibits inappropriate language. But instead of pre- or post-moderation of online comments, as most newspapers use, it will only review comments if they're reported by users.

James Bromley, MD of Mail Online, said, We have hundreds of thousands of comments every month. Because of the volume, not all were going up. We want to give people their chance to respond and for it to appear immediately. This improves the user experience.

...Read full article

 

31st August   

Offsite: Censorship has No Place in Film...

Chinese efforts to censor our festival overshadowed by Ken Loach's equally insidious attempt
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

The 10 Conditions of Love logo This year's Melbourne International Film Festival was beset by attempts to censor our programme. The most celebrated effort came from the local Chinese consulate – demanding the withdrawal of the documentary 10 Conditions of Love about Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled voice of the Uighur minority. The festival's refusal to comply with this diktat produced an extraordinary response: the withdrawal of several Chinese films, hackers assaulting our website and ticketing system and waves of abusive emails, faxes and phonecalls.

The Kadeer controversy overshadowed an equally insidious attempt to censor our programme by the English filmmaker Ken Loach. While the Chinese wanted to silence Kadeer, Ken Loach demanded that we refuse any cultural sponsorship from Israel.

...Read full article article

 

31st August   

Offsite: Horrendous Bruno...

Nutters have a whinge over US film censorship via the industry serving MPAA
Link Here  full story: Bruno...Supporting the hype for Bruno

Movieguide logo For many years, polls have shown that the public neither understands the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings nor trusts them. Nevertheless, people assume the MPAA is an impartial body and that the ratings have some basis in moral, ethical or child-development standards. When the public's confusion drifts over into the press, it is time once again to clarify the issue.

The rating for the recent bigoted and pornographic comedy Bruno is a prime example. It should have been NC-17. Some countries even banned it.

Bruno contains not only graphic scenes of sodomy, intercourse and sadomasochism, but also a graphic oral sex scene and a close-up of a male sex organ. What arguably is worse, if that is possible, are the movie's attacks on blacks, Jews and Christians.

Because the MPAA was helping one of its member's movies by giving it an R rating instead of an NC-17, we decided to ask local authorities to view the movie and rate it according to their community standards. Community ratings boards used to be the norm. At one time, there were more than 300 of them in the United States. In response to our inquiry letter, several district attorneys said they would look at the movie to consider re-rating it.

We also told the public about some of the horrendous things in the movie. This is not censorship. Censorship by definition is prior restraint by the government. Because the movie already had been made, our action couldn't be prior restraint. Also, because we are not a government agency, we cannot censor anything. Anyone, however, can warn family, friends and community, and we did just that.

...Read full article

 

30th August   

Update: TV, Still the Root of All Evil...

Another Saudi cleric calls for the execution of the owners of Arab TV stations
Link Here  full story: Death to TV Companies in Saudi...Clerics call for death of offending TV broadcasters

MBC logo From an illuminating TV interview with Sheikh Yousuf Al-Ahmad, a professor of Islamic law at Al-ImamUniversity in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Interviewer: A year ago, Sheikh Saleh Al-Lahidan issued a fatwa that made all hell break loose. He demanded that owners [of liberal Arab TV channels be placed on trial] and repent. Do you support Sheikh Al-Lahidan's demand?

Sheikh Yousuf Al-Ahmad: I believe all Muslim scholars support him in this.

[...]

I believe that one of our problems is that we continue to bury our heads in the sand, and talk about 'Lebanese' TV channels, as if we are being honest. Take LBC, for example. We all know who owns it. We should say to [the owner] Al-Walid bin Talal: Beware. The same is true of MBC TV, Al-Arabiya TV, the ART and Rotana channels - all these [Saudi] channels serve to destroy Islam and the Muslims.

[...]

Regarding these base channels that I have mentioned, and others like them - I have no doubt whatsoever that their danger to the Islamic nation is no less than that of the Zionist Jews, or of the Crusader Americans in Iraq and elsewhere.

Interviewer: What led you to such an extremist view? Note that you are equating channels owned by Muslims, by Saudi citizens, with the Jews.

Sheikh Yousuf Al-Ahmad: I wasn't equating them. I said they are more dangerous. I was being precise. In my view, the deadly poison that they are spreading has reached the bone marrow.

[...]

The people who spread corruption in the land - whether highway robbers, drug dealers, or the owners of these TV channels, who are even more dangerous... These channels broadcast corruption and nudity. They are all people who spread corruption in the land, and they should be tried in an Islamic court of law and sentenced to death. This [fatwa] is clearly in accordance with Islamic law. There's no doubt about it.

[...]

Our human nature may tell us that stoning is unacceptable, but this is a punishment decreed by Allah. If Allah decrees death - this is how it should be. If the Islamic scholars ruled that the punishment for drug dealers is death, this is how it should be.

I believe that [the TV channel owners] are more dangerous than all of these. Forget about whether or not they should be killed - we demand that they face trial in an Islamic court of law.

I call upon the good, honorable businessmen to contribute their millions in order to hire lawyers to file Islamic lawsuits against these TV channels owners, and to persecute them legally. I call upon lawyers and good people in Saudi Arabia, in the Gulf states, in Egypt, in Yemen, and everywhere, to banish them from all Muslim countries.

 

30th August   

Ramadan a Ban...

Kuwait ministry uses Ramadan as excuse to ban programmes it doesn't like
Link Here

Scope TV logo A new phenomena is spreading this Ramadan. More than one local TV soap opera has been stopped from broadcasting by Kuwait's Ministry of Information. Others self censored in fear of ministry action.

The most famous case was the Sotik Wasal TV soap, broadcasted on the private Kuwaiti satellite channel, Scope TV . This comedy soap was lampooning members of parliament and ministers. Most target politicians didn't protest against it and refused the resolution of the Ministry of Information to ban it. But now Ramadan has been cited as an excuse to bam the programme.

In a statement made by the Kuwait Society for Human Rights (KSHR), the organization condemned such acts by the Cabinet and the Ministry of Information. They believe all cultural and intellectual works should be allowed to be broadcasted if done so within the law and that afterwards, the victims can go to court to demand their rights if he or she thinks their rights were violated by the works. The society also demanded that more freedom be exercised and said that censorship should only be put in place in
accordance with the law.

 

30th August   

Update: Seeking Salvation...

Director's Cut of Terminator Salvation rated R
Link Here  full story: Terminator Salvation...Hyping up cuts for a lower rating

Terminator Salvation poster Terminator Salvation Director's Cut has just been rated R by the MPAA for Violence and Brief Nudity.

The official line on the PG-13 rated Theatrical Version was:

Director McG only cut one shot in "Terminator Salvation" to earn the PG-13 rating. The quick cut involved featuring Sam Worthington's character Marcus stabbing a screwdriver through the shoulder of a thug.

McG claims that in the end the nude Moon Bloodgood shot “felt more like a gratuitous moment of a girl taking her top off in an action picture, and I didn't want that to convolute the story or the characters.

So the MPAA's rating doesn't really dispute the earlier reports about what was taken out of the movie, but calling it a Director's Cut causes you to ponder the director's credbility.

 

30th August   

Bond Banned...

James Bond style gun ad banned by the advert censor
Link Here

Klaus Kobec logo A regional press ad, in the London Evening Standard, for Klaus Kobec watches.

The ad featured an image of a man pointing a small gun towards the reader. This fabulous new gentleman's watch is not only suave and sophisticated, it's incredibly sexy looking too. With its nostalgic face and exceptionally robust stainless steel body it attracts admiring glances wherever it's worn.

Four complainants objected that the ad, in particular the image of the gun pointing towards the reader, was offensive and glamorised gun crime and violent behaviour.

ASA Assessment: Upheld

The ASA considered that James Bond was likely to be seen as a glamorous, suave character with an aspirational lifestyle. Although we acknowledged that the ad used a play on words associated with the Bond theme, we noted the image of the gun featured prominently in the ad and focussed on the barrel of the gun rather than on the mans face or character. We considered that, especially because the gun was pointing directly toward the reader, the ad was likely to be seen as glamorising gun culture and violence.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code and must not appear again in its current form.

 

30th August   

Miserable Clowns...

Saudi religious police ban summer festivals and circus acts
Link Here

Saudi religious police logo Religious police in Saudi Arabia are cracking down on summer festivals and circuses intended by the government to boost domestic tourism, because they violate strict religious restrictions on singing, dancing, the mixing of unrelated men and women, and evil circus performances, Reuters reported.

Circus acts such as fire-eating and lying on a bed of glass are seen as forms of magic outlawed by Sharia law.

These acts contradict the faith and must not be done, taught, spread or encouraged, Reuters quoted religious police spokesman Abdullah al-Mashiti: They must be fought and those performing them must be reported and punished so as to be deterred and their evil restricted.

Unfortunately such actions carried on by religious police do not adhere to the official political will and they sabotage the government efforts to improve and maintain the internal tourism industry, Reuters quoted Mahmoud Sabbagh, a Saudi newspaper columnist.

 

30th August   

Offsite: Who Will Define Blasphemy?...

Ireland's new prohibition on blasphemy taints a long overdue piece of legislation
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law

Last Temptation of Christ So what is blasphemy? According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is talk or act reviling a sacred person or thing. In reality, nobody is quite sure what this actually means.

Were those of us who said, back in 1968, that Pope Paul VI was either wrong, or misguided, or just plain foolish, to publish an encyclical outlawing all forms of artificial contraception committing blasphemy?

Is it blasphemous to say that the Church of Scientology is the creation of a dead charlatan, or to claim, as French prosecutors have done, that it is more of a mechanism for making money than saving souls?

Was Dan Brown guilty of blasphemy when he said in his 2003 international bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, that Jesus had sex with Mary Magdalene? This was the contention that also led to calls for the banning of the 1988 movie, The Last Temptation of Christ , directed by Martin Scorsese.

...Read full article

 

29th August   

Update: Australian Censorship Just Like in Iran...

YouTube video of killing during Iranian election protests declared as 'prohibited content' in Australia
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Iran protests on video On 20 June 2009, a young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, was shot and killed during the Iranian election protests. Her death was captured on video, and spread virally on the Internet, becoming a rallying cry for the Iranian protests.

Given the notorious attempts by the Iranian government to censor the protests, both online and in the media, I thought it would be fitting to test Senator Stephen Conroy's assertions that the Government's proposed mandatory Internet filter was unlike the censorship that occurs in Iran and under other undemocratic regimes.

I submitted the following to ACMA:

I am an Australian resident. I believe the content at the following links is prohibited content or potential prohibited content hosted outside Australia within the meaning of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

  • Boing Boing post with embedded YouTube video showing the death of Neda Agha-Soltan and associated commentary.
  • YouTube video showing the death of Neda Agha-Soltan.
  • YouTube video showing another angle of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan.]

Each contains graphic video, apparently real, of a young girl shot in the chest and bleeding to death over the course of a couple of minutes.

The first link has no restrictions for viewing the video (but contains a textual warning). The second two links require registration and a declaration of date of birth (and also contain textual warnings).

The videos document the recent violence in Iran.

Today, 64 days later, I received a notice from ACMA confirming that the content was prohibited content.

As part of the ACMA's investigation of the complaint, it applied to the Classification Board for classification of the content concerned. As a result of the Classification Board's decision (R18+), and as the content is not subject to a restricted access system, it is prohibited content under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

ACMA has an obligation to blacklist (ie, add to the list of websites containing prohibited content, which is distributed to makers of IIA Family Friendly Filters) any site hosting prohibited content overseas. ACMA has no discretion not to blacklist content that meets the statutory definition of prohibited content.

Although the position was ambiguous initially (and is arguably still uncertain), Senator Stephen Conroy has now stated that the Government wants to constrain mandatory Internet filtering to content that is refused classification. (Though, refused classification content is much broader than his statements suggest.)

Because this content was classified R 18+ and not refused classification, this content would not be subject to mandatory filtering under a regime that mandated filtering only of content that has been refused classification.

However, none of this applies to sites hosted in Australia. ACMA can still issue a take-down, or link-deletion notice, to any site hosting, or linking to, R 18+ content that is not subject to a restricted access system (or other prohibited content). And you can be fined $11,000 per day if you don't comply with the notice by 6:00 pm the next business day.

 

29th August   

Update: UN Board of Censors...

The UN has a whinge at RapeLay and sexually violent Japanese anime
Link Here  full story: Western censorship of Japanese Games...Japanese games winds up the social justice whingers

UN logo The debate over graphic Japanese sex games such as RapeLay continues with word that the United Nations is stepping in.

At a meeting earlier this month, the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called for a ban on explicit video games and anime.

As reported by Anime News Network, the committee urged Japan to ban the sale of video games or cartoons involving rape and sexual violence against women which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.

The committee also expressed concern at the normalization of sexual violence in the State party as reflected by the prevalence of pornographic video games and cartoons featuring rape, gang rape, stalking and the sexual molestation of woman and girls.

 

29th August   

James Murdoch also with a Bias Against Intervention...

Having a knock at Ofcom's bollox claims
Link Here

News Corp logo News Corp chief James Murdoch described UK TV as the Addams Family of world media in a hard-hitting MacTaggart lecture.

Ignoring his self serving whinge at the BBC for providing a quality new service for free when he wants us to pay for his, he also has a go at the TV censor Ofcom.

He said: The repeated assertion by Ofcom of its bias against intervention is becoming impossible to believe in the face of so much evidence of the opposite.

A spokesman for Ofcom spewed: Ofcom welcomes Mr Murdoch's contribution to the debate on future regulation. Ofcom is committed to its duty to protect consumers' and viewers' interest and to promote competition and innovation based on thorough and objective evidence and analsysis.

 

29th August   

Taking the Gospel to the Lost...

Christian nutters protest against Marilyn Manson gig
Link Here

Marilyn Manson CD Christians came out in their droves to protest against a Marilyn Manson concert in California.

Demonstrators gathered outside the Pomona Fox Theater in Los Angeles County waiving placards and chanting pro-Christian messages.

One of the protesters, Rod Warner, told the San Bernardino Sun: The only thing I'm out here to accomplish is what the lord, Jesus Christ, through my belief, tells me to accomplish. And that's take his gospel to the lost.

Every shirt you see here depicts nothing but death. They can say they're Christians if they want to, but the Lord says worship me with your heart not your mouth.

Marilyn Manson fan Cesar Haro was unimpressed with the protests, saying: a. "We think arguing with these people is cool ... but we do think it's very disrespectful, though. They're disrespecting our area and our right to be here.

Despite the protests, the show went ahead as scheduled.

 

29th August   

Updated: No Jokers...

USA gets wound up by jokes about its leadership
Link Here

Obama as Joker A poster depicting Barack Obama as Batman villain The Joker has been called mean-spirited and dangerous by the President's supporters.

The image shows him wearing the white face paint and smudged red lips of the character most recently played by the late actor Heath Ledger. Beneath the picture reads the word 'socialism'.

The creator of the image remains unknown, but the website that first published the image crashed because so many had been attempting to view it.

The right-wing editor of the American Thinker website, Thomas Lifson, wrote today: It is starting. Open mockery of of Barack Obama, as disillusionment sets in with the man, his policies, and the phony image of a race-healing, brilliant, scholarly middle-of-the-roader.

A spokesman from the Los Angeles urban policy unit said that depicting the president as demonic and a socialist: goes beyond political spoofery.

The image comes as the President faces criticism over his plans to create a $1trillion healthcare programme. Republican chairman Michael Steele first used the word 'socialism' in relation to Obama two weeks ago as he slammed the President's attempts to push Congress into passing the healthcare reforms.

Update: A Flickr of Arbitrary Censorship

29th August 2009. Based on article from news.softpedia.com

Censr logo The picture hosting website Flickr eventually took down the Joker image of Obama citing a rather weak sounding copyright claim.

The whole affair started when a Chicago native student, Firas Alkhateeb, created an image of president Obama wearing the Joker's make-up from the recent Batman - Dark Knight movie. The picture was a modification of a Time Magazine cover from 2006, and soon became a hit among Flickr users, bloggers and political fanatics.

The picture was so successful that it showed up at any rally against president Obama's Government, as activists embraced the image as a sign of the future to come. After about 20,000 views on Flickr only, on August 14, the photo sharing website suddenly removed the photo from Alkhateeb's profile page citing copyright infringements of the DMCA license.

Two weeks after the incident, new details arose, depicting the events that happened those days. According to Thomas Hawk, a photographer from San Francisco, he actually saw the name on the Flickr takedown notice and characterized it as totally bogus.

PDN Pulse, a photography news website, also reports that after contacting Time Magazine, the photographer that took the Obama photo and DC Comics, owners of the Joker character, none of them issued a copyright infringement complaint on Flickr for the Obama Joker photo.

 

29th August   

Turkish Propaganda...

Turkish newspaper banned for one month for article on the Kurdish language
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Turkey...Not so free press

Gunluk newspaper The Turkish daily newspaper Gnlk has been banned for one month because of articles and news items written by Professor Amir Hassanpour of Toronto University.

The Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court took this decision on the grounds of article 7/2 in the Anti-Terrorism Law, claiming that Hassanpour's articles contain organizational propaganda.

In a written statement, Gnlk's chief editor Filiz Koçali criticized the decision: We cannot talk about a democratic opening if we cannot make the Kurdish people talk.

Koçali continues: The reason for the ban is an article written by the internationally renowned professor Hassanpour, who has published articles in international journals and newspapers. With this decision Turkey applies censorship to an internationally well-known linguist.

The Democratic Society Party (DTP) also condemned the decision, emphasizing that the government has to ease the pressure on freedom of expression in order to proceed on the way to finding a solution to the Kurdish question. Therefore they ask for an amendment of the restrictive regulations in the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) and in the Anti-Terrorism Law.

Gnlk newspaper has been publishing since January this year and was handed a two-month ban in June for spreading PKK propaganda in two issues of the paper.

In his article titled Linguistic rights in the linguistics system of the developed world: State, market and communication technologies Hassanpour deals with the pressure on the Kurdish language in Turkey.

 

28th August   

Quickstep to Retirement...

MediaWatchWatch report that Beyer will waltz off at the end of September
Link Here

Strictly Come Dancing MediawatchWatch report:

With “Massah” John Beyer stepping down as director of Mediawatch-UK at the end of September, it is left to us to sadly savour the last words of The Dail Mail's favourite rent-a-gob, as we would savour the final drops at the bottom of a glass of fine malt whisky.

The latest “row” conjured up by a reporter's phone call to the Sage of Ashford concerns the BBC's choice of Martina Hingis as a contestant in the popular show Strictly Come Dancing.

Hingis tested positive for cocaine in 2007 – although she has always protested her innocence.

Beyer's whinge was not one of his brightest moments:

This is a family show that is targeted at a family audience.

The danger is that this decision would tend to minimise the seriousness of her drug-taking, which resulted in a ban on her playing.

The BBC could have put in many other personalities who I'm sure would love to take part in the show and they could have chosen someone without that record. The question is whether it sets a good or bad example.

Let's hope Beyer spends his last month in office coming up with a better swansong. He has excelled in the past eg for suggesting that all bog standard porn owners should be put in prison for 3 years. And don't forget his classic call for an AntiSocial Behaviour Order (ASBO) for TV

 

28th August   

Update: Human Rights Go Walkabout...

UN finds Australia breaches human rights in discriminatory laws against Aborigines
Link Here  full story: Discriminatory Porn Ban in Australia...Porn is banned in Aboriginal communities

UN logo Australia breached international obligations on human and indigenous rights by imposing radical restrictions on Aborigines during a crackdown on child abuse in Outback communities, a United Nations expert said.

James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous human rights, said a 12-day fact-finding tour of Australia revealed that the Aboriginal minority still suffers from entrenched racism.

His comments came as the government launched its latest attempt to address the inequality, ill health and poverty among Australia's 500,000 indigenous people. The government said it would set up a national representative body this year to advise it on policies relating to Aborigines.

Anaya, a University of Arizona human rights law professor, said he was particularly concerned by restrictions imposed on Aborigines in the Northern Territory in response to a 2006 government-commissioned report that found child sex abuse was rampant in remote indigenous communities.

The government suspended its own anti-discrimination law so it could ban alcohol and hardcore pornography in Aboriginal communities and restrict how Aborigines spend their welfare cheques. The restrictions do not apply to Australians of other races.

These measures overtly discriminate against Aboriginal peoples, infringe their right of self-determination and stigmatise already stigmatised communities, Anaya said. The measures were too broad and had been imposed for too long, despite a lack of evidence that the ban on alcohol had reduced alcohol abuse, he said.

The restrictions were incompatible with Australia's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he said.

Nutters voice a rather predicable solution to the discrimination

28th August 2009. Based on article from au.christiantoday.com

ACL logo Bans on X-rated pornography in Northern Territory indigenous communities should be extended to all Australian communities, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) said.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said that rather than lifting critically needed bans on pornography in NT communities in response to United Nation concerns that they are discriminatory, the bans needed to be applied across Australia so that they assist all communities badly affected by pornography.

The Little Children Are Sacred report released by the NT Government in June 2007 identified pornography as one of the main drivers of an epidemic of sexual abuse which included the rape of babies and a case of a 17-year-old forcing younger children to watch pornography and then act it out, Wallace said.

It once and for all put paid to suggestions that pornography isn't harmful to children.

Given the way pornography helped fuel documented cases of sexual abuse in NT indigenous communities it would be irresponsible in the extreme to put more children at risk by lifting the pornography bans there.

However, there is certainly a case to be made that the bans are discriminatory when this situation wouldn't be confined to indigenous communities. There would be many other communities in Australia - even some in our major cities - which are isolated by lack of opportunity and social disadvantage and would be as badly affected by pornography. Surely all children need protecting.

Wallace called on the Federal Government to work with all States and Territories to deal with the issue of pornography: For a start the production and sale of X-rated pornography in the ACT – and the territory's thriving mail order business to the States – should be banned. Attorneys-General from all jurisdictions should then be jointly deciding on a national approach to protect Australians from this serious problem.

 

28th August   

The Wonderful World of No Sex...

Australian TV censor harangues cable company over marginally adult TV
Link Here

Cathouse DVD Australia's TV censor, ACMA, have imposed enforceable undertakings about program classification on FOXTEL after finding code breaches

This is the first time an enforceable undertaking has been offered and accepted from a licensee in the subscription television sector. In January 2009, the ACMA accepted an enforceable undertaking from The Nine Network and WIN Corporation licensees relating to the classification of Underbelly and Gordon Ramsay programs on commercial free-to-air television.

The enforceable undertaking was imposed in response to investigations into episodes of the programs Cathouse (Showtime Channel), The Wonderful World of Sex (The Comedy Channel) and Naked Wild On (E! Entertainment Channel). These programs were found to contain sexual content and/or nudity that could not be accommodated at the MA15+ classification, and therefore breached the ASTRA Subscription Television Codes of Practice 2007 (the codes).

The programs in question were classified R18+ by the Classification Board. Under the codes, content higher than MA15+ cannot be broadcast on subscription broadcast television services and can only be shown on subscription narrowcasting television services when access is restricted by disabling devices.

‘The ACMA considers classification-related breaches which are at the upper threshold of what may be broadcast on Australian television as particularly serious.  The undertaking requires FOXTEL to develop, implement and maintain a classification compliance strategy to deal with content that contains the classifiable elements of sex and/or nudity. The strategy acknowledges community sensitivity around adult content and includes obligations to ensure that programs are correctly classified. The undertaking requires FOXTEL to request that all channels confirm in writing that they will comply with the strategy and also aim to ensure that compliance with the strategy is a requirement of all new and renewed channel supply contracts.

 

28th August   

Update: Make Believe Lawmakers...

Venezuela to solve crime problems by banning violent video games
Link Here

Mercenaries 2 While Venezuela has been the (unwilling) setting for at least one violent video game Mercenaries 2: World in Flames , lawmakers there are moving ahead with plans to ban violent games and toys.

The effort, reports Reuters, is aimed at reducing an unprecedented wave of crime and violence. According to Reuters, dozens of people are murdered in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas every week.

A measure detailing the proposed ban passed Venezuela's National Assembly this week. In order to become law, the game ban bill would need to be voted on a second time and then signed into law by President Hugo Chavez.

 

28th August   

Update: Freedom Gets a Black Eye...

Malaysia bans muslims from Black Eye Peas gig over Guinness sponsorship
Link Here  full story: Pop Stars in Malaysia...Malaysia not much into the world of pop stars

Black Eyed Peas CD Malaysian Muslims will not be allowed to attend a concert in Kuala Lumpur next month by US hip-hop stars the Black Eyed Peas , officials say.

The ban is over the show's sponsorship by Irish beer giant Guinness, as part of its 250th anniversary celebrations.

Guinness will not be allowed to sell its famous black stout at the event or use its logo in publicity material.

Malaysia's majority Malays are subject to Islamic laws, while the large Chinese and Indian minorities are not.

The website for the Black Eyed Peas' event asks: Are you a non-Muslim aged 18 years and above? , and bars access if the answer is no.

Previous pop concerts, including one by the Black Eyed Peas in 2007, have been open to Muslims.

Officials at the Culture Ministry said the show would not normally have been approved because of the connection with alcohol, but ministers let it go ahead in the hope that it would boost tourism, says the BBC's Robin Brant in Kuala Lumpur.

 

28th August   

Updated: Side Splitting...

Calls for the VRA to be consigned to the dustbin of history
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

  We really need to bring back
weekly collections!

I almost split my sides laughing, until I recalled that for a quarter of a century people have been flung in prison for crimes that never existed. I hope that the government ends up paying massive compensation. As far as my taxes are concerned, it's a worthier cause than bombing Afghans, or prosecuting prostitutes' maids for "controlling" them.

We Brits need to wake up top what our control freak government is doing. Every time some nutter whinges about the opening of a sex shop, we need to point out that such shops are only necessary because of the (illegal) VRA. If M. LeBrun, Herr Braun and Sig. Bruni want a naughty film, they can buy it from a mainstream shop or by mail order, while Mr Brown is obliged (or, it appears, not obliged) to skulk into a sex shop in a sub-prime shopping area.

I suggest that all Melon Farmers write to their MPS asking for this nonsense to be consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs.

From Alan (writing from a civilised country, where the station bookstall has a range of mucky films available to commuters)

Extra Laws

27th August 2009 by Jon Williams, See article from pleasedsheep.com

The 1984 VRA has turned into rather a mess.

The Girl Next Door Unrated As the Act was written a long time before DVD's and DVD extras, it's all a matter of interpretation as to what, besides the actual film, needed to be classified. In my book audio commentaries would be exempt, but the BBFC tells you that 'Our lawyers suggest that these require classification'. And what about 'the making of...' documentaries, interviews with cast and crew members and so on. Ask the BBFC and they reply with, "It's our job to classify things, it's up to you what you send us, we can't tell you what the law is - look at the Act". I did, and I discovered that it's policed by Trading Standards who only act in response to a complaint. Their concern is actually more with pirate copies. So I put the question to a cross section of Trading Standards departments as to what was exempt when it came to DVD extras. And I got a lot of different replies, ranging from nothing is exempt, to everything other than deleted scenes is. And then others pointed out that the film's classification applies to the whole DVD, so if it's an '18' then the extras can't be separately classified as they've got an '18' by default. What's more they couldn't imagine anyone complaining about any extras not having been classified (how would they know) but they would complain if any of the extras went way beyond the film's classification. Of course none of them wanted me to quote them, on the grounds that only a judge could make any legal interpretations. But I did get the impression that, provided the filmmakers included appropriate extras, they had more important things to be getting on with.

Right now, for the next few months, all this has been made irrelevant. But it is a golden opportunity to push for some sensible reforms, such as the introduction of 'unrated-18' which would bring us into line with the US as well as several other civilised countries.

Help for Small Circulation DVDs

27th August 2009. From John, see also www.myspace.com/julianmarshiii

Titus Andronicus in Inuit An idea that may have appeal even to MPs who don't care about censorship issues...

If I make a film - or even want to release one from the decades ago - I have to obtain a certificate (except for a few special cases - innocuous documentaries and music videos). And that will cost me over £1,000 for a feature length film.

As a new and unknown film maker I may sell only 250 copies of my film (an adaptation of Shakespeare say - and not a Bard Nasty like TITUS ANDRONICUS but an innocuous tale like ROMEO AND JULIET with its street sword fights and under-age lust and... well, maybe one of his other ones *grin*). That means £4 or more has to be added to the final sale price merely to pay the BBFC.

Isn't this a choke on creativity? But aren't we always being told that our creative industries are worth billions to the economy?

The VRA is quite clearly preventing limited interest productions from being seen. (This is as true for our cinematic heritage as it is for new titles. What, for example, is the expected sales figure for a DVD of a silent film, I wonder? Considering the limited appeal, I'd imagine that the BBFC fee makes up a significant proportion of the cost of getting it to market.)

Offsite: Could the UK Video Recordings Act of 1984 get any more useless?

28th August 2009. See article from spiked-online.com by Graham Barnfield

Spiked logo The bottom line is that criminal law needs to butt out of the cinema and home entertainment industries. If consenting participants in film productions emerge unharmed from the production process, then the resulting films would meet a revised, forward-looking minimum legal threshold in future. (Whether they should go ahead on aesthetic or commercial grounds is a separate issue.) This latest humiliation for the Video Recordings Act 1984 should be a chance to wipe the tape clean and treat adult viewers as adults.

...Read the full article

 

28th August   

Update: None of Our Effing Business...

Government responds to Mediawatch-UK petition against swearing on TV
Link Here

10 Downing Street logo John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK initiated a petition on the 10 Downing Street website against swearing on TV:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make urgent representation to the Broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, the broadcasting institutions operating in the UK and film regulators, asking them to stop the use of unnecessary swearing and bad language in their productions (including those available for downloading from websites) and to urge providers of user-generated content to take similar action.

Beyer explained further:

Concern about the volume and nature of swearing on television made headlines when in November 2008 Michael Grade, the Executive Chairman of ITV, observed that swearing had become “unrestrained” and “indiscriminate”. He also stated that people do not want to hear those words.

In May 2008 the Radio Times conducted an opinion poll, which found that 69% of people believed there is too much swearing on TV. In November 2008 the Sunday Express launched a Clean Up TV Crusade focusing on the excessive use of swearing and the Sunday Telegraph conducted a poll which found that 56% of people thought the f*** word should never be used on TV.

The Office of Communications (Ofcom) in its Communications Market reports for 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 found that the majority of people believe there is too much swearing on TV.

mediawatch-uk believes that swearing on TV has reached such proportions that it is threatening the English language, that it is undermining the Government's policies on Education to improve communication skills and hindering initiatives to restore respect and civility to our society.

The petition closed with 5917 signatures and therefore received a response from the government:

The Government believes that it is important that we have high standards across our broadcasting sector particularly in public service broadcasting. However, it is a long-standing principle that the Government does not interfere in programme matters, either on arrangements for scheduling or on content, as it is important to maintain the principle of freedom of expression which political interference could undermine.

For this reason, Ofcom, the BBC Trust and S4C are independent of the Government and are responsible for safeguarding the public interest in broadcasting. They set out the rules and guidance with which broadcasters must comply. Within this framework, it is the broadcasters' job to make judgements about what individual programmes should contain and the time at which they are broadcast.

 

28th August   

Adults Only...

Uncut version of Manhunt 2 to be released in the US
Link Here

ESRB AO label The US games rating ESRB website shows a listing for a PC release of Manhunt 2 - rated as Adults Only.

Presumably, this release will differ from the cut version that hit consoles in America, which was rated M.

Rockstar's ultra-violent stealth-action game was at the centre of a controversy that lasted quite some time. Over here at least the game was banned by the BBFC back in 2007 - a move applauded by ELSPA - and Rockstar went away and rejigged it before submitting it once more. The BBFC rejected it once again, but finally, in March 2008, the cut version of the game was finally approved.

See article from gamepolitics.com

The Big Three console makers won't license AO-rated games for their systems, which makes it tough for a publisher to earn a return on its investment. That's why you don't see any AO-rated console games. While the open architecture of the PC negates licensing concerns, an AO-rated Manhunt 2 would still get thumbs-down from major retailers like GameStop and Wal-Mart.

Rockstar could though ship an M-rated version to stuffy US retailers while distributing an AO-rated version to more accommodating retailers and also online.

 

28th August   

No Fun in Malaysia...

Malaysia seizes topical cartoon magazine
Link Here

Gedung Kartun The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) are concerned about the confiscation of hundreds of copies of a cartoon magazine on current issues edited by prominent cartoonist Zunar. The confiscation smacks of harassment and censorship of discussion of current issues.

On 25 August 2009, officials from the Control of Publication Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs seized copies of the inaugural issues of Gedung Kartun (Cartoon Store) from the publisher's office in Kuala Lumpur. According to the magazine's editor-in-chief, Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, better known as Zunar, more than 400 copies were seized.

When contacted by CIJ, the department's assistant secretary, Abdul Razak Abdul Latif, said the magazine was confiscated primarily due to the lack of a publication permit as well as for content checking.

The confiscation is a form of harassment against those who publish alternative interpretations of current events. Zunar is a long time contributor to the online news site malaysiakini.com and is well-known for his political cartoons.

Update: Prosecution

10th October 2009. See article from prachatai.com

The government's decision to prosecute the company that published the new cartoon magazine Gedung Kartun for not having a permit is a setback for press freedom in Malaysia. The decision was announced by Jamilah Taib, the head of the interior ministry's communication unit. The company insists it did get a verbal go-ahead.

We urge the interior ministry to reverse its ban on Gedung Kartun, Reporters Without Borders said. It is regrettable that the authorities reacted to its appearance by confiscating copies and threatening the publishers with prosecution. The government should allow cartoonists to express themselves freely on social and political issues. This ban is a grave act of censorship.

Gedung Kartun's publisher and editor, known as Zunar, told Reporters Without Borders: I did not get a reply from the ministry about the licence. I want to continue publishing this cartoon magazine even if we have to change its name. I want to promote a cartoon culture, which is new in Malaysia. Zunar added: People continue to come to me to buy the magazine. We printed 15,000 copies? [The authorities] are afraid of cartoons because they are independent and reach out to all generations. As we are not an opposition publication, it scares them.

The interior ministry said Zunar's company, Sepakat Efektif, would be prosecuted under  the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984 for publication without a licence. As its owner, Zunar faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 20 million rupees.

 

28th August   

Not So Fair Sects...

Charandas Chor banned in Indian state of Chhattisgarhi
Link Here

Charandas Chor poster An Indian state government has succumbed to an unreasonable demand by a specific interest group, and banned a work of art. This time, it is the acclaimed play, Charandas Chor (Charandas, the Thief), by the late Habib Tanvir.

The play is in Chhattisgarhi, the language of one of India's newest states, Chhattisgarh, which was carved out of Madhya Pradesh.

The state government banned the play because a sect called the Satnam Panth, or the followers of the true name , protested against the play, saying it showed their beliefs in a bad light.

Satnami Panth emerged in the 19th century, comprising about a sixth of Chhattisgarh's population. They reject Hindu idolatry, placing faith in a guru (a hereditary title), and are made up of socially-disadvantaged groups from the state.

This ban is strange on many levels. Firstly, Charandas Chor has been around since 1974, and it has already been made into a critically-praised film by Shyam Benegal, one of the leading directors of the Indian new wave of the 1970s. Secondly, the cast of the play in various productions over the year has been made up of local actors, several of whom have been Satnamis. Over the years no one has objected to this play. Another point is that a character in the play speaks the offending lines, but that does not make those opinions facts , nor do they reflect Tanvir's view; even if they did, this should not matter. Finally, it once again demonstrates the state's acquiescence to any group of aggrieved individuals, by banning a controversial work, thus narrowing the space of public conversation in India.

 

27th August   

Update: A Flood of Unclassified Cover Ups...

Barbara Follett tried to keep the lid on the VRA being erased from UK law
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

DCMS logo Wikileaks has published a letter sent from UK Parliament Under Secretary Barbara Follett MP to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC.

The letter is dated 24th of August 2009 and is informing Public Prosecutions of an issue that has risen in relation to the Video Recordings Act 1984, which appears to be that offences under the Act are unenforceable, and existing investigations should not be continued.

After explaining the situation, Follett in an obvious attempt to suppress a spreading public knowledge about this issue asks DPP to consider carefully what reasons are given to the court in relation to any discontinuations, fearing the market could be flooded with unclassified DVDs.

 

27th August   

Updated: Irrational Ratings...

FCC to report on rationalising content rating schemes
Link Here

FCC logo US TV censors will consider a single ratings system that would warn parents of programming on television, video games, and wireless telephones that could be inappropriate for children, officials said.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will begin the inquiry after an agency report to be delivered Aug. 31 to Congress on media blocking and rating techniques, said two commission officials.

The FCC action follows congressional queries into whether children are harmed by inappropriate content, such as sex, violence and obscenity. Senators want to know whether revisions are needed to the law to protect children, said Senator Jay Rockefeller. The West Virginia Democrat, who chairs the Commerce Committee, said at a July 22 hearing that constituents are horrified by some programming.

Major broadcasters, along with trade groups for wireless providers including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless and for software makers such as Microsoft Corp., have voiced opposition to the plan. TV programs already are assigned ratings by broadcasters, and TV sets contain technology called the V-chip that can block display of all programs with a common rating.

The Senate, in language accompanying the 2007 law that mandated the FCC report, said it wanted the agency to gather information about the availability of alternative blocking technologies. Because television content is available over the Internet and over mobile devices, the legislation also required the FCC to consider blocking technologies that may be appropriate across a wide variety of content distribution platforms, the Senate report said.

Major broadcasters told FCC officials in an Aug. 4 meeting that a compulsory ratings system run by a third party would constitute compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment, according to a disclosure filing at the FCC.

The Entertainment Software Association, a Washington-based trade group, said in a May 18 filing at the FCC that the agency has no jurisdiction over video games and their ratings systems.

CTIA-The Wireless Association told the FCC in an April 16 filing that regulation isn't necessary because the industry has worked voluntarily to meet parents' demands.

 

27th August   

Update: Disrespectful and Intolerant Christians...

Madonna winds up Bulgarian nutters
Link Here  full story: Madonna Crucified...Madonna winds up the nutters

Sticky & Sweet book Bulgaria's Orthodox Church has repeated its call for Bulgarians to boycott Madonna's August 29 concert, accusing the controversial singer of showing disrespect to Christianity.

About 50 000 people are expected to attend the show at Sofia's Vasil Levski Stadium.

The Church issued a statement expressing disapproval and disagreement with Saturday's event, and says the American performer openly violates holy Christian symbols.

Tuesday's statement accused Madonna of displaying a disrespectful and intolerant attitude to Christians' religious feelings on her ongoing Sticky and Sweet tour.

The gig this Saturday reportedly coincides with another religious holy day, in which the region recognises the beheading of Saint John the Baptist by spending the day fasting.

 

27th August   

Offsite: Another Fine Mess...

Julian Petley on the VRA debacle
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

Index on Censorship logo Legislate in haste, repent at leisure — that, most assuredly, is the lesson of the really quite extraordinary news that the Video Recordings Act 1984 was never referred to the European Commission, was thus never officially enacted and now cannot be enforced.

The reason why the Act should have been referred to the European Commission is because it constitutes a restraint on intra-EU trade, in that it entails that videos/DVDs which have not been certificated by the BBFC cannot legally be imported from another EU country and then sold or rented in the UK.

The DCMS has said that it has received legal advice that people who have been found guilty under the Act would be unable to overturn their convictions or seek compensation. But this is quite simply whistling in the dark.Keith Vaz is surely entirely correct in asserting that if the Act has never been brought into force, prosecutions under it are void. You cannot prosecute someone and convict them on the basis of legislation that has never been in force. If I was one of the unfortunate victims of this un-enacted Act, I would most certainly be consulting m'learned friends without further ado.

The government has made it clear that it intends to re-enact the legislation. However, rather than letting them simply rubber stamp this non-Act and proceed as if nothing has happened, would this not be the perfect opportunity to engage, finally, in a sensible debate about video regulation, a debate which was quite impossible in the over-heated and febrile atmosphere of 1984 and 1994?

...Read the full article

 

27th August   

Update: Still Life on TV...

Ofcom rules that nude models in Life Class were ok for daytime TV
Link Here

Life Class A Channel 4 life drawing programme which featured naked female models was acceptable lunchtime viewing, the television censor, Ofcom, has ruled.

37 viewers complained about the content of Life Class: Today's Nude , which was broadcast daily at 12.30pm over a week in July.

It was adult viewing, not for screening in the middle of the day, one viewer said after tuning in to the programme, in which artists guided students through various drawing techniques.

However, Ofcom rejected the complaints and ruled that Channel 4 did not breach broadcasting guidelines. The watchdog has written to every complainant explaining that the nudity was justified.

Life drawing is a well-known and respected form of art. In Ofcom's view, although the images of nudity were broadcast for long periods of time, they were not presented in a sexualised manner and were clearly justified by the context, given the editorial purpose of the series, the letter read. The programme was broadcast during school term time and was not aimed at children, the watchdog said, adding that each episode was prefaced by a warning about its content.

 

26th August   

Update: No Borderline Blocking...

New Zealand internet filtering commendably limited to child abuse images
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in New Zealand...New Zealand considers internet blocking

The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs is inviting public input on its draft code of practice for blocking objectionable websites that host child sexual abuse images. The code is now available on the Department's website and will be open to public comment until 28 September 2009.

The Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System will be available voluntarily to Internet service providers (ISPs) in the next two months. It will focus solely on websites offering clearly objectionable images of child sexual abuse, which is a serious offence for anyone in New Zealand to access.

Internal Affairs, Deputy Secretary, Keith Manch, said the filter will be operated by the Department in partnership with ISPs: The code of practice provides assurance that only website pages containing images of child sexual abuse will be filtered and the privacy of ISP customers is maintained. The filter will not cover e-mail, file sharing or borderline material.

The filtering list of over 7000 objectionable websites will be retained at the Department of Internal Affairs. The list will be reviewed manually monthly to ensure that it is up to date and that the possibility of false positives is removed.

The Department is committed to transparency and considers that continued public support for the filtering system requires the operation to be as open to scrutiny as possible. An independent reference group will also be established to ensure the system is operated with integrity and adheres to the principles set down in the code of practice.

Joining the filtering programme is voluntary and if any ISP subsequently is unhappy it will be able to withdraw.

Comments on the code can be directed to: Lloyd.Bezett@dia.govt.nz

Update: DIA Report on Internet Filter Test

6th October 2009.  See article from thomasbeagle.net

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) have released to me their report [PDF] on the testing of the Internet Filtering system.

In summary, it's already nearing capacity in testing, and it's filtering 39.9 million requests per month that don't need blocking. This, on top of the fact that it doesn't stop any of the real traffic anyway. Smells like success to me :(

 

26th August   

Bitter and Bonkers...

Daily Mail reader 'appalled' by sweet wrapper
Link Here

Daily Mail letter of the year:

The other day, while doing our weekly shop, I bought for my two children, Benjamin and Ofelia, a packet of Haribo Maoam lemon-and-lime confectionary. It was only after I was leaving the check-out that I noticed the appalling illustration on the packaging. This consists of a lemon and a lime locked in what appears to be a carnal encounter. The lime, who I assume to be the gentleman in this coupling, has a particularly lurid and distasteful expression on his face.

I demanded to see the shop manager and during a heated exchange my wife became quite distressed and had to sit down in the car park. I was told to register my complaint with the manufacturer.

I'm glad I spotted this before my young children, who are both very sensitive. My wife and I have always tried to maintain their innocence -- and to think our years of careful parenting could have been wrecked by, of all things, a sweet wrapper makes me livid.

I received a reply from the company saying that the wrapper design had been introduced in Germany in 2002 with a view to making fruit figures more modern and lively to better appeal to the consumer.

It said: At no point was it intended to create sexual images. It had been shown to a number of children and adults of different age groups, none of whom has made any comments referring to sexual content.

I consider this response less than satisfactory. As a member of our local church, I'm now urging other members of our flock to boycott Haribo products until this illustration is removed.

Simon Simpkins, Pontefract, West Yorks.

 

26th August   

Grave Insult...

Michael Learns to destroy the morals of Malaysia's idle people
Link Here

Michael Learns to Rock Malaysia's opposition Islamic party have protested against a pop band's upcoming concert, branding it a grave insult to Muslims who are observing the fasting month of Ramadan.

The youth wing of the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) slammed the government for approving the concert by Danish band Michael Learns to Rock scheduled for Sept. 5.

This concert will certainly bring idle people out and destroy their morals, PAS Youth chief, Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi, said in a statement.

 

26th August   

Offsite: Red for Real Gamers, Green for Australians...

Designers of Diablo III consider parental blood colour control
Link Here

Diablo 3 poster The Diablo action role-playing games are known for their excessively bloody violence, and Blizzard is staying true to that with the upcoming Diablo III.

Wired.com: Do you think Diablo III, with all its blood and gore, can appeal to a wider audience this time around?

Wilson: If we appeal to a wider audience, I don't think it should be because we shied away from mature subject matter. Diablo is our Mature-rated series, and it's important for us that it be that. It's our goal, and that's where we want it to be. So we wouldn't go for an audience by moving away from that.

Wired.com: Earlier, you mentioned parental controls. What are you guys planning for that?

Wilson: We intend to have people to be able to tone down the actual gore levels. In terms of whether we go beyond that, we'll probably do something. But we haven't really gotten into a specific design for it yet, so it's hard to say.

Wired.com: Are you thinking it's possible to turn off the blood completely? Or simply change the blood color?

Wilson: Yeah, we're going to have to be able to turn off blood, change the color and things like that, because you can't have red blood in some regions, regions that we would very much like to sell the game in. So we definitely build everything, that every bit of gore, in a deposited manner so that at a future date, we can go through and change it all or turn it off.

Wired.com: Do you think they'll be controversy over the parental controls, like we saw with the new art style?

Wilson: I'm sure someone will be controversial about it. I don't think they should though, the idea that people put parental controls and allow for option of turning down the blood. It's not like we're doing it across the board. It's not like we're forcing it on everyone. We're making it an option, and not the default option. Will some people complain about it? I'm sure they will. But ultimately, that's the world we live in.

Wired.com: You'll obviously have to edit content for regions like Germany and Australia, but what about China? Is that a more difficult case?

Wilson: Definitely for regions like Germany and Australia, we will have to change blood if we're going to sell there. And that's fine. Those are the standards for those regions, and we don't really have a problem with catering to what they need and what they want. But China's going to be hard for us. Because a lot of the restrictions there are really… we may not be able to do them. It may not be possible. With our relationship with NetEase, we recently got new information about what China really wants, and it's a lengthy list. It's really hard for us to cater to. We'll try. There's no reason we wouldn't want to go there, but there is a certain point where we'd have to redo so much of the game that it's not viable anymore.

...Read full See article

 

26th August   

Ofcom Unpersuaded...

TV censor whinges at strong language by Tony Curtis
Link Here

BBC Radio Ulster Talkback
BBC Radio Ulster, 22 May 2009, 13:00

Talkback is a political and current-affairs phone-in programme broadcast daily after the midday news. This edition of Talkback featured a live interview with veteran Hollywood actor, Tony Curtis.

During the course of the interview Mr Curtis used the words “bastards”, “bullshit” and
“fuck”. After each, the presenter apologised to the audience, as follows:

Tony Curtis [speaking of journalists]: …some bastards go ahead and make them headlines.

Presenter: I guess I have to apologise for that Hollywood realism moment there.

Tony Curtis [speaking of being nominated for an Oscar]: Yeah but that was bullshit… I'm sorry.

Presenter: More Hollywood realism breaking through on Radio Ulster.

Tony Curtis: So I just got up and said ‘fuck off'.

Presenter: Oh no, now come on. We really, really can't use that kind of language.

Tony Curtis: You can't use that kind of language?

Presenter: We can't use that language, no, I apologise to our listeners.

Tony Curtis: Now listen, my dear friend, you can take that, er…Oh, it is live.

Presenter: Yeah, we're live, we're live on the radio.

Curtis: I apologise to everyone...I don't want to offend anyone. Everyone has the right to enjoy what life giveth.

Ofcom received two complaints from listeners who felt this language was offensive
and unsuitable for the time of transmission. Ofcom considered these complaints
under Rule 2.3 (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3

Ofcom noted that Talkback is a political and current affairs programme and therefore that children were not particularly likely to have been listening to this broadcast.

Notwithstanding this, Ofcom went on to consider whether the language used in the broadcast exceeded generally accepted standards and was justified by the context. Ofcom took into account the nature of the programme, the fact that it was a live broadcast, and also the apologies offered to listeners by both the presenter and Mr Curtis.

Ofcom considers that during live interviews it is important for the broadcaster to properly brief interviewees of the need to avoid offensive language (where appropriate) and also to be particularly vigilant during the broadcast itself for any potential breaches of the Code and where necessary take action to prevent them.

While Ofcom acknowledged that the apologies to listeners went some way in mitigating the potential offence of the language used, Ofcom considered that the language, in particular the use of the word “fuck” was likely to have gone beyond the expectations of the audience for a programme of this type and at this time.

 

26th August   

Updated: Blogger Unveiled...

Anonymity removed over US defamation case
Link Here

Blogger logo A former Australian Vogue cover model, whose modeling career ended last year after a doorman disfigured her face with a broken bottle, has obtained a court order to learn the identity of an anonymous blogger who created a site called Skanks in NYC to insult her.

The site, which was hosted by Google subsidiary Blogger.com, featured photos of Liskula Cohen with captions using the words 'skank', 'ho' and 'whoring'. The site has now been taken down.

A Manhattan judge has ruled that Cohen is entitled to file a defamation lawsuit, and Google must reveal the blogger's identity in order for her to do so.

Speaking to the Post, Cohen's lawyer said something that might give some website commenter trolls pause: The rules for defamation on the Web—for actual reality as well as virtual reality—are the same. The Internet is not a free-for-all. But a lawyer for the Skanks in NYC blogger insists, You can be really, really mean to people—you just can't lie about a set of facts that are provable as lies.

Update: CounterSkank

26th August 2009. Based on article from dailymail.co.uk

A blogger who was outed by Google for anonymously labeling a model a 'ho' and a 'skank' says she will sue the firm for $15m.

Google was forced by a court order to reveal the identity of Rosemary Port after the blogger was sued by model Liskula Cohen for branding her an 'old hag.'

Now 29-year-old student Port says she is taking action against Internet giant Google, alleging they breached their duty to protect her identity: This has become a public spectacle and a circus that is not my doing. By going to the press, she defamed herself. Before her suit, there were probably two hits on my Web site: One from me looking at it, and one from her looking at it.

Update: Google Skanks

18th September 2009 See article from gawker.com , thanks to Nick

Google took no real stand in support of the First Amendment rights of bloggers on its system, even though the Supreme Court has held that anonymous speech is often protected. The court itself noted in its opinion that Google essentially has no substantive opposition to [Cohen's] application.

So if you want to anonymously call a model a "skank," or anonymously satirize Steve Jobs, or anonymously pick on the New York Times, maybe try WordPress.com instead, you filthy insane adorable whore skank anony-bloggers, you.

 

25th August   

Video Recordings Act Erased...

1984 Act governing video censorship was never properly enacted
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

Shock Horror T he discovery of a Whitehall blunder means that the 1984 law regulating the video industry was never enacted.

The disclosure that for 25 years the Video Recordings Act governing the classification and sale of videos, video games and now DVDs was never brought into force is a big embarrassment to both Conservative and Labour governments.

It also leaves the industry in disarray with the classification system no longer officially in operation.

Police and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs are to be told to stop bringing any prosecutions until the Government brings in emergency legislation to re-enact the 1984 Video Recordings Act. Until then people will be able to sell videos, including violent and pornographic ones, to people without fear of prosecution.

The video industry was stunned by the Government's admission that the Act was not properly enacted 25 years ago. Officials in the Home Office had failed to notify the European Commission of the existence of the Act as they were required to do so under an EU directive.

The mistake was not spotted on two subsequent occasions, in 1993 and 1994. It was finally discovered during plans to update the law and introduce a new video-game classification system.

Barbara Follett, Minister for Culture and Tourism, said last night: Unfortunately, the discovery of this omission means that, a quarter of a century later, the Video Recordings Act is no longer enforceable against individuals in United Kingdom courts. In a letter to representatives of the video industry, Follett said: As the then British Government did not notify the European Commission of the VRA's classification and labelling requirements, they cannot now be enforced against individuals in UK courts.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that it had received legal advice that people who had previously been prosecuted and convicted would be unable to overturn their convictions or seek compensation. [Sounds like bollox to me, how can you not fail to overturn a conviction for a law that was not enacted].

The British Video Association said that it is urging members to continue submitting work to the British Board of Film Classification and to continue labelling them under the system.

 

25th August   

Possessed by Evil Censors...

Ofcom don't buy the argument that 12 years has healed an 18 certificate for the X Files
Link Here

X Files Season2 DVD The X Files
Virgin 1, 21 April 2009, 19:00

Virgin 1 is a general entertainment channel, which is available without access restrictions on all digital platforms.

The X Files is a drama series devoted to two FBI agents and their attempts to solve cases that appear to have some unexplained, paranormal element.

In this episode, a The Holvey family is apparently infiltrated by the spirit of their dead son. This particular episode of The X Files, entitled The Calusari had received a BBFC ‘18' rating in April 1997 for video release.

During the course of the programme the spirit periodically possessed the Holvey family's living son, Charlie, and brings about the death of three members of the Holvey family. The family members were killed by: being pushed into the path of an on-coming fairground train; being attacked by birds; and, strangulation. The culmination of the episode shows Charlie, in a hospital bed, being exorcised of the spirit by several Romanian ritualists (the eponymous Calusari). At one point during the exorcism scene Charlie struggled to such an extent with the ritualists (who were holding him down) that his neck bones sounded as if they had cracked.

Ofcom received a complaint that this episode of the series contained frightening content and was unsuitable for broadcast before the watershed.

Ofcom conidered Rule 1.21 (BBFC 18-rated films or their equivalent must not be broadcast before the watershed).

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.21

Ofcom considered that, whilst the Calusari Episode was in The X Files tradition, it was, as Virgin Media had noted, stronger than other episodes from The X Files strand. Ofcom noted that the overarching dark and menacing paranormal theme of the programme resulted in the Calusari Episode receiving a BBFC ‘18' rating.

Ofcom acknowledged that the ‘18' rating had been given to the episode some 12 years prior to the broadcast, but noted that this episode has not been re-classified by the BBFC since. To Ofcom's knowledge the Calusari Episode is the only episode of The X Files currently in receipt of a BBFC ‘18' certificate.

Ofcom also noted Virgin Media's comparison of the Calusari Episode to two films which had received BBFC ‘15' ratings in 2004 and 2005. Ofcom did not accept this argument because the rule clearly states that BBFC ‘18' rated material must not be broadcast before the watershed on any service. This Rule applies, regardless of the time that has lapsed since the material was originally rated and the broadcaster's own judgement on the strength of the material in comparison to more recent films. Ofcom considered that the BBFC's summary of the Calusari Episode as containing occasional strong horror was an accurate reflection of this programme. This description, taken together with its BBFC ‘18' rating should have alerted the broadcaster to the potential harm and/or offence of various scenes within the programme (in particular the exorcism scene, to any children that might have been watching).

Given the above, the programme was therefore in breach of Rule 1.21.

 

25th August   

Scuppered...

Bounce the Illegal Immigrant Back game taken down
Link Here

Lega Nord logo Following user protests, Facebook has decided to shut down gaming application Bounce The Illegal Immigrant Back.

The game was posted by Renzo Bossi, the son of Umberto Bossi, party leader of the Northern League and part of Berlusconi's fourth cabinet.

The game sees players pushing back the boats of hope and kicking the immigrants back into the sea.

 

24th August   

Offsite: American Film Censorship Buggered...

Donkey Punch at the MPAA
Link Here

Donkey Punch DVD This British thriller deals with an accident concerning a sexual practice called Donkey Punch , whereby the man punches his female partner in the back of the neck shortly before he's getting an orgasm. This should drive her into unconsciousness while her muscles cramp and give the man a more intense sexual pleasure. But that's just a theory because the film shows this action going horribly wrong and a fight between the remaining passengers flaring up.

Considering the subject matter of the film it was obviously necessary to release two DVD editions of Donkey Punch in the US. On the one hand a censored version that got rated R by the MPAA, on the other hand an unrated version, being identical to the uncut BBFC 18-DVD released in the UK.

The only (and amateurish) censorship in the R-rated version can be found in short time camcorder recordings during the sex scene. Instead of working with alternate material the R-rated has a black cube being placed in front of the critical body parts of the actors. Even in the original version these shots are not really explicit because of the bad quality of the DV recordings but it seemed to be too much for the US market.

...Read full article

 

23rd August   

Update: Glasgow Gallery of Modern Censorship...

Gay installations by Dani Marti too much for Glasgow
Link Here

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art The Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art's controversial exhibition celebrating gay life and love has stirred up more outrage - this time, however, it's for censoring art that might 'shock' the public.

Culture and Sport Glasgow (CSG), the body which runs the city's museums and galleries, has been accused of censors art at the shOUT' exhibition after it refused to show three works about HIV positive gay men at GoMA because it contained nudity and references to drugs and sexual acts.

The works are by Dani Marti, an internationally renown artist. He said CSG's decision not to show his two videos and a sound installation at the city centre gallery went against the very purpose of the exhibition, the fourth in GoMA's social justice series of exhibitions.

shOUT is about civil rights, he said: But they are compromising freedom of speech. They are compromising the permission of the people in my art works to speak about their emotions in public. The reaction of GoMA and the council is exactly the same that is happening to these individuals, making it hard to talk about coming out, about being gay, about disclosing their HIV status.

He blamed political pressure from within the council following earlier controversy around the exhibition.

One of the videos, Time Is The Fire In Which We Burn, was commissioned especially for the exhibition. It is an interview with a man called John from Glasgow, a former male prostitute and porn film actor, who talks about his life in Miami, being HIV positive, taking the drug crystal meth and extreme sexual acts he has taken part in.

The second video, Ausmusdad, is a portrait of a 63 year old who came out to his family in his late 40s and is HIV positive. It features full frontal male nudity. It has previously been shown in Zurich.

Culture and Sport Glasgow were uncomfortable with nudity and the reference to drugs and sexual acts, according to Marti. He, however, said the videos showed HIV positive men enjoying life and not being victims.

The final work planned to appear at GoMA was a sound installation, recorded in the basement of a gay club in Glasgow. A fourth, more conventional, installation - several large red drapes of scourers woven together and hung from the central staircase - was originally allowed to be shown at the gallery. Marti, however, said it could not be shown without the other three works and withdrew it personally.

To protest the city's decision, in the coming weeks he plans to create guerilla artworks around the city in front of council property.

 

22nd August   

Diary: BBFC Masterclass...

Explaining the difference between harmful and grotesque
Link Here

BBFC logo Emily Fussell's BBFC masterclass
Eden Court's La Scala cinema, Inverness
Tuesday 25th August at 6.30pm.
Note: This event is suitable for aged 15 and over, but some clips from 18 certificate films may be shown.

Emily Fussell, a former cinema manager, works for the BBFC. Previously known as the British Board of Film Censors, these days the BBFC prefers to avoid the more emotive "censor" and titles Fussell and her colleagues examiners. However, the old terminology has not entirely died away.

When you're in the pub trying to explain what you do, you pretty much have to say 'I'm a film censor', Fussell acknowledged.

Fussell will be in Inverness next week to give an insight into the enclosed world of film classification - and give Highland film enthusiasts a chance to do some censorship of their own. I get the audience to use their knowledge and try and classify something themselves, Fussell said: It's amazing the reactions you get. Sometime you feel that young people are quite lenient and older people are more censorious, but when I showed people a clip from 'Team America: World Police' where the puppets have sex, the younger people wanted to give it quite a high rating but the older people were fine about it: 'Oh, it's just puppets.'

Most years see the BBFC embroiled in some controversy over its decisions, most recently Cannes prize-winner Antichrist from Danish director Lars Von Trier has been attacked for explicit sex and violence and faced calls for local authorities to ban the film after it was passed uncut by the BBFC.

Defending the BBFC's decision to pass the film, Fussell suggested much of the controversy had been generated by people who had not actually seen the film: A lot of the controversy about 'Antichrist' is based on a scene of explicit sex. There's also a close up shot of genital mutilation, but that's obviously not real, just gore and special effects . There's nothing in it that would be harmful and that's primarily what we are looking at. When we watched it we never had any doubt that it would be an 18 uncut. That's the way we operate these days: an adult should be able to see what they want as long as it is not harmful. [...or Grotesque?]

 

22nd August   

Kenya: Too Horrific Even for an Adult...

Film censors horror film
Link Here

Otto The Bloodbath By banning the Jitu Films production Movie entitled Otto -The Bloodbath horror movie the Kenya Film and Censorship Board effectively made it a best seller.

Many people are searching online to purchase the movie that is set to premier at Oxford University next week and later at the Rwanda Film Festival! What is perhaps fascinating is that the foreign market is readily embracing a movie that has been banned locally for allegedly being too horrific even for an adult & having too much blood scenes, further the movie was said to feature too many dead human characters.

The plot of the movie is about a family torn between selling off their fathers land against the patriarch's wishes. The children of the man's first wife refuse to obey his wish and decide to bury him at the Langata Cemetery in Nairobi so that they can kick the second wife and her mute son out and enjoy the proceeds. That s when the horror begins....

 

22nd August   

Title Registration Committee...

Indian censors object to the word 'sex' in a film title
Link Here

India flag Filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee is having a tough time getting a title for his new film.

He wants to register Love, Sex aur Dokha as the title for his next film but it seems 'sex' is still considered as an obscene word in Bollywood's dictionary.

We were told that Love Sex aur Dhoka is obscene or there are certain obscene issues in it and it has to be looked into and that is what we found little surprising because we didn't know that there was another body outside the censor board which can deny you or grant you title on the basis of obscenity, says Banerjee.

The filmmaker has appealed to the Title Registration Committee for reconsideration, but they don't seem to be in a mood to relent.

Committee approves a title on the basis of the affect the title would have on the society, says Title Registration Committee convenor Vikas Mohan.

 

22nd August   

Moral and Mental Erosion...

Vietnamese politicians want some censorship for online gaming
Link Here

Vietnam flag Vietnamese National Assembly representatives blasted a minister for poor management of online gaming regulations.

Minister of Information and Communications, Le Doan Hop, said the ministry was preparing a document to update circular 60, which was issued in 2006 to manage online gaming.

But representative Nguyen Ngoc Dao said the measures would be insufficient to tackle the moral and mental erosion he said could be attributed to youngsters' online gaming addictions.

Hop said that online games could not be banned but should be regulated properly. He also began speaking about the advantages and disadvantages of online games and the internet before being interrupted by representative Nguyen Van Thuan, who said the representatives were not asking about the pros and cons of online games but they wanted to know if the ministry was responsible for the current situation.

Hop admitted that online gaming had not been managed properly but said the ministry would commit to better management in the future.

 

22nd August   

Unfriendly Family...

Christian group email school admin staff exposing teacher as an atheist blogger
Link Here

Illinois Family Institute Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist , is under attack by a right wing Christian hate group. The Illinois Family Institute, led by Laurie Higgins, is harassing well known atheist blogger Mehta.

According to Mehta, a high school math teacher, Higgins emailed his boss, his high school's entire administrative staff, and every school board member to inform them about Mehta's private life as an atheist blogger. The attempt was to smear Mehta, claiming Mehta was unprofessional and unsuitable to be teaching because of his affiliation with atheism.

 

21st August   

Asians at Daggers...

Dispute about Kirpans on BBC Asian Network
Link Here

The BBC's Asian Network has become embroiled in a race row after Sikh listeners accused the digital radio station of being insensitive towards their religion.

The BBC removed a show from its website after Muslim presenter Adil Ray received threats from Sikhs who said he had denigrated one of their religious symbols.

Members of the Sikh community complained that Ray had been disparaging about whether they really needed to carry kirpan daggers. The kirpan is a ceremonial symbol that baptised Sikhs are expected to wear at all times

During the offending August 6 show, Ray was discussing a Punjabi music concert in Canada where police had refused entry to Sikhs wearing kirpans.

But a number of listeners were upset that Ray appeared to mock Sikhism, a charge that the Birmingham-based Asian Network denies.

The Sikh Media Monitoring Group has written to the BBC requesting a full transcript of the show. The organisation has accused the Asian Network of being insensitive towards Sikh listeners: We should not be paying a licence fee for promoting the ignorance-based ramblings of those bent on self-promotion who sneer at Asian religion and culture, group spokesman Hardeep Singh told The Independent.

A BBC spokesman said: Adil Ray did not make any judgement about people's faith or the rights and wrongs of wearing the kirpan. We welcome the fact that Adil has listeners of all faiths who enjoy his humour and presentation.

 

21st August   

Partitioned Opinions...

Indian state bans book about the founding of Pakistan
Link Here  full story: History Book Banned...Indian bans Jinnah India Partition Independence

Jinnah-India Partition book Authorities in the western Indian state of Gujarat state have banned a controversial book on Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

Jinnah-India, Partition, Independence has been written by Jaswant Singh, an expelled leader of the Hindu nationalist main opposition party BJP.

The BJP government in Gujarat said it banned the book for its defamatory references to Vallabhbhai Patel, India's first home minister.

The late Mr Patel is a political icon in his home state of Gujarat. Described often as the Iron Man of India , Patel played an important role in the country's independence and the integration of the different states in the Indian Union.

The book has been banned because it contains defamatory references regarding Vallabhai Patel who is considered as the architect of the modern India, a statement by the Gujarat government says.

Jaswant Singh said he was saddened by the banning of the book in Gujarat: The day we start banning books, we are banning thinking .

The book was released earlier this week and immediately created a controversy. The BJP dissociated itself from the book and sacked Singh from the party.

 

21st August   

Censorship Tribunal...

Cameroon radio station closed over phone in
Link Here

The Committee to Protect Journalists CPJ calls on Cameroonian authorities to reopen a private radio station shut down over a popular talk show.

About 20 paramilitary police summarily sealed the studios of Sky One Radio, based in the capital, Yaoundé, the station's president, Joseph Angoula Angoula, told CPJ.

It would appear that the government is afraid of hearing the voices of its own citizens, said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes: This is unacceptable censorship. The authorities must lift the suspension on Sky One immediately.

The ruling was linked to a daily call-in program called The Tribunal, which allowed listeners to air grievances and seek assistance, according to local journalists. Sky One received a letter from the Communications Ministry on August 6 ordering the station to drop the program in connection with a July 24 program in which a HIV-positive woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo said her embassy had denied her travel documents to return to her country, the host Duval Lebel Eballe told CPJ. The ministry subsequently ordered Sky One to fire the presenter and change the time slot of the program after the station raised funds for the woman and attempted to intercede on her behalf with the Congolese Embassy, he said.

 

21st August   

Longer Lasting Sex Sequel...

Advertising campaign guaranteeing lady's personal satisfaction
Link Here

MyBigO ad Six months after its giant billboards asking men if they Want Longer Lasting Sex were banned by the advertising regulator, Advanced Medical Institute is back with a campaign marketing sex products for women under the strapline Personal Satisfaction Guaranteed.

The ads are for a box of sex products.

Ladies: Your Personal Satisfaction Guaranteed , runs the banner headline on the pink and white billboards. It's your turn! the billboards add. The poster is procide the URL MyBigO.co.uk for further information.

It is understood that AMI toyed with several straplines – before clearing Your Personal Satisfaction Guaranteed – involving words such as climax and do-it-yourself activity, which were considered too risqué.

 

21st August   

Offsite: Fox on the Run...

Glenn Beck Boycott: Censorship or Good Citizenship?
Link Here

The Glen Beck Program Glenn Beck is a conservative commentator whose television show airs at 5 p.m. daily Eastern Time on the Fox News Channel, where it attracts an enormous (for cable, at that hour) audience of some 2.3 million souls. His audience has exploded this year, apparently riding a tide of conservative resentment over the poor economy, the supposedly liberal media, and Democratic Party control in Washington.

But all of his past comments put together do not equal the furor Beck ignited on July 28, when he accused President Obama of being a racist.

Beck and his guest panelists were discussing the controversial arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. – and Obama's ill-fated comments regarding said arrest. That's when Beck began channeling his inner rodeo clown: This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture, I don't know what it is . . .

At that point, Fox News's Brian Kilmeade interjects, pointing out that many of Obama's closest White House advisers are white: You can't say he doesn't like white people . . .

Unfazed, Beck replies: I'm not saying he doesn't like white people. I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.

To a group called ColorofChange.org, this wasn't entertainment, it was hate speech. ColorofChange.org is an online membership organization that exists, according to its mission statement, to strengthen Black America's political voice. Their leader James Rucker selected his weapon of choice: An e-mail campaign by ColorofChange.org members to advertising agencies and corporate sponsors that advertise on Fox News during the daily Beck hour.

Beck's commentary, Rucker declared, was repulsive, divisive, and shouldn't be on the air. His effort has met with surprising success. The list of companies that agreed includes Geico, CVS, Men's Wearhouse, Radio Shack, Procter & Gamble, and State Farm Insurance.

..Read full article

 

20th August   

TinTin SinBin...

New York library removes TinTin book over racial offence
Link Here  full story: TinTin Book Censorship...TinTin au Congo and the overly sensitive

TinTin au Congo book The NYTimes reported that the Brooklyn Public Library's Materials Review Committee has decided to remove the book of TinTin au Congo from its shelves.

Chair of the committee, Christine Stenstrom does acknowledge that the book, created by Hergé in 1929, is of historic interest and therefore it will be added to the Hunt Collection of Children's Literature, which is located in the Central Library. This is a special collection of historic children's literature that is available for viewing by appointment only.

As the Times notes, the Brooklyn Library has actually had a good track record of keeping controversial material. This is the only book they chose to remove from shelves because the review panel found it racially offensive.

 

20th August   

Bullshit at the Vatican...

Catholics get wound up by Penn and Teller
Link Here

Bullshit Season 5 DVD Catholic League president Bill Donohue has got wound up by a forthcoming episode of the Penn & Teller show. He wrote in Variety:

On August 27, Showtime, owned by CBS, will feature a vicious assault on Catholics. In the season finale of Penn & Teller's show, they take on the secretive inner world of The Vatican, the holy city of Catholicism and home of the Pope.

How do we know it will defame Catholics? Because on the show's website, it says so: There is a Showtime Advisory for Graphic Language, Adult Content.

What will the upcoming show be like? On his Twitter page, Penn Jillette brags how he rips a Catholic encyclical on sexuality: I'm dressed as Darth with a condom cock light saber. He even boasts that the show is hardcore, admitting that we attack the Vatican. From trashing The Last Supper to mocking Catholic prayers, anti-Catholic bigots who feed on this kind of stuff will have a stomach full.

CBS/Showtime needs to send Penn & Teller a message and let them know that they have crossed the line for the last time. This should be their final season. We know that they've been told before to drop the Catholic bashing, and yet they persist. By doing so, Penn & Teller have effectively stuck their middle finger right in the eye of CBS.

 

20th August   

Update: The Book without a Spine...

Yale University Press explain not publishing Mohammed cartoons in book about the cartoons
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

The Cartoons that Shoock the World book Yale University Press will publish The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Jytte Klausen, this November. The Press hopes that her excellent scholarly treatment of the Danish cartoon controversy will be read by those seeking deeper understanding of its causes and consequences.

After careful consideration, the Press has declined to reproduce the September 30, 2005 Jyllands-Posten newspaper page that included the cartoons, as well as other depictions of the Prophet Muhammad that the author proposed to include.

The original publication in 2005 of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad led to a series of violent incidents, and repeated violent acts have followed republication as recently as June 2008, when a car bomb exploded outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing eight people and injuring at least thirty. The next day Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombing, calling it revenge for the "insulting drawings."

Republication of the cartoons -- not just the original printing of them in Denmark -- has repeatedly resulted in violence around the world. More than two hundred lives have been lost, and hundreds more have been injured. It is noteworthy that, at the time of the initial crisis over the cartoons in 2005-2006, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe declined to print them, as did every major newspaper in the United Kingdom.

The publishing of the book raised the obvious question of whether there remains a serious threat of violence if the cartoons were reprinted in the context of a book about the controversy. The Press asked the University for assistance on this question.

The University consulted both domestic and international experts on behalf of the Press. Among those consulted were counterterrorism officials in the United States and in the United Kingdom, U.S. diplomats who had served as ambassadors in the Middle East, foreign ambassadors from Muslim countries, the top Muslim official at the United Nations, and senior scholars in Islamic studies. The experts with the most insight about the threats of violence repeatedly expressed serious concerns about violence occurring following publication of either the cartoons or other images of the Prophet Muhammad in a book about the cartoons.

Ibrahim Gambari, under-secretary-general of the United Nations and senior adviser to the secretary-general, the highest ranking Muslim at the United Nations, stated, You can count on violence if any illustration of the Prophet is published. It will cause riots I predict from Indonesia to Nigeria.

Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed, dean of the Under-Secretaries-general, under-secretary-general of the United Nations, and special adviser to the secretary-general, informed us, These images of Muhammad could and would be used as a convenient excuse for inciting violent anti-American actions.

Marcia Inhorn, professor of anthropology and international affairs and chair of the Council on Middle East Studies at Yale, said, I agree completely with the other expert opinions Yale has received. If Yale publishes this book with any of the proposed illustrations, it is likely to provoke a violent outcry.

Given the quantity and quality of the expert advice Yale received, the author consented, with reluctance, to publish the book without any of these visual images.

Yale and Yale University Press are deeply committed to freedom of speech and expression, so the issues raised here were difficult. The University has no speech code, and the response to hate speech on campus has always been the assertion that the appropriate response to hate speech is not suppression but more speech, leading to a full airing of views. The Press would never have reached the decision it did on the grounds that some might be offended by portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad. Indeed, Yale University Press has printed books in the past that included images of the Prophet. The decision rested solely on the experts' assessments that there existed a substantial likelihood of violence that might take the lives of innocent victims.

 

20th August   

Update: Crypto Satanism...

Madonna winds up Polish nutters
Link Here  full story: Madonna Crucified...Madonna winds up the nutters

Sticky & Sweet book Madonna has been branded a crypto-Satanist for playing a night of her Sticky And Sweet tour on a Roman Catholic holiday in Poland.

The star had performed despite a flurry of protests from religious leaders and even pleas from the country's former president Lech Walesa.

Marian Baranski, deputy head of the Polish Faith and National Tradition Defense Committee, said: Madonna specialises in offending religious feelings. It is possible to suspect her of being a crypto-Satanist.

The performance on August 15 was the Feast Of The Assumption day that Christians mark the Virgin Mary's ascension to heaven.

Just last week, Walesa appealed to the concert's organisers: Please avoid any collision with my faith during this extraordinary day.

Catholic protesters arrived at the venue in Warsaw holding religious banners and flags.

 

20th August   

Zone of Success...

Zone Horror a popular choice amongst the dedicated film channels
Link Here

Zone Horror logo Zone Horror has reported its highest rating month to date. Daniel Cooper, channel manager at the Chello Zone-owned station, claims movies such as Twilight and Let the Right One In as well as HBO series True Blood has whetted viewers appetites for more vampire and chilling content.

In July, Zone Horror outperformed Sky Movies' genre rival Sci-fi/Horror by 50% across the month as well as channels including Sky Comedy, Sky Family and Turner Classic Movies. The channel ranked fourth overall amongst movie channels in primetime – only surpassed by Film4, Sky Movies Premiere and Sky Action/Thriller.

Zone Horror, combined with time-shift channel Zone Horrror+1, reaches an average of 2.7m viewers a month.

 

20th August   

Primitive Law...

Malawi censors want to be able to censor modern media
Link Here

Malawi flag Malawi's minister of tourism, wildlife and culture, Anna Kachikho says there is need to censor electronic sources of information such as Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) and the Internet since it is negatively influencing children.

She made the remarks after visiting offices for the country's Censorship Board where she pledged to ensure that a piece of legislation be passed to empower the board to take charge.

[The] Censorship Act does not make provision for the board to act on the surfing of pornographic material on the internet, said acting chief censorship officer Humphrey Mpondaminga.

He bemoaned obsolete laws contained in the Censorship Act of 1968 which he described as very archaic and asked the minister to push for better legislation and allow the board to carry out its mandate properly.

 

20th August   

Living with the Infidels...

Muslim group whinges about online sitcom
Link Here

Living with infidels An online sitcom about a group of suicide bombers living in Bradford could be damaging, a Muslim group claims.

Dr Abdul Bary Malik, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Bradford, said the series Living With the Infidels would upset some young Muslims.

Producers of the series, which is made in London, say they have the backing of the Muslim Council of Britain.

During the five-part series the five main characters set out to become suicide bombers but find that they like some western ways of life. They are seen making a suicide video and visiting an internet dating site.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association is a religious community with more than 80 local branches and thousands of members. Malik said: My concern is that there will be some young Muslims who will definitely get very angry and upset about this. It may damage relations once again. He also said that the level of indecency and filthy language was not representative of young Muslims.

The series begins on 20 August.

 

20th August   

Offsite: Azerbaijan Hooligans...

Azerbaijan authorities pick on bloggers who made donkeys of them
Link Here  full story: Blogging in Azerbaijan...Bloggers make a donkey of the state

Azerbaijan flag US deputy assistant secretary of state Matthew Bryza has called for the resolution of the case of bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada, who were jailed in July for hooliganism after they published a satirical video online.

Milli and Hajizada were sentenced to two months' pre-trial detention after the authorities accused them of hooliganism, a decision that was upheld in a closed hearing on 20 July. The trial is due to be held in September. Their lawyers are planning to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The government was said to be angered by the online video, which poked fun at a local news story about government authorities importing donkeys from Germany. In the video, Adnan Hajizada is wearing a donkey suit and addressing journalists in a mock news conference. The video was produced and posted online by both Hajizada and Milli.

...Read full article

 

19th August   

Update: Sunday Times Not Discouraged...

Article about Apple's Steve Jobs attracts the heavies
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

Apple logo Apple is so used to having its tame hacks write what it tells them that it gets into a bit of a quandary when they insist on writing the truth.

Bryan Appleyard wrote an extensive piece published in this week's Sunday Times about Steve Jobs and found that Apple's PR did its level best to squash the story. One Apple PR warned him that writing the biography of Jobs was discouraged and another PR rang up the editor of the Sunday Times to get the story halted.

Now the Sunday Times story that Apple tried to suppress is being circulated online and you have to wonder what the hell Jobs' Mob is worried about. The article itself is a reasonably balanced. There is a good Steve who is a genius and a bad Steve who is evil. However it appears that due to Apple's attempt to quash it and the subsequent reports of that unsuccessful kiboshing, far more people are reading it than would have otherwise been the case.

 

19th August   

The Power of Darkness...

Finnish nutters get Alice Cooper ejected from their venue
Link Here

Alice Cooper CD Alice Cooper has been forced to scrap a forthcoming gig in Finland after the venue's owners reportedly objected to his controversial stage show on religious grounds.

According to Contactmusic, the rocker was due to play the Tampere Areena on December 11, but officials have subsequently declared that the concert conflicted with their Christian-based policies.

Venue boss Harri Wiherkoski has since confirmed the cancellation and attributed the move to objections from other clients who use the arena.

Gig promoter Kalle Keskinen told Finland's YLE News: [Several religious groups] and others use Tampere Areena for their events, so the venue's management did not want Alice Cooper appearing in the same hall. The contract which we received from Tampere Areena specifies that no artists may perform there who 'incite evil and the power of darkness.

The promoters now hope to move the gig to the city of Espoo.

Update: Censorial Demons

20th August 2009. See article from antimusic.com

Harri Wiherkoski, managing director of Tampere Areena Oy (Tampere Arena Limited) noted, Artists who express suspicious values from Christianity's point of view cannot be allowed to perform at the venue. He told a Finnish reporter We don't arrange concerts where Satanism or non-god-worshipping occurs.

The venue will not permit performances which may be construed as insulting to Christianity, spelled out as follows:

Performances including representation of false gods, demons, evilness and forces of darkness and all these kind of symbols, words or markings are highly prohibited. These rules are valid also in all of the advertisement and material related to the concert. Breaking this rule causes immediate cancellation of the contract, and a 100 000 € penalty fee.

 

19th August   

Update: Geert Wilder off the Hook...

Mohammed cartoons legal to distribute in Netherlands
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Netherlands Good news from Holland, where the prosecution department has decided to dismiss the cases against the TV show NOVA, and politician Geert Wilders. Both had reproduced the Mohammed cartoons on their websites.

In a statement (Google translation), the prosecutor said: The cartoons are about the prophet Mohammed, not about Muslims as a group. None of the cartoons are offensive to Muslims or incite hatred, discrimination or violence against Muslims. Because the cartoons are not illegal, publishing and distributing them is also not illegal.

 

18th August   

Update: 2 Day Warning...

Protests about a draconian right to reply to bloggers
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Italy...Censorship affecting bloogers and the press in Italy

Italy flag Italian bloggers went on strike in July to protest against government measures that they claim could kill the internet. They say the Alfano decree restricts the rights of bloggers to express their opinions without fear of comeback.

Demonstrators online and on the streets say the Italian government is trying to muzzle the internet.

If the Alfano decree becomes law, it would put websites on a par with newspapers, giving a right to reply to anyone who believes their reputation has been damaged by something published on the internet.

Alessandro Gilioli, a journalist and organiser of the blogging strike, says the measures could deter people from going online: They are discouraging the use of the internet, forcing all the bloggers to rectify any opinion that anybody thinks is hurting his honour or reputation and they are creating big fines, more than €10,000 (£8,500), if you don't publish your rectification in two days.

So that means that if a teenager stays two days away from the computer and he doesn't rectify his opinion, he is going to pay €10,000. That's stupid and that's incredible and overall that's discouraging people to use the internet.


It is not clear if the law Italy's senate will be voting on in the autumn will extend to bloggers, or, for that matter, who to ask about it. However Francesco Pizzetti, the president of Italy's Data Protection Authority says he does not believe the law will apply to bloggers: I don't believe they create a new obligation, so I don't believe they concern bloggers. It concerns the websites of newspapers and of the press generally.

Supporters of the law say it is unfair that bloggers can dole out a verbal bludgeoning online without regulation or any journalistic obligation to be fair and balanced.

As the Alfano decree suggests, Italian  attitudes to the web are fundamentally out of step with other Western countries. You need an ID, for example, to log-on at a wi-fi hotspot, and there has even been talk of banning anonymity online and obliging bloggers to register with the government.

 

18th August   

Update: A Blue Line for Red Line...

Saudi TV told tighten up on TV censorship
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

Red Line on LBC In the wake of the TV controversy when Saudi citizen Mazen Abdul-Jawad discussed his sex life on LBC's Bold Red Line , a Saudi ministry is clamping down.

Issuing a strong warning. Abdullah al-Jasser, undersecretary for media affairs at Saudi Arabia's Culture and Information Ministry, said: Every Saudi investor in satellite television channels has to be sensitive to patriotic and social responsibility. Managers of these channels should be selected for their integrity and responsibility, he said, adding that investors should not leave management to people who have orientations and ideas ... harmful to the kingdom and to Saudi investments.

What is being aired by these channels owned by Saudi citizens in terms of topics that violate the Islamic creed and public morals represents a serious offence to the kingdom and to every citizen. These channels (must) not be used as a bridge for hostile media campaigns that ... market Western ideas and beliefs.

 

18th August   

Update: Harping on about Censorship...

Malaysia will censor bloggers via sedition law
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flag Malaysian bloggers who incite hatred or harp on sensitive issues like race and religion in their postings can be prosecuted for sedition, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

He said the Government would put in place a mechanism to monitor and prevent seditious content from being displayed on blogs: The proposed mechanism will not only protect Islam or the Malays but all Malaysians.

Hishammuddin said issues relating to the monarchy, race or religion were sensitive in a plural society like Malaysia and there must be some laws to prevent seditious postings on the Internet: In the past we didn't have such problems but with the advent of cyberspace, such seditious postings could probably hurt the feelings of certain communities.

Hishammuddin said the proposed move was not meant to clamp down or censor the Internet ...BUT... to maintain the peace and harmony among the people in the country: There are a few irresponsible bloggers; I'm not saying all have the tendency to post sensitive issues. There should be some boundaries when posting in blogs. Irresponsible bloggers can cause disunity and derail the 1Malaysia concept.

Hishammuddin said the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry, the Prime Minister's Department, the Attorney-General's Chambers, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and police will discuss the issue and come out with proposals for the monitoring mechanism.

 

18th August   

Dictator and Censor...

Protest in Iran as government shut down opposition newspaper
Link Here

Etemad-e Melli logo Iranian police used batons to disperse dozens of opposition supporters chanting death to the dictator in central Tehran following the reported closure of a reformist newspaper.

The latest street unrest after Iran's disputed June 12 presidential vote took place near the offices of the Etemad-e Melli, the daily of leading pro-reform cleric Mehdi Karoubi.

Karoubi angered many hardliners last week by saying some post-election protesters had been raped in jail. His party said that the paper had been temporarily shut down, and the prosecutor's office later confirmed this.

In accordance with the law ... the Etemad-e Melli newspaper belonging to Mr Karoubi has been suspended until further notice, an official statement carried by the semi-official Mehr News Agency said, without giving a reason.

Police prevented demonstrators from gathering outside the Etemad-e Melli offices, where a witness said he saw scores of police and police vehicles: They tried to gather in front of the building but police did not let them and told them to leave .

About 400 protesters at one stage gathered a few hundred metres away, chanting "death to the dictator", "where are our votes", "independence, freedom, Iranian republic", he said.

 

18th August   

Diary: Sexploitation...

A season of classic sexploitation films showing at the BFI Southbank
Link Here

BFI logo Sexploitation
BFI Southbank, London
2nd September into October

It's going to be a sizzling September and an outrageous October at the BFI Southbank in London, UK where a major season of films will celebrate the 50th anniversary of seminal skinflick The Immoral Mr Teas and the birth of the American Sexploitation film genre.

In recent years, the dedicated efforts of cult film enthusiasts have rescued these oncederided products of Hollywood's shadow industry from obscurity, discovering the diamonds in the dirt, uncovering their fascinating histories and bringing belated recognition to the mavericks who made them.

Now, in a programme which demonstrates the diversity of the genre, films from cinema's least respectable genre are to be lauded at one of the world's leading film theatres:

  • From sunny, funny nudiecuties to grim and gruelling roughies
  • Glossy Eurodramas to gritty, no-budget noir
  • Campy kitsch favourites to lost masterpieces

The season centres on three distinctly different directors:

  • Russ Meyer
  • Radley Metzger
  • Joseph W Sarno

and one legendary producer:

  • David F Friedman.

We are delighted to welcome Joseph W Sarno who will talk about his career on 1 October.

In addition, a selection of cult classics and cinematic rarities will demonstrate the many directions that Sexploitation took during the sixties and seventies. And, to put it all in context, we proudly present the UK premier of a candid documentary about the creators of these ribald cinematic artefacts, introduced by director Ray Greene.

 

17th August   

Easy Offence on Special Offer at Tesco...

Covering up Lesbian Vampire Killers DVD
Link Here  full story: Lesbian Vampire Killers...Pandering to the 'lesbian' sensitive

Lesbian Vampire Killers Tesco and other major retailers are stocking versions of the film Lesbian Vampire Killers with stickers that obscure the word Lesbian and part of the image of a cleavage that appear on the cover.

The distributor of the DVD said it was complying with a request from retailers, although stores have denied they requested that the film's title be obscured.

The censored version picked up by the big retailers has a sticker covering the word Lesbian, which states: Warning: may display sexually suggestive cover image . Another bigger sticker that partially obscures the cleavage displays the message: Warning: contains explicitly fit bloodsucking hotties!

A spokesperson for the distributor of the DVD, Momentum, said the changes were made at the request of stores: We were asked by a number of retailers to cover up certain parts of the cover, and we complied with their requests.

Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Borders are among the stores that have chosen to stock the censored version of the cover, but all deny asking for the wording to be obscured.

Tesco said it had asked for the image of the cleavage to be covered: In common with other retailers we asked the supplier to change the picture to make it more appropriate as we are a family retailer. We did not suggest that they [Momentum] amend the wording.

A spokeswoman for Borders said the store was never asked about censorship. Indeed, there were some censury [sic] labels stuck on the packaging but they were not requested by Borders – they were sent to us like that.

HMV, which is running the uncensored version of the cover, said an alternative version of the cover was never discussed with Momentum: We've been happy to stock Lesbian Vampire Killers in its original sleeve. We find the idea of any retailer requiring the word Lesbian to be covered up surprising to say the least, and can't see why anyone would find the word offensive .

 

17th August   

Australia Censors on Dope...

Director considers MA15+ rating too high for his movie
Link Here

Stone Bros poster An Aboriginal director has slammed Australia's film censors for what he says is an unnecessarily harsh rating for his new film, and accused them of falling victim to indigenous stereotyping.

Richard Frankland is angry that his film Stone Bros , which centres on two young Aboriginal men on a road trip to Kalgoorlie, has been rated by the Film Classification Board as MA 15+ because of its drug use.

Frankland accused the board of partly basing the rating on a scene that is not even in the film. In its official report the board describes the scene as 'marijuana … being cut from the plant' before it is formed into joints: They certainly haven't done their job properly. Some people make subconscious assumptions when they see indigenous subjects … I think they're either under-resourced and understaffed and can't cope with the amount of work they're doing or someone's just made a terrible error.'

Stone Bros, which was warmly received at the Dungog Film Festival in May, opens in cinemas next month.

Frankland said the rating, which deems the film unsuitable for viewers under 15, would limit its audience, especially among young Aborigines who were struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. This film is coming from a marginalised group in society, where there's a high suicide rate that can be attributed directly to drug use, low self-esteem and alcohol abuse. We know that this film if utilised properly can assist a lot of people in stepping out of those areas.

Unable to afford the $8000 fee to appeal, Frankland called on the classifiers to review the decision to get a fairer and perhaps a little bit visionary judgment.

A spokeswoman for the classification board said the reasons for the rating were detailed in its report: This film contains numerous visuals of explicit marijuana smoking and the hallucinatory effects of consuming the illicit drug, the report said, noting scenes that show characters dumping a bag of joints on a table, smoking four joints simultaneously and being heavily drug-affected while driving.

Update: Review Scheduled

3rd September 2009.  See article from theage.com.au

The Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, has demanded the Classification Review Board reconsider the film following representations from its distributors, Australian Film Syndicate and director Richard J. Frankland.

The Classification Review Board will meet on Saturday September 12 to consider the applications.

 

17th August   

Beeping Censors...

Indian censors get easily offended by strong language
Link Here

Kaminey CD The Indian Censor board has decided to flex its muscles and whether it is a small film like Shadow or a biggie like Kaminey , no one is going unnoticed when it comes to abusive language.

The most recent and high profile censoring that has happened is for the film Kaminey where Shahid Kapoor's voice has been beeped when he mouths the word 'har**mi'. While he is allowed to utter words like 's**le', 'kutte' and 'kaminey' in a single breath, Censors have felt that 'har**mi' won't really be required in the scheme of things.

For lesser known film Shadow , it is even worse. A harmless item number with the usual combination of babes and booze has been shown the red flag. So out go words like 'sharaab' and 'shabaab' with beeps adding on the musical notes of the song.

Update: 15 Rated Scoundrels

17th August 2009. See decision from bbfc.co.uk

The BBFC have just passed the UK cinema release s 15 uncut. They explain:

KAMINEY (SCOUNDRELS) is a Hindi language thriller about a pair of twins who become dangerously involved with the Mumbai underworld. The film was classified '15' for 'strong violence, threat and hard drug references'.

The film contains several scenes of strong violence, including the disturbing, stark image of a young female found dead with bloody injuries around her throat, lying face down on a bed, as well as the realistic and horrific sight of bloodied corpses scattered around a train in a particular scene. The film is, in fact, more violent than just a few individual moments and the final half and hour of the film is intense and presents a sense of strong threat until the end of the story.

The BBFC guidelines on threat at '12A' state that 'moderate physical or psychological threat may be permitted, provided disturbing sequences are not frequent or sustained'. The latter half of this film is stronger and more sustained in terms of tension and the dark tone, so it is more appropriate at '15', where 'strong threat is permitted'.

The film also contains several images of hard drugs (ie. cocaine, white bags of powder), as well as references and one very strongly implied image of a man snorting cocaine.

There is also one subtitled use of strong language, which does not challenge the '15' classification.

 

17th August   

Winding up Censors, Muslims and Hundus...

Black Widow passed with cuts on appeal against the Indian censors
Link Here

Black Widow trailer Director Dinkar Rao's film Black Widow – The Land Bleeds is up for release after a long struggle with the Censor Board.

This film, which is set against the backdrop of communal riots in India, completed its shooting way back in 2005 but was banned as senior police officers objected to its release claiming it would create a law and order problem.

Rao, however, approached the Appellate Tribunal. The Appellate Tribunal passed the film but with almost 25-50% cuts in the riot scenes and the rape sequences. There were 10 audio cuts. This was one of the most frustrating periods, recounts the director.

Black Widow is a one night story of a Muslim woman called Zoya, played by Ratna Malay, and her interaction with others including a right wing leader.

Though the film was highly appreciated at its special screening at the Cinecitta Studious where the audiences felt that the subject has been treated in a balanced way unlike the overdramatic approach of most Indian filmmakers, it has met with equal resistance from right wing Hindus and certain Muslim groups besides, of course, the Censor Board.

We have faced problems from right wing Hindus (because a character in the film looks like Raj Thackeray) as well as fanatical Muslims whenever we have had any screenings. But what happens to Zoya is happening to many women all over the world. It could be Mumbai, Gujarat, Iraq, Kashmir, Afghanistan or anywhere in the world,
defends Dinkar.

 

16th August   

Censorship Pill...

US Congress debates banning TV ads for prescription drugs
Link Here

US Senate There's a debate going on in US Congress where some are proposing that television commercials for prescription drugs be banned.

Advertising for prescription drugs is nothing new. Pharmaceutical manufacturers have long promoted their products. Consumers don't see the vast majority of such efforts, which take the form of ads in professional journals and direct contact with physicians.

The consumer was brought into the equation relatively recently. It began with ads in consumer magazines and newspapers, and intensified after the FDA cleared the way for television advertising in 1997. But even today, it's easy to exaggerate the magnitude of such efforts.

Only 15 drugs, aimed at roughly six conditions, account for more than half of all TV drug ad spending. Most of the conditions addressed are relatively common problems, with allergies and arthritis leading the list.

The FDA regulates the ads, requiring that the drawbacks as well as benefits of each medicine be disclosed. Patients still need a prescription to get these drugs.

Despite the impression left by a few celebrity patients, doctors aren't being stampeded by patients into prescribing drugs they've seen on TV. According to one study, when asked by patients for a specific advertised drug, doctors prescribe it less than 40% of the time. Another 20% of the time doctors actually prescribe a different drug — presumably one from a competitor of the advertiser.

The most important question is whether those patients who do get a prescription for an advertised drug really need it. Critics assert that they do not, concluding that the advertising is a waste of health care dollars. Yet, several studies — involving ones about drugs for depression and for high cholesterol levels among other things — indicate that, rather than pump up artificial demand, the ads help identify underdiagnosed and undertreated conditions.

 

16th August   

Update: Wavering Beliefs in Free Speech...

Atheist bus adverts in Des Moines
Link Here

Don't Believe in God: You are not alone A dispute about bus advertisements seeking to publicize atheist views has touched off a free speech debate after the signs were torn down,  then restored to the sides of Des Moines city buses.

The ads, sponsored by the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers read: Don't believe in God? You are not alone.

The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority stripped the signs after receiving complaints, then after meeting with the atheist group, reversed course and put the ads back up.

The issue with the ads in Des Moines was with the word 'God', said Elizabeth Prusetti, chief development officer for the bus agency: We have never allowed that word in our advertising, promoting a religion. We've never used the word God in any advertising to maintain some autonomy. We've had churches advertise but it's been for their church and not a belief.

Lilly Kryuchkov, spokeswoman for Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers, said the group was surprised by the bus agency's decision and believed the group's right to free speech was being trampled.

Prusetti said a breakdown in communication within the bus agency led to the ads being put on 20 buses by mistake. The agency's general manager and the chairwoman of the agency's commission determined that the signs were inappropriate, she said, and that the message was not communicated to the maintenance department that puts the signs on the buses. The mixup, not complaints from citizens, led to the removal of the ads, she said.

The agency has since decided its advertising policy was outdated, and is changing it to better align with other policies regarding civil rights, the state's obscenity and profanity laws and the diversity of the community, said Brad Miller, the agency's general manager. Prusetti said agency did not specifically address religion in its old advertising policy and that the decision not to have the word God appear in ads has just been continued on over the years. Prusetti said the word God will be allowed under the new advertising policy.

By honoring the freedoms protected through our shared civil liberties, DART ... will be in the position of displaying messages and images that may be controversial or uncomfortable to some, but legal and protected by civil rights, Miller said.

 

16th August   

Children Should be Not Seen and Not Heard...

Government to give councils control over children appearing on TV
Link Here

DCSF logo Children could disappear from our television screens if the Government decides to press ahead with plans to tighten regulations covering their appearance in entertainment, broadcasters claim.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is putting the finishing touches to proposals aimed at clarifying the rules governing reality shows such as Britain's Got Talent and Boys and Girls Alone , which campaigners claim can cause children unnecessary distress.

The television industry is braced for a fierce battle with children's charities and the Government over the proposals, which will suggest that programme makers must obtain a licence from a local council virtually every time they want to include a child in a television show. Councils also want the power to do spot checks on production sets.

The department originally intended to publish proposals last week, but last-minute submissions by broadcasters have forced it to delay. The head of one production company said: You've got a whole range of people who want a super-nanny state where kids aren't even allowed to watch television, let alone work on it. This debate will be acrimonious, to say the least.

Legislation covering children in the entertainment industry, which has not been updated for more than 40 years, states that under-16s must be licensed if they take time out of school, or are paid, to “perform” — widely interpreted as singing, acting or dancing.

While this already covers drama and talent shows, it is understood that the Government will suggest widening the licensing requirements to include factual programmes and reality shows. Broadcasters say that forcing them to apply for permission to feature children in documentaries will give local authorities political powers to veto programmes they do not agree with.

 

16th August   

Quick Off the Blocks...

North Africa and the Middle East highlighted as internet blockers
Link Here

14 countries in the Middle East and North Africa out of 18 countries surveyed filter Internet content using technical means, according to new studies released by the OpenNet Initiative, a partnership among groups at four leading universities: Toronto, Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

These reports offer an updated view of Internet content controls in the region and a point of comparison to an earlier global survey carried out in 2006-2007. The studies show that Internet censorship has continued apace in the Middle East and North Africa.

Our latest research results on Internet filtering and surveillance in the Middle East and North Africa confirm the growing use of next generation cyberspace controls beyond mere denial of information, said Ron Deibert, ONI Principal Investigator and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto: The media environment of the Middle East and North Africa region is a battle-space where commercially-enhanced blocking, targeted surveillance, self-censorship, and intimidation compete with enhanced tools of censorship circumvention and mobile activism.

Internet censorship in the region is increasing in both scope and depth, and filtering of political content continues to be the common denominator among filtering regimes there, said Helmi Noman, the OpenNet Initiative's Middle East and North Africa lead researcher: Governments also continue to disguise their political filtering, while acknowledging blocking of social content, and censors are catching up with increasing amounts of online content, in part by using filtering software developed by companies in the U.S.

 

16th August   

The Wrong Type of Block...

Websense refuse blocking software updates to Yemeni ISPs
Link Here

Websense logo Websense, a US-based web security gateway software company, has said it has blocked two ISPs in Yemen, YemenNet and TeleYemen, from receiving updates after it has emerged they were using its filtering technology in a government-mandated censorship scheme, the UK-based The Register has reported.

Websense maintains a policy of not selling to governments or Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that are engaged in any sort of government-imposed censorship, the company has said.

 

16th August   

Diary: Banned Book Week...

Book sellers and libraries highlight books banned in the US
Link Here

ABFFE logo Banned Book Week
26th September to 3rd October 2009

Every time we think that banning books in the United States is a thing of the past, we are sorely reminded that there are still many who believe that removing books from book stores and library shelves will make the social issues that the books represent go away and that the world will be a better place.

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) is fighting the good fight for retailers along with the American Library Association (ALA).

See www.bannedbooksweek.org for further details and for information about events

 

15th August   

Whingeing Basterds...

ASA receive complaints about poster for Inglourious Basterds
Link Here

Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is being investigated by the advert censors over complaints about the film's posters.

The title was always going to have a hard time with censors, even with its incorrect spelling. Cynics believe it was done so it wouldn't have problems during its advertising campaign.

However, that doesn't seem to be the case. The Advertising Standard Agency (ASA) has received complaints from the public over the adverts, which features the 'controversial' title and swastikas emblazoned on the posters.

The general nature of the complaints is that the ad is offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children, said an ASA spokesperson: We are currently looking into the complaints and establishing whether there are grounds for an investigation.

Curiously, there are several posters dotted across the UK that have either the second part of the title absent or the words The New Film by Quentin Tarantino in place of Inglourious Basterds.

TV ads have followed suit, with no mention of the full title pre 10pm. By comparison, advertising in the US is free to use the full film title, Inglourious Basterds on TV and poster campaigns.

 

15th August   

New Book Censors...

Street protests against censorship in Iraq
Link Here

Iraq flag Iraqi journalists, writers and publishers have demonstrated in Baghdad against what they say is growing state interference in their work.

The protest follows the introduction of new book censorship rules, and a proposal to ban certain websites.

No place in the world is as dangerous for journalists as Iraq. At least 190 media workers have died since the beginning of the war in 2003.

But it was not physical danger that brought dozens of journalists to the protest at Baghdad's old book market.

Last year, as the security improved and the government began to gain strength journalists started to complain about new pressure from officials.

The association for the protection of journalists says there has been a dramatic increase in lawsuits against media workers, especially those who try to cover government corruption and security.

 

15th August   

Offsite: An Education in Prudery...

A college lecturer is facing disciplinary action after showing erotic material to his students
Link Here

Femmes of Power book Just what is it about sex that causes such apoplexy amongst the British managerial class?

The latest outbreak of prudery appears to have taken place at East Surrey College, where lecturer Simon Burgess faces disciplinary proceedings for having the effrontery to expose students on a level 3 photography course to the works of noted international photographic artist, Del LaGrace Volcano.

The problem? Del LaGrace's work focuses on an exploration of transgender life and sexuality. Much of this work is wholly innocuous: some of it could be interpreted in a sexual context. The artist himself admits that the imagery contained in Love Bites — one of the works that may have been displayed — is more focused on the erotic side of the scene than the bulk of his material.

From there it may be a short hop to deciding that the pictures are “pornographic” and “inappropriate” — and that any lecturer exposing young minds to such work may be guilty of misconduct.

...Read full article

 

15th August   

Easily Offended for a Pound...

The Sun conjures up a nonsense story about Poundland selling 18 rated porn
Link Here

Poundland High street chain Poundland has been 'blasted' by a few parents rounded up by the Sun over the sales of 18 rated softcore porn.

The budget retailer was branded disgusting after angry parents found the 'filthy' films within easy reach of young kids.

Displayed alongside cartoons and Laurel and Hardy films the blue movies — including the titles Latin Fleshpots and Lesbian Wife Hunters — were slammed as offensive and inappropriate .

'Disgusted' Carly Johnson said the titles should be withdrawn from sale from the branch in Chatham, Kent. She said: It's absolutely disgusting. These films should not be on sale in Poundland - especially on view to children. I come to Poundland with my kids all the time and it's a bit sickening to know that these kind of films are on sale. The shelf is not that high up so even eight to ten-year-olds can easily reach them.

Another mum, who did not wish to be named, added: I come to Poundland with my kids all the time and it's a bit sickening to know that these kind of films are on sale. They shouldn't be available for just £1 either - I had no idea filth could be bought so cheaply. It's offensive and inappropriate.

Since the videos are rated 18 and not R18, there are no restrictions on their sale and the local Medway Council said they will not be investigating.

A trading standards spokesman said: There are no restrictions on sales or placement of these films, but the buyer must be 18 or older, the same restriction as any other 18-rated film.

And Poundland have refused to withdraw the titles — saying all the videos complied with film classification laws.

 

14th August   

Feed Over Email...

US Government working on news feeds via email to circumvent web filters
Link Here

VOA logo The U.S. government is covertly testing technology in China and Iran that lets residents break through screens set up by their governments to limit access to news on the Internet.

The feed over email (FOE) system delivers news, podcasts and data via technology that evades web-screening protocols of restrictive regimes, said Ken Berman, head of IT at the U.S. government's Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is testing the system.

The news feeds are sent through email accounts including those operated by Google Inc, Microsoft Corp's Hotmail and Yahoo Inc.

We have people testing it in China and Iran, said Berman, whose agency runs Voice of America. He provided few details on the new system, which is in the early stages of testing. He said some secrecy was important to avoid detection by the two governments.

 

14th August   

Update: Walling in US Hosted Sites...

Chinese internet censors close down US hosted adult service with 12 million members
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Great Firewall of China Jiangsu province authorities have shut down one of the largest online adult companies in the country in its ongoing obscenity crackdown.

The Dikamin “league” has 13 adult websites that service more than 12 million registered members, with an additional 10,000 “VIP” recurring memberships.

A league is known as a version of an affiliate program, relying on paid membership for bulletin boards that include content, as well as the ability to share it.

Police said Dikamin and two other Chinese-language online adult programs have servers located in the U.S.

Chinese Authorities also said that it is the first time that a government agency has managed to shut down overseas adult websites. They also arrested 12 employees on Wednesday, as well as the owner — known as Mr. Shen. At one point in time Shen had 300 marketers tending to the websites in China.

 

14th August   

Update: Damned Nuisance...

Chinese Green Dam internet filter limited to public PCs
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

China banned page The Chinese government is scaling back plans for compulsory net filtering for all citizens.

China's minister of industry, information and technology said Green Dam Filtering software would be compulsory for all computers in schools and public internet cafes, but not for individual PCs.

The government originally demanded that all machines should have the software either pre-loaded or at least included in the bundle of software discs included with new PCs. This was meant to start from July but was delayed.

Minister Li Yizhong said it was up to consumers whether or not they installed the software, but it would be required for PCs in public places.

 

14th August   

Update: Opinions Smoked Out...

Liverpool consult residents over an 18 rating for movies with smoking
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Liverpool City logo Liverpool City Council are proposing to override the BBFC and award 18 cinema certificates to films showing tobacco smoking.

The 18 rating would not apply to films which portray historical figures who actually smoked or those which provide a clear and unambiguous portrayal of the dangers of smoking, other tobacco use, or second-hand smoke, the council said.

The proposal has been made to the authority's Licensing and Gambling Committee by Liverpool Primary Care Trust.

If the plans go ahead, cinemas and any other premises showing films would have to notify the council 21 days in advance if they intend to show films containing images of smoking.

Today, Liverpool council launched a public consultation exercise on its website.

The BBFC is generally responsible for classifying films. However, under the Licensing Act 2003 local councils have statutory powers to classify or re-classify films to be exhibited in their particular areas. Although the government's guidance concerning the Licensing Act 2003 recommends that local councils should not duplicate the work of the BBFC it does allow local councils to reclassify films if there are good local reasons for doing so.

Offsite: Send for the Sanity Inspector

14th August 2009. See Why pretend the past was cigarette-free? from timesonline.co.uk

A council's plans to bar under-18s from films with smoking sets us on a dangerous path, says Gerald Warner.

Send for the Sanity Inspector – quickly. There is work for him among the denizens of Liverpool city council. The council is proposing to use its powers to upgrade to an 18-certificate the classification of films "if they depict images of tobacco smoking", in order to protect the vulnerable youth of Merseyside from exposure to such depravity.

...Read full article

 

13th August   

Update: The Book That Dare Not Print Its Name...

Book about the Mohammed cartoons won't print the cartoons
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

The Cartoons that Shoock the World book It's not all that surprising that Yale University Press would be wary of reprinting notoriously controversial cartoons of Muhammad in a forthcoming book...But in a book telling the story of the cartoons?

Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism, and the recommendation was unanimous: The book, The Cartoons That Shook the World, should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005.

What's more, they suggested that the Yale press also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included, specifically, a drawing for a children's book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Doré of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante's Inferno that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dalí.

The book's author, Jytte Klausen, a Danish-born professor of politics at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Mass., reluctantly accepted Yale University Press's decision not to publish the cartoons. But she was disturbed by the withdrawal of the other representations of Muhammad. All of those images are widely available, Ms. Klausen said by telephone, adding that Muslim friends, leaders and activists thought that the incident was misunderstood, so the cartoons needed to be reprinted so we could have a discussion about it.

Reza Aslan, a religion scholar and the author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam , is a fan of the book but decided to withdraw his supportive blurb that was to appear in the book after Yale University Press dropped the pictures. The book is a definitive account of the entire controversy, but to not include the actual cartoons is to me, frankly, idiotic.

This is an academic book for an academic audience by an academic press. There is no chance of this book having a global audience, let alone causing a global outcry. It's not just academic cowardice, it is just silly and unnecessary.

The book is due out in November.

 

13th August   

Update: Scientology, Iran and Australia...

Anonymous takes action against the world's internet enemies
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Anonymous logo An internet activist group calling itself Anonymous is taking on Kevin Rudd over his censorship policies.

They've released a video threatening their full-fledged wrath if the government doesn't abolish its internet filtering plans.

The group is also demanding the resignation of communications minister Stephen Conroy.

They claim he has has no level of understanding of the topic he is dealing with.

Anonymous led a high profile campaign against the Church of Scientology, and has tried to subvert censorship in Iran. The group is composed of members of different internet discussion forums and subcultures.

 

13th August   

Update: Safety for Citizens in Other EU States...

Swedish MP lodges a complaint with the EU over Ireland's blasphemy law
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law

EU flag Ireland is being hauled before the EU Commission over its new blasphemy law.

Swedish MP Karl Sigfrid said that he had lodged a complaint with the Commission, asking it to rule if the new Irish law is consistent with EU treaties. These include EU provisions on free speech enshrined in the current EU treaty and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Free speech is a necessary condition for scientific debate and is the best way to rational conclusions about what the truth is, Sigfrid, a Moderate Party MP, told the Herald: It's a very dangerous thing to replace open debate with violence from the Government when someone opposes what the conventional truth is.

He pointed out that the EU required entrant applicants, such as Turkey, to ensure freedom of speech and did not think existing members of the EU should be able to restrict free speech in such a way: It seems like a huge step backwards, Sigfrid added.

He wanted EU citizens to be able to travel freely to countries like Ireland and not have to face the threat of legal action for freedom of speech which was accepted in Sweden and other countries, he said.

 

13th August   

Updated: Reefer Madness...

Australian censor bans Risen, the 3rd games ban of the year
Link Here

Koch Media's medieval role-playing video game Risen has become the latest title be banned by the Australian Classification Board.

Sex or drugs, or a combination of the two look to have been the reason that the game was banned here in Australia.

In Europe the game has been given a PEGI 16 rating.

In the US the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has already rated it as Mature meaning that it is suitable for persons 17 years and older.

The ESRB describe the sex and drug content as follows.

During the course of the game, players can interact with prostitutes (referred to as "whores" in the game) at a local brothel. Players can trigger a lengthy dialogue to engage in their services; sexual activity is strongly implied, but never depicted on screen

Many of the characters in the game smoke a fictional drug called "brugleweed." The "wood reefer" plant is described as having a mild relaxing effect on users, and can be bought, sold, and used by players.

Update: Australian Censors on Brugleweed

13th August 2009. Based on article from escapistmagazine.com

Australian Film Classification Board Australia's Classification Board has detailed its reasons for refusing to issue a classification for the upcoming RPG Risen and as expected, the presence of implied sex and pretend drugs is simply too much for the country's sensitive children and adults to handle.

Then Board confirmed in an email that sex and drugs - even drugs that sound as though they were lifted straight from a Harry Potter novel - are a big no-no in videogames down under.

The game contains 'quests' which a player may choose to complete by acquiring sexual services of prostitutes, the Classification Board said in an email: Though it is purportedly not a necessary element of game play, players gain rewards or advance through the game more easily by engaging in sexual activity with prostitutes. Despite sex being given discreet treatment within the game, sexual activity is clearly linked to incentives or rewards.

The fictional drug "brugleweed" is given a similar treatment. "A player can trade and smoke this drug, which mirrors an illegal 'real-world' drug in its terminology, use and depiction. Dialogue refers to the drug having a 'relaxing effect' on the character. 23 'experience points' are gained by using the drug for the first time whilst every use thereafter leads to a moderate gain of three 'experience points'. This direct link between the use of 'brugleweed' and a positive increase in 'experience points' is an example of drug use related to incentives or rewards, which must be classified RC.

 

13th August   

Update: Porn's Let Off the Hook...

Malaysia again backs off from internet filtering and seeks alternative law enforcement options
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flag Dismissing a news report that the government was designing software to block websites, Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said that three ministries have been tasked to look into ways to curb the spread of lies and seditious materials on the Internet.

He said that the ministries involved would look at instances of sedition, fraud and child pornography on the Internet to provide law enforcement agencies with the necessary information.

The ministers involved are the Home Minister, Information Communication and Culture Minister and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

 

13th August   

Ultimate Censorship...

Editor shot and killed in Dagestan, Russia
Link Here

Dagestan flag The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the slaying in Dagestan today of Abdulmalik Akhmedilov, an editor known for his critical commentary, and urges Russian authorities to thoroughly probe journalism as the motive.

Akhmedilov was shot in his car on the outskirts of Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala, the independent Caucasus news Web site Kavkazsky Uzel reported.

Akhmedilov, known as Malik, was deputy editor of the Makhachkala-based daily Hakikat (The Truth) and a chief editor of the political monthly Sogratl­. Both newspapers are published in Avar, the language of the largest ethnic group in the volatile, multiethnic southern republic of Dagestan.

In columns in Hakikat, Akhmedilov sharply criticized federal forces and local law enforcement for suppressing religious and political dissent under the guise of an anti-extremism campaign, Zulfiya Gadzhiyeva, a Hakikat journalist, told CPJ. The campaign is ostensibly designed to curb the spread of the conservative form of Islam known as Wahhabism, which has gained popularity in Dagestan and other North Caucasus republics.

We express our deepest condolences to Malik Akhmedilov's family and colleagues. Russian authorities must thoroughly examine the possible connection between the journalist's work and his brutal murder, CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. Dagestan is one of the most dangerous places to report in one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists. Authorities must ensure the safety of these reporters.

 

12th August   

Update: Back in Court...

Simon Singh continuing his legal fight with the BCA
Link Here  full story: Simon Singh vs Chiropractors...Chiropractors take science sceptic to libel court

Trick or Treatment book Simon Singh announced today that he will continue the fight in his libel case with the British Chiropractic Association after his application to appeal the preliminary ruling was rejected last week. He has now has the option to try and overturn that decision at an oral appeal. If this fails his case will be tried on a meaning of a phrase he did not intend and is indefensible. This highlights the problem of narrow defences that, along with high costs and wide jurisdiction, make the English libel laws so restrictive to free speech.

Simon said today: I can confirm today that I have applied for a hearing to ask the Court of Appeal to reconsider its recent denial of permission. A great deal has happened since my original article was published back in April 2008 and I suspect that the libel case will continue for many more months (or maybe years). While my case is ongoing, it continues to raise a whole series of arguably more important issues, particularly the appalling state of English libel laws. I am pleased that the Culture Secretary has agreed to meet with signatories of the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign statement to hear how the laws affect writers. We are also pursuing a meeting at the Ministry of Justice and with front benchers in other departments to lobby for a change in the law.

 

12th August   

Copy Cat Censors...

India court temporarily bans film accused of plagiarism
Link Here

Poran Jay Jaliya Re poster The Calcutta High Court has passed an interim order banning the screening of the Bengali film Poran Jay Joliya Re in cinemas of the state.

The producer of Hindi blockbuster Namaste London, Vipul Shah , had moved the court seeking a ban on the Bengali film stating that it was an exact copy of his film and hence violated the copyright law.

Justice Nadira Patheriya, who passed today's order, had said last week that she wanted to see both the films.

The film, at present, is being screened in 115 halls across the state. This is the first instance that a Bengali film has been dragged to the court for plagiarism and banned too.

 

12th August   

Rebelling Against News...

Ethiopia tries to get Kenya to censor news report on separatist rebels
Link Here

Kenya flag Last week, the Ethiopian government tried to force private Kenyan broadcaster Nation Television (NTV) to drop a four-part exclusive report on separatist rebels in southern Ethiopia. NTV aired the first two parts of Inside Rebel Territory: Rag-Tag Fighters of the Oromo Liberation Front, which led Ethiopia's ambassador to Kenya to accuse the Nation Media Group of giving a platform to a terrorist organization. The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is fighting for greater autonomy for the Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the south of the nation.

Clearly, officials at the Ethiopian Embassy did not want NTV to air this program. We repeatedly explained to them that this is not possible, Linus Kaikai, NTV's managing editor of broadcast news told me today. The Kenyan Foreign Affairs Ministry was also involved in attempting to get the station to drop the story, he said: No demands have been agreed to, Kaikai added, saying that the final two parts will air this week.

Ethiopia recently enacted draconian anti-terror legislation, which criminalizes any reporting the government deems favorable to groups and causes it labels as terrorist. In other words, reporting the activities or statements of such groups could be interpreted as glorifying or aiding their causes.

 

11th August   

Update: Control Facility...

India considers adult TV throughout the day given parental controls
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

I&B logo With broadcasters and the government close to working out a new content code for television, foreign movies with partial nudity and mature content may soon be allowed at all time bands on digital addressable media platforms like direct-to-home (DTH) services, conditional access system and IPTV platforms, which have the provision of a parental lock.

Currently, all foreign language films, even after adult certification from their country of origin, have to get approval from the Indian censor boards. To get the nod, they invariably have to undertake re-editing of the objectionable portions in the films, in accordance with the existing programme code under the cable TV law.

The existing analogue cable services may also be allowed to show adult content on television (foreign cinema to start with) but from 11 pm to 4 am only, as a broad consensus is being arrived at on the draft content code between the government and broadcasters, pending resolution for over two years.

This comes after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) re-started discussion on the new content code with broadcasters. Government sources say at the most three to four more meetings will be required to finalise the code, that will replace the existing one, adapted from the guidelines drafted for Doordarshan decades earlier.

 

10th August   

Update: Against Good Virtue...

Thailand censors ban 10 movies in the first year of 'classification'
Link Here

A year after the new film-censor law came into effect, ten movies were banned from theatres, including Frontiere , Halloween , Funny Games , Zack and Miri Make a Porno and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane , as they were deemed violent and against good virtue, a senior official at the Culture Ministry revealed.

Director of the misleadingly named Film and Video Classification Office Pradit Prosil also urged movie theatres to apply for operation licences by September or face up to 1 million Baht in fines.

Pradit said that the new Film and Video Act 2008 has been in effect since June 2008 but its five subordinate laws were delayed and had just been all approved by the Cabinet, leading to many problems. However, since it came into effect, ten mostly foreign films were banned from being screened in Thailand because most of them had violent and amoral content, he said. He cited a film about a male house guest who later killed the homeowner as an example that went against the Thai value of gratitude.

Pradit also said the 2008-issued ministerial regulations on theatre licences came into effect from July 27 this year, so operators must apply for a license within 60 days. He warned that those who failed to meet the deadline might be subjected to a fine ranking from Bt200,000 to Bt1 million and a Bt10,000 daily fine until the theatre obtains a licence.

 

9th August   

The Most Beautiful Dog in the World...

Egypt gets wound up by Hollywood doggy joke about president Sadat
Link Here

I Love You Man DVD An American film in which a dog belonging to one of the characters is named after the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat has sparked outrage among the Egyptian public and Sadat's family, and prompted the government to demand an apology from the film's producers.

In the Hollywood movie I Love You, Man , one of the main characters, played by Jason Segel, tells his friend that his dog's name is Anwar Sadat. A cross between a beagle and a pug, Segel says his pet is the most beautiful dog in the world.

When asked whether this was because he admired Sadat's policies, Segel replies: No, because they look exactly alike before the camera zooms in on the dog. Sadat's picture was also posted on the dog's kennel in clips shown last week on Al Hayat, a private Egyptian channel.

It's a grave and direct insult, Roqeya Sadat, Sadat's eldest daughter, said in an interview: This is partially to be blamed on him not being valued as he deserves in his country, so it's natural that he would be humiliated abroad.

Hossam Zaki, a foreign ministry spokesman, said that either the film's writer was a boor or he wanted to insult Sadat and demanded an apology from Dream Works Pictures, the company that produced the film.

Samir Sabry, Ms Sadat's lawyer, lodged complaints with the US Embassy in Cairo and the prosecutor general. On Wednesday he filed suits against the information minister to ban the movie in Egypt and confiscate all copies of it. A court date to hear the complaints has been set for September 1.

President Anwar Sadat remains one of the most respected leaders of the 20th century. His contributions to regional peace, his service to his country and his personal courage are the characteristics that his many admirers will always remember about him, said Margaret White, a spokeswoman for the US Embassy: We sympathise with those members of his family and with Egyptians who feel offended by this Hollywood movie, but the truth is that no fleeting reference in a film can or will detract from his legacy.

I Love You, Man was distributed in Egypt with scenes featuring the dog cut out by the film company. The Egyptian censor, Ali Abu Shadi, said: The company sent us the movie without those scenes. Had we seen them, we wouldn't have allowed a film that insults an Egyptian symbol to play in Egypt.

The film critic Tarek al Shenawi said naming the dog after Sadat was a crime and very rude, and said such apparent criticism of the late president's appearance was punishable by international laws.

 

9th August   

Update: Sex and Politics...

Australian Sex Party achieves official recognition
Link Here  full story: Australia Sex Party...Adult trade association organises a politcal party

Australian Sex Party The Australian Sex Party has obtained approval from the Australian Electoral Commission for registration as a political party.

The commission, which announced the registration on its website, said it had received several objections.

The party's convenor and likely future candidate Fiona Patten said: One of the reasons for establishing the party was to provide a positive platform for sexual issues amongst the negative notions of sex that most politicians and political parties have, she said in a statement.

 

9th August   

Update: Too Much Filth and Violence...

Malaysia doesn't believe in censorship but they are going to impose it anyway
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flag There is no need to censor political content on the Internet, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said during his tenure as prime minister, he did not censure information from the Internet and hoped the present Government would keep the status quo.

Dr Mahathir did acknowledge, however, that there is too much filth and violence on the Internet and that it should be vetted by the Government.

But if people are not instigating violence, then it should not be censored, he said, adding that political content, such as blogs and online news portal should not be restricted.

Yesterday, Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim confirmed that there were plans to develop an Internet filtering system, although only for pornography.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-president Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye welcomed the Government's decision to filter pornography on the Internet, saying that pornography could lead to crime and social problems. Lee said if the Government had decided to filter the content on the Internet, it would have received a negative response from the public: Any form of censorship, in this ICT era, will be unpopular as it is contrary to the need for transparency, accountability and the free flow of information .

 

9th August   

A Censor of Billions...

New deputy at the world's biggest censor
Link Here

SARFT logo China's State Council has formally appointed the censor and producer Zhang Pimin as deputy director of the country's powerful State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT). He replaces Lei Yuanliang as deputy director of SARFT, who is retiring.

Zhang moves from a deputy directorship at the Film Bureau where he was known for cutting plenty. He joins Zhao Shi and Tong Gang in senior positions at the censorial body, which is assuming increased importance in China.

 

9th August   

Libellous Thoughts...

Book on The Groucho Club is being pursued for libel before being written yet
Link Here

Groucho Club logo The UK Libel Laws have taken another step into the abyss which signals the end of Free Speech as we know it. A UK based media club, The Groucho Club which is owned by a billion pound corporation Graphite Capital have launched a one of a kind High Court action for a pre publishing test case for libel against the author of an expos book about the club.

The Author, Tyrone D Murphy, is writing a book titled The Groucho-Gate Affair . The book is now the subject of a pre publishing test case for a permanent injunction for libel. It is of interest to note that this book has not yet been completed. Murphy said This frivolous legal action is nothing more than a blatant attempt to silence me and to intimidate me with the threat of costly legal action.

In recent years, similar cases have been described as the scourge of journalism and have set alarm bells ringing throughout media circles. Such cases are an attack on free speech. The current UK libel laws protect the rich and powerful from any form of public scrutiny or investigation. Newspaper editors and writers now have to consider the costs of intimidating libel actions before they run a story. This undermines the whole role of the Press in our society and encourages self-censorship of articles criticising the interests of the wealthy and the powerful.

This is a typical example of how the British Courts are being abused. Murphy says I cannot fathom why the Groucho Club, favoured haunt of many of my fellow journalists, would commence an action based purely on speculation of what might be written.

Tyrone D Murphy states that the expos deals with the management of the club and not with any of the members. Murphy is an award winning documentary and filmmaker, the editor of the newsletter Article 10 and a former electronic surveillance specialist and was responsible for uncovering many illegal bugging operations in the UK. It is understood that the issue of electronic surveillance at the Groucho Club is a central issue in their case.

According to Murphy, the Groucho Club originally applied to the courts for an injunction but did not proceed with the original injunction application because he decimated their case. Now, the Groucho Club have used his defence to correct blunders in their original case before instigating this new pre-publishing test case for libel. Murphy states This test case is based on what could be written and is the most ferocious attack on free speech in many years; it has wide reaching ramifications for all writers and journalists alike

 

9th August   

Sedition...

Gambian journalists jailed for criticising president
Link Here

Gambia flag The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the highly politicized court verdict against six independent journalists in the capital of the Gambia, Banjul.

Judge Emmanuel Fagbenle sentenced the journalists to two years in jail and heavy fines on six counts of sedition and criminal defamation, local journalists told CPJ. Failure to pay the fines will lead to an additional two years in jail.

The six journalists, working for two private newspapers--The Point and Foroyaa--had republished a June 11 press union statement criticizing President Yahya Jammeh's comments regarding the unsolved 2004 murder of Point editor Deyda Hydara.

According to the union, the six will be held at Mile Two Prison in Banjul while the defense files an appeal in the Gambian Court of Appeal.

President Jammeh has managed to nail the coffin shut for press freedom in the Gambia by arresting some of the last remaining independent journalists in the country, said CPJ's Africa program coordinator, Tom Rhodes: CPJ condemns this politicized judgment against these six Gambian journalists. Their sentencing reflects a partisan judicial system controlled by the president.

Update: Released

8th September 2009. See article from cpj.org

The Committee to Protect Journalists is relieved about the release of six prominent Gambian journalists on Thursday after President Yahya Jammeh pardoned them.

 

8th August   

Episode Aborted...

Episode of Family Guy pulled in the US
Link Here

Family Guy Season 8 DVD Fox's Family Guy , never a stranger to the complaints of fundamentalist groups and censorship advocates, just had a controversial episode pulled from air.

It was announced this week that an abortion-themed episode of the show was produced and set to air, only to be pulled from the schedule by the nervous execs over at Fox.

The episode was/is titled Partial Terms of Endearment , and is said to have featured Lois carrying a baby for another couple as a surrogate. When the couple gets killed in a car wreck, Lois has to decide whether or not to keep the baby.

Sources inside FOX say that the show appears to end with Lois' decision being deliberately unstated, only to have Peter, her husband, pop his head in from off-screen and say, She had the abortion!

Then FOX released a statement saying, essentially, that while they wouldn't air it, they'd be happy to include it on a future Family Guy DVD release. McFarlane confirmed as much in the same interview with TV Guide. So, for all those Family Guy fanatics out there, you'll get your chance to see what FOX was so scared to f-cking death about.

 

8th August   

Update: Damage Control Filters Through...

Malaysian PM quick to deny plan for state internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flag The Malaysian government have stepped in quickly to deny a plan to impose sate internet filtering.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said there was too much going against filtering, making it ineffective. He said with the ease of information flowing globally, any move to filter Internet access here would only breed public discontent: In this borderless and IT age, information flows freely... the government has no desire to implement Internet filtering.

Najib was commenting on a statement by Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who said they were looking at blocking access to pornographic websites.

It had been earlier reported that Rais' ministry was evaluating the possibility of an Internet filter similar to China's Green Dam Youth Escort software.

 

8th August   

Update: Video Privacy...

YouTube expand their posting guidelines
Link Here  full story: YouTube Obscurity Censorship...YouTube censor suggestive videos via obscurity

YouTube logo YouTube have increased the range of activities that are barred to include, amongst other things, invasions of privacy.

If a video you've recorded features people who are readily identifiable and who haven't consented to being filmed, there's a chance they'll file a privacy complaint seeking its removal, say its new guidelines: Don't post other people's personal information, including phone numbers, addresses, credit card numbers, and government IDs. We're serious about keeping our users safe and suspend accounts that violate people's privacy.

It also said that material designed to harass people was not welcome. If you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't say it on YouTube, say the new guidelines: And if you're looking to attack, harass, demean, or impersonate others, go elsewhere.

The new guidelines also seek to govern the behaviour of people reacting to videos: Users shouldn't feel threatened when they're on YouTube. Don't leave threatening comments on other people's videos.

 

8th August   

A Cyber Cold War...

Russian hackers attributed with attack on networking sites
Link Here

Russia flag Russian hackers have been accused of being behind an enormous cyber attack which temporarily shut down two of the world's most popular social networking sites in order to silence a Georgian blogger who is critical of Moscow's policies in the Caucasus.

Twitter went offline for several hours on Thursday whilst Facebook and Livejournal suffered major slowdowns following a large distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack which flooded their networks. The attacks are believed to have been aimed at a Georgian economics lecturer who has written blogs critical of Russia's military presence in the area.

Hackers use DDOS attacks to flood a website's servers with communication requests from a network of thousands of compromised computers, forcing the website to temporarily shut down. The paralysing effect of the attack, which severely compromised two websites that are regularly used by political dissidents, has raised fresh questions over the vulnerability of internet and the growing potential of cyber warfare as an effective weapon.

Speaking to reporters yesterday the blogger, who only gave his first name, Georgy, pointed the finger of blame at the Russian government. Maybe it was carried out by ordinary hackers but I'm certain the order came from the Russian government. An attack on such a scale that affected three worldwide services with numerous servers could only be organised by someone with huge resources.

 

8th August   

Pontificating about Censorship...

Vietnam blocks international catholic news websites
Link Here

Catholic World News logo Catholic sites uncovering the persecution against Catholics in Vietnam have become the latest casualties of government censorship.

It has been known that VietCatholic News has long been on top of the list for being blocked from domestic viewers, but recently readers from Vietnam have reported that as of now, the leading sites of Catholics around the world including Asia-News, Catholic Online, Catholic News Agency, Catholic World News and Independent Catholic News all have become the latest victims of Vietnam government's censorship.

Vietnam strictly regulates Internet access to its citizens, using both legal and technical means. The collaborative project OpenNet Initiative classifies Vietnam's level of online political censorship to be pervasive while Reporters without Borders considers Vietnam one of 15 internet enemies.

Initially, the majority of blocked websites are specific to Vietnam: those written in Vietnamese or dealing with issues related to Vietnam. Sites not specifically related to Vietnam or only written in English are rarely blocked. However, recently popular Catholic sites in English which with high rate of readership have also been added to the black list along with websites of human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Writers Without Borders, Amnesty International and other right groups to name a few.

 

8th August   

Censorial Waterworks...

Censors put a dampener on the Indian film Thambiudaiyan'
Link Here

Thambiudaiyan still Thambiudaiyan' , a film based on the Cauvery River water dispute has been banned by the Central Board of Film Certification. The examining committee, which viewed the movie, distanced itself from the content and treatment of the film and refused to issue the clearance certificate that is mandatory for the theatrical release of the film.

The treatment and the manner in which the issue is resolved is unacceptable to the examining committee and we refuse to certify the film, said Babu Ramaswami, regional officer, Censor Board.

Directed by debutant producer-cum-director Raja Mahesh, the film, shot in the delta regions of the Cauvery belt in Tamil Nadu, portrays the hero as a one-man-army-cum-diplomat who resolves the river water dispute, which has triggered emotions in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

For years, politicians have engaged in a war of words every time water is required, but no one looks at what farmers go through when the issue fades from newspaper headlines, said Mahesh, adding, My film highlights the need for a permanent and speedy solution to the problem of sharing of river waters.

However, the examining committee has taken exception to the way in which the issue is resolved in the film (a minister's wife and daughter are kidnapped and the authorities have no option but to open the pipelines).

Update: Muffled

4th September 2009. See article from sify.com

The film Thambivudayan has now been cleared by the Revision Committee of the Censor Board with a U/A certificate.

Director Rajaa Mahesh said: They were not comfortable with the word ‘Cauvery', so I muted it wherever it appeared in the films dialogue. I can do little about it, but I'm sure people will understand my situation.

Mahesh is planning to release the film in September.

Update: Eating Rats

7th September 2009. See article from expressbuzz.com

The film was sent for censor approval. The filmmaker was given two choices: remove certain scenes or remove the word Cauvery.

We dubbed the movie all over again, removing the word Cauvery which figured 48 times, says Rajaamahes.

The film is said to have scenes showing farmers eating rats and squirrels due to food scarcity and the hero kidnapping a minister to seek a solution. The Board objected to these scenes too. With the river's name out of the picture now, these scenes get to stay.

 

8th August   

Update: Obscene Justice...

Zambia news editor on trial over medical mishap photos
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Zambia...Journalist protests against hospital strike

Zambia The news editor of Zmabia's largest independent newspaper has been arrested and put on trial for distributing obscene images.

Chansa Kabwela, in calling for an end to the nurses' strike that has crippled the healthcare system in Zambia, sent the offending photos to the country's vice-president, its health minister, and various human rights groups.

The images? Two photos of a woman giving birth without medical help. They depict the baby in the breech position, with its shoulders, legs and arms emerging from the woman's vagina, but with the head still inside. The baby suffocated because by the time the hospital admitted the woman, it was too late for their surgeons to save the child, which died of suffocation.

President Rupiah Banda called the pictures pornographic and demanded a police investigation. Kabwela was soon arrested for distributing obscene material with intent to corrupt public morals, a charge that carries a possible five-year prison term.

 

7th August   

Repeat Whinges...

20% of older viewers frustrated at violence and strong language but 60% at repeats
Link Here
John Beyer

  This whinge was first aired on
1st July 1967

Research by media regulator Ofcom found that 46% of older viewers think that content quality and the range of programmes that channels offer has worsened. More than 20% of pensioners claimed that falling standards were the result of broadcasters screening more violence and bad language in their shows.

And of the 2,000 over-65s surveyed, the majority of 62% cited the steady rise in the number of repeats being screened on mainstream TV as a key reason for their frustration.

John Beyer, director of lobby group Mediawatch-UK, said:

Ofcom's findings show how strongly people feel about issues of taste, harm and offence.

Over the past few years we have seen TV audiences increasingly state their dissatisfaction with the broadcast output - and it seems no one is doing anything about it.

I am calling on Ofcom to take seriously their own research and the complaints, and show they are listening to viewers' concerns.

Comment: Haven't They Got a Remote Control

From Dan

So people over the age of 65 don't like the swearing and violence that comes out of programmes that young people watch.

Can they not find something more to their tastes or is TV going to have to be censored in order to please the moaning old fogey mob?

 

7th August   

Posing Problems...

Gang banned from posting menacing pictures on the internet
Link Here

Facebook logo A judge has banned a gang from posting menacing photographs of themselves on the internet.

In a landmark ruling, nine men pictured making gun gestures on social networking websites will be locked up if such images appear again.

Judge Clement Goldstone QC also banned them from posing together on the internet in any situation.

The judge issued the ban while sentencing members of the Fallowfield Mad Dogs gang for affray. He was shown pictures of them pulling gun poses and talking about preparing for war on a networking site.

He said: Membership of or affiliation with gangs is made known through the internet. The courts will not stand idly by when youths maraud menacingly like packs of wild animals.

Gang members will still be allowed to publish pictures of themselves individually, but not making threatening gestures or with any of the men sentenced.

A police source said: These hoodlums are sticking two fingers up at the law. This gang has caused us many problems over the years and these pictures speak volumes about what they get up to. They think they are untouchable but we hope this ban will hopefully be a massive blow to them spreading their evil influence so easily.

They had gone searching for a member of a rival gang, but after being told to move on they began circling the police officers in a predatory and volatile manner, making gun gestures with their hands. They were arrested when officers called for back up and they appeared at Manchester Crown Court charged with offences including affray, possessing ammunition, assault and criminal damage.

 

7th August   

Update: Lost for Words...

Words fail to describe the ineptitude of Apple's censors
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

iPhone Apple has rejected a dictionary application, Ninjawords , because it included words Apple deemed inappropriate.

According to an interview by John Gruber with Ninjawords developer Phil Crosby, Apple refused to upload Ninjawords to the iTunes store until a number of objectionable words had been removed. Besides fuck, shit, and various other four-letter ones, words that Apple ordered eliminated include ass, cock, and screw . Even without these entries, Ninjawords is still a 17+ application!

Apparently, the English dictionary. As Gruber points out on his blog, we're talking about a reference book available in every classroom in the country. Apple's extraordinarily stringent, and seemingly arbitrary, process to decide what content is appropriate for iPhone users overreaches the level of authority any company should exercise. The 17+ rating system can and should stand on its own as a tool for parents to police their own children's application use. With any other censorship, Apple simply insults the maturity and intelligence of its customers.

Update: Spinning Apple

7th August 2009. See article from daringfireball.net

Phill Schiller, a top bod at Apple, has replied about the censorship of the Ninjawords application.

Contrary to what you reported, the Ninjawords application was not rejected in the App Store review process for including common “swear” words. In fact anyone can easily see that Apple has previously approved other dictionary applications in the App Store that include all of the “swear” words that you gave as examples in your story.

The issue that the App Store reviewers did find with the Ninjawords application is that it provided access to other more vulgar terms than those found in traditional and common dictionaries, words that many reasonable people might find upsetting or objectionable. A quick search on Wiktionary.org easily turns up a number of offensive “urban slang” terms that you won't find in popular dictionaries such as one that you referenced, the New Oxford American Dictionary included in Mac OS X. Apple rejected the initial submission of Ninjawords for this reason, provided the Ninjawords developer with information about some of the vulgar terms, and suggested to the developer that they resubmit the application for approval once parental controls were implemented on the iPhone.

Schiller also notes that supposedly offensive words were removed by the developer so that the application could be sold before the introduction of a 17+ parental control feature. The developer could have sold the app 17+ uncut if he had waited for the 17+ parental control facility roll out.

Of course Apple are sill censorial ratbags if they thing that young people have to wait until they are 17 just to read about vulgar terms in a dictionary.

 

7th August   

Military Censorship...

Argentina reveal their banned song list from 1976-82
Link Here

Light My Fire by the Balgranos A list of more than 200 songs banned during Argentina's dark era has been unearthed from archives in Buenos Aires and declassified, revealing a mindset that was perturbed by pop and rock classics.

The seven-page list, spanning 1976-82, shows that the military junta, which killed and "disappeared" thousands of people, was unnerved by apparently cheesy and romantic songs as well as more explicit fare.

Rod Stewart's Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? got the chop, as did Eric Clapton's Cocaine and John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Kiss Kiss Kiss . Argentinian radio listeners also missed out on Queen's Freddie Mercury belting out Get Down Make Love and Tie Your Mother Down .

Pink Floyd's hymn to childhood rebellion, Another Brick in the Wall , was put on the blacklist in July 1980.

The Doors' Light My Fire , whose allusion to drugs had also upset some US broadcasters in the 1960s, was censored along with more overtly political songs by Joan Baez.

For some reason the regime took a strong dislike to the disco diva Donna Summer, who had three hits blacklisted: Could It Be Magic, Prelude to Love and A Love Trilogy .

 

7th August   

Petition: Reject Defamation of Religion...

UK government response to closed petition
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that the UK Government uses all of its powers to reject and, if possible, veto any attempt at the United Nations to limit free speech in relation to religion and any associated attempt to criminalise the criticism of religion and encourage other governments to similarly reject/veto any such attempt.

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, a voting block within the United Nations, is currently attempting to use its power within that organisation to seek to have a binding resolution made attempting to force governments to criminalise freedom of expression. In pursuing this course of action it seeks to promote the idea that religion can be defamed and that criticism of religion should be outlawed.

This is a gross violation of the most basic and fundamental of Human Rights, that of freedom of speech. It must be countered by all governments wherever possible and properly identified for what it is, a blatant attempt to stifle debate and criticism of religion. Religions do not have rights, people do. Whilst this is being introduced by Islamic countries it is not specific to the religion of Islam.

The original non-binding resolution can be found on the UN web site

Result: UK to Continue Opposing Defamation of Religion

Closed with 888 signatures

Government Reply:

The British Government is committed to protecting the human rights of all, including the rights to freedom of expression, and to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. These rights are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The resolution on defamation of religions was first introduced at the Commission of Human Rights in 1999 and again during the 10th session of the Human Rights Council held in March 2009 in Geneva. The United Kingdom, as with all other members of the European Union, has consistently opposed this resolution on the grounds that it limits the right to freedom of expression. The UK does not accept that defamation of religion is a human rights concept. International human rights law protects individuals in the exercise of their freedom of religion or belief: it does not protect beliefs, faiths or philosophies. However, we strongly support the right to freedom of religion or belief, and believe that it is complementary to the right to freedom of expression.

The right to freedom of expression is not absolute and can be subject to certain restrictions that are provided by law and are necessary for respecting the rights or reputations of others, or for the protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals. In line with our domestic legislation, we have argued that that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should be prohibited by law, in accordance with the international obligations of States and that these prohibitions are consistent with freedom of opinion and expression.

The United Kingdom will continue to protect and promote freedom of expression internationally, including by opposing attempts to curtail it by deploying the concept of defamation of religions.

Comment: Hostility to Religion

8th August 2009. From pbr on the Melon Farmers Forum

"The right to freedom of expression is not absolute and can be subject to certain restrictions that are provided by law and are necessary for respecting the rights or reputations of others, or for the protection of national security or of public order, public health or morals. In line with our domestic legislation, we have argued that that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence should be prohibited by law, in accordance with the international obligations of States and that these prohibitions are consistent with freedom of opinion and expression".

Hang on just one moment... does anyone see a new word in that list of no-noes? Coz I see one I've never seen before... a very worrying one indeed...

hostility , not just violence or discrimination, but hostility?

Now... I can't help but feel this is one of those beautiful examples of neo-labour bull shitting, lets take a look at what the word hostile means as defined by dictionary.com:

–adjective
1. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an enemy: a hostile nation.
2. opposed in feeling, action, or character; antagonistic: hostile criticism.
3. characterized by antagonism.
4. not friendly, warm, or generous; not hospitable.

–noun
5. a person or thing that is antagonistic or unfriendly.
6. Military. an enemy soldier, plane, ship, etc.

...I don't think any further explanation of how deep the governments commitment to freedom of expression is necessary...

 

7th August   

Update: Grin and Bear It...

Steve Gough recognised in Land's End
Link Here  full story: Naked Rambler...Stephen Gough imprisoned for being naked

Grin and Bear It Here is a picture of the Naked Rambler, Steve Gough, which I took at the Land's End visitor centre.

The Journey Makers display He is properly credited as someone who has completed the 874 mile walk from John o' Groats to Land's End. I visited Land's End today and saw this recognition.

The first picture is the relevant text seen on their display and the second is the picture of him on their display looking away, with his bottom censored, nevertheless I was pleased to see his efforts had been recognised by the folk at the Land's End visitor centre.

Which is a bit more than can be said of some nasty pieces of work in Scotland who have locked him up in jail for ages.

 

7th August   

Update: Ageless Ratings...

Thailand publish film certificate designs
Link Here

Thai film certs The Thai cabinet have approved further regulations concerning film ratings.

Culture Minister Teera Salakpetch said there were seven categories:

  • educational films people are encouraged to see
  • films suitable for the general audience
  • Advisory: films suitable for those over 13
  • Advisory: films suitable for those over 15
  • Advisory: films suitable for those over 18
  • films restricted for persons under 20, age limits enforced by cinemas
  • films banned from being screened in the Kingdom.

Teera also said that the ministry has finished making the six rating symbols and would submit them to the National Committee on Film and Video in mid-August before they are implemented.

Thai film certs The symbols are:

  • Sor (from the Thai word song serm that means "promoted") for educational films people are encouraged to see
  • Thor (from thua pai meaning "general") for films suitable for the general audience
  • " Nor 13+ " (Nor is from naenam meaning "advisory") for films suitable for those over 13
  • Nor 15 +
  • Nor 18+
  • Chor 20+ (Chor is from chapor that means "specific") for films restricted for persons under 20.

The regulations should take effect in mid-August.

 

6th August   

Update: Close to Home...

Jeremy Clarkson spoof car advert winds up a few whingers
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Berlin to Warsaw in one tank A spoof advertisement for the VW Scirocco TDI shown on Top Gea r has reportedly received a number of complaints from viewers.

The clip features scenes of panic in Warsaw as residents seemingly rush to leave the country, before a final screencard bears an image of the car and the tagline Volkswagen Scirocco TDI. Berlin to Warsaw in one tank.

A number of viewers are believed to have complained to the BBC, with others reportedly contacting the TV censor Ofcom.

Comment: Proportionate Offence

7th August 2009. From David

The actual number of complaints is 43. The other eight and a half million people who saw it presumably thought it was hilarious

 

6th August   

Update: China gives Malaysia Ideas...

Malaysia considers state internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Malaysia...Malaysia looks to censor the internet

Malaysia flag Despite a guarantee of no censorship in Malaysia's 'Multimedia Super Corridor', Datuk Seri Rais Yatim's ministry is evaluating the feasibility of putting an Internet filter blocking undesirable websites — similar to China's aborted Green Dam software. [although that's not really described in the rest of the article]

The study is to be completed by this December and the results will be handed to a shadowy unit monitoring blogs and websites although the decision on implementation will lie with the National Security Council headed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Critics say any move to filter the Internet is against the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantees apart from being largely ineffective as most Internet surfers can circumvent filters through proxy servers.

The move comes on the back of proposals to register bloggers, most of whom are said to be anti-government, and the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition parties to have a larger Internet presence.

According to tender documents seen by The Malaysian Insider, the study will

  • evaluate the readiness and feasibility for the implementation of Internet filter at Internet gateway level, through assessments on the existing infrastructure and existing products in the market.
  • evaluate and estimate costs for the implementation.
  • investigate the existing legal framework in addressing content filtering and no censorship issue, including the impacts that are caused by the implementation to Internet users and the Malaysian economy.

 

6th August   

The Consequences Game...

German games producer threatens to leave the country if action games are banned
Link Here

Crytek logo Germany is mulling banning violent computer games so perhaps it is unsurprising that one of the companies threatened is pointing out that there will be some economic consequences for Germany.

Crytek one of the major game producers in Germany have stated that the ban would be an attack on their continued success as a business… so they'd just leave.

Not that they need to be in Germany to do a good job, and not that they're so big that half of Germany will be unemployed if they do leave, but I think it's an indicator of how serious this issue is. It's not a thing where people can say, oh we can work around that — no, it's hardcore censorship and it has serious implications. Crytek's president Cevat Yerli says:

A ban on action games in Germany is concerning us because it is essentially like banning the German artists that create them. If the German creative community can't effectively participate in one of the most important cultural mediums of our future, we will be forced to relocate to other countries.

The current political discussion will deprive German talent of its place on the global game development stage, and deprive German consumers of entertainment that is considered safe and fun around the world.

 

6th August   

Cult Fiction Movies...

New specialist cult movie shop in Edinburgh
Link Here

Cult Fiction Movies logo To fans, Edinburgh's newly-opened Cult Fiction Movies is a magical store where a litany of grindhouse double features, BFI Classics and films from America's Criterion Collection which remain currently unavailable on this side of the Atlantic might be found alongside rare and imported movie posters.

To passers-by it's a curiosity box with low-budget, largely forgotten flicks from the 80s such as Killer Klowns From Outer Space , Xtro and Maximum Overdrive proudly displayed alongside more mainstream cult films like Trainspotting , The Big Lebowski and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It's all things to all people, or at least those with an interest in hard-to-obtain classics on DVD.

Owner Stewart Dawson describes his personally preferred genres as horror and sci-fi: Everyone will have their own definition of what a “cult” film is so I want them to think, when they see the word in the name of the shop, that I'll have what they want. I've got a range of grindhouse films, although most of their names will probably mean nothing to you. I've got rare westerns, a horror range, other sections for individual directors like Dario Argento and Pier Paulo Pasolini. Whereas all some customers might want is (his eyes scan the impressively-stocked shelves) The Gate – a classic 80s horror film there. Or maybe the original Captain America …

Dawson has run Cult Fiction as an online business since early 2008 and a physical store since June of this year. The bulk of Dawson's stock is comprised of import versions of films which are unavailable in the UK, whether they've been deleted for years or only recently taken off the shelves; during any period of deletion, even for previously widely-available films, the prices of import versions rise. Taking inspiration and advice from The Cinema Store in London, Dawson must ensure that each disc is properly certificated and matches up with the BBFC-approved cut of the film. While the online era is denting the DVD industry, though, it has proven helpful to him: Distributors are more likely to permit you to sell import copies of their films now, because they know that anyone who wants them will just download them otherwise.

Beyond the sales side of the business, Dawson is planning themed events in future, including an instore appearance by Troma Studios founder Lloyd Kaufman in August.

 

6th August   

The Spirit of Saddam...

Iraq returns to book banning and internet blocking
Link Here

Iraq flag The doors of the communications revolution were thrown open in Iraq after the American-led invasion in 2003: In rushed a wave of music videos featuring scantily clad Turkish singers, Web sites recruiting suicide bombers, racy Egyptian soap operas, pornography, romance novels, and American and Israeli news and entertainment sites that had long been blocked under Saddam Hussein's rule.

Now those doors may be shut again, at least partially, as the Iraqi government moves to ban sites deemed harmful to the public, to require Internet cafes to register with the authorities and to press publishers to censor books.

The government, which has been proceeding quietly on the new censorship laws, claimed prohibitions were necessary because material currently available in the country had had the effect of encouraging sectarian violence in the fragile democracy and of warping the minds of the young.

Our Constitution respects freedom of thought and freedom of expression, but that should come with respect for society as a whole, and for moral behavior, spewed Taher Naser al-Hmood, Iraq's deputy cultural minister.

This month, the government has started to require dozens of Internet cafes to register with the government or be closed.

In July, a government committee recommended that the drafting of a law allowing for official Internet monitoring and the prosecution of violators be expedited. Among the prohibited sites, according to the committee's report, would be those with subject matter including drugs, terrorism, gambling, negative remarks about Islam and pornography.

This spring, the government contacted the handful of Iraqi book publishers still in business and asked them to compile lists of their books, along with a description of the subject matter. The material is to be kept at the Ministry of Culture, which is also preparing a document to be signed by publishers in which they will pledge not to distribute books the government deems offensive.

Taha H. al-Shebeeb, an Iraqi writer of 10 novels whose politically tinged work often put him at odds with Hussein's government, called the current plans an awful retreat. If this is true, I will hold a press conference where I will burn my novels and say that I had been mistaken when I objected to the policies of the previous regime.

 

6th August   

Update: Free Speech Held to Kings Ransom...

Even positive comment is banned about the Moroccan king
Link Here  full story: Royal Censorship in Morocco...Law puts the Moroccan king above comment

Telquel magazine Two Moroccan magazines have been banned for publishing an opinion poll of the King in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of his rule.

All issues of Arabic-language weekly magazine Nichane and its French-language sister publication Telquel were seized by the Interior Ministry.

The Interior Ministry ordered the seizure of the issues of Telquel and Nichane following the printing of articles that violate the law, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The seized issue of Telquel featured King Mohammed VI on its cover with the words The People Judge Their King emblazoned on his image.

The magazine conducted an opinion poll asking readers what they thought of the last ten years of King Mohammed VI's rule, and the results were overwhelmingly positive.

The poll showed that 91% of Moroccans are satisfied or very satisfied with the king's performance.

An editor of Telquel told French media that authorities told the magazine it was unacceptable in principle” to publish an opinion poll about the king, which is why the issues were seized.

Rights organization Reporters Without Borders said that while there have been significant improvements in press freedom in the past ten years, extreme censorship is still prevalent.  In the past ten years, according to the organization, Moroccan journalists have been sentenced to a total of 25 years in jail and news organizations have been fined a total of 2.8 million dollars.

The fundamental problem is this, a popular blogger Larbi wrote: In Morocco the king governs, he is the head of state, and the chief executive. But at the same time he is a sacred person. So whoever wants to talk about Moroccan politics finds himself in this dilemma: how do you speak about the actions of a head of state that presides over the destiny of 30 million Moroccans when the law punishes those who speak of, and violate his sacredness?

 

6th August   

Banner News...

New Zealand Deputy Chief Censor reappointed
Link Here

Nicola McCully The New Zealand Deputy Chief Censor of Film and Literature Nicola McCully has been reappointed to the role, the Minister of Internal Affairs Nathan Guy has announced.

The reappointment of Ms McCully will retain her significant expertise in the area of censorship and will ensure the continued solid performance of the Office of Film and Literature Classification, said Guy.

McCully was originally appointed as Deputy Chief Censor in 2002. The Office of Film and Literature Classification is an independent Crown entity that examines and classifies publications, including films, videos, books, magazines, sound recordings and computer files.

The Deputy Chief Censor is appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Internal Affairs. The term of appointment is three years commencing 1 August 2009.

 

5th August   

Update: No Jokers...

Pakistan gets wound up by jokes about its leadership
Link Here  full story: No Joking...14 years for mocking Pakistan's leadership

Pakistan flag Pakistan's Minister of Interior, Rehman Malik, recently announced a 14 year prison sentence for anyone found propagating SMS and emails ridiculing or making fun of the present Pakistani leadership and its elected government officials.

The statement issued by the Ministry of Interior actually referenced the Cyber Crime Act of 2009 which apparently may subject the violators to at least 14 years behind bars.

Since the start of this newly elected government, the local leadership, namely the President of Pakistan Asif Zardari and Minister of Interior Rehman Malik have been at the receiving end of some very hard hitting gutt wrenching jokes, which in turn a propagated across SMS's and emails like wildfire not only in Pakistan but also across the world.

Seeing their local leadership at the base of many hard hitting jokes, the government decided to take such critical offenders to task. Here lies a very important problem, it is surprising to note that the Cyber Crime Act does even not exist, the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Ordinance of 2007 ironically had no mention of any crime related to SMS's let alone sending and even categorizing humorous SMS's which may tarnish the image of the an unspecified local leadership, the maximum prison sentence in that bill was set at a maximum of 7-years [10-years if it involved a minor].

The statements made by Ministry of Interior were challenged, and the only official response that has been received till now that the correct draft has not yet been released to the public. It only seems that the politically motivated statement was more or less geared towards scaring the general public into submission and hopefully stopping political rivals from ridiculing them.

 

5th August   

Update: Redline Censors...

Saudi office of LBC under threat over confessional TV episode
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

Red Line on LBC The Saudi offices of a Lebanon-based satellite station controlled by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal could face closure over a racy talk show featuring a man boasting about his sex life.

The local operations of the Saudi billionaire's broadcaster LBC could be shut down because of the offensive nature of the programme, Abdullah al-Othaim, a senior district judge in Jeddah said.

Jeddah investigators continued to examine evidence to see what charges would be filed against Saudi citizen Mazen Abdul-Jawad, whose discussion of his sex life on LBC's Bold Red Line in July led to his arrest on Friday.

Two other men who took part in the programme were also arrested, while a fourth fled to Morocco, local newspapers cited Saudi police as saying.

Abdul-Jawad's confessions, that he first had sex at 14 with a neighbour, used sex aids and liked to use his cellphone's Bluetooth function to try to pick up women, outraged Saudi conservatives.

 

5th August   

Nichols' Bebo Bollox...

Church traumatised by its collapsing transient relationship with British people
Link Here

Vincent Nichols The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has warned that social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo and MySpace could lead to a rise in suicides.

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said the sites encouraged teenagers to build transient relationships that can leave them traumatised when they collapse.

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said websites such as Facebook, Bebo and MySpace could be a factor in teenage suicides, following the inquest of 15-year-old Megan Gillan.

Nichols said the sites encouraged young people to put too much emphasis on the number of friends they have rather than on the quality of their relationships.

Among young people often a key factor in them committing suicide is the trauma of transient relationships, he said: They throw themselves into a friendship or network of friendships, then it collapses and they're desolate. It's an all or nothing syndrome that you have to have in an attempt to shore up an identity; a collection of friends about whom you can talk and even boast. But friendship is not a commodity, friendship is something that is hard work and enduring when it's right.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, he said the internet and mobile phones were dehumanising' community life and that relationships had been weakened by the decline in face-to-face meetings.

Archbishop Vincent also condemned footballers who break their contracts to move to other clubs for bigger salaries as 'mercenaries'. The Archbishop, who is a supporter of Liverpool FC, said there was a loss of loyalty in society that was typified by the attitude of some footballers: What football spectators appreciate is a bit of loyalty and we're seeing that less and less.

 

5th August   

Bird Brained Censors...

Satirical animation of the Maldives' president censored
Link Here

Maakana show Mounting political pressure has forced the creators of the satirical Maakana show to remove a caricature of the president, according to the show's producer.

Yamin Rasheed, also managing director of Cellmin animation studio, said only the removal of the president's caricature was requested by VTV, the private broadcaster, which airs the programme. Yamin said he was informed it was to protect the interests of the government.

But, Mohamed Zuhair, press secretary at the president's office, denied the allegation today, saying the president did not support the character's removal: In fact, he told me this morning that he does not have any problem with the show.

The 25-minute animation, which has been broadcast by VTV every Friday at 10pm since 2007, parodies the Maldivian political landscape, comparing the country to a land of birds. It includes caricatures of both incumbent President Mohamed Nasheed and the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as two birds named Ayya and Zaki respectively.

 

4th August   

Stupid Stunts...

Kyle and Jackie O Show pulled from radio
Link Here

Kyle & Jackie O Show An Australian radio show has been pulled off air after a lie detector stunt saw a 14-year-old girl say she had been raped.

The Kyle and Jackie O Show on Sydney's 2Day FM was put into recess pending a review over the incident last week.

The move follows public 'outrage' over the segment, which saw the girl quizzed about whether she was sexually active.

Host Kyle Sandilands has also been sacked from his role as a judge on Australian Idol over the row.

The radio show saw the girl strapped to a polygraph machine as her mother - who had volunteered to be on air - quizzed her despite apparently knowing she had been assaulted when she was 12 years old.

Sandilands was accused of further insensitivity when after the revelation he asked: Right, and is that the only sexual experience you've had?

Co-host Jackie O'Neil put an end to any further discussions when she realised the conversation had crossed a line.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd led the criticism against the radio show, saying: This is a young girl and I am, as I think most Australians are, really distressed at the way in which the young person has been treated.

Child welfare officers and police have now been ordered to investigate the teenager's claims.

 

4th August   

Obsessed about Body Image...

Liberal Democrats believe in the freedom of companies to advertise...BUT...
Link Here

Makeover Queen Airbrushing should be banned in advertisements aimed at children to tackle body image pressure , say the Not So Liberal Democrats.

Altering photos to make them look better means children are subjected to completely unattainable images , said front-bencher Jo Swinson, herself dubbed the Makeover Queen due her obsession with body image.

The Not So Liberal Democrats have put forward measures aimed at protecting women and girls from pressure about their weight, and to promote healthy living. The party also says body image and media literacy should be taught in schools and more sports activities offered to stop teenage girls dropping out of exercise.

Among other proposals are for success rates to be included on cosmetic surgery adverts and for local sports centres to be made more female friendly by being cleaner and safer. The party also wants cosmetic surgery adverts to give their success rates.

Ms Makeover said airbrushing should be banned in advertising aimed at the under 16s and should be clearly flagged up in adverts aimed at adults.

She said young girls in particular were under increasing pressure due to completely unattainable images that no-one can live up to in real life. The focus on women's appearance has got out of hand - no-one really has perfect skin, perfect hair and a perfect figure, but women and young girls increasingly feel that nothing less than perfect will do .

Liberal Democrats believe in the freedom of companies to advertise ...BUT... we also believe in the freedom of young people to develop their self-esteem and to be as comfortable as possible with their bodies. They shouldn't constantly feel the need to measure up to a very narrow range of digitally manipulated shapes and sizes.

A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority said airbrushing was not an issue it received many complaints about.

If images had been altered to the extent they were misleading, that was when the ASA would step in, he said: We don't get a lot of complaints about it . Consumers know there has been alteration in some of the images, maybe that is why consumer complaints are quite low.

 

4th August   

Update: Media War...

Venezuelan TV censors armed with guns and grenades
Link Here  full story: Broadcasting Censorship in Venezuela...Shut down of opposition radio and TV stations

Globonision logo Dozens of militant supporters of President Hugo Chavez stormed an opposition TV station yesterday in an escalation of Venezuela's media war.

Around 30 activists with red berets forced their way into the Caracas headquarters of Globovision, lobbed tear gas and threatened staff with handguns.

The raid came amid a government crackdown on critics of Chavez's socialist revolution, a campaign which human rights groups have condemned as an attack on free speech. In recent days the government has revoked the licences of dozens of radio stations and proposed a law which would jail people deemed guilty of media crimes for up to four years.

Footage aired on Globovision showed activists from the UPV, a radical left-wing party which backs the president and dresses in quasi-military gear, arriving on motorbikes and rushing on foot into the station.

The intruders, led by a prominent Chavista named Lina Ron, waved banners and reportedly injured a guard and a police officer while tear gas seeped through the complex.

Chavez has repeatedly assailed Globovision – the South American country's last opposition TV network – as an instrument of oligarchs and US imperialists who are waging media terrorism.

However, the government swiftly distanced itself from the raid. We condemn this attack energetically and reject this type of violent action against Globovision, said the interior minister, Tareck El Aissami: We don't accept that violence is the instrument to solve our differences.

 

4th August   

Abandoned and Reclaimed...

Jia Pingwa's controversial novel Feidu unbanned in China
Link Here

Feidu book Jia Pingwa's controversial novel Feidu (often translated as Abandoned Capital ), which caused a sensation upon its Chinese publication in 1993 and was banned the same year, has returned to print after sixteen years during which it was only available in pirated editions.

The official launch, which is technically for a trilogy that includes both Turbulence (1987) and Qin Qiang (2005), will take place in Xi'an on August 8, but the book slipped quietly into stores last week without any advance notice.

The restraint is understandable given the book's troubled history. Its initial publication in 1993 by the Beijing Publishing House was accompanied by a media frenzy that sensationalized the book as a modern Jin Ping Mei, the classic Ming Dynasty novel famed for its explicit sexual passages, and hype ranged from the author's rumored million-yuan advance to a million-copy print run, and from speculation about the nature of the book's deleted passages to the avalanche of bootleg versions that soon appeared in streetside book stalls. Feidu was banned before the year was out.

 

4th August   

Sex Cards Restored...

Restoring nudity to the US version of video game The Witcher
Link Here

The Witcher game CD Projekt has made available the Director's Cut update for their role playing game The Witcher , now available for download.

The patch reverts the game back to the international version, restoring nudity to the game's 'sex cards' and shaking off that nasty censorship that plagued North American copies of the game.

The special edition is available both as a standalone release and as downloadable patch, to v1.5 of the game which can currently be found on FileShack .

 

4th August   

Authoritarian, Oligarchic and Repressive...

Serbian media censorship bill delayed
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Serbia...Serbian media censorship bill

Serbia flag The Serbian parliament has postponed a vote on a controversial media censorship bill which has drawn criticism from the public and protests from media and professional associations. Parliament speaker Slavica Djukic Dejanovic delayed a vote on the bill until 31 August, after the summer recess, purportedly to allow refurbishment of the parliament building.

The bill introduces draconian fines and possible closure of news organisations which publish slanderous allegations about politicians and other public figures before they have been convicted by a court of law.

Political analysts said the bill aimed to target Belgrade tabloid Kurir but the entire media would be muzzled as a result.

Serbian journalists' association president Ljiljana Smajlovic, of the planned law was a scandalous proposal that would be an atomic bomb dropped by the government on the media. The law would protect the government from the public, instead of the other way around .

A prominent Belgrade analyst, Slobodan Antonic, agreed: This is not the law of a free, democratic society, it's a law of an authoritarian, oligarchic and repressive regime.

 

3rd August   

Update: Antichrist in Australia...

Film censor intervenes for showing at Melbourne Film Festival
Link Here

Antichrist DVD Lars Von Trier's controversial new film featuring two scenes of genital mutilation, Antichrist , will be released commercially in Australia in November.

The Melbourne International Film Festival will screen it this week after a rare intervention by the Australian Classification Board

The censor made the extraordinary request to view the film when the festival announced it would screen it. Normally, the major Australian film festivals are granted special Customs and censorship clearances by the office prohibiting people under 18 from attending films (except in special sessions). The censor need only view the films if they are due for commercial release. The censor granted the festival its exemption in a letter that arrived on the day the festival opened.

Festival director Richard Moore said the film was a deliberately provocative piece . It's Lars von Trier thumbing his nose in a way at contemporary film, at contemporary filmmaking and his own mystique.

Transmission Films, which acquired the film for Australian distribution last week, expects it to receive an R rating with warnings. The company's joint managing director, Andrew Mackie, said: I hope it's controversial. Mackie said he had given the director an unconditional guarantee he would not distribute the film in Australia if it needed modification or editing.

 

3rd August   

Update: Radio Protests...

Street protests against Chavez and his censorial closure of 34 radio stations
Link Here  full story: Broadcasting Censorship in Venezuela...Shut down of opposition radio and TV stations

Venezuela flag The Government of Hugo Chavez closed down 34 radio stations across Venezuela over the weekend, prompting claims by opposition critics that he was trampling freedom of expression rights and triggering angry street protests in Caracas and other cities across the country.

President Chavez, below, has a record of trying to muzzle both radio and television broadcasters who criticise his push to turn Venezuela into a socialist state.

As protests spread, however, 200 people gathered outside the main offices of the CNB radio network which was forced to end its over-the-air transmissions on Saturday with continuing service available only on the internet. This is only the beginning of the closures of free media in Venezuela, warned the station's director, Zaira Belfort: This is a government attack. We want to keep living in democracy, and once again they've silenced us.

 

3rd August   

Offsite: Censors Smoked Out...

Why is Audrey Tautou smoking a fountain pen?
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Coco Chanel poster French people see Audrey Tautou in her pyjamas and drawing deep on a Gauloise, enticing pushovers like me to go and see Coco Avant Chanel .

And here she is again in the poster seen in British cinemas: same pose, same eyes, same pyjamas but instead of the fag, a preposterous pen.

...Read full article

 

3rd August   

Offsite: A Censorship Model...

In comparison to other countries, the UK's internet censor is starting to look positively trustworthy
Link Here

IWF logo Be careful what you wish for, that's the old proverb, and as new and different censorship regimes evolve around the world I begin to wonder whether we Brits haven't been a little harsh on the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) – our own homegrown attempt to expunge child porn from the internet.

...Read full article

 

3rd August   

Update: Bad Habits...

Chinese groups campaign against smoking in Chinese films
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

China flag A group of 40 Chinese film and TV actors have endorsed a move to ban scenes featuring smoking and tobacco products from film and TV programs

The anti-smoking campaign, which would mean any scenes including tobacco consumption would have to be cleared, is being led by the non-governmental Chinese Association on Tobacco Control (CATC) and governmental Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Tobacco Control Office.

CATC's research shows that about one third to half of the smoking youth in China began smoking after seeing their idols smoking in films or on TV. The more smoking scenes showed in a program, young people feel more motivated and encouraged to smoke, the research said.

The campaign calls for the authority to strengthen the censorship of smoking scenes and asks actors and celebrities to reject smoking scenes on film or TV.

At present, China's Regulation on Film Management and Script Registration stipulates that scenes excessively showing bad habits such as alcoholism and smoking should be deleted or edited.

 

3rd August   

Update: Book Thieves...

Amazon sued for hacking into people's Kindles
Link Here

1984 on Kindle A school student is suing Amazon.com for deleting an e-book he purchased for his e-reader device without any prior warning.

Justin Gawronski, 17, was left confused after a his copy of George Orwell's 1984 , which he was reading for a school assignment, disappeared from his Kindle reader.

Both 1984 and Animal Farm were removed from customers' devices without warning or permission after Amazon realised the electronic copies were pirated.

Lawyers on behalf of Michigan student Gawronski and Antoine Bruguier, an adult reader in Milpitas, California, have now filed a class action lawsuit against the online company. The case seeks unspecified damages for all buyers of e-books that Amazon deleted from the Kindle as well as a ban on future deletions.

They argue that Amazon never disclosed to customers that it possessed the technological ability or right to remotely delete digital content purchased through the Kindle Store.

Bruguier complained to Amazon repeatedly after losing his copy of 1984, appealing in vain for that or an authorized edition to be restored to his Kindle, according to the lawsuit. I thought that once purchased, the books were mine, he wrote.

Jay Edelson, a Chicago lawyer who filed the lawsuit, said that Amazon's actions could have far-reaching consequences if allowed to stand: Amazon.com had no more right to hack into people's Kindles than its customers have the right to hack into Amazon's bank account to recover a mistaken overpayment.

Technology companies increasingly feel that because they have the ability to access people's personal property, they have the right to do so. That is 100 per cent contrary to the laws of this country.

 

3rd August   

Press Freedom Caricatured...

India restores ban on magazine Junior Vikatan
Link Here

Junior Vikatan magazine The Madras High Court has restored a gag order against a Tamil magazine, Junior Vikatan , restraining the biweekly from publishing any article, news item, photograph or caricatures against Union minister A Raja. It also stayed the imposition of Rs 10,000 as case cost on the minister.

The present gag order was first passed by a single judge in April this year, when Junior Vikatan was carrying reports about the controversy relating to spectrum allocation by the Union ministry of information technology and telecommunications.

On July 20, Justice K Chandru vacated the prior restraint against the biweekly on the ground that there was no law empowering the state or its officials to prohibit or impose a prior restraint upon the press. He had said that any attempt to stifle or fetter criticisms will amount to political censorship and the Supreme Court has held such attempts as insidious and objectionable." The court had also imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on Raja.

In his appeal, Raja and his wife MA Parameswari argued that the single judge had misdirected himself when he held that all the impugned news reports were not related to their private life. Noting that right to freedom of expression is not absolute, they said blanket approval of the right is too dangerous and will amount to violation of human rights.

 

2nd August   

Real Issues...

YouTube consider ban on Real IRA and Continuity IRA videos
Link Here

YouTube logo YouTube has confirmed to the Observer this weekend that it is investigating the presence of films praising the dissident republican terror groups on its worldwide video-sharing network.

A number of propaganda videos for the two groups are thrown up when the words "Real IRA" or "Continuity IRA" are typed into the YouTube search engine.

In the latest video to be posted on YouTube a masked man in a green combat jacket carrying an AK-47 rifle is seen at a riot in Armagh City on 13 July this year. Continuity IRA supporters have posted a video recorded at Easter of two masked men in combat fatigues addressing a crowd at a bar in Armagh. During their speech they threaten Northern Ireland's deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and brand him a traitor.

A different video posted by a group called the Free Derry Media , entitled The War Goes On , is accompanied by a song denouncing the Provisional IRA. The lyrics include a verse telling the British to stick your decommissioning up your ass . The imagery in the video includes masked gunmen firing a final salute over the coffin of Real IRA activist Joseph O'Connor who was shot dead by the Provisional IRA in west Belfast 10 years ago.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson described the films as a form of cyber-terrorism. The junior minister at Stormont said: It's entirely wrong that terrorist organisations can engage in blatant propaganda and cyber-terrorism without any apparent sanction. Democratic governments need legislation to limit the capacity of these groups to spread their propaganda. At present, in effect, YouTube are broadcasting hardcore terrorism, unfiltered.

Donaldson pointed to the example of Facebook, which he petitioned to remove a pro-Real IRA network from last month, as an example of confronting terrorists on the web. His own Facebook group Stop Terrorism has 40,000 members, many of whom wrote to Facebook calling for the pro-Real IRA group to be taken down, he said.

The video-sharing network is understood to be replicating its decision in England and Wales to remove any material that involves people using or glorifying weapons like knifes and guns. The company moved to ban this material last year in response to the national outcry over knife crime.

YouTube's policy on the broadcasting of weapons in videos varies from country to country. There is no ban in the United States because weapons are legal. It is understood that the company is moving towards removing the Real and Continuity IRA films because both organisations are illegal under British and Irish law.

 

2nd August   

Update: More Advice...

Council of Europe add their internet advice for child protections
Link Here  full story: Safer Internet programme...EU get their hooks into social networking

Council of Europe flag The Council of Europe have added to the clamour of organisation making similar suggestions about keeping children safe on the internet. Perhaps better than most with a little more emphasis on identifying safe areas rather than banning adult content.

Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to protect children against harmful content and behaviour and to promote their active participation in the new information and communications environment.

(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 8 July 2009 at the 1063rd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

  1. Protecting freedom of expression and human dignity in the information and communications environment by ensuring a coherent level of protection for minors against harmful content and developing children's media literacy skills is a priority for the Council of Europe.
     
  2. The risk of harm may arise from content and behaviour, such as online pornography, the degrading and stereotyped portrayal of women, the portrayal and glorification of violence and self-harm, demeaning, discriminatory or racist expressions or apologia for such conduct, solicitation (grooming), the recruitment of child victims of trafficking in human beings, bullying, stalking and other forms of harassment, which are capable of adversely affecting the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children.
     
  3. Attention should be drawn to the normative texts adopted by the Committee of Ministers designed to assist member states in dealing with these risks and, as a corollary, in securing everyone's human rights and fundamental freedoms...
     
  4. There is a need to provide children with the knowledge, skills, understanding, attitudes, human rights values and behaviour necessary to participate actively in social and public life, and to act responsibly while respecting the rights of others.
     
  5. There is also the need to encourage trust and promote confidence on the Internet, in particular by neutral labelling of content to enable both children and adults to make their own value judgments regarding Internet content.
     
  6. The Committee of Ministers recommends that member states, in co-operation with private sector actors and civil society, develop and promote coherent strategies to protect children against content and behaviour carrying a risk of harm while advocating their active participation in and best possible use of the new information and communications environment, in particular by:
  • encouraging the development and use of safe spaces (walled gardens), as well as other tools facilitating access to websites and Internet content appropriate for children
     
  • promoting the further development and voluntary use of labels and trustmarks allowing parents and children to easily distinguish non-harmful content from content carrying a risk of harm
     
  • promoting the development of skills among children, parents and educators to understand better and deal with content and behaviour that carries a risk of harm
     
  • bringing this recommendation and its appended guidelines to the attention of all relevant private and public sector stakeholders.

 

2nd August   

Journey to the New...

But the same old nutter whinges in Florida
Link Here

Parents are whingeing about a sculpture of a nude family outside a shopping centre in Florida.

Parents of children who attend a nearby elementary school in Delray Beachsay say the bronze statue is inappropriate, and the Parent-Teacher Association president e-mailed parents asking them to complain.

The sculpture is by artist Itzik Asher and titled Journey to the New . It is represents the journey of Russian and Ethiopian Jews from their homes to Israel.

 

1st August   

Collecting Hype...

The Collector: A horror film that goes too far?
Link Here

The Collector film poster The Hollywood Insider reported that Marcus Dunstan stated we went too far on his new horror film, The Collector .

Writer-director Marcus Dunstan and writing partner Patrick Melton have written the original Project Greenlight film, Feast , two Feast sequels and three Saw scripts. Now, they have collaborated on the home invasion horror thriller The Collector . This is the directorial debut of Dunstan who wanted to get one shot so badly that he burned his own hand to get the effect to look realistic on camera. Not wanting to hurt the actor and having a prosthetic that hand looked unrealistic, he burned his own flesh. Now, that's dedication to the art.

The brutally violent film, The Collector, is about a burglar who finds the honeowners in the basement being chained and tortured by a predator which starts a brutal war. The director says It's primal. We just hope people can make it through.

It was even difficult for the MPAA to give it an R rating as it took the filmmaker four trips with new edits in order to get the desired R, since getting an NC-17 would limit the amount of potential theater goers.

I think we went too far the filmmaker admits. The MPAA brought us back to a point where it maintains all of the impact, and now it lands even more real. The gore we ended up cutting out only amounted to about seven seconds. But it was frames here and there that really went beyond the realm of good taste. [May as well hype the inevitable Director's Cut whilst we are at it]

 

1st August   

Update: Back Pain...

Simon Singh refused permission to appeal
Link Here  full story: Simon Singh vs Chiropractors...Chiropractors take science sceptic to libel court

Trick or Treatment book There has been a setback for Simon Singh in the libel case brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association.

The Court Office today confirmed that, in an Order sealed on 30 July 2009, the Court of Appeal has refused Simon Singh's application for permission to appeal (PTA).

Simon Singh needed PTA because permission to appeal had been refused at first instance at the preliminary hearing in May.

He can make an "oral renewal" before the Court of Appeal.

 

1st August   

Update: Stony Ground...

Iran has blocked 5 million websites
Link Here  full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

Iran flag The annual publication, Iran - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband , provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in Iran.

It reports that Internet censorship is strict. By November 2008 the number of banned sites was put at over 5 million.

Iran is very stony ground for any form of digital media to grow or flourish due to the government's strict control and censorship of Internet media and its banning of satellite TV dishes to receive the wealth of free to air DTH satellite TV channels available in the region.

 

1st August   

Paying Lip Service to Constitution...

Local TV censorial councillors suggests 4am showing for adult shows
Link Here

Minnesota state seal An adult cable TV program will only be allowed to air at midnight or later, following a decision by the Shakopee City Council in Minnesota.

The Shakopee Telecommunications Advisory Commission had recommended continuing to air adult-themed shows once per episode, between the non-prime time hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., but City Councilors Matt Lehman and Pat Heitzman asked that the air time be pushed later.

Questions about adult programming were raised after the show Twisted TV , which is produced by Shakopee resident Mike Winter and filmed in Minneapolis, began airing on Channel 15 in the spring of 2008. The program, which is like an amateur's version of Saturday Night Live ,
spurred complaints because of its use of profanity and crude sexual language.

Telecommunications Commissioner Don McNeil tried to get Winter banned on technicalities after the city was advised it couldn't censor the show.

Some of Twisted TV 's first episodes were played up to five times at 10 p.m. or 10:30 p.m., but after the city received complaints, staff gave the show an 11 p.m. time slot and started playing each episode only once.

Programs containing adult content or mature material, such as adult or vulgar language, nudity, physical violence, degradation, graphic depiction of invasive medical procedures or indecent material are required to be preceded by a viewer discretion disclaimer. The
city has been advised it can't censor such shows, but can restrict the hours of programming.

Because submissions can't be watched ahead of time, due to censorship concerns, Lehman asked that programs with adult content first air at 4 a.m., and then be moved into the loop for airing in an earlier time-spot, if appropriate.

We don't really know what we're going to be viewing, he explained. But if each program first airs at 4 a.m., who makes the call for what's appropriate to air later and at what time? Assistant City Administrator Kris Wilson asked.

Wilson said staff can preview programs ahead of time, although it wouldn't be appropriate for a government body to review an episode and vote on whether to air it.

 

1st August   

Hardly a Novel Concept...

Iraq restores book censorship
Link Here

Iraq flag Iraq's Culture Ministry has revived regulations forbidding the import of some books, prompting critics to accuse it of restoring Saddam-era censorship.

The ministry has begun requiring publishers to submit lists of titles for approval, said Deputy Culture Minister Taher al-Humoud. He said the rules were based on law dating from the era of former dictator Saddam Hussein, ousted in 2003.

Humoud said the ban was on books glorifying violent jihad and martyrdom, which are typically imported from neighboring countries: All books are allowed except those that incite sectarian grudges. Books that carry Takfiri fatwas [legal opinions that can be interpreted as ha­ving the weight of decrees] against either [Sunni or Shiite] sects, and the bloodshed they cause, are not permitted.

The move has angered groups like the Society to Defend the Freedom of the Press, which issued a statement this week complaining of a return to a totalitarian regime.

Iraq's 2005 Constitution enshrines freedom of press and publication unless they violate public order or morality.

 

1st August   

Update: No Smoking...

Smoking censors cut Indian movie
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Agyaat film poster Till yesterday evening, the team of Agyaat was worried if Censor board would come down heavily on the film. It's a 'supernatural thriller' or a 'horror flick' or a 'slasher'.

However once the film was shown to Censors, they happily passed it with just two cuts. Not just that, they also granted the film a U/A certificate.

The two cuts which have been made though are from the song Shiv Shambh '. The song has a few shots featuring a 'chillam' [an elaborate pipe like a hookah].

Says a source attached to the film: Censors felt that depicting such shots from the film would go against their anti-smoking stance. As per them, the song would have been better off if these two shots were cut. We also complied and didn't complain much. Yes, we do feel though that it would have been better had the song remained as it is since it's a part of a film being shot within a film. But then, it's ok.