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 2009: November
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30th November   

Too Salty!...

A few whinges about Harry Hill and swastika shaped potato crisps
Link Here

Harry Hills Burp Gold DVD Harry Hill has landed a few whinges over Nazi gags on his TV Burp show.

A few 'angry' viewers contacted TV censor Ofcom after the comic held up a potato snack in the shape of a swastika while poking fun at BBC1's Jimmy's Food Factory.

In another episode he compared Jimmy Docherty's Vienetta ice creams to German tanks invading Poland. A line of Vienettas were then paraded across the floor.

Ofcom has received complaints from 'shocked' viewers. They claim the show, which takes a cheeky look at the week's telly, insulted members of the Jewish religion and those who fought in the world wars. One protester said: There are certain things you don't joke about.

But Mark Frazer from the Board of Deputies of British Jews said it had not received any complaints. He said: It just sounds like a load of silliness.

And ITV spokesman Mike Large said it had not received any complaints about the German jokes.

Update: Pardoned

24th December 2009. Based on article from chortle.co.uk

The TV censor has ruled that 13 complaints about the episode of Harry Hill's TV Burp that compared Viennetta to German tanks did not breach broadcast rules.

A dozen sensitive viewers took offence at the ridiculous sketch that compared products coming off the production to tanks rolling into Poland.

There were also complaints that Hill displayed a potato snack in the shape of a swastika.

 

30th November   

Tossers...

BBC get all apologetic over background strong language from Geoffrey Boycott
Link Here

Geoff Boycott Cricketing Leo McKinstry The BBC have apologised to radio listeners after after a minor outburst of strong language from Geoffrey Boycott during its cricket coverage.

The outspoken commentator was overheard to say fucking tosser during Radio 5 Live's broadcast of the fourth one-day international between South Africa and England in Port Elizabeth.

Boycott's comment was understood to have been made after the fall of South Africa's sixth wicket when Ryan McLaren was caught. The hosts finished all out for 119.

It was not known who the comment was directed at and Boycott was unaware comments were being broadcast, a BBC source said.

A Radio 5 Live spokesman said: An off-air comment made by Geoffrey Boycott in a live broadcast was heard by some listeners which we apologised for as soon as we realised it had been audible.

 

30th November   

Morally Degraded Blame...

Indonesian porn to blame for volcanic disasters
Link Here

Indonesia flag The Indonesian Communications and Information Minister, Tiffatul Sembiring, said his ministry intended to produce the draft of a government regulation against pornography in six months.

He made the statement replying a reporter's question on control of distribution of made-in Indonesia pornographic video compact discs.

He said the draft of the regulation on the matter was now still being prepared following the passage of the law on pornography. So, he said, after the regulation was issued all pornographic sites in the country would be closed.

Regarding internet services to villages, the minister said that a software had been distributed to blacklist or close pornographic sites. A software had also been distributed to block blasphemy, he added.

The minister said that a total of 500 pieces of made-in Indonesia pornographic VCDs had been found being sold in markets recently. 70% of the actors and actresses in the films were Indonesian junior- and senior-high school students. This proves that there has been moral degradation, he said.

Based on article from gmanews.tv

Tiffatul Sembiring also drew sharp criticism from earthquake victims and alienated some of his Twitter followers by blaming natural disasters in Indonesia on immorality.

He linked disasters to declining public morals when he addressed a prayer meeting in the city of Padang: Television broadcasts that destroy morals are plentiful in this country and therefore disasters will continue to occur.

News of what Sembiring, a former leader of the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party, said provoked criticism from disaster victims.

Kikie Marzuki, a Muslim Aceh resident who lost 10 relatives in the tsunami, said victims were not to blame: I prefer to believe that natural disasters occur because of the destructive force of nature that cannot be avoided by humans .

Sembiring's remarks also brought swift rebuke from some of his followers on the social interaction network Twitter. One tweeter, who identified himself as Ari Margiono, told Sembiring his words inferred that residents of Aceh and Padang were more decadent than other Indonesians.

Not everyone disagreed with him, and his speech in Padang won the backing of an influential board of Muslim clerics, the Indonesian Ullema Council: Based on the religious view, a disaster could be seen as a punishment for people's sins, and could also as a reminder to us of our mistakes, prominent council member Ma'ruf Amin said.

 

30th November   

Offsite: Olympics for the High Jump...

Cartoon smut law to make life sucky for Olympic organisers
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Olympics 2012 logo Earlier this month, the Coroners & Justice Bill 2009 received the Royal Assent. This Act was another of those portmanteau pieces of legislation for which the current government is famous, mixing up new regulations on the holding of inquests, driving offences, provocation in murder cases and, crucially, a new law making it a criminal offence to be found in possession of an indecent cartoon image of a child.

The horror facing the unpopular Olympics logo is that this is a strict liability offence. If an image is indecent, or held to be so by a jury, it is no good the Olympic Committee claiming that it was not intended as such.

Regular readers will be aware of the controversy that surrounded the current logo since the day it was launched. Critics were not impressed by the £400,000 that had allegedly been shelled out to creative consultancy Wolff Olins to come up with the design. However, it was the logo's perceived suggestiveness - with many sniggering that it appeared to show Lisa Simpson performing an act of fellatio - that excited internet controversy.

...Read full article

 

30th November   

Update: Earthquake Victim...

Chinese webmaster imprisoned for action against authorities after earthquake disaster
Link Here  full story: Human Rights in China...Chinese round up the usual suspects

China flag Huang Qi, founder of Tianwang Center for Missing Persons (later renamed as Tianwang Human Rights Center), was sentenced to three year imprisonment on November 23 in Chengdu Wuhou district court for illegal possession of state secrets in connection with material published on his website.

According to BBC's report, Huang's wife Zeng Li, said the verdict was revenge for his involvement in the earthquake cases as the information he possessed is available to the public. And Amnesty International said Huang was a victim of China's vague state secrets laws and urged for his immediate release.

The Tianwang website was initially set up to help counter human trafficking problem in China in 1998, but later it was expanded to include campaign against human rights abuse. After the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, Huang helped the parents who lost their children because of the bean dreg construction problem and gave advice to the families of five dead children who wanted to bring a legal case against the local authorities following the earthquake. Huang was taken by the police in Chengdu in June 2008 and has been held in custody ever since.

 

29th November   

Lady GaGa...

Camilla has a whinge at violent music videos
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Video Phone The Duchess of Cornwall has spoken of her concern over the effect on young people of music videos supposedly glorifying sex and violence.

Speaking to victims of rape and sexual abuse at a rape crisis centre in London, Camilla was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: A lot of those videos are terrifying. I am sure they trigger a response in some of the young people. I can never understand how they get away with making those things.

The topic of Beyonce's controversial video for her song Video Phone arose during the conversation. In the video, which also features the unconventional Lady GaGa, Beyonce dances semi-naked while brandishing toy guns at bare-chested men wearing hoods over their faces.

It has happened too quickly, values have changed so much, Camilla said; I suppose it's peer pressure, that's the problem. You don't want to look the odd one out. But it takes a strong person to show that they don't approve, especially at that age. It's a breakdown of discipline. There doesn't seem to be any punishment for such behaviour. The teachers are too kind.

 

29th November   

Update: Law Filtered Out...

Germany is killing off state internet filtering bill
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Germany...Germany considers state internet filtering

Germany flag German President Horst Köhler has hammered another nail in the coffin of a controversial law to block child pornography on the internet by refusing to sign it, news magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

Köhler has asked for supplementary information, the Spiegel report said.

The law, which critics argue would block access to other, innocent sites and therefore amounted to censorship, could breach Germany's constitution, experts believe.

Merkel's party and their new partners in government, the pro-business Free Democrats – who opposed the measure – agreed during coalition negotiations last month not to put the law into practice. But because it had already been passed by both houses of the German parliament, it could not simply be dropped. Köhler refusal to sign it means it is now effectively stalled until the new government finds a constitutional way to kill it.

According to a Saturday report in business magazine Wirtschaftswoche, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger had agreed to kibosh the law by ordering the federal police not to act upon it. However, that would leave the law hanging in place.

 

29th November   

Update: Curtailing Tourism...

Lord Lester is drawing up a defamation reform bill
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Lord Lester Lord Lester, the leading human rights barrister, is drawing up a defamation reform bill, which would prevent lawyers pocketing excessive fees and would also stop foreigners with tenuous links to this country from using British libel laws to silence critics.

Last week Jack Straw, the justice secretary, signalled that Labour would support reform.

Lester, a Liberal Democrat peer who has been consulting senior figures in all parties, believes that his moderate package will secure widespread support and wants a package of proposals available for whoever wins the election. His bill would:

  • Reform the system of no-win no-fee litigation which makes it cheap for people to bring libel actions but expensive for publications to defend themselves.
  • End the principle of multiple publication which means that internet sites can be sued over old, archived articles and instead introduce a single publication rule as in the United States.
  • Prevent foreigners from suing in the British courts unless they can demonstrate that they have suffered real harm in Britain.
  • Give publications a stronger defence against legal action if they can demonstrate that the article was in the public interest.

Lester said he also wanted to end the imposition of cash damages where someone successfully sues. Instead, he insisted that in most cases an apology from the publication should be enough.

 

29th November   

Diplomatic Incident...

Stephen Fry called to explain Channel 4 News comments to Polish ambassador
Link Here

Channel 4 logo Stephen Fry has been summoned to the Polish embassy in London on Monday to provide the ambassador with an explanation of his supposedly offensive comments last month about about Auschwitz.

Yes, he is having lunch at the embassy, confirms a spokesman for the Polish ambassador, Barbara Tuge-Erecinska. This meeting is connected to Mr Fry's remarks on Channel 4. They will discuss a range of issues.

In a debate about the Conservatives' links with Poland's Law and Justice party, Fry appeared to accuse Polish Catholics of being complicit in the Final Solution . Remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on, he said.

The Polish embassy had accused Stephen Fry of slander after he suggested Poles had played a role in the Holocaust.

He made the comments on Channel 4 news while talking about the Conservative Party's links with Poland's Law and Justice party. The party has members that have faced accusations of anti-Semitism and homophobia, and Fry appeared to hint that Poland may hold some responsibility for the mass murder of European Jews.

Let's face it, there has been a history in Poland of right-wing Catholicism, which has been deeply disturbing for those of us who know a little history, and remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on, he said.

 

29th November   

Offsite: Foul, Disgusting and Blasphemous...

What did Life of Brian ever do for us?
Link Here  full story: Monty Python...Monty Python winds up the nutters

Monty Pythons Life Brian DVD Monty Python's Life of Brian premiered in America in August 1979 and immediately caused a brouhaha. The Rabbinical Alliance declared the film foul, disgusting and blasphemous . The Lutheran Council described it as profane parody . Not to be outdone, the Catholic Film Monitoring Office made it a sin even to see the film. Audiences, however, loved it, making Brian the most successful British movie in North America that year.

To counter the mounting protests in Britain, an ingenious advertising campaign was launched featuring the mothers of John Cleese and Terry Gilliam. Muriel Cleese said that if the film didn't do well, and as her son was on a percentage, she may very well be evicted from her nice retirement home – and that the move might kill her. She won an award for the ad.

Mary Whitehouse failed to prove that the film was blasphemous, particularly since Christ and Brian are distinctly shown as different people. Nevertheless, a number of local councils banned it – including some that didn't even have a cinema. The result was coach parties being organised in places such as Cornwall (where it was banned) to cinemas in Exeter (where it wasn't). The Swedish marketed the film as so funny it was banned in Norway .

Time can be rather harsh on comedies, but Life of Brian holds up very well after 30 years, and still has the power to shock. However, current tastes and sensitivities make it highly unlikely that a comedy group would even attempt making a film like Brian today.

...Read the full article

Sanjeev Bhaskar presents He's Not the Messiah, He's a Very Naughty Boy on Radio 2 at 10.30pm on Tuesday

 

29th November   

Might Offend...

Combination of Torah and Koran is banned from art exhibition
Link Here

Richard Kamler art An upcoming exhibition at The John Slade Ely House for Contemporary Art in New Haven.

After numerous requests that Richard Kamler, one of the participating artists, modify parts of his installation, and a month before the opening of the show, the organizers rejected his work for fear some members of the community may be offended.

Richard Kamler's work, “right around the corner” consists of an installation and a performative component, a Community Conversation. The art work refers to the changing environment of the Orchard Street Shul and to the growth of a Muslim community in the neighborhood. The installation consists of a table covered by a paper tablecloth, made from interwoven fragments of pages from the Torah and the Koran, upon which the books themselves, placed in a copper bowl, are resting. Their pages are interwoven as well. The Community Conversation was to consist of conversations involving leaders of both communities. The artist has a 30-year history of creating similar projects and showing them internationally.

The organizers demanded the removal or modification of the tablecloth, even after being repeatedly assured that no actual books were cut, that the tablecloths consisted of photocopies of fragments, and that religious scholars agreed that the installation did not violate any religious taboo. Their concern was that the piece “might offend somebody.”

 

28th November   

Crime Against Humanity...

Australian censors ban another video game, CrimeCraft
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CrimeCraft Pc Vogster Entertainment's CrimeCraft is the latest title to be banned by the Autsrlian Classification Board. This MMO game was 'Refused Classification' on Thursday.

In the U.S. the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) awarded it a Mature rating meaning that it is suitable for persons seventeen and older.

The speculation is that violence was responsible for causing the ban.

 

28th November   

Offsite: The director who didn't say 'cut'...

An interview with the retiring Irish film censor
Link Here

9 Songs An interview with the outgoing Irish film censor, John Kelleher

What about the 9 Songs business? Many see actual sex as the final taboo for a censor (before the next one comes along). It was a borderline one, he remembers. But I thought: this is a film, however poor, with characters and story. It is not pornography. It would be wrong to stop consenting adults from watching it. I was also aware that the British were agonising over it at that very time. I wanted to get our decision in first because I knew it might have influence. If tiny Ireland said it was okay then Perfidious Albion could hardly refuse.

One controversial ban did stand during his reign. In 2007, acting in his role as video game monitor, Kelleher banned a hugely violent action-adventure title named Manhunt 2 . (The notion of the softly spoken, urbane Kelleher hunched over a console trying to butcher virtual bystanders is a delicious one). There seems to be a contradiction here. He has always maintained he does not feel that films corrupt the viewer, but this decision suggests that he thinks differently about these modern video game thingummies.

I can fully understand that there is an implied contradiction, he says. You can have a principle and stick to it, but still reach a point where that principle is challenged. I received about 500 email hits after that from outraged gamers. 'F*** you!' 'What are you, a priest?' 'Are you a communist Nazi?' They really were very disappointed.

 

28th November   

Offsite: A Bit Miffed...

Comedy writers 'no longer taking risks'
Link Here

The Armando Iannucci Shows DVD Jokes aren't true - they're lies they're exaggerations, they're distortion, they're imbalance, they're having a go, they're bullying, they're insulting, says The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci

Of course the intention is to cause offence.

The intention is to cause hilarity but, with hilarity, someone, somewhere along the line will be a bit a miffed.

Iannucci is one of a number of leading figures who fear the rules of comedy writing in Britain are changing.

...Read the full article

 

28th November   

Offsite: Filthy English...

An Uncensored History of Swearing on Television
Link Here

Filthy English When Everyday Swearing It was early evening, a December Wednesday, a time of homework deferred and dinner (or tea or supper) made (or eaten or cleared). In a TV studio at the base of a glass and green-granite tower on the northern edge of central London, Steve, then 21, faced his questioner and said to him: You dirty sod; you dirty old man. Then: You dirty bastard. And: You dirty fucker.

In that moment – broadcast live on the first day of the last month of 1976 – things changed. Language – bad language, filthy English – jumped out of the media shadows it had inhabited and began its journey towards the light.

It happened shortly before 6.30pm, on Thames TV's Today, a commercial channel's nightly magazine show, with all the usual local news items – weather reports, traffic updates, charity eating competitions, skateboarding ducks. It happened in a Britain in which there were only three TV channels and families did sit down together to their evening meal in front of the early evening local news.

Oh, there had been swearing on TV before. In sitcoms and kitchen sinkers, there had been bloodies and damns and randy scouse gits. And famously, in 1965, Ken Tynan had said fuck . But he was a theatre critic, an intellectual, a great writer, a future director of the National Theatre. His appeared with forethought and deliberation. It wasn't swearing at all, really. It was a societal intervention. It was a symbol, a weapon in a war of liberation, part personal, part global.

Steve's was his own language, not a word on display like a brocade waistcoat. Steve Jones was a guitarist, in the Sex Pistols. He'd been a thief, and still was sometimes. He was from Shepherd's Bush – a short, unpleasant walk from the BBC studios in which, 11 years earlier, Ken had said the same word in front of a late-night TV audience, but a world away really. Steve wasn't making a point. This was how he talked. This was how lots of people talked. Had talked. Do talk.

...Read the full article

 

27th November   

Censorial Spirit...

BBC drop segment of The Spirit of Diaghilev ballet
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Diaghilevs Ballets Russes Lynn Garafola The BBC has abandoned plans to screen a ballet featuring a deformed Pope who rapes nuns that it had announced as one of the highlights of its Christmas schedule.

Last month the corporation said it would televise In The Spirit Of Diaghilev from Sadler's Wells as part of a season of ballet programmes.

The tribute to the Russian impresario comprises four acts, each by a groundbreaking choreographer, with the entire production due to be screened on BBC Four next month.

Richard Klein, BBC Four Controller, promised viewers a great watch , hailing the combination of one of the most inventive and musically exciting ballet scores being performed by one of Britain's foremost dance groups .

But it wasn't until the production premiered at Sadler's Wells that the BBC discovered that one of the acts, Eternal Damnation To Sancho And Sanchez by Javier de Frutos, centres on a group of horny priests and a fictional hunchback Pope, who rapes eunuchs and pregnant nuns. The act prompted boos from the Sadler's Wells audience and a number of walk-outs.

After extensive discussions within the BBC, the corporation has decided to drop the de Frutos section. The three other acts will air as planned during the broadcast on December 18.

A BBC spokesman said: We have decided not to show this particular work as it contains material unsuitable for the pre-watershed slot for which the programme was commissioned.

The BBC said it could not show the Pope act in a separate late-night transmission, with a clear warning, because it would still be considered inappropriate for a pre-Christmas broadcast.

The three other In The Spirit Of Diaghilev acts, which have been favourably received, are not narratively linked so the BBC believes that viewers will not notice the cut.

 

27th November   

Update: Metro Censors...

Egypt fines author and publisher of the country's first graphic novel
Link Here  full story: Metro Censors...Egypt's first graphic novel gets censored

Metro graphic novel Three Egyptian Human Rights Organizations stated that the Court ruling of imposing a fine on Metro's author and publisher and confiscating the novel is a step backwards to the freedom of expression, and this decision will be appealed to assert our rights.

The Misdemeanor Court of Qasr El Nile has ruled that the author, Magdi El Shafai , and the publisher , Mohamed El Sahrqawi , of the novel Metro , each should pay a fine of 5,000 pounds, in addition, to confiscating the novel.

The case started in April 2008 when the Vice Squad (a body of the Ministry of Interior) collected hundreds of copies of the novel Metro after storming El Malemeh printing house and some libraries that sell the novel. The squad issued arrest warrants to the public prosecutor against El Shafai and El Sahrqawi to investigate with them. The ruling of the president of the Court of South Cairo was the collection and confiscation of the novel from the market and the prosecution of El Shafai and El Sahrqawi for making and publishing something that was regarded immoral to the public; since the former wrote the novel that contains immoral statements and the latter for publishing and distributing it.

Human rights organizations, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Association of Freedom of thought and expression and  Hisham Mubarek Law Center, have signed this statement to confirm their continuous support to artists and calls people care about freedom of expression to show their solidarity to the author and publisher of Metro , especially since it's the first graphic novel in Egypt and have received many awards and appraisals from critics. The organizations also state that criticizing literary work shouldn't be held in courts.

 

27th November   

Child Killers...

Indian film censors ban Renigunta
Link Here  full story: Renigunta...Indian movie winds up the censors

Reningunta soundtrack The Tamil film Renigunta which was to be releases on Nov 27 has been refused a censor certificate by the Regional Censor Board in Chennai for showing violent and gruesome scenes enacted by children in graphic detail.

The film as per sources in the industry has now been referred to the Revising Committee in Mumbai. The subject of Renigunta shows children turning into contract killers.

The film is directed by Panneerselvam and produced by Mahendra Kumar Jain.

 

26th November   

Update: Test Case for Freedom of Speech...

British doctor sued over academic criticism of medical research
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

NMT Medical logo A British doctor who is being sued for libel after criticising an American company's research has pledged to turn the action into a test case for freedom of speech.

Peter Wilmshurst, a consultant cardiologist at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, told The Times that he aims to use a public-interest defence to fight the claim from NMT Medical and establish the principle that scientists may engage freely in academic debate.

He said he was prepared to risk losing his home to take the case to trial because victory would set a precedent protecting other scientists from legal bullying . Dr Wilmshurst said: I have got a responsibility to fight this. There is a fundamental principle of science at stake here. People have to be free to challenge research.

There is growing concern about the use of England's draconian libel laws to stifle expert scrutiny of scientific evidence. Simon Singh, the science writer, has been sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association over an article in which he questioned the evidence that spinal manipulation could treat childhood conditions such as asthma and colic.

Many scientific journals admit that they now seek legal advice before publishing some academic papers, and several websites have withdrawn scientific articles claimed as defamatory because of the prohibitive costs of defending such actions.

Dr Wilmshurt's case began with his involvement in a study of a medical device made by NMT called Starflex, designed to close a type of hole in the heart known as a patent foramen ovale (PFO). The study investigated Starflex as a potential treatment for migraine, which is significantly more common among people with a PFO, but failed to find benefits.

At a cardiology conference in Washington in 2007, Dr Wilmshurst criticised NMT in relation to the research. His comments were reported by Heartwire, a website, prompting NMT to sue him.

Dr Wilmshurst and his solicitor, Mark Lewis, will meet NMT's legal team next month for mediation. If no deal is reached, the case is expected to go to trial.

 

26th November   

Chumps...

Image of Michelle Obama as a chimp causes rumpus for google
Link Here

Google logo Google has apologised over a picture of Michelle Obama that appeared when users searched for images of the US first lady.

The image came top of the Google Images results for Michelle Obama . Google placed a notice over the picture titled Offensive Search Results , saying: Sometimes our search results can be offensive. We agree.

Later on Wednesday the image dropped from top image results, though the BBC understands Google did not remove it. Instead, the image appeared to have been removed from Hot Girls, the site that originally published it, and was therefore no longer appearing prominently in Google searches.

The doctored image, a crude image of Mrs Obama partially transformed into a chimp,  created a flurry of interest - mainly negative - that sent the image shooting up Google's rankings.

We apologise if you've had an upsetting experience using Google, the company said.

Google says a website's ranking in its search results relies heavily on computer algorithms, using thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query. But the search engine says it does not remove images simply because it receives complaints. Google views the integrity of our search results as an extremely important priority, it said. Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because itscontent is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it.

However, the California-based web giant says it will take down certain images, if required by law to do so.

 

26th November   

Dabbling in Nonsense...

Church nutters whinge at Resident Evil variant for promoting the occult
Link Here

Resident Evil Darkside Chronicles Wii Church nutters have accused the video game  Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles of promoting the occult

Bishop Bryant of Jarrow, Archdeacon Brian Smith and Rt Rev John Goddard have all accused the game of promoting such interests amongst the UK's youth, with the latter stating: If we dabble in this area we open ourselves to influences and put ourselves at risk. I would regard any encouragement for children to be drawn into this behaviour with extreme horror.

Publisher Capcom spokesperson Leo Tan, however, is less convinced about the proposed risk: This is scaremongering and typical religious hysteria. You cannot blame society's ills on video games. It's just absurd.

Most games (and movies) like Resident Evil show characters fighting evil not supporting it. Unfortunately the clergy is showing a lack of understanding of the video games industry and is too quick to splash the holy water and lump video games players into stereotypical boxes.

 

26th November   

Update: Should Have Seen it Coming...

Lebanese TV astrologer sentenced to death in Saudi as a witch
Link Here

A man has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for witchcraft because he makes predictions on television.

Ali Sibat is not even a Saudi national. The Lebanese citizen was only visiting Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage when he was arrested in Medina last year.

A court in the city condemned him as a witch on November 9.

The only evidence presented in court was reportedly the claim he appeared regularly on Lebanese satellite issuing general advice on life and making predictions about the future.

The case is causing outrage among human rights campaigners but has made little news elsewhere despite the ludicrous nature of the charges and the extraordinary severity of Sibat's sentence.

Saudi courts are sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch: The crime of witchcraft is being used against all sorts of behavior, with the cruel threat of state sanctioned executions.

Ali Sibat's supporters say he was denied a lawyer at his trial and was tricked into making a confession.

 

26th November   

Cast Off Research...

Nutter 'researcher' finds that sex doesn't sell in the movies
Link Here

Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts According to a new study published in the November journal of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts , sex does not sell mainstream cinema.

Crunching data from 914 films released between 2001 and 2005, researchers Dean Keith Simonton from the University of California, Davis, and independent Vancouver-based researcher Anemone Cerridwen discovered sex and nudity have a negligible impact on the box office.

If anything, too much hard-core action could actually hurt a film's performance. On average, the less sex and nudity, the higher the gross. The more sex and nudity, the lower the gross — by approximately 31%.

All in all, it appears that sex may neither sell nor impress. This null effect might suggest most cinematic sex is in fact gratuitous, write the authors.

It is manifest that anyone who argues that sex sells or impresses must be put on notice. At present, no filmmaker should introduce such content under the assumption that it guarantees a big box office, earns critical acclaim, or wins movie awards. On the contrary, other forms of strong film content appear far more potent, either commercially or aesthetically.

Using box-office, critical response and MPAA ratings as core data, the researchers concluded that current assumptions about the marketing power of nudity and physical objectification are not only impossible to back up empirically, they may also suggest an inherent sexism in the film industry that needs to be addressed.

Initially, I assumed that more sex would equal higher box office, since everyone said 'sex sells' and I believed them, says Cerridwen, who first started her investigation a decade ago after taking acting classes.

When I first saw the averages, I was really surprised, and mad, too. I felt like I'd been had. Things came up in most of the classes that made me feel very uncomfortable (unwanted touching, sexualized content). Then I looked at the kinds of roles available for women, and that made me even more uncomfortable. So basically, I couldn't act, even if I could, because of the roles I would be expected to play, she says.

From there, Cerridwen started crunching numbers, and the initial results seemed counter-intuitive. While we might remember films with strong sexual content, especially if they did well financially, most films with ample sexual content perform worse than films with little or no sexual content. The results were even worse for films containing sexualized violence.

Citing Ang Lee's Lust, Caution — the Oscar winner's 2007 feature about a psychologically and sexually sadistic affair during the Second World War — the authors suggest Lee could have cut several minutes of graphic sexual content to earn a more commercial Restricted, or MPAA rating, instead of the audience-limiting NC-17 designation.

Having analyzed the data and lived with it for the past decade, Cerridwen wonders why sex remains such an important part of most scripts. It makes you wonder why it's there at all, she says: I think it reflects and reinforces sexism in society, in general. Even if the performer genuinely doesn't mind having to do this stuff as a condition of employment, it creates a hostile environment for the rest of us: other women on camera, behind the camera, in acting classes, plus women, in general.

 

26th November   

Old Geyser...

Supporting the hype for Ninja Assassin
Link Here

Ninja Assassin Theatrical Release Are the parents sitting on the MPAA's ratings board out of their minds?

This is not a rhetorical question, because the answer is Yes, they are if they honestly believe that the stab em, rip 'em, slice 'em, dice 'em, martial arts exploitation action film Ninja Assassin doesn't qualify as an adults-only movie.

In the opening sequence of James McTeigue's high-velocity, gleefully gory experience, a ninja assassin wipes out a room full of scoffing ruffians. Heads explode in crimson showers. Body parts fall to the floor. It takes one man a few seconds before he realizes he's been neatly sliced in half, the long way. One half of him can only watch in horror as his other half slides to the floor.

Ninja Assassin isn't just one constant blood geyser. It's the Old Faithful of blood geysers.

That Ninja Assassin would merit a mere R rating shows just how the MPAA's Ratings Board has abandoned its responsibility to properly advise and warn American parents about the increasingly frank and explicit nature of today's movies.

 

26th November   

Update: Opera Tragedy...

Opera closes proxy allowing Chinese users to access banned websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Opera logp Web browser Opera has closed a service which allowed Chinese users to access sites banned by the government.

At the weekend mobile users of the Opera Mini browser were asked to upgrade to a Chinese version.

According to the BBC's Beijing Bureau, this version no longer allows access to sites such as Facebook.

Previously traffic ran over Opera servers bypassing the so-called Great Firewall of China, making the browser popular with Chinese users.

Opera confirmed that it had started directing users of the international version of the mobile browser to the Chinese version on 20 November. It was not prepared to discuss the background for this decision . But there was plenty of speculation on the blogosphere.

Let me guess what has happened here. The Chinese government has put pressure on Opera to close down that free access. And like most companies, they complied, wrote blogger Carsten Ullrich.

 

25th November   

American Whinge Awards...

1500 complaints about gay kiss at the American Music Awards
Link Here

American Music Awards logo American Idol star Adam Lambert's performance at Sunday's American Music Awards has prompted more than 1,500 complaints by viewers.

During the closing act, the openly gay singer simulated sex on stage with a back-up dancer and kissed a male musician on the mouth.

Lambert told US network CNN that the kiss was in the moment .

ABC said the number of complaints was moderate .

Lambert, who performed his debut single For Your Entertainment , said that if people had been upset by his performance that it is a form of discrimination and it's too bad . He added: I had fun, my dancers had fun, the audience that was in the Nokia [Theatre] had fun. Anybody else who was watching it and enjoying it, thank you for being entertained.

The Parents Television Council (PTC), a media pressure group which campaigns against indecent content on US television, posted a statement on its website calling the show tasteless and vulgar . President Timothy Winter said members were outraged . He added: They just can't believe the nature of the content, the explicit nature, and how much graphic content there was.

 

25th November   

White Ribbon Day...

New Zealand nutters claim that censorship will sort out family violence
Link Here

Family First logo The New Zealand nutter organisation, Family First, is calling for higher standards concerning violent and sexual content in the media, as a first step towards tackling family violence.

It is White Ribbon Day, which the Families Commission describes as aiming to raise awareness of men's violence against women.

However, Family First says the anti-violence message contained in campaigns such as It's not OK is being undermined by violence in the media, a lax approach to pornography and the sexualisation of children in marketing which are normalising unacceptable behaviour.

Director Bob McCoskrie says the use of violence against women as the punch line in comedies such as Family Guy and American Dad also trivialises the seriousness of the issue. McCoskrie says it is clear broadcasting and advertising standards need to be tightened up.

 

25th November   

Update: Freedom of Speech vs Nonsense...

World survey supports the right to criticise religion
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

World Public Opinion.org A survey of 20 nations has found strong support for the right to criticize religion. According to the survey of more than 18,000 people, 57% agreed that people should be allowed to publicly criticize religion because people should have freedom of speech. Meanwhile, 34% of all respondents said they supported the right of governments to fine or imprison people who publicly criticize a religion because such criticism could defame the religion.

The strongest support for the right to criticize religion came from the United States, where 89% said public criticism should be allowed, followed by Chile (82%) and Mexico (81%). Britain came fourth, with 81% supporting the right to criticize religion.

The seven nations with a majority of support for prohibitions on the right to criticize religion, meanwhile, had overwhelmingly Muslim populations. In Egypt, 71% agreed that criticism of religion should be prohibited, followed by Pakistan (62%), and Iraq (57%).

The poll, conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org, was released as the U.N. General Assembly prepared to debate a proposal calling for the prohibition of the defamation of religions.

The proposal, put forward by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which represents 56 Muslim nations, calls on all nations of the world to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred in general and against Islam and Muslims in particular.

 

25th November   

Censorial Monkey Business...

Lebanese singer winds up Nubian Egyptians
Link Here

Houwa el Zaman Haifa Wehbe Haifa Wehbe, a popular Lebanese pop singer, has always been a controversial figure. The queen of a relatively new breed of voluptuous, coquettish starlets, her provocative lyrics, attire and music videos have won her popularity among Arab men who lust after her, women who want to emulate her, and now children targeted by her latest album. It is in objection to allegedly racially insulting lyrics from this album that a group of Nubian lawyers submitted an official complaint to Egypt's public prosecutor calling for one of the songs to be banned.

The offending track, Baba Feen , a children's ditty shot in a bizarre Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Teletubbies video, features Wehbe as a very sexy mother trying to cajole her young son into going back to bed – which he refuses to do unless she meets several demands, one of which is to fetch him his teddy bear and Nubian monkey .

This perceived reference to black Egyptians has provoked anger among the country's Nubian minority and the diva is now facing claims that the song's lyrics are discriminatory and are fuelling racist attitudes towards Nubians, allegedly contributing to playground bullying of dark-skinned children. The episode seems to have galvanised members of the Nubian community, who originate from southern Egypt and north Sudan, the descendants of the founders of the Nubian kingdom, one of Africa's earliest black civilisations, which flourished along the banks of the Nile some 3,000 years BC.

The singer has apologised profusely for any offence caused and claimed that the song was penned by an Egyptian writer who told her that the term referred to a popular children's street game (which makes no sense in the context of the song, where the boy is ticking off a list of toys he wants including a teddy bear, Barbie and toy musical organ).

Banned by the Egyptian Censor

Based on article from albawaba.com

Dr. Sayed Al Khatab who is the president of the Egyptian censorship had made a decision to forbid the new clip for the song Baba Feen (where Is Daddy) for the famous Lebanese superstar Haifa Wahbe, claiming that she had made some inappropriate remarks about the Egyptian ethnic group the Nuba . He also points out that the song did not get the official permission to air.

 

24th November   

Enemy Combatant Nutters...

Swiss campaigners whinge at virtual war crimes in video games
Link Here

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD Video games depicting war have come under nutter fire for flouting laws governing armed conflicts.

Nutter rights groups played various games to see if any broke humanitarian laws that govern what is a war crime.

The study condemned the games for violating laws by letting players kill civilians, torture captives and wantonly destroy homes and buildings.

It said game makers should work harder to remind players about the real world limits on their actions.

The study was carried out by two Swiss nutter rights organisations - Trial and Pro Juventute. Staff played the games in the presence of lawyers skilled in the interpretation of humanitarian laws.

Twenty games were scrutinised to see if the conflicts they portrayed and what players can do in the virtual theatres of war were subject to the same limits as in the real world.

The practically complete absence of rules or sanctions is... astonishing, said the study.

Army of Two, Call of Duty 5, Far Cry 2 and Conflict Desert Storm were among the games examined. those who violate international humanitarian law end up as war criminals, not as winners Trial/ Pro Juventute

The testers looked for violations of the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols which cover war should be waged. In particular, the testers looked for how combatants who surrendered were treated, what happened to citizens caught up in war zones and whether damage to buildings was proportionate.

Some games did punish the killing of civilians and reward strategies that tried to limit the damage the conflict, said the study. However, it said, many others allowed protected objects such as churches and mosques to be attacked; some depicted interrogations that involved torture or degradation and a few permitted summary executions.

It noted that, even though most players would never become real world combatants, the games could influence what people believe war is like and how soldiers conduct themselves in the real world. It said games were sending an erroneous message that conflicts were waged without limits or that anything was acceptable in counter-terrorism operations.

Jim Rossignol, who writes on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, said: Perhaps what this research demonstrates is that the researchers misunderstand what games are, and how they are treated, intellectually, by the people who play them.

 

24th November   

Update: Romania Easily Offended...

Romania whinges at top gear for Borat and gypsies reference
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Top Gear Great Adventures Collection Jeremy Clarkson is in trouble again, this time with Romanian government

The production team of the BBC two hit series Top Gear have been asked by the Romanian government to remove supposedly offensive remarks made about the country. The Romanian ambassador Dr Ion Jinag was surprised and disappointed by the references to Borat and gypsies.

When Clarkson and his co-presenters Hammond and May visited the Romanian countryside, Jeremy put on a pork pie style hat and talked of entering Borat country. Clarkson said: I'm wearing this hat so the gypsies think I am one. I'm told they can be violent if they don't like the look of you.

The presenter was also seen washing his face before he said 'cool, refreshing communist water'. The Romanian embassy said: We anticipate a positive response to our request for changes.

 

24th November   

Update: Talent for Whingeing...

Ofcom dismiss complaints about Danni Minogue's gay quip on the X Factor
Link Here  full story: UK TV Talent Shows...A talent for whingeing

X Factor Revealed DVD The X Factor
ITV1, 10 and 11 October 2009, 20:00

The X Factor is a popular talent show contest broadcast weekly from late summer until Christmas. A panel of four judges and viewers' votes decide which act wins the prize of a recording contract. The early stages of the series are pre-recorded with the final stages broadcast live.

During the first live programme, broadcast on Saturday 10 October 2009 from 20:00, the contestant Danyl Johnson ( Danyl ) performed part of the song And I'm telling you I'm not going which was originally composed as a female lead vocal for the musical Dreamgirls.

The introduction to Danyl's performance included a set of video-taped interviews with Danyl, the judges and one member of the behind the scenes team which supports the performers. These interviews made clear that Danyl was going to perform a song originally written for a woman

In her critique of Danyl's performance, X-Factor judge Dannii Minogue made the following remarks: Danyl, a fantastic performance, a true X Factor performance turning a girl's song into a guy's song but, if we're to believe everything we read in the papers, maybe you didn't need to change the gender reference in it?

In response to this another judge, Simon Cowell (the mentor of Danyl), said: What? What did you say? Dannii Minogue then turned to Simon Cowell and repeated what she had just said: I said if we're to believe everything we read in the papers then he didn't need to change the gender reference in it .

Turning to the audience seated behind her she said: No? Don't believe it? Simon Cowell did not respond immediately to Dannii Minogue's remarks. Instead, Cheryl Cole gave Danyl her critique of his performance after which Simon Cowell then said: I think I'm missing something here? I think I just heard one of the best performances I ever heard in my life… (turning to Dannii and pointing a pen at her) you can forget playing any of those games with him, I'm not having that, this guy deserves a break. He sung his heart out, give him some credit.

During the following evening's Sunday Results programme, the judges were provided with the opportunity to comment on the previous night's events. Dannii Minogue and Simon Cowell said the following: I just want to say sorry to anyone that I may have offended last night with my comments. They were only said with humour and Danyl and I had been joking about it before the show…he definitely was not upset by my comments and I just wanted to let everyone know .

Simon Cowell: …I've got to say, I probably over-reacted a bit in the moment. You get very, very protective about your artists. I can say this on behalf of Dannii, she is the last person in the world who would ever do anything offensive like that, seriously…I spoke to Danyl afterwards, he took it in the spirit, it was fun, there was no offence intended and I think back to the show, it's over.

In total Ofcom received 3,964 complaints about the Saturday night broadcast. In summary, the majority of the complainants were primarily concerned that the remarks made by Dannii Minogue to Danyl were malicious and homophobic and based on newspaper reports about Danyl's sexuality. Others were concerned that Danyl was publicly embarrassed and humiliated on television. Finally some complainants expressed concerns about the fact that Dannii Minogue seemed to make a reference to a contestant's sexuality in a family programme broadcast before the watershed.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 of the Code: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context. Such material may include, but is not limited to…humiliation, distress…violation of human dignity.

Ofcom Decision: Not in Breach

Ofcom noted that the complaints about Dannii Minogue's remarks on this edition of The X Factor fell into three categories: some complainants were offended by what they said was the homophobic nature of Dannii Minogue's comments; some viewers were offended on behalf of Danyl; and others were concerned that the subject of Danyl's sexuality was referred to at all on a programme like The X Factor.

Remarks allegedly homophobic and malicious

In considering these complaints under Rule 2.3, Ofcom considered whether in its view any potential offence caused by the broadcast of the remarks was justified by the context.

The X Factor is a competition in which performers voluntarily submit themselves to a critique each week by a panel of judges. This format is well established and often exposes contestants to criticism by the judges, sometimes accompanied by the audience's response. Ofcom also notes that when participating in the finals of the programme contestants voluntarily share to some extent certain aspects of their life stories with viewers. In Ofcom's view, it was not outside the established nature of the programme for an X Factor judge to make such a comment as Dannii Minogue's, especially in circumstances where the performer had placed information about his sexuality in the public domain.

In Ofcom's view Dannii Minogue's remark queried whether there was any need for him, as someone who had openly discussed his sexuality, to change the lyrics to the song.

Ofcom did not discern a pejorative or homophobic intent behind her comment. Ofcom did not therefore consider that the degree of offence likely to be caused by the broadcast of the remarks was sufficient to bring into question compliance with the Code.

Viewers offence on behalf of Danyl.

A number of viewers were concerned that the remarks made by Dannii Minogue caused Danyl public embarrassment and humiliation and were unfair to him.

In effect these complaints appeared to have been made on behalf of Danyl. While Ofcom's Code contains rules to protect people participating in programmes from unfair treatment and breaches of privacy (see Sections 7 and 8 of the Code), such complaints can only be brought by the person affected , i.e. the person or organisation alleged to have been treated unfairly or to have had their privacy infringed. In this case, because Danyl, or someone acting on his behalf, has not made a complaint to Ofcom, it has no grounds to consider the complaints in relation to Sections 7 and/or 8 of the Code.

However, Rule 2.3 of the Code envisages that offence can be caused to members of the public by the broadcast of humiliating and/or distressing material (or material which violates human dignity), which may arise from the alleged unfairness to, or infringement of the privacy of, others. Such matters relating to the alleged unfairness to, or infringement of privacy of a third party, can therefore, in some circumstances be considered under Section 2 of the Code without a complaint from the person involved as required under Section 7 or 8.

In considering Rule 2.3, Ofcom regarded the confirmation by Channel that the remarks by Dannii Minogue were not in any way pre-planned and were completely unscripted, as significant. Any evidence that there had been a concerted attempt by the programme makers to raise the issue of Danyl's sexuality on the live programme would have concerned Ofcom. It would have revealed a failure to consider the potential offence to viewers that such a discussion could cause. In the event, once the remarks were made, Ofcom found that Channel, the broadcaster and the programme makers were immediately alert to the potentially offensive nature of the material and took steps to limit the offence.

Further, it is the case that The X Factor is a well established programme, watched by millions of people. Contestants, particularly those who perform well and reach the final stages, become well known overnight. Details of their performances and personalities are analysed both on television and online, in chatrooms and webforums. Contestants can  expect to undergo a degree of personal scrutiny which will become increasingly intense the further they progress in the competition.

In this case however Ofcom accepts that, although not obvious to every viewer, details of Danyl's sexuality were sufficiently in the public domain before the remarks were made by Dannii Minogue to justify her references by context. Taking these factors into account, in the particular circumstances and context of this edition of The X Factor, the comments by Dannii Minogue were justified.

Reference to Danyl's sexuality

Ofcom considered that the remark by Dannii Minogue referred to Danyl Johnson's sexuality only indirectly. In Ofcom's view this reference was not likely to cause widespread offence, be understood by any young children who were watching, or shock viewers who came across this material unawares.

Not in breach of Rule 2.3

 

24th November   

Update: Tourism Curtailed...

Jack Straw sets out to reform UK libel laws
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Jack Straw Jack Straw is preparing to draw up proposals for wholesale reform of England's libel laws.

The justice secretary says the large legal fees involved in defamation cases in English courts are jeopardising freedom of speech, potentially curbing vital debate by scientists, academics and journalists.

The huge payouts awarded to individuals who successfully claim their reputation has been damaged has made London the libel capital of the world.

Last night, Straw warned that the bonanza for lawyers and claimants was having a chilling effect and pledged radical changes. It is very important that citizens are able to take action for defamation if they are seriously defamed. But no-win, no-fee arrangements have got out of hand. The system has become unbalanced, he said.

In measures that are expected to win cross-party support, Straw believes individuals and media groups must have a clearer right to express their views, as in other countries.

A free press can't operate or be effective unless it can offer readers comment as well as news. What concerns me is that the current arrangements are being used by big corporations to restrict fair comment, not always by journalists but also by academics, he said.

He also wants to see new restrictions on no-win, no-fee arrangements and curbs on legal fees involved in fighting cases. In many cases, lawyers who win libel cases make 10 times the money their clients are awarded. He cited one case in which a regional newspaper was forced to pay damages of £5,000 to a plaintiff but £50,000 to the plaintiff's lawyer.

The proposed changes are still under discussion, but Straw is keen to begin the process, which could involve a new libel bill, as soon as possible.

Update: Working Group

2nd December 2009. See article from indexoncensorship.org

Justice Secretary Jack Straw is to establish a working group to examine England's controversial libel laws. The group will consist of media lawyers, editors and experts. The government has also said it will respond to English Pen and Index on Censorship's libel report, along with recommendations by the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee within two months of the publication of the Select Committee report.

The working group is expected to convene in January 2010.

 

24th November   

The Language of Progress...

Turkey removes restrictions on the use of Kurdish language in the media
Link Here

Turkey flag Reporters Without Borders hails the lifting of the last restrictions on the use of the Kurdish language by the Turkish news media. This is an important and symbolically-charged step but its impact will be very limited as long as the media cannot tackle Kurdish issues without risking prosecution, the press freedom organisation said.

The government gazette published a directive on 13 November indefinitely lifting all remaining restrictions on the broadcast media's use of minority languages. Use of Kurdish had been allowed in the print media and the national public TV station TRT 6 since January 2004, but privately-owned radio stations were limited to five hours of Kurdish programming a week while privately-owned TV stations were limited to four hours.

Furthermore, all Kurdish-language TV programmes had to be subtitled in Turkish, which made live broadcasts impossible. As a result, only TV stations offered any Kurdish programmes, the local station Gn TV and, in the past two months, the satellite TV station Su TV.

 

24th November   

Offsite: Rocking the Social Cohesion Boat...

An insidious argument for censorship
Link Here  full story: Undercover Mosque...Police made false accusations re Undercover Mosque

Dispatches Undercover Mosque logo The legitimate questions raised by Dispatches deserve better than to be dismissed as Islamophobia and antisemitism

So what's it like to go from being Britain's top Islamophobe ( Dispatches' Undercover Mosque ) to Britain's top antisemite ( Dispatches' Inside Britain's Israel Lobby )? Well, it's a remarkably easy, not to say facile, ride – as the tide of smears and abuse over the past seven days has shown. The question is: what does that tell us about the current state of television journalism, and the maturity, rationality, and objectivity of the response?

...Read full article

 

23rd November   

Update: Call of Censorship Duty...

South Australian Attorney-General to appeal MA15+ for Modern Warfare 2
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD South Australian Attorney-General and video game censorship nutter Michael Atkinson is to appeal the MA15+ rating handed out by the Classification Board to Modern Warfare 2 .

Speaking to Radio National, Atkinson was asked for his views on the recently released game, described by interviewer Peter Mares as violent and bloody and graphic and confronting.

I'll be appealing against that classification, I think it's wrong, said Atkinson.

Atkinson, who will be challenged for his Croydon seat at the March 2010 state election by Australia's first gamer rights party, went on to admit he had no faith in the Classification Board to do its job properly.

It doesn't surprise me. The Classification Board in Australia does everything to try to get games in under the radar. But just because the system is not being applied properly, it does not mean that the principles of the system are wrong.

What I want the Classification Board to do is to apply the guidelines properly. What I don't want is the extremely violent, sexually depraved, drug use games in Australia at all. At the cinema, we can stop people under 18 going in to see R18+ rated movies. We can't stop these games that are extremely violent and depraved from getting into the home or getting into the hands of children.

 

23rd November   

Censors Conquest...

Old cuts to Lucio Fulci's Conquest
Link Here

Conquest Jorge Rivero Conquest is a 1983 Italy/Spain/Mexico action film by Lucio Fulci

The BBFC cut the 1983 cinema release by 4:08s

From cuts details on IMDb

  • heavily reduced shots of nudity
  • cut close ups of sores bursting open
  • removed the beheading of the woman and shots of her brains being eaten.

Review from UK Amazon : Truly strange

Set in a land ruled by an evil sorceress called Ocron and her cruel followers. Two warriors unite to bring her down but she too knows about them and seeks to destroy them.

Lucio Fulci's stab at the fantasy genre is truly strange and highly enjoyable and therefore a must see for fans of Fulci.

Almost every scene is filled with smoke and often the camera is shone with bright sunlight that gives it an atmosphere all of its own. The photography is also impressive with many different colours and shades.

It's a lively affair with much action as well as some of the most strangest looking monsters you're ever likely to see.

Being a Fulci film you are guaranteed gory moments and Conquest doesn't disappoint as there are bloody set pieces throughout. Yes the effects at times are laughable but it all adds to the fun and it's accompanied by a pounding score by Claudio Simonetti from Goblin.

 

23rd November   

BBFC Revenge...

Old cuts to Striking Back by Sean S Cunningham
Link Here

New Kids John Archie Striking Back is a 1985 US drama by Sean S Cunningham

The BBFC cut the 1988 RCA/Columbia video by 54s

From cuts details on IMDb :

  • cut to edit drug scenes
  • cut shot of a girl's underwear being removed
  • Cut scene of girl being covered in lighter fluid

See review from IMDb : Underrated gem

This very interesting but sadly underrated gem directed by Sean S. Cunningham ( Friday the 13th ) offers an original variation of both the revenge thriller and vigilante action movie, since it has ordinary common high school teenagers in the lead roles. Basically this means the film begins with harsh but fairly harmless bullying but yet ends with extreme violence and relentless murder.

The transition obviously isn't very plausible, as mean bully kids don't just turn into mad dog killers overnight, but The New Kids is nonetheless a competently made and occasionally very suspenseful thriller with tons of action, likable performances and an irresistibly charming 80's atmosphere.

Cunningham professionally builds up a tense and ominous atmosphere towards a highly explosive and grisly climax with some ultra-brutal killing sequences and engrossing make-up effects.

The extreme violence will undoubtedly appeal to fans of 80's slashers as well as cheap and sleazy exploitation flicks of the 70's. The film benefices from an exceptionally great cast, with veteran B-movie stars as well as upcoming talents. Particularly James Spader is excellent and genuinely uncanny as the sleazy leader of the pack. Highly recommended to all type of cult movie fanatics.

 

22nd November   

Canadian Customs Can't Think Straight...

Canadian Customs seizes 3 innocuous gay films
Link Here

I Cant Think Straight DVD Xtra.com is reporting that Canada Border Services Agency customs officers have seized three gay-themed films en route to Ottawa's three-day Inside Out gay film festival, which ends on Nov. 22.

No explanation was given for the seizure — which, of course, is exactly what you'd expect to happen in a true democracy. The films are supposed to remain in custody until they're watched in full by some border censor or other.

The three films in question are Adrian Shergold's made-for-TV Clapham Junction , which follows a group of gay men in Clapham, South London, and which has some nudity; Shamim Sarif's I Can't Think Straight , a Middle East-set lesbian love story starring Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth; and Ella Lemhagen's PG-rated Patrik Age. 1.5 , the story of a gay couple who mistakenly end up adopting a teen thug. All three films have already been screened elsewhere in Canada. All three are Here! releases, a US-based distributor of gay-themed movies.

In the past, Canadian border officials have been accused of harassing gays, and of arbitrarily confiscating gay literature and movies. Despite the country's reputation of being more liberal than its southern neighbor, its border cops, obsessed with obscenity, are known as anything but — especially when it comes to homosexuality. In 2000, the Vancouver-based bookstore Little Sister's sued the CBSA, taking the matter all the way to Canada's Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the bookstore. Clearly, the ruling hasn't prevented the agency from going after other gay-oriented venues.

 

22nd November   

The Digital Economy Bill...

PEGI age ratings to be legally enforced for the sale of video games in the UK
Link Here

PEGI logo The digital economy bill announced in the Queen's Speech will change the way that video games are given age classifications, making age ratings compulsory for all boxed games designed for those aged 12 or above. The Digital Britain report in June called for rules to be introduced that would make it illegal to sell a video game rated 12 or over to an underage buyer, and take away the classification of games from the BBFC.

The report included plans to introduce the PEGI or Pan-European Game Information system, already used in many EU states, as the sole method of classifying video games. It would replace the current hybrid system – which results in games with both a BBFC and PEGI stamp – under which the BBFC only had to classify games that depicted gross violence or sexual content while all other games were classified on a voluntary basis.

Instead, the report called for the Video Standards Council to take over age rating with all games having to be classified. Any developer making a false declaration about a game's content would face a fine of €500,000 (£425,000). The VSC will be able to ban games it believes are inappropriate for the UK market.

The current PEGI ratings are 3, 7, 12, 16 and 18. The 12 rating, for instance, allows violence of a slightly more graphic nature than would be found in, say, Tom and Jerry cartoons, but only towards fantasy characters. They can also include non-graphic violence towards human-looking characters or recognisable animals. The 12 rating also covers video games that show nudity of a slightly graphic nature but any bad language in this category must be mild and fall short of sexual expletives

 

22nd November   

Offsite: A Fetish for Censorship...

The Notorious Bettie Page (2005, Mary Harron)
Link Here

Notorious Bettie Page DVD The Notorious Bettie Page is a smart, funny and engaging look at the life of one of the first pin-up sensations, the titular Ms Page. Well acted and flawlessly directed (Harron creates a perfect 50's woman's film feel and mixes black and white and colour without drawing attention to it), the film tells it's story in a matter of fact way that mirrors Page's own outlook and delivers an interesting study of a society on the brink of change.

The Notorious Bettie Page has a British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) rating of '18?. Considering that the 1950's pin ups (and the various 'health magazines that they appeared in) do not even come close to the contents of the tamest lads mag or even the average music video. The use of notorious in the title is somewhat ironic as it is a label that is projected onto Page rather than a comment on who she is and, accordingly, the film is rather tame when it comes to sex. Yes, there is nudity but Harron manages to normalise it by giving Betty control and keeping everything in context – this is the polar opposite of the way Megan Fox is filmed/leered at in Michael Bay's 12A rated Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009).

So what's the deal?

...read full article

 

21st November   

Manhunt for Another Censor...

Irish film censor retires
Link Here

Spun DVD Jason Schwartzman He's seen nearly 2,000 films personally and supervised the watching of 55,000 others, yet the film censor John Kelleher only banned one film.

Kelleher, the director of the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO), has stepped down just short of his 65th birthday.

He was appointed censor over six years ago. Shortly after taking office, he banned the film Spun on the basis that it showed an unacceptable level of gratuitous violence and obscenity , but that decision was overturned on appeal.

He also banned Manhunt 2 a violent video game, the only one of 8,000 video games banned by his office.

I don't believe in film censoring for adults, I believe in film classification for minors. I hope that people realised that I was trying to ensure that adults could look after themselves, that it was the welfare of children which was paramount, he said. [ ...BUT... this freedom for adults somehow didn't extend to hardcore porn].

His successor has not yet been appointed and IFCO will be headed up in the meantime by his deputy Ger Connelly.

The best film he saw, he says, was The Lives of Others ( Das Leben der Anderen ); worst were the series of Saw horror movies. I personally hate the extreme violence of the Saw franchise and the horror film Hostel , but I think younger people see it as an illusion that is created to scare, he said.

 

21st November   

Update: Ages of the Moon...

Swedish court overrules censors and lowers New Moon rating from 15 to 11
Link Here  full story: New Moon...Vampire movie hits the world news

New Moon Theatrical Release The fans of New Moon have won over the Swedish film censors.

On Friday, the same day as the highly anticipated Twilight sequel was to open, the Chamber Court in Stockholm, after an appeal by distrib Nordisk Film, overruled the censor's decision to ban everyone under 15 from seeing the vampire film.

The court decided that the rating was to be lowered to 11, which also means that anyone between the ages of 7 and 11 can see the film if accompanied by an adult.

The previous decision to rate the film 15 caused an uproar among the many Twilight fans, many of whom are under that age.

New Moon is rated as 12A in the UK.

 

21st November   

Update: Libel Tourists Flocking to Britain...

Defamation cases increased by 11% in 2008
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Old Bailey The number of defamation cases that reached the high court surged by 11% in 2008 to a four-year high, as foreign claimants took advantage of the UK's tougher laws to seek libel tourism awards from publishers.

A total of 259 high court defamation writs were issued last year, according to a review by the law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, the most since 2004.

These figures show that the UK remains a very attractive jurisdiction for libel claimants, said Jaron Lewis, a media partner at RPC. This is because our laws are very pro-claimant, making it difficult for the media to defend claims, even when they are unmeritorious.

RPC added that most of the cases that did reach the high court were either settled before a trial began, or withdrawn, often because the costs associated with an action, which can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, were too high for publishers to risk.

For some publishers the cost of losing a libel trial, or even winning one, might put them at risk of closure, said Lewis. It is not the level of damages so much as the requirement to pay a claimant's legal costs, which will often be a significant six-figure sum.

However, RPC said that if the figures were seen in the wider context of the explosion of news content across the internet, the number of libel claims actually declined significantly, in relative terms, during the past decade.

Although the figures have gone up by 11%, the volume of material being published, particularly on the web, has increased at a much higher rate, said Lewis. So the proportion of articles resulting in libel claims is lower now than 10 years ago.

 

21st November   

Update: Ofcom Busybodies...

Jon Gaunt has a knock at radio censorship
Link Here

Jon Gaunt Shock jock Jon Gaunt has launched a blistering attack on the level of censorship in radio - claiming it will kill the medium and calling for Ofcom to be scrapped.

The Sun Radio presenter, who has been hauled over the coals by Ofcom five times and was famously fired from TalkSport for calling a counselor a Nazi, slammed the regulator as a bunch of busybodies and an unelected quango - adding, people don't need Ofcom when they have an off switch .

He also claimed that radio is self-censoring in the wake of Sachsgate, and that this fear of a scandal will eventually be the medium's undoing.

Do you know the worst thing about the Ross/Brand thing. It's censorship. And I don't mean censorship by other [organizations], I mean self-censorhsip, he said. That's what's going to kill radio.

Speaking at The Media Festival in Manchester, Gaunt claimed he has never been more heavily censored than when he worked at the BBC.

 

21st November   

Offsite: One Year On...

Is censorship taking over the BBC?
Link Here

BBC logo Classes on goodies and baddies, endless rows about jokes in poor taste . . . is an increasingly cautious BBC suffocating new comedy and drama?

On Saturday, it will be one year since the BBC Trust ruled on Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand's dirty phone calls to Andrew Sachs. These represented deplorable intrusion with no editorial justification , the Trust concluded, but no further action was necessary beyond the three-month suspension that Ross was then beginning to serve.

At the time, a common view (certainly mine) was that, 12 months on, Ross might well have found a job elsewhere, but that the BBC's general panic over editorial guidelines might have calmed down. In fact, it has gone the other way. Ross remains in his post – a ghost of what he used to be, because of a strict system of precautionary recording and editing – while an increasing number of writers and performers are complaining about the effects of compliance : the system of BBC editorial defences introduced after Ross/Brand and an earlier run of scandals over faked or misleading content.

...Read the full article

 

20th November   

Recommending New Moon...

Vatican clerics claim monopoly on making up fairy tales
Link Here  full story: New Moon...Vampire movie hits the world news

New Moon Theatrical Release The latest movie in vampire saga Twilight is a deviant moral vacuum , the Vatican said.

New Moon , which opens in Britain today, is a mixture of excesses aimed at young people and gives a heavy esoteric element , a spokesman added.

Monsignor Franco Perazzolo, of the Pontifical Council of Culture, said: Men and women are transformed with horrible masks and it is once again that age-old trick or ideal formula of using extremes to make an impact at the box office.

This film is nothing more than a moral vacuum with a deviant message and as such should be of concern.

 

20th November   

Recommending 2012...

Muslim clerics claim monopoly on nonsense doomsday predictions
Link Here

2012 Theatrical Release Hollywood's latest doomsday offering 2012 has caused a storm in Indonesia, with conservative clerics condemning it as a provocation against Islam .

Screenings have been sold out across the capital Jakarta following the film's success in North America.

But while most viewers said they had enjoyed the film's apocalyptic vision of life after December 21, 2012, when the fulfilment of a Mayan prophecy sees the Earth engulfed by catastrophe, senior clerics were deeply troubled.

The country's top Islamic body, the National Council of Ulema (MUI), is divided over whether or not to issue a fatwa or religious edict against the film. One local branch has already done so, to little apparent effect.

The controversial things about the film are, first, in Islam doomsday should not be visualised or predicted, it's the secret of God, council chairman Amidhan told AFP: For the common people, the portrayal of doomsday in this film could distort their faith -- that's what I'm worried about.

He also complained that the film showed mosques being destroyed but not churches, despite sequences depicting the Vatican collapsing and Rio de Janeiro's monumental Christ the Redeemer statue crumbling to pieces.

The film shows that everything including Kaaba (Islam holiest shrine) and mosques were devastated except for churches. The film is a provocation against Islam, Amidhan said: The Indonesian film censorship body should have cut part of the scene on the devastation of mosques or the Kaaba because it hurts the Muslim people.

 

20th November   

Society Awash with Bollox...

One or Two cases suddenly becomes all kids watching porn
Link Here

Barry Sheerman Children as young as five are simulating sex acts at school because they are exposed to pornography on satellite television and the internet, a senior MP has claimed.

Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, said he had been told recently of the disgusting behaviour seen by teachers in primary schools. The Labour MP for Huddersfield complained that Britain is awash with material promoting sexual activity too early in life.

Addressing a Commons debate on the Queen's Speech, Sheerman told MPs: We are a country awash with focus on early sexual activity. I think it is very serious the access to pornography to children ... you go to infant schools now and teachers say to me: 'Children come here at five and six simulating sexual behaviour that they should know nothing about.' That is something pretty disgusting.

Sheerman said he was angered to read that Mr Murdoch and his son James Murdoch, chief executive of News Corporation in Europe and Asia, wanted to see BSkyB become more trusted than the BBC. He added: I had only read two days previously that not only is the Murdoch empire the biggest carrier of pornography in the world but have now bought a major supplier, maker of pornography in the US. I don't know what trusted and loved is but a company that puts that sort of filth, makes it available to children, does not impress me.

Our children should be protected from that sort of pornography whether it is on BSkyB or whether it is on the internet. I believe that childhood ought to be protected.

 

20th November   

Yes! Yes! Yes!...

Nutters have an orgasm over teatime clip from When Harry Met Sally
Link Here

BBC Radio Solent logo A BBC presenter used his teatime show to broadcast an audio clip of a woman in the throes of an orgasm.

DJ Steve Harris played the ten-second recording of oohs , ahhs and yes! yes! yes! when talking about the new drug flibanserin, described as a female equivalent of Viagra.

But his decision to use the clip of actress Meg Ryan in a famous scene from the film When Harry Met Sally left a few nutters whingeing

Steve Masters, editor of the website ukparentslounge.com and father of girls aged 12 and seven, said: Sometimes it's easy for radio presenters to forget their audience but they ought to know better than to play such content at this time of day. On my scale of acceptability, as a parent, I think a bit of rudeness you can get away with, but lewdness you can't.

Vivienne Pattison, director of campaign group Mediawatch UK, said the BBC had made a serious error of judgment: Parents driving in their cars having just picked up their children from school would have been horrified to hear the clip. It boils down to a decision taken by the producers of that particular show. The BBC have a serious responsibility to their audience but this was totally inappropriate for that time slot.

The clip was broadcast on BBC Radio Solent, which covers Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight, at 4.20pm on Monday.

Harris played it immediately after asking listeners: What would you say if I asked if you were interested in a female version of Viagra?   As the screams of pleasure stopped, he joked: I thought that might get an enthusiastic response. He then discussed flibanserin with a health reporter. But when he returned to the subject after playing a record, Harris was more coy, saying: I think we will stop this now. This is, after all, a family show.

Last night the BBC said: It wasn't our intention to offend. This was a lighthearted intro to an informative discussion utilising one of the best-known film clips of the last 20 years. We've had not a single complaint or comment.

 

20th November   

Update: Talking Pants...

Whinging at Marks and Spencers Christmas advert
Link Here

M&S advert 2009 Marks and Spencer's Christmas advert featuring actor Philip Glenister has been branded as sexist.

The Advertising Standards Authority is looking into eight complaints from viewers about the Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without... ad.

Glenister, who played chauvinist DCI Gene Hunt in the BBC show, says: That girl prancing around in her underwear.

The ad cuts to a model, wearing a bra and knickers, who asks: Moi? M&S said the complaints had come as a surprise.

The French underwear model Noemie Lenoir, who twirls around in a winter woodland scene, is a regular in Marks and Spencer's advertising campaign, alongside Myleene Klass and Twiggy.

An ASA spokeswoman said eight people had been in contact to complain that Glenister's comment, coupled with the shot of Lenoir in her underwear, was demeaning to women.

The advertising watchdog will now consider the complaints and decide by the end of next week whether to launch an investigation.

 

20th November   

Updated: Nutters Pissed...

School kids try ethanol after seeing the idea on Waterloo Road
Link Here

Waterloo Road Autumn Term part Six pupils were taken to hospital after drinking ethanol the day after watching similar scenes in the BBC drama Waterloo Road .

Five girls and a boy, aged 14 and 15, saw the scenes in which a teenager drinks some of the pure alcohol stolen from a science department.

The next day, the students did the same thing, stealing the liquid during a science lesson and spiriting it away to drink.

The alarm was raised by a member of staff at Aldridge School in Walsall, a specialist science college. The pupils had confessed to the teacher and also later told headteacher David Mountney they had watched the episode of Waterloo Road the day before. In the TV show featuring a fictional school, the girl drinks the ethanol hoping it will cure her hangover but it makes her violently ill.

A small amount of the chemical is the same as a large number of normal alcoholic drinks and the immediate effects are nausea, vomiting and intoxication. In large quantities, it can cause almost immediate loss of consciousness and even death.

Three ambulances and a paramedic in a rapid response vehicle were sent to the school to take the pupils to hospital. After blood tests, they were allowed home and were back at school yesterday.

Yesterday, the BBC was criticised for screening the disturbing scenes before the 9pm watershed. A parent living near the school, who declined to be named, said: I was watching the programme and I thought someone would copy it. It never should have been screened because children are very impressionable.

The BBC should be punished for this - it could have turned out so much worse. Vivianne Pattison, director of television watchdog Mediawatch, said it was worrying that a screen plot had apparently led to the pupils' actions. People say TV does not have any effect on real life and then something like this happens, she said.

Broadcasters keep saying viewers can tell the difference between TV and reality but this shows this is clearly not the case. They need to know that what they put out does have an effect, especially on young minds.

A BBC spokesman defended the content of the programme and insisted it had dealt with an important issue; Waterloo Road has always tackled serious issues of the day in a responsible manner. Wednesday's episode clearly showed the dangers of using ethanol and did not glamorise it in any way. Each storyline is thoroughly researched using experts within their respective fields.

Update: Another Round of Drinks

20th November 2009. Based on article from dailymail.co.uk

Four schoolgirls are said to have become seriously ill after drinking ethanol when copying a scene from the BBC drama Waterloo Road .

It is the second time within a week that pupils have imitated what they've seen on TV.

In this latest incident the youngsters, who are thought to have found the potentially lethal neat alcohol in their school's science lab, reportedly mixed it with Ribena.

The pupils at Highfield School in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, are believed to have complained of stomach and head pains and were taken to hospital.

One parent from Letchworth told the Daily Mirror: Everyone here thinks they must have watched Waterloo Road and tried to imitate it.

Vivianne Pattison of television watchdog Mediawatch said: Broadcasters need to know what they put out has an effect.

A BBC spokesman said: Last week's episode clearly showed the dangers of using ethanol and did not glamorise it in any way.

 

20th November   

Update: Left 4 Dead 2 Abomination...

Australian censored version doesn't impress
Link Here

Left for Dead 2 The Australian version of Left 4 Dead 2 has been mutilated to the point of mediocrity.

Everything that made Left 4 Dead what it is, the fear, gore and tension has been removed, and what is Left 4 us is an ugly rotting carcass of what was once a great game. The disparity between the censored and uncensored versions is huge, as shown by IGN's review scores. IGN AU, the poor guys who had to play through the censored version, gave the game a 5.0, a score unheard of for such a prestigious developer as Valve. On the flipside, the US team who had the uncompromised version of the game gave it a 9.0.

The level of change is ridiculous, to the point of looking glitchy. Bodies flash away before your eyes (As you can see in the video at the bottom of the page), burning bodies don't even catch on fire and zombies barely look like they have taken a hit as they crumple stupidly before your eyes. Wait for the part in the video where a zombie bait grenade is used, upon its explosion the 30 or so zombies simply vanish into thin air, leaving one body behind, which quickly dissipates.

This is a sad moment for Australian gaming. When it comes down to it, we would rather a game not be released rather than having this insult spread to unsuspecting consumers in Australia. That is also why Gamerz Ink will not be bothering to review this game until we can get a copy on the true version, just like Valve hasn't bothered to make at least an acceptable edited version for Australian stores.

More on the censor's reasons for banning the full version

Based on article from uk.gamespot.com

According to the recently issued review board report, EA argued that Left 4 Dead 2 should be allowed as an MA15+ game due to the unrealistic nature of the violence . Specifically, the EA rep called out the facts that: the game includes zombies who were not and never had been human; that zombies were fictional characters and that zombie killing was an ancillary component to the central objective of the game being played online and in multiplayer format; 15 year olds would know that the zombies were fictional characters and could distinguish them from humans and that therefore lessened the impact (but in any event it was not unlawful to kill zombies which meant that no crime had been committed); and there was no moral issue involved in killing fictional characters.

But the Review Board didn't take those arguments to heart, saying that there was insufficient delineation between the depiction of the general zombie figures and the human figures as opposed to the clearly fictional 'infected' characters . Even so, it was still the violence issue that sunk the appeal, with the Board report stating that whether the objects of the violence were fictional or real, and whether a 15 year old could discern the difference, is largely irrelevant where the game displays the level of realism this one does .

The Board listed specific examples of violent content within the game, including:

  • in the early stages, a body on the ground was shot at repeatedly, a body disintegrated leaving a head on the ground with copious amounts of blood
  • a fire left a visibly charred body
  • a body was lying face down on a bathroom floor with a trail of blood--screaming and moaning accentuated the impact
  • copious blood including repeated instances of blood splatter on camera lens
  • in a store with buses and trucks, blood splatters, a body on the ground having been dragged leaving a trail of blood
  • a person hanging by fingertips from a beam with fingers being stamped on, another person with arm shot off
  • swords used to behead and dismember with blood everywhere
  • in a swamp, with an aircraft crashed, persons being attacked, as they run towards camera some are shot with blood everywhere and fleeting glimpses of stomach entrails spilling out
  • a group between several buses shot at, copious blood including on camera lens, and several heads blown off
  • chainsaws used on attackers, heads cut off and lots of blood
  • exclamations and coarse language from time to time accentuating the impact of acts of violence.

 

20th November   

Update: Call of Censor Duty...

Activision removed airport scene from Russian PC version of Modern Warfare 2
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Russia flag Activision is denying a report claiming the console versions of Modern Warfare 2 had been recalled in Russia to remove the controversial Russian airport scene found in the game.

The publisher says a console version was never released in Russia, and that the PC version was only censored due to the country's lack of a formal game ratings system.

Reports that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been banned in Russia are erroneous, an Activision spokesperson told IGN. Activision only released a PC version of the game in Russia which went on sale on Nov. 10.

 

20th November   

Update: Call of Classification Duty...

BBFC point out that apart from 1 scene, Modern Warfare 2 would have been 15 rated
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD Just a reminder from the BBFC that, for all the nutter outrage about the violence of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 , the BBFC would have rated the general game play 15 (except for the civilian airport slaughter).

The BBFC passed the game 18 uncut with the following explanation:

Modern Warfare 2 is a combat simulation game for the Xbox 360 console in which the player takes the roles of various members of a Special Operations team attempting to thwart the plans of a Russian terrorist group. The game was passed at 18 for strong bloody violence.

The violence takes the form of the player's involvement in gun battles with various enemies in which an array of contemporary weapons such as automatic rifles, pistols and grenades are available, along with larger items of artillery and tanks. The player can also access bladed weapons for stealth attacks and hand-to-hand combat. The battles are intense and conducted from a first-person perspective with impacts registering as bloody splashes with further sight of blood decorating the various environments in the aftermath of fighting. Bullet impacts or explosions cannot, however, cause dismemberment and there is no opportunity for the player to inflict further damage on an enemy who has been killed. Whilst undoubtedly strong and bloody in terms of specific detail and cumulative effect, the violence in the majority of the game would have fallen within the allowance of the Guidelines at 15 which state that Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable.

The 18 category was, however, deemed more appropriate for a particular mission in which the characteristics of the violence differ from the rest of the game. In this mission, the player has infiltrated the terrorist group and joins them as they execute an attack on innocent civilians at an airport. The violence is bloody and intense, and aggravated by the fact that, unlike other combat sequences in the game, the civilians cannot fight back and are massacred. The player character can choose to join in the shooting or do nothing in order to preserve his cover, but he cannot intervene to prevent the massacre by shooting the terrorists since he is then discovered and is very quickly overwhelmed and killed. The evident brutality in this mission does carry a focus on the infliction of pain or injury which, along with the disturbing nature of the scenario it sets up, was felt to be more appropriately placed at the adult category and it is worth noting that the game itself gives the player the option to skip this mission without penalties to progress or achievements. Although the content of this mission was recognized as having the potential to offend, it was not felt to present a significant harm issue at 18 that would require further intervention.

The game also contains mild-to-moderate language with uses of shit , bollocks , ass , whore and bitch .

 

20th November   

Manic Police State...

Isle of Man politician campaigns against extreme porn law
Link Here

Isle of Man flag The Isle of Man could become a police state if a new criminal justice bill goes ahead, warned David Callister MLC. The Department of Home Affairs has proposed a new Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009.

Public views are now being sought on the new draft legislation. But Callister said many of the clauses in the draft bill border on the draconian and would impact to the detriment of Manx life and make an enemy of the police .

He said: If this bill is passed in its present form it will become a precursor to the creation of a police state. The draft bill contains a number of highly controversial clauses. Several of these would allow the police to by-pass the judicial process.

He explained: It would allow the police to enter your home without a warrant, act as a censor of stage performances, of unclassified films and even internet images.

Public meetings could be disbanded, exhibits could be removed from art galleries (as has already happened in the UK) and, astonishingly, under-age children could be used to entrap shopkeepers.

He added: The provisions in the draft bill even extend to who may, and who may not, provide food between the hours of midnight and 5am and it would give a constable the power to prevent an individual from drinking in any public place on the Island (at present this is limited to designated areas).

The DHA is even considering introducing legislation to control such websites as Facebook.

He said that although not all of the 85 clauses in the draft bill were unacceptable, and many appear to be both sensible and reasonable , he would not be supporting the bill in its present form.

Callister wrote to the Isle of Man Newspapers following a letter by civil liberties campaigner Tristram Llewellyn Jones, of Port Lewaigue, calling for closer inspection of the bill, which was published in the Isle of Man Examiner of October 20.

In his letter, Llewellyn Jones said: The police would use these powers without any judicial oversight whatsoever. This begs the question: What happens if the police are wrong and target someone who is innocent? Our existing justice system fundamentally relies on the courts verifying crime and punishment. Who wants to abandon this ancient right?

He added: We have watched the UK become a bit of a police state but there is no need for the Isle of Man to follow suit. In the Isle of Man we need common sense — not punitive and pointless laws. These contentious new proposals need widespread debate.

 

19th November   

Pulling the Wool Over the Eyes...

Talk of misleading the US games censor
Link Here

ESRB Speaking at the recent Montreal International Game Summit, the CEO of a game development company complained that publishers are deliberately deceiving the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) in a bid to receive lower age ratings.

Rémi Racine of Artificial Mind & Movement, creator of Wet and the upcoming PSP version of Dante's Inferno , said that publishers who attempt to trick the ESRB are looking for a wider audience—and subsequent profits— for their game.

Edge Online offered the following quote from Racine:

As a developer who has worked with a lot of different publishers, we're aware of many that have tried to cheat the rating. They say to the ERSB that it's a Teen rating [13+] rather than an Mature [17+] to try and sell more; you can do this just by sending them a video that doesn't show the most violent stuff and then you'll get the rating that you want rather than the rating you should get.

The ESRB's Eliot Mizrachi addressed Racine's claims, saying:

We regularly check games post-release to verify that submissions were complete, and it's very likely that if a game contains undisclosed content that would have affected the rating assigned, we'll find out about it. In such cases ESRB can actually impose fines up to $1 million as well as require corrective actions like re-labeling or even recalling product, both of which can obviously be very costly.

 

19th November   

Evils of Drink, Gangs and Video Games...

Resident Evil quoted about trial of brutal teenage attackers
Link Here

Resident Evil 5 A judge spoke of society's horror and despair as he sentenced two teenage girls and a boy to four years' detention each for torturing a girl of 14 and filming the sickening violence.

During a 45-minute ordeal in an underground car park, the naked victim's head was kicked like a football by the girls, aged 13 and 14, and she was beaten about the skull with stiletto heels.

She was made to lick her blood from the shoes of the assailants during the attack at Edinburgh's Omni Centre. The boy, aged 13, kept egging on his friends and called to them to put her to sleep . Referring to a violent video game and film, he gloated: It's like Resident Evil.

Sentencing the trio, Lord Malcolm highlighted underage drinking and youth gang culture as factors in a crime that he said had created a sense of shock because of its depravity and the level of cruelty shown by those so young.

Brian Gilfedder, acting for the boy, said everyone hoped the victim made a full recovery, both physically and mentally, from her extremely degrading and humiliating experience .

He said the boy had not known real, proper parenting and had suffered abuse and neglect from an early age, adding: You can add to that access to and viewing of inappropriate films and games involving extreme violence. That is his background.

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Bill Aitken said the brutal attack was an appalling indictment of Scotland's violent youth culture.

He said: This is a shocking case involving the systematic abuse of a young girl. It is depressing that three (teenagers] can commit this sort of offence against another young person.

Aitken also called for greater restrictions on violent video games being made available to young people, saying: The video game referred to by these young people as they committed this crime seems to be particularly savage.

I do think we now have to look very, very carefully at the effects of such video games and films on the more susceptible juvenile mind. They may have 18 certificates, but children are still getting hold of these violent images.

 

19th November   

Offsite: Warped Minds...

Modern Warfare 2 has not made me a terrorist
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

The hysterical campaign against the greatest videogame ever made is based on outdated effects theories.

Last week, what many are describing as the greatest videogame ever made was released. It sold five million copies in the US and the UK on the first day of sale, raking in a record £186million in 24 hours. It is an involving, intense and immensely playable game. Yet how have many politicians and pundits responded? By being curmudgeonly; by calling for the game to be banned; by suggesting that it will warp the minds of a generation and create an army of glazy-eyed, thumb-wagging terrorists who will commit violent acts in the real world.

...Read full article

 

18th November   

Update: VRA Cloned...

Government sees DVD censorship as public service to ensure legality
Link Here  full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

DCMS logo Read the government's laughable big brother response to the Campaign to Reform the VRA's letter!

Thank you and your co-signatories for your email of 3 November to Sion Simon, about the Video Recordings Act 1984. I have been asked to reply to you.

As you are aware it has recently come to light that certain provisions of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA) and the labelling Regulations made under it should have been notified to the European Commission in accordance with the Technical Standards Directive (83/189/EEC). We have now notified the necessary provisions and the Regulations made under it and therefore we will be in a position to rectify this problem as soon as possible.

The Government has no plans to include an amendment to allow the sale of 'unrated' films to 18+ adults, or to make any amendments. Our focus is on re-enacting the Bill, and the swiftest way to do that is not to make any amendments. Possible amendments must be properly considered and consulted on and the timetable on this Bill does not allow for this. In any event, the Government would not support an amendment that meant that some films were unrated. The BBFC classification is a guarantee that DVDs will not contain anything illegal. It would be impossible to ensure that that were the case were films not classified; we believe that the public has a right to that guarantee.

Yours sincerely,

Gemma Hersh Public Engagement and Recognition Unit

Comment: Big Brother Government

From Jonathan

Big Brother ends up saying: The BBFC classification is a guarantee that DVDs will not contain anything illegal. It would be impossible to ensure that that were the case were films not classified; we believe that the public has a right to that guarantee .

In that case shouldn't the government have the right to classify all books, magazines, CDs, and so on in order to guarantee that they will not contain anything illegal . And I presume they mean by that anything covered by the current laws of libel, obscenity, incitement and so on?

The BBFC is not staffed by judges. They are not qualified to judge whether anything is illegal or not! Their function is simply to protect minors from unsuitable material. They even freely admit that they do not make cuts in 18 films – if it's porn they'll rate it R18? – as this would contravene European Human Rights legislation on freedom of speech. Hence there would be no difference between an '18? and an 'unrated-18?. In both cases any question of the legality of the content is nothing to do with the BBFC, only the judiciary.

Reading the reply really does make my flesh creep! Oh yes, you might be interested to know that the VRA is actually policed by Trading Standards who, outside of whether it's a pirate DVD or not, are in no position to judge the legality of the content.

In fact my own researches have shown that by the way in which many Trading Standards officers interpret the Video Recordings Act the BBFC routinely oversteps the mark by suggesting that they have to classify all content on a DVD. I myself queried the BBFC on what they would do about classifying any text files, such as a copy of the script, included in a collection of DVD extras. Their reply was that they were sure that they could come up with a way of doing that – and presumably charging for it as well!

 

18th November   

Update: Nutters Need a Health Warning...

Keith Vaz wants health warning on video games
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Keith Vaz In a recent radio interview, Labour MP Keith Vaz again had a whinge at video games:

If you look to the packaging of an 18-rated videogame, it's [the size of] a tiny 10p coin. What it should be is the same as cigarettes - it should be splashed across the front: This has the potential to damage your health - and that is not happening.

Vaz indicated that he would like to see 18+ rated games sectioned off at retail and put in their own section. Parents who buy games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for their kids who are under the age of 18 are psychologically damaging their children added Vaz.

When it comes to keeping violent games out of the hands of children, Vaz put the onus on parents, before noting that he didn't really know what games his own 14-year old son was playing, I have a son who is 14 years of age - I don't know what games he looks at, but I shall ensure that in future I will look at the covers, to make sure that these games are not over the age of 18.

 

18th November   

Obama Firewalled...

On a trip to China Obama mentions free speech, but doesn't get away with it.
Link Here

Barrack Obama Chinese censors did their thing with Obama's call for freedom of speech on the internet

President Obama made his first visit to China this week and in a talk with Chinese students, Obama issued a call for internet freedom. Obama spoke about internet freedom and free speech. Ironically, the comments made by Obama regarding free speech and internet freedom became targets of the Chinese internet sensors and fell prey to The Great Firewall of China.

The Boston Globe quotes Obama saying, I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free internet - or unrestricted internet access - is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves. That generates new ideas. It encourages creativity.

The irony of the statements by Obama is that full transcripts of the speech posted on the Netease portal reportedly lasted online for only about 27 minutes before the censors pulled them and redacted the statements about internet freedom.

 

18th November   

Update: Age Old Issues...

US bill introduced to mandate age verification on adult websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Minors...Criminalising internet comms harmful to minors

US Senate A bill has been introduced in Congress that would impose prison sentences, fines and property seizures for online adult operators who make available any porn content, including content on splash pages, without an age-verification system.

The bill, HR 4059, also targets payment service providers, making them responsible to maintain internal policies to ensure that porn isn't displayed to web surfers who enter sites without first verifying that the user is at least 18.

The sweeping piece of legislation, known as the Online Age Verification and Child Safety Act, also swings jurisdiction over to the Federal Trade Commission, which would enforce age verification for all sites offering material defined as sexually explicit under 18 U.S.C.  2257.

Sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak, the bill also would establish a system to create certification for approved sites and a blacklist for adult operators who are not in compliance with mandatory age verification.

Industry attorney Colin Hardacre told XBIZ Tuesday that the bill is frought with issues. But first and foremost is the serious constitutional implications of attaching criminal liability for failure to verify age where there is still no reliable way to verify age on the Internet, said Hardacre of the Los Angeles-based Kaufman Law Group.

The legislation, introduced earlier this month, already has been referred to the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Energy and Commerce for review

 

18th November   

Update: A Religious Thought...

Thought for the day to continue to deny non-religious thoughts
Link Here

Thought for the Day The BBC should broadcast a version of Radio 4's Thought for the Day for non-believers, John Humphrys said yesterday.

The Today programme presenter said that Radio 4 should create an alternative outlet for the irreligious, after the BBC's governing body ruled that excluding atheists from the three-minute religious slot did not fall foul of its impartiality regulations.

Humphrys told The Times: As a non-believer, I've always thought there's an argument for a secular Thought for the Day — but not because of discrimination. I think we'd get some interesting views.

The BBC Trust rejected 12 complaints, led by the National Secular Society, against a decision by Mark Damazer, the controller of Radio 4, that atheists should continue to be barred from Thought for the Day . Related Links

Terry Sanderson, president of the society, claimed that allowing a religious monopoly gave speakers a platform on the news programme to put a biased point of view that no one can question them about .

The trustees said that the necessary impartiality could be achieved by broadcasting alternative views within Thought For The Day within the week, or by the presenters referring listeners to other portions of the Today programme that dealt with conflicting views.

Richard Tait, chairman of the Trust's Editorial Standards Committee, which considered the appeals, said: We understand that some people feel strongly about this issue and have given it careful consideration. However, we have concluded that the current arrangements do not breach BBC editorial guidelines and specifically requirements of due impartiality in content.

 

18th November   

Update: Pandering to Censors...

UN panders to Chinese and removes advert for book criticising internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

Access Controlled Cyberspace Information Revolution A reception held by the group Open Net Initiative (ONI) was interrupted when United Nations officials demanded that an advertisement for a book titled Access Controlled be removed from display. The book details suppressed speech on the Web.

The reception was held at the UN-sponsored 2009 Internet Governance Forum in Egypt. According to a UN delegate witness, officials threw the poster on the floor, demanding its removal, which was resisted. Security then removed it over protest.

We condemn this undemocratic act of censoring our event just because someone is trying to impress or be in the good graces of the Chinese government, said a spokesman for the Foundation for Media Alternatives, an affiliate of ONI.

 

18th November   

Too Creative...

Cynical political adverts declined by advertising companies
Link Here

Major outdoor advertising agencies in Moscow and St. Petersburg have refused to carry Russian Newsweek' s latest campaign, saying the satirical ads are too provocative or that they violate the country's law on advertising.

The Newsweek spots each feature a positive slogan — such as The officials have stated their incomes, or Trust in the courts is growing in Russia — with a pair of hands somehow mocking or discrediting the statement. Each ad ends with the words: Everyone knows. We understand.

Mikhail Fishman, the publication's editor-in-chief, told The Moscow Times that advertising agencies considered the campaign too provocative and that the refusal was an act of self-censorship by managers afraid to lose their jobs: There's every indication that they refuse us for political reasons. It reminds me of the late Soviet Union .

Outdoor advertising agency News Outdoor refused to place the Newsweek ads at bus stations in Moscow, telling the magazine that there was no space left. The Moscow and St. Petersburg metros also declined the campaign.

Olimp, which sells advertising space for the Moscow metro, turned down the advertisements because they violated a law banning obscene gestures in advertising, an industry source told The Moscow Times.

News Outdoor, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., gave no official rejection, but the source said it faulted the ads for being too creative.

Other slogans included, There are enough gold and currency reserves for now, with a hand indicating a very small amount, and Russia has good chances of winning the football world championships, beside hands clasped together as if in prayer.

 

18th November   

Update: Yemen Bollox...

Yemen minister Claims no censorship...BUT...
Link Here  full story: News Censorship in Yemen...Yemen news media and southern unrest

Yemen flag There should not be a pre-censorship on journalism in Yemen because the measure ended when the reunification of the south and north took place in 1990, Information Minister has said.

At a conference organized by the Information Ministry at its former headquarters in Sana'a, Hasan Al-Lawzi said exercising freedom of expression must result in respecting the others' rights.

The ministry does not prevent obtaining licenses for newspapers, but some are long-processed due to necessary legal procedures, he claimed.

On halting some publications, Al-Lawzi said the papers blocked committed grave mistakes that they published anti-unity rhetoric and harmed special figures. Hence, the ministry took legal measures over violations by the newspapers under its responsibility to protect the people and the country.

 

17th November   

Updated: Call of Nutter Duty...

BBC's The Big Question discusses video games
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

The big Question The Big Questions on BBC 1 Sunday Morning?

Their first discussion was about the evils of computer games , they had Miranda Suit from Media March on there putting forward anecdotal evidence and personal opinion as fact.

There was a few gamers on there defending their hobby, but overall it seemed the pro-censorship lot were making a bigger noise.

From the BBC:

Nicky Campbell presents The Big Questions live from the Grace Academy, Solihull. Contributing their views are comedian Stephen K Amos, journalist and Muslim convert Yvonne Ridley, and the Right Reverend Stephen Lowe, the former bishop of Hulme.

Update: Modern Warfare: Nutters vs Gamers

17th November 2009. Based on article from mcvuk.com

Activision's Modern Warfare 2 was heavily criticised by UK religious leaders from across the belief spectrum on BBC One yesterday.

Chief executive of the London Jewish Forum Alex Goldberg told presenter Nicky Campbell and the studio audience:

Surely this [scene] puts the gamer in the position of being a terrorist? The whole plot here is that it's a military commander – whatever – who doesn't want to blow his cover, so he blows up innocent civilians. We're asking gamers to be put in that situation. Article continues below

We fudge this issue about children time and time again throughout this debate. Let's face it – it's children playing this game. In the Holy scriptures, when Cain kills Abel, God asks him one question: Are you your brother's keeper? The rest of the bible is an answer to that – and it's a big yes. When I play this game I don't get that answer – I get upset.

Fazan Mohammed of the British Muslim Forum added:

You can't equate it with watching TV or a movie or reading a book. This is a much more intimate experience. You're mentally playing out the effects of violence. A lot of people make the excuse that this is sport – that it's just entertainment. But Joseph Goebbels – the propaganda minister of Nazi Germany – said his entertainment did more for the German people, in terms of creating the psyche for war and hostility towards others, than the speeches of Adolf Hitler. The idea this is entertainment is not justification whatsoever.

And the retired Bishop of Hulme, the Rt. Reverend Stephen Lowe – himself a proud fan of World Of Warcraft – said that the airport scene should have been cut out by the BBFC. He commented:

If you are in that role, which is a terrorist in a game killing other people with massive violence coming back at you on the screen, and [you're getting a] thrill from that, I think that's actually sick. We need to sort that out.

I don't think it should be in a game, because gaming for me is not about that sort of process. When I was young, [society was] worried about horror comics – because they were going to pollute the minds of young people and make them violent. This is very different from that; this is taking on the role of a terrorist in a way that relates to the news – what we actually see on our [TV] screens. That is fundamentally different. It somehow says: 'Maybe this is all right.' It isn't.

Other critics of the game that appeared on the show included Miranda Suit of anti-obscenity pressure group Mediamarch, who called for better regulation of violent video games.

 

17th November   

Blog off!...

Press Complaints Commission eyeing a role as blog censor
Link Here

Press Complaints Commission logo Baroness Buscombe, the new chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, has ambitions for her organisation that go beyond the traditional newspaper companies.

She wants to examine the possibility that the PCC's role should be extended to cover the blogosphere, which is becoming an increasing source of breaking news and boasts some of the media's highest-profile commentators, such as the political bloggers Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. Do readers of such sites, and people mentioned on them, deserve the same rights of redress that the PCC offers in respect of newspapers and their sites?

Some of the bloggers are now creating their own ecosystems which are quite sophisticated, Baroness Buscombe told me. Is the reader of those blogs assuming that it's news, and is [the blogosphere] the new newspapers? It's a very interesting area and quite challenging.

She said that after a review of the governance structures of the PCC, she would want the organisation to consider whether it should seek to extend its remit to the blogosphere, a process that would involve discussion with the press industry, the public and bloggers (who would presumably have to volunteer to come beneath the PCC's umbrella).

 

17th November   

Update: Glorifying Censorship...

No records kept of action against websites promoting terrorism
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

House of Lords logo The Terrorism Act 2006 granted powers for police to compel web hosts to shut down websites promoting terrorism. But the powers have never been used, and forces have instead persuaded providers to take down websites voluntarily, according to the security minister Lord West.

He told the Lords on Wednesday that he could not say how many websites have been censored because no records have been kept.

When we passed the Act in 2006, we laid down a requirement to make such records, but it has not really been done, he said.

When measures against extremist websites were announced, the government suggested ISPs might introduce filtering arrangements similar to the Internet Watch Foundation's blocklist of URLs leading to images of child abuse. No system has emerged, however, and industry sources say the idea is not being discussed.

 

17th November   

Offsite: Police Spout Bollox about 1...

Censorship makes art more appealing
Link Here

1 Day poster It's been a boom time for censorship of late and now the police in Birmingham have prevented the showing of a new film made in the city, 1 Day , which was released last week.

Anybody else in the country can see Penny Woolcock's hip-hop musical, set around Handsworth. Cast from local people, 1 Day depicts the pressures of gang life for a young man who has 24 hours to repay a debt. While the film classification board was happy to certify it as a 15, a Birmingham police officer advised the city's cinemas against showing 1 Day for fear it would provoke gang violence.

Despite coming from Birmingham, I can't say I was in a huge rush to see the film. But after an email appeal from independent film network group Shooting People to protest against the ban, I was first in the queue last Friday for the film's opening night. Thus proving that, more than anything, censorship has the effect of making any artwork more appealing, more glamorous and certainly more exciting than it might originally have been.

...Read full article

 

17th November   

Update: Obscene Justice...

Zambia news editor acquitted of trumped up porn charges
Link Here  full story: Press Freedom in Zambia...Journalist protests against hospital strike

Zambia A Zambian journalist has been acquitted of pornography charges after sending officials pictures of a woman giving birth in a hospital car park.

The incident happened during a nurses' strike and the baby died. Zambian President Rupiah Banda had described the photos as pornographic.

Chansa Kabwela said she had sent them in protest at the effects of the strike that paralysed the country's hospitals.

She would have faced a five-year jail sentence if convicted.

But the magistrate in the case said he had heard nothing to indicate that the photographs were obscene.

Outside the court, Ms Kabwela - who is news editor for The Post newspaper said: This victory to me is a victory for those that suffered during the strike, she said, quoted by South Africa's Sapa news agency: I was confident that I would be acquitted.

Ms Kabwela did not publish the controversial photographs, but sent copies to a number of prominent people and women's rights groups, along with a letter calling for the strike to be brought to an end.

 

17th November   

Update: The Appeal of Good Sex Life...

Saudi justice has nothing to boast about
Link Here  full story: Religious Police in Saudi...A law unto themselves

Red Line on LBC A Saudi man who boasted who was sentenced to five years in jail after boasting about his sex life on television has appealed his case.

Mazen Abdul Jawad, who was also ordered to receive 1,000 lashes after his appearance of the LBC show Bold Red Line last July, has appealed the convictions handed down by a criminal court on Sharia law-based charges relating to immoral behaviour.

Three friends who appeared on the show with him and who were given two-year terms have also made an appeal, Muhammad Amin Mirdad, the judge presiding over the case, said in comments published by Arab News.

 

16th November   

Update: Call of Nutter Duty...

If mass murder was ever to be committed in this country, it would be committed by a gamer.
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Michael Laws New Zealand's RadioLive host Michael Laws has slammed the release of record-breaking videogame Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and made a homophobic attack on the chief censor.

He talked about the game during the opening editorial of his radio show last Thursday – specifically, the controversial segment in which players go undercover to infiltrate a terrorist group and carry out an attack on civilians at an airport.

An outraged and misinformed Mr Laws exclaimed: Gamers are a very unusual group of people. If mass murder was ever to be committed in this country, it would be committed by a gamer.

Despite stating the game was restricted as an R18 item, Laws asked his listeners: Is this what we want for our kids? A glorification of the killing of innocent people by terrorists?

Laws questioned New Zealand's chief censor Bill Hastings' decision to allow the game to be sold in New Zealand and made special mention of his sexual preference. I know the gay guy we've got at the moment who is the Chief Censor Bill Hastings is a liberal sort of guy, said Laws. I don't care if he lets gay sex through because, well, that's what he enjoys watching in a darkened room somewhere and thinks everybody else of his ilk should be able to do so as well.

 

16th November   

Offsite: Nodding Off...

BBC banned Enid Blyton for 30 years for being naff
Link Here

Noddy Seaside Classic Collection Enid Blyton, the best-selling children's author, was banned from the BBC for nearly 30 years because executives thought her a second-rater .

Blyton, the creator of the Famous Five, the Secret Seven and Noddy, was kept off the radio by executives who dismissed her plays and books as lacking literary value and being such very small beer .

The censorship has been revealed in a series of letters and memos released from the BBC archives.

In one internal memo dated 1938, Jean Sutcliffe, head of the BBC Schools department, wrote: My impression of her stories is that they might do for Children's Hour but certainly not for Schools Dept they haven't much literary value.

She thought they were no more than competently written .

There is rather a lot of the Pinky-winky-Doodle-doodle Dum-dumm type of name (and lots of pixies) in the original tales, she concluded.

...Read full article

 

16th November   

OK to Touch...

Advert censor clears massage ad referring to no touching at lap dancing clubs
Link Here

Steam and Sun Steam & Sun
17 - 19 Chalton Street London NW1 1JD

A poster on a cycle rickshaw showed an image of a woman in underwear. The text stated Steam & Sun Londons only 5***** Massage Parlour Why waste your money in a $trip club........where you cant even Touch [sic] .

A complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive and unsuitable for display where it could be seen by children.

Steam & Sun said the ad did not feature any images of women very scantily clad or in sexually provocative poses, which they believed was common in ads for lap dancing clubs. They explained that the text of the ad merely highlighted a fact of law: customers are unable to touch dancers in strip clubs. They said the ad appeared on a rickshaw that went around Central London on evening shifts.

Assessment Not upheld The ASA acknowledged that the image of a woman in underwear might seem distasteful to some consumers; however, we noted the image was not sexually explicit or unduly provocative. We also understood that some readers may find the reference to touch[ing] a woman in poor taste, but noted that the claim was clearly linked to a massage service and, in that context, considered it was unlikely to cause offence. We considered that, if children saw the poster, they were unlikely to understand any potential sexual connotations from the word touch . We concluded that the ad was therefore unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or be seen to be socially irresponsible.

 

15th November   

Update: Rhubarb and Guff...

Russell Brand unrepentant about Sachs gag
Link Here

Russell Brand Show Comic Russell Brand said he would never tone down his comedy routine and was not afraid of censure. As hundreds of fans flocked to a DVD signing session in London yesterday, Brand leapt to the defence of fellow stand-ups Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle, who were criticised recently for offensive routines.

Frankie Boyle is brilliant and Jimmy Carr is brilliant, he said. They're not trying to be offensive, no-one is actually offended, the people saying they're offended aren't actually offended, the whole thing is constructed.

He added: If you hear it (the joke] delivered cold, like vomit into the nape of your neck, it might be offensive, but mucking around I don't think is offensive.

Last year, Brand resigned from his job at BBC Radio 2 after a scandal surrounding a series of lewd messages he left on actor Andrew Sachs' answer phone. But he insists Manuel-gate , as Brand prefers to call it, was just rhubarb and guff and he would do the same again.

I would've done nothing differently. I apologise for the thing I did wrong to the person I did it to, but the whole subsequent scandal was funny. It's just rhubarb and guff.

And he vowed never to tone down his own material for fear of further censure: I will not lose my edge.

 

15th November   

Update: UN Supported...

Small decline in support for UN defamation of religion resolution
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

A UN resolution advanced by Muslim countries that seeks to outlaw criticism of religion has seen a decline in support since last year.

The number of countries continuing to support the resolution proposed by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to promote the concept of defamation of religions dropped to 81. Eighty-five countries in the UN's Third Committee on Human Rights voted for the resolution last year, which itself marked a reduction in support from 95, in 2007.

Likewise, the number of countries voting against the resolution increased to 55 this year from 50 last year, while the number of abstentions rose from 42 to 43.

Muslim states have pushed non-binding resolutions on combating religious defamation through the 192-nation General Assembly and the Geneva-based Human Rights Council since 1999, arguing that Muslims need protection from Islamophobic race-hate.

Although the 56-nation OIC bloc has found support in African and non-aligned countries, campaigners have lobbied hard against the resolution over the past year and won over nations other than the traditional naysayers in Europe and North America.

A coalition of more than 100 human rights organisations, including secular, Muslim, Christian, Baha'i and Jewish groups, opposed the resolution, saying it sought to provide cover for anti-blasphemy laws and the marginalisation of religious minorities in repressive countries.

The General Assembly is set to vote on the resolution again in coming weeks, although attention has already turned to Geneva, where Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC, last month advanced a binding treaty amendment to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The amendment would see the principle of religious defamation enshrined in international law, rather than non-binding resolutions.

 

15th November   

Update: Sucking a Bull's Udder...

ASA dismisses whinges about Tango adverts
Link Here

Bull's Udder Tango advert Three posters for Tango.

a. The first poster stated TOO MUCH TANGO Made me suck a Bull's UDDER .

b. The second poster stated Too much TANGO MAKES YOUR GUFFS 'Smell Like Oranges' Seriously, I just did one .

c. The third poster stated TOO MUCH TANGO MADE ME SHAVE MY NAN. INNIT .

The ASA received 82 complaints.

1. Most of the complainants thought ad (a) was offensive, irresponsible and unsuitable for public display, because they believed it suggested oral sex with a bull.

2. Fewer complainants thought the use of the word guffs in ad (b) was offensive and the ad was irresponsible and unsuitable for public display.

3. Two complainants, one of whom said the ad implied the shaving of one's vaginal hair, thought ad (c) was offensive, irresponsible and unsuitable for public display.

ASA Assessment

1. Not upheld The ASA considered that most viewers of the poster, including children, would be aware that bulls did not have udders. We considered that some people might therefore interpret the statement suck a bull's udder in a sexual way; however, very young children and other innocent viewers would not. Despite the possible sexual implications to some, we considered that the ad presented an outlandish and ridiculous scenario as opposed to an explicit reference to bestiality, and any perversity was outweighed by the absurdity of the notion. We also considered that the bizarre and provocative humour of the ad was likely to appeal to some. Although the poster was likely to be seen as distasteful to some viewers, we concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or be seen as irresponsible, and that it was not unsuitable for public display.

2. Not upheld We considered that the phrase makes your guffs smell like oranges would be interpreted as a reference to breaking wind and was therefore likely to be seen as vulgar by some, but as humorous by others. Although unedifying, we concluded that the poster was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or be seen as irresponsible, and that it was not unsuitable for public display.

3. Not upheld We considered that the ad was likely to be seen as positing the idea that a side effect of drinking Tango was the urge to shave a hairy, elderly relative. Because that idea was clearly ridiculous, and because we thought the complainant's interpretation of the ad was unlikely to be shared by others, we concluded that the poster was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or be seen as irresponsible, and that it was not unsuitable for public display.

 

15th November   

Topline Fees...

Canadian companies consider adult film censorship as a discriminatory fee
Link Here

Canada flag Topline Entertainment, one of Nova Scotia's leading adult video distributors, is fighting mad after being taken to court for selling a porn tape that had not been classified by the Department of Labour and Workforce Development.

In deciding to fight the charges, which could result in a fine of $25,000, Topline is arguing that the province's rating fee is not only a backhanded way to restrict freedom of expression, but also a de facto tax that satellite companies offering the same fare are not required to pay.

While the province does not regulate adult material from satellite or pay-per-view sources, it does charge $3.47 per minute to rate adult videos destined for brick-and-mortar shelves or the big screen.

According to Topline lawyer Blair Mitchell, the uneven playing field has wreaked havoc with the business model for long enough.

If nobody cares about television signals that are coming in and are unregulated, then the makers and distributors of adult entertainment are being treated discriminatorily, said Mitchell, speaking on behalf of the company registered to Craig MacLean of Dartmouth.

On average, physical product retailers have to shell out more than $380 to have a 110-minute film classified by the province, almost 11 times more than is charged to rate non-adult films released to home video. This suggests that adult films are being targeted and the rating fee is really an indirect tax in disguise, said Mitchell.

Even worse, as the economy has worsened and the internet and other delivery channels have continued to take their toll on retail shops, many owners have stopped getting flicks classified at all. This trend led to a crackdown last year by provincial inspectors that landed 14 porn retailers in hot water, including Topline Entertainment, and resulted in license suspensions for seven of them.

 

14th November   

Violating the Ethics of Journalism...

Gabon suspends 6 newspapers over election articles
Link Here

Gabon flag The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the suspension of six private newspapers by the government-controlled media-monitoring body, the National Communications Council, in Gabon. The council announced the suspensions, which range from one to three months, on Tuesday evening on state-run TV. The papers have been suspended for violating the ethics of journalism and inciting ethnic divisions according to local reports.

This unprecedented suspension of the private press is intended to silence any potential critics of the election process, said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. The council should immediately lift all of the suspensions.

All the suspended publications had written articles critical of what may have been a flawed election process, local journalists told CPJ.

The papers received immediate suspension sentences. Nku'u Le Messager and Le Crocodile were suspended for one month, Le Scriboullard, L'Ombre, and La Nation for two months and Echos du Nord received a three-month suspension. Two other private publications, Le Temps and Gabon d'Abord received a warning to maintain professional standards, according to local journalists.

 

14th November   

Update: Britain Another Notch More Miserable...

Law passes final hurdles to criminalise sexual cartoons that may feature children (but its hard to tell most of the time)
Link Here  full story: Lap Dancing License Change...UK lap dancing suffers repressive new licensing
Anime girl of indeterminent age

How the fuck are we expected
to know how old she is?

The UK Government bill introduced a clause in Coroners and Justice Bill to criminalise the possession of non photographic but pornographic images of children with draconian penalties of up to 3 years in prison.

This bill has now cleared all parliamentary hurdles with hardly any meaningful debate whatsoever. A couple of half hearted concerns that the bill may criminalise thousands of innocent people (Eg Hentai fans) were glossed over on a one in million possibility that paedophiles may work around existing prohibitions via use of animation.

Freedom of Speech rightfully retained for Religions to Spout Hateful Nonsense

Other portions of the bill caused a little more debate:

Base on an article from freethinker.co.uk :

Yesterday the Government was forced to accept Tory Peer Lord Waddington's free speech clause which says that criticising homosexual conduct is not, in itself, a crime.

An offence of inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation was introduced by the Government last year, but the free speech defence, strongly opposed by the House of Commons, was inserted by former Home Secretary Waddington.

The latest round of votes took place this week with MPs voting to delete the clause on Monday and Peers voting to keep it.

Peers supported the clause by 179 votes to 135. In the House of Commons the Justice Secretary Jack Straw accepted the Lords vote. A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said the government was very disappointed at the Lords vote, adding: There is no doubt about the threshold of this offence. No freedom of expression section is needed to explain it. The threshold is a high one. The offence only covers words or behaviour that are threatening and intended to stir up hatred.

But she added the government could no longer delay the passage of the Coroners Bill. It is with considerable disappointment, therefore, that the government has agreed not to remove the freedom of expression section.

 

14th November   

Update: Gamers' Voice...

Tom Watson gathers a couple of MPs to support his Facebook group opposing nutters like Keith Vaz
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD Gamers' Voice, the pro-gaming Facebook group set up by West Bromwich East Labour MP Tom Watson, has drawn support from another pair of UK politicians.

Watson, who setup the group in response to comments made by Leicester East Labour MP Keith Vaz, invited Sion Simon, Minister for Creative Industries, and Shadow Minister Ed Vaizey to check out the online group, which they both did. Both left messages of support for Watson and the group.

Vaizey wrote, Tom, congratulations on setting up the group. It's about time gamers had a voice to represent the huge success of the UK video games industry. We spend too much time attacking games and not enough time celebrating their huge success and contribution to the economy.

Simon added, The government understands the importance of video games. we make games better and play games more in this country than anywhere else in the world. It's an important industry and an important part of millions of people's lives. But it's a very young industry which is still finding its voice. I think this group is an important step in that process, and I'm glad to be a part of it.

Watson wrote of the pair, Sion and Ed are a little bit different to other MPs though. They both have responsibilities in Labour and the Conservatives for policies towards the Games Industry. And I think they're both genuine in wanting to help.

 

14th November   

Update: Opposition to Sacred Nonsense...

100 groups oppose the muslim move to criminalise criticism of islam
Link Here  full story: Defamation of Religion...OIC pushes for global blasphemy laws at UN

More than 100 organizations, including Muslim and secularist ones, have signed a petition against the proposed U.N. resolutions on the defamation of religions, which they contend will do more harm than good for religious freedom.

The Common Statement from Civil Society on the Concept of the 'Defamation of Religions,' signed by organizations in over 20 countries, opposes the Organization of the Islamic Conference's (OIC) proposal for the United Nations to adopt a binding treaty that would protect religions from defamation. The groups pointed out that a similar resolution adopted earlier this year only cites Islam as the religion that should be protected.

Moreover, human rights groups say the resolutions will give credit to anti-blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan and Sudan.

Reports indicate that blasphemy laws have been widely abused to justify violence and abuse against religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries. Blasphemy laws can also be used to silence critics of a religion and restrict freedom of speech.

In seeking to protect 'religion' from defamation it is clear that existing international human rights protections will be undermined, specifically freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression, said Tina Lambert, Christian Solidarity Worldwide's advocacy director.

For the sake of those who already suffer unjustly under such legislation (blasphemy laws) and for the protection of our existing international human rights framework, it is vital that member states act to prevent such a treaty or optional protocol being established, she said.

Since 1999, when the defamation of religions resolution was first proposed, this is the first time that sponsors have asked for it to become a binding treaty.

Angela C. Wu, international law director of the Becket Fund, one of the groups that signed the petition, argued, Human rights are meant to protect the individuals, not ideas or governments. Yet the concept of 'defamation of religions' further empowers governments to choose which peacefully expressed ideas are permissible and which are not.

It is pivotal for human rights defenders around the globe to unite against this flawed concept before it becomes binding law.

The preliminary vote on the proposed binding treaty is expected before Thanksgiving, and the final plenary vote is expected in early to mid-December.

 

14th November   

Comment: Ofcom to Censor Europe...

Noting the extended proscription powers in the EU's new broadcasting law
Link Here

EU flag In This clause seems to have gone under the radar in the EU's new Audio Visual Media law (AVMS).

Can I draw your attention to this part in particular:

Two-step safeguard for receiving countries (Article 3 (2) – (5))

- if a country objects to the content in a foreign television broadcast which is wholly or mostly directed to it, it can use a consultation procedure (cooperation procedure) to address the country of origin. The latter shall then issue a non-binding request for the broadcaster to comply with the stricter rules of the targeted country.

- if the broadcaster circumvents these national rules, the objecting country can also - with the Commission's prior approval – take binding measures (circumvention procedure).

So folks, it would seem Ms Reding's work is done. Ofcom's quite illegal and rights abusing Code will now apply to any Euro-based broadcaster with a majority of UK viewers/subscribers. Ofcom's jurisdiction now reaches the parts even Parliament, nay, even the High Court cannot reach.

Oh, and don't forget, the AVMS applies to web-based TV-style On Demand services too, which likely means Ofcom will be disconnecting the UK from any website that feeds R18-type material into UK homes.

Whatever its reach, we have a situation where a completely unelected body with powers no self-serving dictatorship would be complete without, enforcing a potentially unlawful code right across Europe.

Moreover, if you have chosen to subscribe to a foreign adult service specifically BECAUSE you cannot view what you want under Ofcom's rules, Ofcom will now be able to cut you off or, indeed, force that channel only to supply what Ofcom alone have dictated can be viewed in the UK.

I believe it is NOW of paramount importance to force a Judicial Review of Ofcom's Code.

 

14th November   

Newspaper 'Rectified'...

Most independent Chinese magazine hit by censorship
Link Here

China flag Rising censorship has triggered an implosion of China's most independent news publication, Caijing magazine.

Caijing editor Hu Shuli and most of her editorial team have resigned after its founder and chief backer, Wang Boming, reportedly did not take her side in a series of editorial battles with the Chinese Government.

The New York Times said the Politics and Law Committee, led by security tsar Zhou Yongkang, ordered in July that Caijing be rectified after it failed to follow directions on reporting the riots that month in Xinjiang.

Hu is now trying to gain clearance to start a new publication called Caixin. The vast majority of Caijing's reporters and editors are hoping to join the new project, according to an editor who resigned as a result of the censorship.

We hope to start the new magazine before the end of the year, he said. It will be a challenge. But we had no choice. To stay we would have had to have traded our independence.

Caijing's publisher plans to continue and has begun hiring a replacement editorial team.

 

14th November   

Update: Azerbaijan Donkeys...

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

Azerbaijan flag The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today's prison sentences given to two video bloggers detained in July on fabricated charges of hooliganism and inflicting minor bodily harm.

Judge Araz Huseynov with the Sabail District Court in Baku handed Emin Milli who runs an online video blog known as ANTV, a two and a half year jail term, and Adnan Hajizade, a video blogger and coordinator of the Azerbaijani youth movement Ol!, a two-year prison sentence for allegedly harming two men in a restaurant, according to international press reports.

Milli and Hajizade had posted political and socially satirical video sketches that criticized government policies and social issues in the weeks prior to their initial arrest in July. They had interviewed local residents and posted their opinions online, sharing them through networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Among the issues discussed on their blogs were education, corruption, and the poor infrastructure in Azerbaijan.

Baku police detained Milli and Hajizade on July 8, after the bloggers reported that they had been physically attacked at a local restaurant. Milli and Hajizade were debating politics with friends when two unknown men interrupted their conversation and started a brawl, they said. When the bloggers went to report the incident, they were arrested for hooliganism ; it turned out, the men who had attacked them had told the police that they had been the victims. The bloggers had been in custody since their initial detention. A second charge, inflicting minor bodily harm, was added later on.

Both domestic and international rights groups have condemned the arrest of Milli and Hajizade as staged by authorities in retaliation for their blogs' critical content. In a number of entries, the two interviewed local residents and filmed street gatherings in protest of official policies. According to multiple sources, a satirical video the bloggers produced and posted on YouTube in late June was the main reason for their incarceration. The video criticized Azerbaijan's alleged import of donkeys from abroad at excessively high prices. The video sketch depicts a pseudo press conference, at which Hajizade, wearing a donkey suit, talks to a group of Azerbaijani journalists ; Milli reportedly filmed.

We call on Azerbaijani authorities to scrap these fictitious charges against Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade and release them, CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. Police entrapment such as provoking a fight has become a tool for silencing critical journalists and writers in Azerbaijan.

Commenting on the guilty verdict today, Judge Araz Huseynov said it was based on police reports and the alleged injuries of the two plaintiffs, Emin Huseynov, the director of the Baku-based Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety, whose representatives were monitoring the trial, told CPJ. Huseynov added that the judge had ignored witness testimony by restaurant patrons who said they saw the two men attack the bloggers and not vice versa.

Update: Acquitted

25th August 2010. Based on article from  advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org

ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned by the Azerbaijani Supreme Court's decision to uphold rulings in the case of bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade. ARTICLE 19 believes that Milli and Hajizade, who are imprisoned on charges of hooliganism, were targeted for expressing opinions critical of the Azerbaijani authorities.

On 19 August, the Azerbaijani Supreme Court considered the case of imprisoned bloggers and youth activists Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade. In its decision, the Court upheld the lower courts' rulings, which convicted Milli and Hajizade of hooliganism and sentenced them to two and a half years and two years of imprisonment respectively.

Milli and Hajizade's lawyers plan to apply to the European Court of Human Rights now that the domestic appeals process has been exhausted. The OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media and the Council of Europe High Commissioner for Human Rights have both expressed concern regarding Milli and Hajizade's imprisonment, noting that the move seemed to be an attempt by the Azerbaijani authorities to silence critical voices.

 

12th November   

Update: Sweet Words...

Advert censor clears Cadbury fair trade advert
Link Here  full story: Cadbury Fair Trade Adverts...A song and dance about Ghana chocolate advert

Cadbury Fair Trade advert The advertising censor, ASA has cleared Cadbury of racism and perpetuating colonial stereotypes of African people in its latest TV advertising campaign.

Cadbury's campaign featured Ghanaian musician Tinny and aimed to promote the chocolate brand's tie-up with the Fairtrade organisation for cocoa from the African nation for its Dairy Milk range.

The Advertising Standards Authority received 29 complaints that the TV campaign was demeaning to African people and perpetuated racial stereotypes.

However, the ASA's council has decided not to formally investigate the complaints. Although the council acknowledges that Cadbury had used stereotypes in their ads, they felt that the stereotypes were not harmful or offensive, said the ASA, which argued that most ads use some form of stereotype device to get a message across.

 

12th November   

Historical Censorship...

Convicted murderer takes legal action against Wikipedia for publishing his name
Link Here

Wikipedia logo Wolfgang Werlé served 15 years for the gruesome murder of a famous German actor is taking legal action against Wikipedia for reporting the conviction.

Attorneys took the action on behalf of Wolfgang Werlé, one of two men to receive a life sentence for the 1990 murder of Walter Sedlmayr. In a letter sent late last month to Wikipedia officials, they didn't dispute their client was found guilty, but they nonetheless demanded Wikipedia's English language biography of the Bavarian star suppress the convicted murder's name because he is considered a private individual under German law.

Werlé's rehabilitation and his future life outside the prison system is severely impacted by your unwillingness to anonymize any articles dealing with the murder of Mr. Walter Sedlmayr with regard to our client's involvement, they wrote. As your article deals with a local German public figure, we expect you are aware that you have to comply with applicable German law.

They go on to say they are currently taking legal action against Wikipedia in the trial court of Hamburg. And according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Werlé's attorneys have also gone after an Austrian internet service provider that published the names of the convicted.

EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Granick said: At stake is the integrity of history itself. If all publications have to abide by the censorship laws of any and every jurisdiction just because they are accessible over the global internet, then we will not be able to believe what we read, whether about Falun Gong (censored by China), the Thai king (censored under lese majesté) or German murders.

Update: Still Published

10th January 2010. See article from ncacblog.wordpress.com

Last month, for instance, lawyers for the convicted murderers of German actor Walter Sedlmayr sent Wikimedia, an Internet content provider located in the United States that runs Wikipedia, a cease and desist letter demanding that Wikimedia remove from its Wikipedia article the names of Seldmayr's killers in compliance with the German law that protects the privacy of individuals.

German courts have reasoned that criminals are no longer public figures nearly 20 years after being convicted, and thus should be afforded privacy by not having their names published.

Thus far, Wikipedia has asserted its right to free expression and not removed the names of Sedlmayr's murderers from its English article.

 

12th November   

Update: Bloody Top Gear...

Ofcom whinges at Top Gear spoof car adverts
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Berlin to Warsaw in one tank Top Gear
BBC2, 2 August 2009, 20:00

Top Gear is the BBC's long running entertainment series about cars, presented by Jeremy Clarkson and two co-presenters, James May and Richard Hammond.

This edition, the final show of the programme's thirteenth series, featured a spoof remake of an advertisement for a Volkswagen car which showed a man committing suicide with a gunshot to the head, followed by blood splattering out after the impact. The scene also included a depiction of the dead man lying in a pool of blood.

Fifty viewers contacted Ofcom to complain about this scene which they felt was too graphic and unsuitable for the time of broadcast (20:00) because children were watching. Ofcom noted that a subsequent repeat of the programme on 3 August 2009, in a 19:00 timeslot, removed the scene in which the man was seen shooting himself in the head.

This mock advertisement was one of six or seven such advertisements in this segment of the programme which employed exaggerated and absurd themes to draw attention to the Volkswagen Sirocco's perceived lack of speed.

Other advertisements contained references to the Bible, to mothers in law, to funerals, and to explosions. One advertisement included a scene in a hospital waiting room. An actor who had supposedly been in a car accident was seen holding what appeared to be his own severed arm from which blood spurted in large quantities for approximately two minutes.

Ofcom considered Code Rule 1.11 (violence to be appropriately limited before the watershed).

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.11

Ofcom recognises that Top Gear is a series with an established audience, some of whom are children. It is known however for its adult orientated content and humour, which some viewers on occasions may find challenging. Viewers have in general come to expect these features of the programme.

Rule 1.11 is designed to protect children from depictions of violence and its after effects in programmes broadcast before the watershed. Therefore Ofcom considered whether children were likely to be viewing the programme. Audience data indicated that a significant number – 204,000 – younger viewers (those aged between 4 and 9 years) were watching the original broadcast at 20:00. Ofcom noted the BBC's decision to remove the image of the gunshot to the head from the programme broadcast in the earlier timeslot of 19:00, because they considered that a greater number of younger children may have been watching at this time. In fact, the audience figures showed that substantially less – 36,000 fewer younger viewers - watched the repeat.

Therefore it was the case that, whilst the programme of 2 August 2009 was not aimed specifically at children, the programme regularly attracts a strong child audience and the broadcaster should have taken this into consideration when including the scene in the later broadcast. The rule states that violence before the watershed must be appropriately limited and must also be justified by the context.

Firstly, Ofcom considered whether the violence was appropriately limited. Whilst the shooting scene was only a few seconds in duration, it was Ofcom's view that the spoof suicide was graphically depicted on screen with the man holding the gun to his temple and firing and blood splattering into the air after the bloody impact of the gunshot. Its realistic depiction meant that the violent imagery was not appropriately limited.

Ofcom then considered whether the scene was contextually justified. Context includes, but is not limited to: the editorial content of the programme; the service on which the material is broadcast; the degree of harm or offence likely to be caused; and the likely expectation of the audience. Firstly, in terms of the editorial content of the programme Ofcom took into account the established nature of Top Gear as described above. It also considered the BBC's argument that the comic exaggeration inherent in the spoof advertisement overall, and in this scene in particular, rendered it inoffensive and, in context, justifiable.

While scenes such as the hospital patient with the severed arm, described above, were so comically exaggerated and preposterous that they could be said to be justified by the overall context of the Top Gear series as described above, the depiction of suicide was of a distinct nature from this and so not justified by the context.

In Ofcom's view, it was precisely because Top Gear is an established entertainment programme which features a typical sort of humour that many viewers – including some adults watching with children - would not have expected such a violent scene to appear.

Ofcom noted there was no information before the spoof advertisement was shown which would have prepared viewers for its potentially disturbing nature and alerted adult viewers to the fact that it may be unsuitable for younger viewers.

These factors taken together meant that the scene exceeded audience expectations for the programme and led Ofcom - on balance - to conclude that there was no editorial justification for its inclusion. Breach of Rule 1.11

 

11th November   

Update: Call of Nutter Duty...

Low grade comments about the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Vivienne Pattison My View by Vivienne Pattison, Head Of Mediawatch-UK

There are numerous studies linking exposure to violence in entertainment with violent behaviour. Vivienne Pattison

Bearing in mind the cost to society - and the misery of the victims of violent behaviour - if there is the slightest possibility that violent games can cause harm, is this worth the risk?

We know that violent games with 18 Certificates are being played by children.

Do we really want to find that we are training a new generation to be killers?

 

11th November   

Update: Free Speech is not For Sale...

Report from English PEN and Index on Censorship
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Free Speech is not For Sale logo After a year-long Inquiry, English PEN and Index on Censorship have concluded that English libel law has a negative impact on freedom of expression, both in the UK and around the world. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and should only be limited in special circumstances. Yet English libel law imposes unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on free speech, sending a chilling effect through the publishing and journalism sectors in the UK. This effect now reaches around the world, because of so-called libel tourism , where foreign cases are heard in London, widely known as a town named sue . The law was designed to serve the rich and powerful, and does not reflect the interests of a modern democratic society.

In this report, we cut through the intimidating complexity of English libel law to show how the legal framework has become increasingly unbalanced. We believe that the law needs to facilitate the free exchange of ideas and information, whilst offering redress to anyone whose reputation is falsely or unfairly damaged. Yet our inquiry has shown that the law as it stands is hindering the free exchange of ideas and information. We repeatedly encountered the same concerns, expressed by lawyers, publishers, journalists, bloggers and NGOs, who have no wish to abolish libel law, but know from experience of its chilling effect on legitimate publication.

In response to their concerns, which are set out below, we offer the following recommendations to restore the balance between free speech and reputation:

1. In libel, the defendant is guilty until proven innocent

We recommend: Require the claimant to demonstrate damage and falsity

2. English libel law is more about making money than saving a reputation

We recommend: Cap damages at £10,000

3. The definition of publication defies common sense

We recommend: Abolish the Duke of Brunswick rule and introduce a single publication rule

4. London has become an international libel tribunal

We recommend: No case should be heard in this jurisdiction unless at least 10 per cent of copies of the relevant publication have been circulated here

5. There are few viable alternatives to a full trial

We recommend: Establish a libel tribunal as a low-cost forum for hearings

6. There is no robust public interest defence in libel law

We recommend: Strengthen the public interest defence

7. Comment is not free

We recommend: Expand the definition of fair comment

8. The potential cost of defending a libel action is prohibitive

We recommend: Cap base costs and make success fees and After the Event (ATE) insurance premiums non-recoverable

9. The law does not reflect the arrival of the internet

We recommend: Exempt interactive online services and interactive chat from liability

10. Not everything deserves a reputation

We recommend: Exempt large and medium-sized corporate bodies and associations from libel law unless they can prove malicious falsehood

 

11th November   

Update: Thai Censorship Makes the News...

Thai politicians unimpressed by Times interview of Thaksin
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Times Online logo A group of Thai politicians and generals have accused a Times journalist of insulting the country's monarchy by reporting comments by Thaksin Shinawatra — an offence that carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

The complaint against Richard Lloyd Parry, the Asia editor of The Times, derives from an interview with Thaksin that was published in Monday's newspaper and on Times Online the day before.

According to the Bangkok Post, members of a group of Thai monarchists called Siam Samakkhi (United Siam) have made an allegation of lèse-majesté against Thaksin and  Lloyd Parry. The Government blocked parts of Times Online from being accessed within the country.

Kasit Piromya, the Foreign Minister, said: Thaksin's interview is a violation of the monarchy, which is the country's core pillar and a highly respected institution. It is unacceptable and should have never taken place.

It is not clear which parts of the interview led to the complaint by four members of Siam Samakkhi. They include Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn, a critic of Thaksin, and General Somchet Boonthanom, the former head of the Thai Council for National Security.

 

11th November   

Update: Nanny Beeb...

Richard Herring goes online to avoid BBC censors
Link Here

How Not Grow Up Memoir Richard Herring has complained about the increasing regulations on radio shows since Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand's controversial phonecall to Andrew Sachs.

The comedian told Metro that greater censorship was the reason for his new series of online gigs, which are written on Sunday, performed on Monday and released as a podcast on Tuesday.

He said: Radio shows can take two years to get on air and there are so many restrictions about content now. Most people don't need nannying in that way.

It's got worse since the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand thing but even on my last show, there were battles. I wasn't allowed to use Schopenhauer's quote about history being a whore with syphilis as it was deemed offensive.

 

11th November   

Update: Unreal...

Body Image campaigners call to ban photoshopped adverts
Link Here

Photoshop logo Airbrushed adverts of thin-ideal models pose a significant risk to the health of young women, claim 'experts'.

Women's daily exposure to images of perfection is linked to depression, insecurity and eating disorders, says a study by 40 doctors, psychologists and academics.

The findings have sparked fresh calls for the Advertising Standards Authority to clamp down on airbrushed pictures. So far the ASA has said there is not enough evidence that such images do harm.

The Impact of Media Images on Body Image and Behaviours report said: Body dissatisfaction is a significant risk for physical health, mental health, and thus well-being. Any factor, such as idealised images, that increases body dissatisfaction is thus an important influence on well-being. It added that exposure to thin-ideal images produced significant increases in self-reported depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity and body dissatisfaction .

Not So Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson, who has campaigned against airbrushing, said the ASA now has all the scientific evidence it needs to act .

 

10th November   

Update: Call of Duty to Support UK Games Designers...

Tom Watson MP warns against Daily Mail moral panic
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD A political row has broken out over a violent video game as fans eagerly await its release. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is expected to break sales records after going on sale at midnight.

Modern Warfare 2 , developed by US company Infinity Ward and published by Activision, is 18 rated in the UK and rated Mature (17+) in the US for its blood, drug reference, intense violence and language .

Labour MP Keith Vaz called for action to ensure that children cannot buy the 18-certificate game, while fellow Labour former digital minister Tom Watson said it would be better to support the UK's video gaming industry.

Watson said that although the game wasn't pleasant , it was better for MPs to support the many thousands of games designers and coders and the many millions of games users, rather than collaborating with the Daily Mail to create moral panic over video games.

Gamer's Voice

Thanks to eMark
See also article from facebook.com

Tom Watson writes about Gamer's Voice Facebook Group:

Are you sick of UK newspapers and (my fellow) politicians beating up on gaming? So am I. The truth is, UK gamers need their own pressure group. I want to help you start one up.

I don't know how it should work yet but please register your interest if you agree that gamers need their voice hear in the corridors of power.

And if you have any ideas, please post them to the wall.

 

10th November   

How Not to Build a Righteous Family...

Ofcom upholds complaint against muslim advocacy of wife beating
Link Here

Peace TV logo Islam in Focus
Peace TV, 31 July 2009, 16:10

Peace TV is an international satellite television channel, which describes itself as providing Islamic spiritual 'edutainment'.

Islam in Focus consisted of a public lecture ( the Lecture ) in front of an audience, in English, by a religious speaker, Hamood Ashemaimry.

In the Lecture, entitled How to build a righteous family , the speaker set out, in his opinion, what the rights are of husbands and wives, in the context of creating a righteous family from an Islamic viewpoint.

A complaint objected to part of the Lecture which, it considered, suggested that it would be permissible for husbands to beat their wives. During the Lecture, the speaker said the following:

[A husband] should not beat [his wife] first. He should not beat her face or beat her violently. Many people misunderstand this, you know, three solution for, you know, evil women or a evil wife, or wife who is not listen to her husband. You advise her first; you disregard her in bed; you bring a mediator from her family – somebody between you to sort the problem. And then if she doesn't – then you beat her. But beat her – it doesn't mean to break her ribs. Beat her, tap her on her shoulder. Just let her feel you're angry. You know the worst thing – even they listen to me, the sisters – the worst thing for a lady, just disregard her in bed, for one week, or two. This is a good solution for a quarrel wife. Don't go to beating first of all. Try this, it works.

Ofcom asked Peace TV for its comments under the following Rules of the Code:

  • Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence must be justified by the context
  • Rule 2.4: Programmes must not include material, which taking into account the context, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 2.3 and 2.4

Ofcom notes that a number of its licensees will broadcast programming that will derive from a particular religious or spiritual viewpoint, and that such programming will include advice to followers of particular faiths as to how to lead their lives. It is therefore unsurprising if at times such advice might cause offence to different sections of the audience. Ofcom therefore recognises that it would be an unacceptable restriction on a broadcaster's freedom of expression to curtail the transmission of certain views, just because they cause offence.

However, in broadcasting such content, broadcasters must be aware of the need to ensure compliance with the Code.

In particular, in one segment of the Lecture, the speaker stated that it is permissible to beat a wife in certain circumstances. Ofcom considered whether this reference complied with Rules 2.3 and 2.4 of the Code.

Even though the broadcaster stated that the speaker said that a husband should only tap his wife on the shoulder and not beat her face or beat her violently…or break her ribs , Ofcom considers that the speaker was clear that some form of beating was acceptable – as a last resort after other tactics had been used to resolve a dispute with a wife. The passage was clear that a husband could use physical violence.

Ofcom rejected Peace TV's representations that just because some of the advice given by the speaker advocated a husband treating his wife with respect, that it would follow that he would not be advocating actions to cause a wife any physical harm. The speaker used the verb beat three times and beating once in the context of a husband chastising his wife. It considered that the speaker was clear in his advice, namely, that he was encouraging what could be portrayed as domestic violence in certain circumstances. Ofcom considers that the advice given to viewers that it was permissible for a husband to beat his wife, even if according to the broadcaster it was to be only in certain circumstances, and undertaken with restraint, would be offensive to many in the audience.

Further Ofcom considered that this offensive material could not be justified by the context. This was because of for example: the lack of any mediating or counteracting views, within the programme, to the speaker's advocacy of beating; and that, in general, the high likelihood that many in a UK audience would find any advocacy and support at all of domestic violence – which is of course potentially criminal under UK law – to be highly offensive. The programme was therefore in breach of Rule 2.3.

With regard to Rule 2.4, the relevant test is that content must not: firstly, taking into account the context, condone or otherwise glamorise violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour; and secondly, be likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour. Ofcom considered these two issues in turn.

Ofcom noted Peace TV's comments that it would not have been possible for the Lecture to have shown how to build a Righteous Family (and by extension a Righteous Society and a Peaceful World ) if it had included material that condoned or glamorised violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour.

However, Ofcom considered that the stated subject matter and aim of the Lecture did not obviate the fact that in this case the speaker was unambiguously advocating a form of violent behaviour i.e. domestic violence. This and the fact that the Lecture was a serious, religious lecture aiming to provide spiritual guidance, could not, in Ofcom's view, give enough contextual justification to suggest the speaker could not be reasonably portrayed as condoning violent behaviour.

In addition, Ofcom considered that the advice on beating wives within the Lecture: was delivered in a serious and measured manner by the speaker; and on a channel specialising in dispensing Islamic spiritual advice. There was therefore a strong likelihood that such advice could be construed as likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour.

Given the above, Ofcom considered that the programme was in breach of Rule 2.4.

 

10th November   

Comment: Olivia Recommends...

Daily Mail pick up John Beyer's role of identifying good Melon Farming TV
Link Here

   Olivia Recommends:
True Blood

Channel 4's latest attempt to seduce us with a mixture of swearing and sex comes in the form of True Blood , the latest in the long line of sexually explicit, violent and vulgar programmes that have, sadly, become the norm on British television.

True Blood is a shocking tale of depravity, explicit sexuality (bordering on pornography) and vile language.

Even before the opening credits have rolled in the first episode, we see a young woman pleasuring a young man while driving her car.

The plot is lazily set up at the outset via a television broadcast of a lady vampire informing us that since scientists have found a way to make artificial human blood, vampires no longer represent a threat to society.

As the tale unfolds, we learn there has been a horrifying reversal of events and that some humans, known as vampire drainers, like to drink the blood of vampires as it increases their strength, sexual appetite and performance.

The programme is full of others with fantastical powers. Set in Louisiana, there's the telepathic waitress, Sookie, and the shapeshifter Sam. Then there are the fang-bangers - humans who like having sex with vampires - and the drug dealers.

More offensive than all this is the sheer distasteful nature of the content. There's oral sex, overt discussion of genitalia, graphic sex scenes bordering on the deviant, and foul language.

It's animalistic, violent, corrupt and scary, and it airs on Channel 4 at 10pm on Wednesdays.

Comment: Foul

10th November 2009. From Alan

Nice to see the Daily Mail being so consistent about the evils of swearing, particularly as the editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre, is known to his subordinates as "the vagina monologue" on account of the frequency with which he uses the C-word around the office.

 

10th November   

Offsite: Manic Legislation...

Isle of Man plays catch-up on extreme porn law
Link Here

Isle of Man flag The Isle of Man, along with the Channel Islands is not part of the United Kingdom, but is in fact a crown dependency, and therefore owned and governed directly by the British Crown. Custom has it that the British Government is solely responsible for defence and international representation, and Crown dependencies have responsibility for their own customs and immigration services - however, Acts of the British Parliament do not usually apply unless explicitly stated.

That is why, since early October, the Isle of Man parliament (the Tynwald) has been seeking opinions on its proposed Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009. Those looking for serious disagreements between the Manx view and that already passed into law for England Wales and Northern Ireland will be disappointed.

The proposed wording is virtually identical to that contained in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008: there is one minor difference, which is that the Manx law would not include a requirement for a case to be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions before it is allowed to proceed.

...Read the full article

 

10th November   

Update: Scooby Doo Doo...

Having a whinge at children's cartoon violence
Link Here

Scooby Doo Mystery Begins Robbie Amell Cartoons should be given movie-style age ratings to protect children from the violence shown in programmes such as Scooby Doo and Batman , a child safety 'expert' has warned.

Dr Karen Pfeffer, a senior lecturer at Lincoln University, said that risky behaviour which would normally lead to injury is rarely shown to have negative consequences in cartoons.

She claims to have found evidence that there children who watch violent programmes are more likely to engage in risky behaviour and injure themselves.

Dr Pfeffer, who is also an international mentor for the World Health Organisation, will address the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents this week and call for children's television programmes, particularly live action programmes, to carry ratings for parents to make informed choices for their children.

Among the programmes she deemed to contain the most risky behaviour were Scooby-Doo , Batman , X-Men and Ben 10 .

I have looked at whether television's portrayal of risky behaviour affects children and have found evidence of children imitating dangerous TV behaviours, evidence of a positive correlation between amount of TV viewing and injury rates and evidence that TV viewing can affect children's perceptions of risk, she said.

TV provides dangerous role models for children, especially boys. It is recommended that children's television programmes, particularly live action programmes, include ratings for parents on the portrayal of injury content. This would assist parents to make informed decisions.

Dr Pfeffer's paper, Risk and injury portrayal in boys' and girls' favourite television programmes , will be published later this month.

 

9th November   

Update: Effs Off...

Latest Gordon Ramsay show loses most of the strong language
Link Here  full story: Gordon Ramsay...Strong language winds up the nutters

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD Gordon Ramsay has cut the strong language on his new series by 90%.

In the first episode of his new series of The F Word , he swore nine times, including six 'fucks'. Swearing guests took the total expletives to 12.

One viewer said: It's like he had Tourette's and they found a miracle cure. He's obviously been told to cut down his swearing.

But Tuesday's The F Word attracted just 1.8m viewers - half the number it got last summer.

 

9th November   

Update: Under the Counter Culture...

German chart topping Rammstein album indexed
Link Here  full story: Rammstein Censored...Rammstein wind up nutters and censors

Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da Rammstein's latest album, Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da has been indexed as it is commonly referred to in Germany, meaning that the album cannot be sold to minors and cannot be displayed on store shelves. The album will now only be made available for purchase behind the counter at shops that still carry the album.  The ban is not proving too detrimental though, as the album is currently topping the album charts.

Word is that the tracks Ich Tu Dir Weh and Pussy along with some promotional imagery featuring guitarist Richard Kruspe spanking a female were cause for the BPjM ( Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons ) to act.

With the songs being indexed, the band will not be allowed to perform them live.

Rammstein commented on the matter via Facebook, stating that German fans should specifically ask for the album, and be sure to have their ID with them to prove that they can buy the CD.

The album is also taking flak in Switzerland. The Evangelical People's Party (EPP) has stated that they will file a parliamentary request to block the sale of the album to protect the youth from the album.

EPP President Heiner Studer said the cover shows sadomasochistic practices. In addition, the single Pussy promotes unprotected sex.

Note:

BPjM, Bundesprfstelle fr jugendge fäh rdende Medien ( Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons )

A board of 12 representatives consisting of 8 different social organizations (e.g. artistic and literary community, entertainment industry, youth welfare, teachers, religious groups), 3 representatives of the federal states as well as the chairwoman of the BPjM, examines the respective object. If the board, with a majority of 2/3 of the members, decides that the object has a content dangerous for young people, it enters its name into the list of youth-endangering media, generally referred to as the index.

Distributors of that medium are then no longer permitted to sell, rent out or even display this object in public or to broadcast it. The same goes for advertising for this object.

 

9th November   

Shock Art Gets Shock Ban...

Joseph Steele: Now that's Why They Call It Art (Baby)
Link Here

Joseph Steele poster An artist filmed two friends having sex at a university – in the name of art. Joseph Steele has caused a stir with his 10 minute graphic film shot on the day he learned of his degree results.

The controversial short made at Newcastle University raised eyebrows at its preview night last week yet the former art student insists it is art: I wanted to shock people by making the film and just after the film people said it did just that, said Steele.

It was based on the idea that with things like the internet and TV, the only way you feel anything now is through sex and violence, he added.

The 23-year-old creator, from Newcastle, said two friends volunteered to perform their sex act for the work, titled Joseph Steele: Now that's Why They Call It Art (Baby).

The art show, which features people trashing cars and models posing provocatively, is being shown at the week-long Easyrider exhibition at the Hangar 51 gallery in Newcastle, is co-staged with fellow graduate Tom Whitty.

The pair said no one raised any objections at the opening night last Thursday, and the crowd was warned it was not suitable for under-18s. But within hours of the Sunday Sun revealing details of the X-rated show, the plug was pulled. Steele was banned from saying who had pulled the plug.

 

9th November   

Update: Pariah Britain...

US newspapers explain that libel tourism may lead to internet blocks to British Access
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

House of Commons logo Britain's reputation for libel tourism is driving American and foreign publishers to consider abandoning the sale of newspaper and magazines in Britain and may lead to them blocking access to websites, MPs have been warned.

Publishers, human rights groups and campaigners have expressed substantial and increasing concern because comments that would be protected under the freedom of speech in the US constitution are actionable in London courts once published here, no matter how small the readership.

A memorandum submitted to a Commons select committee, ahead of a meeting with US publishers, states: Leading US newspapers are actively considering abandoning the supply of the 200-odd copies they make available for sale in London – mainly to Americans who want full details of their local news and sport. They do not make profits out of these minimal and casual sales and they can no longer risk losing millions of dollars in a libel action which they would never face under US law. Does the UK really want to be seen as the only country in Europe – indeed in the world – where important US papers cannot be obtained in print form?

The submission is on behalf of a number of US media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and MacMillan (US), as well as Human Rights Watch, Global Witness US and Greenpeace International.

 

9th November   

Headache for the BBFC...

Two versions of The Hangover
Link Here

Hangover Incl Extended Cut Blu ray The Hangover  is a 2009 US/Germany comedy by Todd Philips

The US Unrated Version was submitted for the 2009 Warner Blu-ray noted as the Extended Version.

The BBFC explained:

The Hangover is a comedy about a group of friends who lose the groom during a stag night trip to Las Vegas. This version contains material not featured in the cinema release and was classified 18 for strong sexual images.

Over the film's end credits there are a series of still photographs showing the activities of the stag night. Three of these pictures show one character apparently having fellatio performed on him in a lift. In the version classified 15 for cinema exhibition, these images were pixilated. However in the version submitted for classification as a video recording, the images are unpixelated and contravene the BBFC's Guidelines on sex at 15 which state that sexual activity may be portrayed without strong detail . At 18 any more explicit images of sexual activity need to be justified by context and in this case the images are not particularly clear, are very brief, and illustrate in comic fashion the debauched nature of the stag night that the film focuses on.

The film contains many jokes about various characters having sex with others including references to a woman being grossed out by semen and sight of a used condom being thrown around a car. There are also some visual images of bare breasted women dancing at a lap dancing club and a scene of full frontal male nudity in a non-sexual context when a man leaps out of a car boot with no clothes on. These sex references would have been passed at 15 as the guidelines at that category allow strong verbal references to sexual behaviour .

The film also contains multiple use of strong language throughout, all of which would have been passed at 15 where BBFC Guidelines state that there may be frequent use .

The film contains some comic scenes of violence, including men being hit with a metal pole and tasered by the police, as well as some verbal drug references alluding to the men inadvertently taking rohypnol and still photographs of one man snorting some cocaine.

Previously the Theatrical Version was passed 15 for the 2009 cinema release and 2009 Warner DVD

 

8th November   

Ban Happy...

Sri Lanka censor bans 100 films
Link Here

Sri Lanka Over 100 movies from India, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Europe which were imported to Sri Lanka have been stamped as unsuitable for screening by the censor board, Censor board Chairman Asoka Serasinghe told Daily Mirror Online.

Another 250 films are due to be screened to examine their suitability to be released by the board. He added that cinema owners who screen these Malayalam, Hindi, Sinhalese and English films with a different name after they have been banned will have their cinemas sealed.

He also said that all police stations have been notified, and told to inform the board if such instances take place. Further the censor board in a new move is to request the assistance of the public to bring illegal screenings in cinema halls to the notice of the police.

 

7th November   

Update: Call to Nutter Duty...

Keith Vaz will whinge at Parliament about latest video game
Link Here  full story: Call of Duty...Nutters wound up by warfare video game series

Call Duty Modern Warfare DVD Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 , the latest in a series of first-person war games, features bloody conflict. It is so realistic that at some points a warning offers players the option to skip scenes.

In the course of the ten hours or so the game will take to complete in solo mode, the player will assume a variety of roles in a global war against Russian ultranationalists led by Vladimir Makarov.

One of the most controversial of these is an episode in which a character must choose whether to kill unarmed civilians in a Russian airport to infiltrate a terrorist group successfully.

The scene is 'so shocking' that Activision, the game's distributor, issued a statement. At the beginning of the game, there are two 'checkpoints' where the player is advised that some people may find an upcoming segment disturbing. These checkpoints can't be disabled, it said. Modern Warfare 2 is a fantasy action game designed for intense, realistic game play that mirrors real life conflicts, much like epic, action movies. It is appropriately rated 18 for violent scenes.

Nutters, however, have accused Activision of being disingenuous. Warnings of extreme content had a strong appeal to younger players, they said.

Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, told The Times: I am absolutely shocked by the level of violence in this game and am particularly concerned about how realistic the game itself looks. Whilst I appreciate that this game has been certified as an 18, I firmly believe that certain levels of violence should not be made into interactive entertainment. This would include acting as a terrorist, as is the case here, or violence against women. I will be raising this issue in Parliament on Monday.

 

7th November   

The F-Word...

Gay campaign group easily offended by South Park
Link Here

GLAAD logo On this latest South Park episode, called The F-Word, the kids decide that they will change the meaning of the word fag so that it will be used as a slur against burly, inconsiderate motorcyclists who ride loud Harley-Davidson bikes instead of against gay people.

The children's casual and frequent use of the word, which was broadcast unbleeped, offends adults and several gay characters on the show. But after the town learns the etymology of the word faggot (which began use as a derisive term for old women) and gains the approval of a dictionary official, their new meaning for the word is accepted.

But the episode did not sit easy with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, an advocacy group that monitors issues of gender identity and sexual orientation in the media. In a news release issued on Thursday night, the group asks for Comedy Central and the South Park staff to apologize for what it calls a slur-filled episode.

In a statement, GLAAD officials said they recognized that the episode was attempting to use edgy humor to provide commentary on current issues. They added: Yet despite what the South Park writers may believe, the definition of the F-word remains one that is harmful and derogatory to the LGBT community.

The statement says that the epithet remains a hateful slur that is often part of the harassment, bullying and violence that gay people, and gay youth in particular, experience on a daily basis in this country. It is an epithet that has real consequences for real people's lives.

 

7th November   

Update: New for Old...

Support for Netherlands move to repeal blasphemy laws
Link Here

Netherlands Opposition MPs have submitted draft legislation to the Council of State advisory body to repeal the ban on blasphemy, the Volkskrant reported.

The ruling Labour party PvdA has already said it supports the change in the law, giving the proposal majority support in parliament.

Earlier this year justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin agreed to suspend the blasphemy laws and amend the discrimination legislation (article 137c) to make it a criminal offence to insult groups of people instead.

That plan followed a high court ruling earlier this year, in which a man was found not guilty of insulting an entire group of people on the grounds of their religion. He had hung up a poster with the text stop the tumour that is Islam ,

But MPs are still unhappy with the minister's proposals and have now drawn up their own legislation, the paper says.

 

7th November   

Update: The Wrong Sort of Stars...

iTunes censors Doo Wop records
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

Doo Wop Collection Various Artists An automated censoring service has left iTunes embarrassed after it censored doo wop to doo w*p , confusing consumers, including Radio 2 DJ Jeremy Vine.

When Vine mentioned in passing to fellow DJ Ken Bruce on Wednesday that he was surprised to find iTunes had censored an album he wanted, it caused an on-air stir.

A search of iTunes reveals that the asterisk substitution does not apply only to the 1950s genre, but to any track or album that mentions the racial slur wop, including Lauryn Hill and, those famously inflammatory artists, Prefab Sprout.

Doo wop was originally performed largely by African-Americans, but was later popularised by Italian-American artists. It's the latter ethnic group that has borne the brunt of the racial slur in question, so in censoring the word, iTunes is being a little over-sensitive.

Adam Howorth, Head of Music PR at iTunes, says the asterisk is imposed by an automated database that checks words against a list but can't distinguish the context. We have an automated system which looks for potentially off words and asterisks out certain ones based on the rules, and wop is one of those, says Howorth. In the context of this music it is an error.

 

7th November   

Update: Beeb Goes Bland...

Channel 4 is the sole guardian of nonconformism and provocation
Link Here

Channel 4 logo Fear of causing offence has left TV in danger of becoming too bland, Channel 4's programme chief has said.

Julian Bellamy told the Royal Television Society that recent scandals were preventing broadcasters from taking creative risks.

He said the BBC appeared to avoid controversial ideas like the plague in the wake of last year's Radio 2 prank calls row: After a string of scandals about taste and decency, it seems to avoid disruptive, potentially controversial ideas like the plague. Time and again, producers tell me this and I believe it.

Bellamy said the industry's compliance spiral threatened to bland out the medium to no-one's benefit . But he said Channel 4 would continue to take creative risks even when public sentiment risks being offended . He described it as the sole guardian of nonconformism and provocation on Britain's most powerful cultural medium . I genuinely believe if Channel 4 retreats into conservatism we will cease to be a meaningful cultural force .

 

6th November   

Daddy's Home...

The Stepfather pre-cut for a cinema 15 rating
Link Here

The Stepfather Theatrical Release The Stepfather  is a 2009 US horror by Nelson McCormick

The 2009 cinema release was passed 15 with the comment: During post-production, the distributor sought and was given advice on how to secure the desired classification. Following this advice, certain changes were made prior to submission.

The BBFC explained the 15 rating further:

The Stepfather is a psychological horror/thriller about a serial killer who finds his victims by marrying young divorced or widowed women with children. It has been passed 15 for strong psychological threat and menace and violence.

The main protagonist in the film commits a number of murders in order to protect his anonymity and, while these murders do not contain strong detail, they are all strong in terms of the brutal and callous nature of the killings. There is also an unrelenting sense of threat and menace as the killer's new family start to suspect him and, consequently, place themselves in danger. The Guidelines at 12A only allow for moderate physical and psychological threat and these scenes are stronger and more disturbing and, consequently, most appropriately placed at 15 . Stronger and bloodier violence occurs at the film's climax and contain some focus upon injuries and blood which also secure the 15 classification.

 

6th November   

Update: Nasty Legislation Draws Near...

Dangerous Cartoon legislation ends its parliamentary scrutiny unamended
Link Here

House of Lords logo The Coroners and Justice Bill has just completed its 3rd Reading on the House of Lords and will now go back to the Commons to review the Lords amendments.

There were no change to the dangerous drawings provisions though.

Anime fans in particular should surely be at great risk with state bullies contending that indeterminate age anime features under 18 year olds.

 

6th November   

Update: One Day of the Censor...

Police ban on 1 Day extends throughout the West Midlands
Link Here

1 Day poster A Dudley cinema has backed out of showing a Birmingham gangland film.

Showcase Cinema at Castlegate, pulled 1 Day as the ramifications of a censorship row between West Midlands Police and the filmakers Vertigo Films rumble on.

Odeon in Birmingham were the first to announce they were not showing the movie, which was released last Friday, after taking police advice .

And now Showcase have followed suit, by pulling it from Midland cinemas.

Karen Fox, general manager of Showcase UK Theatres, said: Showcase has made the decision not to screen the film 1 Day at its cinemas in the West Midlands region.

However, we are screening the film in our other UK locations.

Despite claiming they were not trying to censor the film the police have admitted a police officer had contacted cinemas criticising the film.

The film's director Penny Woolcock, said: Censoring this film is short sighted, shameful and lets a lot of people down: Even if 1 Day did glamorise gun violence, which it certainly does not, I do not think it is the function of the local police to go round saying what films should be shown and which ones shouldn't. She added: Let people decide for themselves.

 

6th November   

Updated: Psychological Environmental Pollution...

Nutters whinge at Bottom Line advert
Link Here

Where's Your Bottom Line? ad Bloggers have blasted calls for a boycott of an accountancy firm over a billboard featuring bare bottoms, saying the sign is just good fun.

More than 70% of those voting in an online poll say the sign promoting the bottom line is good humour and that critics are being prudes .

Malcolm Chilman's sign on the side of a building on David Low Way attracted the ire of retired police chaplain Paul Nicholas and his wife Pauline, who has described the sign as soft porn and emotional, social and psychological environmental pollution .

Considering the name of Chilman's company is Bottom Line Control, it could be argued the sign is a play on words rather than gratuitous nudity.

But the former chaplain has no intention of turning the other cheek and has called for a boycott of the company.

In fact, he has formed the General Watch action group to ensure that decent community values are portrayed on public billboards and advertising in the area.

The chaplain, who recently moved to Coolum, said he was deeply embarrassed to be confronted by naked backsides sitting along a jagged graph line whenever he took his grandchildren to McDonald's. I understand many people have been offended by this tacky and sleazy advert but despite the complaints, the owner, a local accountant, refuses to lift his standards. This would not pass the standards for daytime TV so why should we have it in our faces 24/7?

The chaplain complained to the National Institute of Accountants, which has asked Chilman to remove its logo that appears on his sign.

But the accountant is fighting a rearguard action, claiming people find the sign humorous. I suggest that it's actually iconic and Coolum people get a lot of enjoyment out of it, especially kids, Chilman said: Anything to do with bums and farts, they love it.

He said the chaplain was entitled to his opinion but that is what it was: one person's opinion.

He's an individual and not necessarily the voice of the community, said Chilman. It's been up for over a year and he's just the fourth person that's complained. There's been two complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority and they've basically said it's fine.

 

6th November   

More Near Dark...

Old cuts to Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark
Link Here

Near Dark Disc Special DVD Near Dark  is a 1987 US vampire film by Kathryn Bigelow

The BBFC cuts were waived for the 2003 Anchor Bay DVD and 2006 Optimum DVD/Blu-ray.

Previously, the 1988 EIV video was cut by 14s

From cuts details on IMDb

  • Diamondback opening and closing a butterfly knife repeatedly before slitting the barmaid's throat
  • Jesse and Severen putting the barman's body on the bar and smashing bottles of spirits over and around him to fuel the fire while Severen quips Hey, bartender salad.

The 1987 cinema release was passed 18 uncut

Review from UK Amazon : Masterpiece

This is a masterpiece of a film from director Kathryn Bigelow. It has been described by Ms Bigelow as a story of two families, a daylight family and a night family; others have called it a cross between a horror film, an action film and a western. It is a recorded fact that Ms Bigelow had wanted to make a western, but because westerns weren't popular at the time, it was decided to turn it into a horror film with a basic western feel.

Caleb has been taken by Mae and her vampire family - Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen), Severen (Bill Paxton), Diamondback (Jeanette Goldstein) and Homer (Joshua Miller). He doesn't want to kill, but his body now needs blood to survive and we watch as Caleb's internal fight what he knows is wrong and what his needs tell him to do.

As the film builds to its climax Caleb must make the decision between his two families, between day and night.

Whether James Cameron had an influence in the casting of the main characters (he was at the time that the film was made married to Ms Bigelow).

The vampire family consists of Lance Henriksen (Aliens' android Bishop), Bill Paxton (PFC Hudson from Aliens) and Jeanette (Vasquez) Goldstein all give excellent performances, but, once again, it is Bill Paxton who delivers the most memorable performance of the entire cast.

This film is thoroughly enjoyable. One of the greatest vampire movies ever, though interestingly the term vampire is never used in the film itself.

 

6th November   

Offsite: Sectarian Tensions...

Shearing Lebanon's freedom
Link Here

The One Man Village film poster Although Beirut is generally regarded as an oasis of freedom in a largely repressed region, the continuing censorship of the arts there is threatening to tarnish this image. While the press and TV, particularly after the Syrian withdrawal in 2005, report freely, an antiquated prior-censorship tradition has left the arts to the mercy of the gendarmes.

Recently the censor's blade struck again, this time shredding Lebanese director Simon El Habre's debut film One Man Village for allegedly threatening civil accord. The film, winner of the Canadian Hot Docs Best feature length documentary amongst many other honours around the world, follows the life of Semaan, one of the few Christian villagers who returned to live in the abandoned village of Ain al-Halazoun. In spite of the post-war reconciliation between the Druze and Christian inhabitants of the Mountain , few villagers other than Semaan chose to return to their long-abandoned villages. The film observes Semaan's life in the village and his fellow villagers' visits to their hometown, raising, important but generally neglected, questions of memory, amnesia, healing and reconciliation.

The censorship board responded by ordering five minutes cut from the film so as to avoid stirring sectarian tensions . In addition to blatantly limiting free expression, these concerns do seem preposterous in light of the unregulated more intrusive and influential electronic media, which has been at times accused of inciting hatred.

...Read full article

 

5th November   

Cross Wearers vs Cross Dressers...

300 christians protest at play featuring transsexual Jesus
Link Here

Jesus, Queen of Heaven 300 protesters have held a candlelit protest outside a Glasgow theatre over the staging of a play which portrays Jesus as a transsexual.

The protest was held outside the Tron Theatre, where Jesus, Queen of Heaven , in which Christ is a transsexual woman, is being staged.

The play is part of the Glasgay! arts festival which celebrates Scotland's homosexual, lesbian, bi-sexual and transsexual culture. Festival organisers said there was no intention to incite or offend anyone. According to publicity for the show, it presents her sayings, her miracles and her testimony as the daughter of God .

The Christian protesters gathered outside the theatre ahead of the opening night on Tuesday, singing hymns and waving placards saying, Jesus, King of Kings, Not Queen of Heaven , and God: My Son Is Not A Pervert [even if many of my priests are!].

The play, which runs until Saturday, is written and performed by Jo Clifford, a transsexual playwright.

 

5th November   

Offsite: Killerspiele...

The politics and censorship of 'killer games'
Link Here  full story: Killergames...German politicians target video games

Rage Trash It Sega Saturn A skip has been put here to collect videogames: Killerspiele , the name given to violent games by Germany's tabloid press.

Midway through the day, a cameraman from a local television station clambers over the skip's side. He needs a compelling shot for the piece that will run tonight, a story about how swathes of Germany's youths have seen the error of their hobby and brought their perilous playthings to this public burning. Crouching on its floor, he angles the camera upwards, while a young boy in a beanie and a puffer jacket leans over and hurls a copy of Grand Theft Auto in with an echoic clack.

The cameraman captures the premeditated moment from this particular angle because any other would reveal the truth of the situation: the skip is otherwise empty. By the end of the day, that sealed copy of San Andreas will be joined by Def Jam: Fight for New York , OpenArena and Small Soldiers , a sorry clutch of ageing titles that represent the full extent of German gamers' ambivalence to this most uncomfortable stunt.

...Read the full article

 

5th November   

Bloggers Imprisoned...

GlobalVoices to monitor ThreatenedVoices
Link Here

Threatened Voices logo Never before have so many people been threatened or imprisoned for what the words they write on the internet.

As activists and ordinary citizens have increasingly made use of the internet to express their opinions and connect with others, many governments have also increased surveillance, filtering, legal actions and harassment. The harshest consequence for many has been the politically motivated arrest of bloggers and online writers for their online and/or offline activities, in some tragic cases even leading to death. Online journalists and bloggers now represent 45% of all media workers in prison worldwide.

Today, Global Voices Advocacy is launching a new website called Threatened Voices to help track suppression of free speech online. It features a world map and an interactive timeline that help visualize the story of threats and arrests against bloggers worldwide, and it is a central platform to gather information from the most dedicated organisations and activists, including Committee to Protect Bloggers, The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Reporters without Borders, Human Rights Watch, CyberLaw Blog, Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists, Global Voices Advocacy.

 

5th November   

World Censor War...

Chinese internet censor wages online war against games censor
Link Here

World of Warcraft Mac PC Chinese players of World of Warcraft , one of the world's most popular online games, may be out of luck after a government regulator rejected an application from the game's new licensed operator.

The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has terminated Chinese Internet portal NetEase's application seeking approval for the game, the agency said in a statement.

NetEase violated a rule banning new account registration and collection of subscription fees during a trial period that started July 30, when the firm was ordered to revise harmful content in the game, it said.

World of Warcraft , developed by California-based company Activision Blizzard Entertainment, was previously licensed to another Chinese firm, The9, which ran the game in China for four years from 2005, earlier media reports said.

NetEase announced in April that it had won a three-year licence for the game from Blizzard after The9's licence had expired.

Analysts said it was uncertain if GAPP's rejection would lead to a permanent ban in China as NetEase in April received approval from the culture ministry, which is also tasked with regulating computer games.

The chaos is mainly due to the vague demarcation of responsibilities between GAPP and the Ministry of Culture, said Liu Ning, a Beijing-based analyst with research firm BDA China.

 

4th November   

Update: Babes to be Reprieved...

Ofcom consults on further restrictions on babe channels
Link Here

Ofcom logo Ofcom Press Release:

Changes to the Broadcasting Code rules for promotion of Premium Rate Services (PRS)

Revised rules to strengthen audience protection in the use of premium rate telephone services in TV and radio programmes have been announced.

The changes to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code, which will come into effect early next year, mean that premium rate services (PRS) may only be included in editorial TV and radio programmes, such as phone-in competitions and votes, where they are related to the main editorial purpose of the show. This move will not affect shows such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Big Brother or competitions within shows.

Where broadcasters wish to promote PRS services more extensively than permitted under the revised Broadcasting Code rules, then this should be considered as falling within the category of advertising and will be regulated under the Advertising Code. The changes follow consultation in 2007 and 2008, and will reinforce the strict distinction between editorial content and advertising in programming.

Channels that are likely to be affected by this are Participation TV (PTV) channels that are based on promotion of PRS. These include specialist quiz, adult chat and psychic channels.

Next Steps

The Advertising Code currently limits advertising of PRS of a sexual nature to encrypted channels. It also restricts the promotion of PRS featuring live personal psychic services. These services are featured on Adult Chat PTV and Psychic PTV.

New research has found that promotion of these particular services on TV is generally acceptable to viewers in their current form, where they are appropriately scheduled, clearly labelled and identifiable in an appropriate section of an electronic programme guide ( EPG ), as this minimises the risk of offence from chancing upon them.

Ofcom proposes updating the Advertising Code to allow promotion of these particular services on television to continue, subject to further conditions, and are now consulting on these changes.

Ofcom Proposals

Ofcom include 4 options for consideration in the consultation but have identified one of these as their preferred solution:

Option 4 – Allow promotion of PRS of a sexual nature on dedicated teleshopping channels subject to scheduling restrictions and labelling rules, but spot advertising remains only on encrypted channels. Under this option, the risk of offence for viewers from spot advertising on general channels would continue to be prevented.

Any services featuring promotion of PRS of a sexual nature would be clearly labelled and positioned as “Adult” services including adult content, lessening the risk of unwarranted offence and allowing viewers to choose to exclude such services from viewing.

With such labelling information available, a scheduling restriction of 9pm (to limit risk of exposure to minors) would therefore be sufficient. Consumers would continue to have access to services and benefit on the same basis as today.

However, under the labelling rules proposed, broadcasters operating on Freeview would not currently be able to carry promotion for PRS of a sexual nature, since Freeview does not currently offer clear labelling of channels in a separate “Adult” EPG section.

Consultation

See Participation TV Consultatation [pdf]

Closing date for responses is 15th January 2010

 

4th November   

Update: Not Guilty...

ASA reject complaints about Antichrist press advert
Link Here

Antichrist ad A national press ad for the film Antichrist , which appeared in The Times, The Guardian and The Independent, showed a naked man and woman having sex. They seemed to be lying at the base of a tree, from which hands protruded. Text stated WHEN NATURE TURNS EVIL, TRUE TERROR AWAITS ... 18 CONTAINS STRONG REAL SEX, BLOODY VIOLENCE AND SELF-MUTILATION . The ad contained several quotes from reviews, including ... CINEMA AT ITS MOST EXTREME ... THE STRANGEST AND MOST ORIGINAL HORROR MOVIE OF THE YEAR ... NOTHING CAN PREPARE YOU FOR THE EXPERIENCE OF ANTICHRIST. NOTHING ... THE MOST SHOCKING FILM IN THE HISTORY OF THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL ... .

7 complainants, some of whom said the ad's imagery was pornographic, thought the depiction of a naked couple having sex was offensive and inappropriate for publication in a newspaper where it might be seen by children.

ASA Assessment: Not upheld

The ASA considered that the ad, which had a dark tone, was unlikely to cause sexual excitement and was therefore not pornographic.

We were of the view that The Times, The Guardian and The Independent were read mostly by adults and, although the possibility of children seeing the ad in those publications could not be ruled out, we considered it unlikely. If children did see the ad, we considered it was not particularly explicit and the dream-like context, introduced by the hands protruding from the tree (or roots), had the effect of making the image of the naked couple seem removed from reality. We noted the film itself contained graphic scenes of sex, and considered that readers would understand that the image of the naked couple in the ad was relevant to the advertised product.

We considered that the ad did not go too far in its depiction of the film's content, and was unlikely to be seen as irresponsible or cause serious or widespread offence to readers of The Times, The Guardian and The Independent.

 

4th November   

Update: TV-Like Magazine Websites?...

Magazine publishers ask for exemption from Video on Demand regulation
Link Here

PPA logo Magazine publishers represented by the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA) have urged the government against inadvertently widening the scope of new video on demand regulations to include content streamed through the websites of magazine publishers.

The UK government is scheduled to implement a European directive on audiovisual content by 19 December 2009.

The directive aims to regulate TV-like VOD. Not the audio-visual material which is used to complement text and graphical material usually found on magazine publishers' and business media companies' websites.

Guidance on the scope of the VOD services covered by the new law is due to be published. But PPA is concerned that the lack of clarity in the proposed guidance may unintentionally impact its members.

PPA Legal Director David Hyams said: Video streamed through our members' websites is already subject to the Committee of Advertising Practice Code and editorial content on their websites is covered by the Press Complaints Commission code. Both of which go further than the proposed regulations.

Under the new rules, the Advertising Standards Authority will continue to regulate streamed video advertising, although the directive requires that regulations will now be enforced against the media owner rather than the advertiser.

Hyams added: This has serious cost, compliance and contractual issue for PPA members.

 

4th November   

Nico: Above the Law...

Nico on Blu-ray is uncut without BBFC approval
Link Here

Nico Above Blu ray Steven Seagal Nico Above the Law  is a 1988 US/Hong Kong action film by Andrew Davis

Nico is now out on Blu-ray in the UK and it is fully uncut. Furthermore, on the disc, it retains its original correct title of Above the Law .

Strangely, the BBFC VFC number on the disc itself refers to the last official certification of the film from 1998, which was a pre-cut submission from Warner.

The BBFC confirmed this is not a legitimate release and will be withdrawn from sale shortly.

But as the Video Recordings Act isn't in force at the moment this is perfectly legal until 11th December 2009.

It is sourced from the US Blu-ray (all Warner discs are Region Free and Blu-ray has the same specs worldwide, so its easy to use a US master for a UK release).

Previously the 1989 Warner video and 1998 Warner video/DVD were cut by 15s for an 18 certificate.

  1. During the fight in a bar towards the beginning of the film - when Seagal is searching for his niece - 6 secs of Seagal twice slamming his fist into a thugs nose has been removed.
  2. Just after the bar fight, before Seagal kicks down the door, a shot of the young couple in bed heating drugs was removed.
  3. In the finale, when Seagal briefly fights Henry Silva, a 4 sec shot of Seagal breaking Silva's arm - with a loud crunch - has been removed, but the subsequent neck break seems intact.

 

4th November   

Snuffed Out...

Old cuts to John Frankenheimer's 52 Pick-Up
Link Here

52 Pick DVD Roy Scheider 52 Pick-Up is a 1986 US action film by John Frankenheimer

The BBFC cuts were waived for the 2004 MGM DVD.

Previously the 1987 cinema release and 1987 Rank video were similarly cut by 1:36s for an 18 rating.

From cuts details on IMDb :

  • Heavily edits to a scene where Harry watches a video showing a topless woman being tied to a chair and shot to death.

Review from US Amazon : Little Gem

I saw this in the theaters when it first came out in the 80s, not expecting much, but then - BAM! - this nasty little gem of a thriller delivers thrills in spades.

JOHN GLOVER creates one of the most chilling, yet hilarious, villains in film history - and the film's most infamous sequence - the videotape replay of Cindy's snuff-movie murder that Glover forces Scheider to watch in horror SITTING THE SAME CHAIR WHERE SHE WAS KILLED! - still never fails to disturb the viewer.

Frankenheimer directs how the best do: so seamless and subtle and unobtrusive, you never notice him tightening the screws right up until a white-knuckle climax.

C'mon, guys, get with it! Once you see 52 PICK-UP, you will never forget it.

 

4th November   

Zed Grade Whinge...

US nutter lays into supposedly lax Indian censors
Link Here

Rajan Zed The acclaimed hindu sound byte leader is calling on Indian censors to get tough on vulgarity and violence in Bollywood.

Strict religious heads have asked Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) officials to review India's Cinematograph Act over fears standards are slipping. Rajan Zed, the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, says, Seeing the continuous increase in the unnecessary vulgarity and violence in Indian films, it appears that the board has lost the sense of India's cultural milieu and is ignoring directions.

We are fully supportive of the artistic freedom and expression and we do not want any unnecessary censorship ...BUT... we're highly concerned about the increasing presence of the explicit scenes in the movies which were there simply for mercantile greed, and have nothing to do with cinematic elements.

Zed has asked CBFC chairperson Sharmila Tagore to view the films as a regular Indian mother who was struggling to raise her children to become moraland successful citizens, and not as the mother whose children attend nightclubs and late-night parties.

He adds, The Cinematograph Act lays down that a film has to be certified keeping morality in mind, besides other things. Whatever happened to the CBFC guidelines for certification, like human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity?

 

4th November   

Stockmarket Fall Guys...

Website postings about the king's health leads to arrests in Thailand
Link Here

Thailand flag Thai police have arrested two people for allegedly spreading rumours about the health of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

One of them was charged with spreading false information through a computer that undermined national security.

King Bhumibol, 81, was admitted to hospital in September with fever and fatigue. His health is a highly sensitive topic in Thailand. Rumours about the king's health triggered a slump in Thai stock prices in October.

Thai officials said Teeranun Wipuchanin, a former stock trader, was detained at Bangkok airport on Sunday. She was later charged with feeding false information through a computer system, which undermined Thailand's national security. She faces up to five years in prison and a $3,000 (£1,824) fine.

Ms Wipuchanin said she had translated an article by a foreign news agency and posted it online to share information with stock traders and internet users. Everybody on that day wanted to know what caused the market to fall. The stock market had already dropped and we did the translation in the evening, she was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

The other suspect, Katha Pajariyapong, was arrested in Bangkok. He reportedly posted a message on the same topic on a website.

Update: Jailed

2nd January 2013. See  article from  prachatai.com

On 25 Dec 2012, the Criminal Court found Katha Pachariyaphong guilty on two counts under the 2007 Computer Crimes Act and sentenced him to 6 years in prison, but reduced the prison term to 4 years due to his guilty plea.

Katha was found guilty of posting two comments in April and October 2009 on sameskybooks.org webboard.

According to the court verdict, the defendant's first comment posted on 22 April 2009 led the general public to understand that HM the King favoured the yellow shirts and Princess Sirindhorn also did the same, and the other post on 14 October 2010, which concerned rumours about the King's health, led the general public to understand that HM was seriously ill. The comments were false, damaging national security and causing panic among the public, the court said.

 

4th November   

Citizen Lab...

Monitoring and Circumventing world internet blockers
Link Here

Citizen Lab logo A basement in the gray, Gothic heart of the University of Toronto is home to the CSI of cyberspace. We are doing free expression forensics, says Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab.

Deibert and his team of academics and students investigate in real time governments and companies that restrict what we see and hear on the Internet. They are also trying to help online journalists and bloggers slip the shackles of censorship and surveillance. Deibert is a co-founder of the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a project of the Citizen Lab in collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. ONI tracks the blocking and filtering of the Internet around the globe.

We are testing in 71 countries, says Deibert. We are testing all the time. We are the technical hub of ONI.

We started out in 2002 with China, said Jillian York, project coordinator for Berkman. The work evolved, and then with Cuba we cracked it . However, as Citizen Lab and Berkman gained expertise and resources so did the censors they battled.

We are now onto third-generation controls, York said of Internet censorship. The first generation was simple filtering, IP blocking in China, for example. The second generation was surveillance, which ranged from placing spies or closed-circuit cameras in Internet cafés to installing tracking software on computers themselves. The third generation controls combine all the above. We see it in China, Syria, and Burma. It's a very broad approach, York laments.

ONI's research and public awareness-raising provides just one weapon in the increasingly sophisticated armory that bloggers need to deploy against government encroachment. Some free-speech campaigners engage across a wide battlefront, taking on authorities in Tunisia or Pakistan, for example, to keep blogging and video platforms open. Others, like Deibert, devise tools for an individual user to tunnel beneath a firewall or slip past a digital spy undetected. He helped develop Psiphon, a free, open source application that channels data through a network of proxies to circumvent censorship. Anyone can use it. It's fast and there's nothing to download onto your computer for the Internet police to find, said Deibert.

It's a game of digital cat-and-mouse with authorities hunting down circumvention nodes, and Psiphon switching to an alternate as soon as a node is compromised. Citizen Lab launched Psiphon in December 2006 but did not have the resources to develop it further. So in May this year, Deibert and another ONI founder, Rafal Rohozinski, spun it off as a commercial enterprise. It is still free to users but charges companies to deliver their blocked content. Clients so far include the BBC and the U.S. government-funded Broadcasting Board of Governors. Social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have been a boon to Psiphon and other circumvention tools like Tor, spreading node connection information among bloggers and journalists. This was evident during the media crackdown in Iran that followed the disputed June presidential elections, when Twitter proved difficult to shut down.

 

4th November   

Political Censorship...

Grenada Weekly about to be closed over exorbitant libel damages
Link Here

Grenada Today logo The Grenada Today weekly is apparently about to disappear as a result of a drawn-out libel suit by one of Grenada's former prime ministers, Keith Mitchell.

High court judge Claire Henry ordered its liquidation this week after the owners failed to reach an agreement with Mitchell over payment of an exorbitant damages award.

Grenada Today's liquidation is bad news for media diversity and, above all, a very bad precedent for the resolution of disputes linked to press offences, Reporters Without Borders said: Regardless of the substance of the case, it highlights the disproportionate nature of damages awards that threaten the survival of the publication concerned.

Reporters Without Borders added: We call for a legislative amendment that limits the amount of damages that a plaintiff can demand. And we hope that, although there are no further possibilities of appeal, that Grenada Today can nonetheless still be saved by a last-minute deal.

One of the Caribbean island's five weekly newspapers, Grenada Today has to close after to failing to obtain a reduction of the 71,000 US dollars it had been ordered to pay Mitchell, who was prime minister from 1995 to 2008 and who sued the newspaper in 2001 for publishing a reader's letter which he regarded as defamatory.

 

3rd November   

A Matter of Sensitivity...

Newspaper publishes picture of bridge suicide
Link Here

Sunday World logo The chief constable of the Northern Ireland police has said he was deeply shocked by the publication of a picture in a Sunday paper of a man who had taken his life. Matt Baggott said such issues should be treated with more delicacy .

Jim McDowell, northern editor of the Sunday World, defended his decision to print a photograph of a man hanging from a bridge in Bangor, County Down. He said it was in the public interest. McDowell said the body was left hanging for three hours.

The chief constable defended the police response. Sometimes, unfortunately, there are circumstances which make it very difficult for us to deal immediately with those distressing situations, said Baggott. I am satisfied that these circumstances meant that it was impossible to deal with it any quicker. I believe our watchwords, both in the media and as the police service, should be compassion and kindness and I would not support the publication of photographs of that distressing nature.

While he defended the publication of the picture, the newspaper editor apologised if people had been distressed by the picture. That is what newspapers do, McDowell said: I took the decision to run this picture because this poor man had been left hanging in public view for such a long time. The guidelines for journalists are clear when they are reporting suicide, that care should be taken to avoid excessive detail of the method used. This has been completely disregarded. He added that the picture used by the newspaper meant the dead man was not identifiable.

Malachy Toman from the Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm described the newspaper's decision to print the photographs as absolutely disgusting . I lost my 21-year-old son in exactly the same circumstances and when I picked up the newspaper, my stomach just churned. This young man has a family and friends and I would say they will be feeling a hundred times worse than me when they see this photograph. The guidelines for journalists are clear when they are reporting suicide, that care should be taken to avoid excessive detail of the method used. This has been completely disregarded.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) said it had received 70 complaints.

 

3rd November   

Update: Lesbian Vampire Censors...

Lesbian Vampire Killers beheaded at HMV
Link Here  full story: Lesbian Vampire Killers...Pandering to the 'lesbian' sensitive

Lesbian Vampire Killers My local HMV store is now selling Lesbian Vampire Killers with the censored sleeve like Tescos.

When first released they were selling the uncensored sleeve but now they are not.

I'm not sure if all HMV stores are doing this but my store is.

 

3rd November   

Big Tits at London Underground...

Insist upon an enormous pair of buns to cover up Kelly Brook advert
Link Here

Calendar Girls poster When Kelly Brook signed up to appear in the latest cast of the stage play Calendar Girls advertisers must have looked forward to making the most of her assets on its promotional literature.

Alas, they did not count on the prudery of London Underground. David Pugh, the producer, tells me that three different posters of Brook, 29, covering her nude torso with iced buns of ever-increasing size were submitted to Transport for London to appear inside Tube trains and to adorn the sides of escalators, before finally winning approval. Apparently they are worried about titillating customers, he says. It is ludicrous. These buns are almost impossible to lift now. They are more like flans. I thought they were joking when we got the first response. We certainly never had this problem with Jerry Hall.

A spokesprat for London Underground says: We asked for a few tweaks to the pictures but they are fine now.

 

2nd November   

Update: Zombie Censors...

Left 4 Dead 2 Australian censor cuts detailed
Link Here

Left for Dead 2 Left 4 Dead 2 got banned in Australia. So Valve have had to release a censored version.

The aptly-named The Australian Version Thread   over on the Steam community forums has an excellent summary of what's missing from the local, censored edition of the game. Highlights include:

  • No Gore: When you shoot an Infected to you see a small splash of blood. You will not see any gibs at all.
  • No Blood Spatter: You will not see blood spattering on the screen.
  • No Dismemberment: You cannot shoot or melee any limbs, including the head, off an Infected.
  • No Corpses: As soon as they're dead, Infected bodies will disappear.
  • No Burning: Infected will not catch fire from, for example, a molotov. They will, however, still die.
  • No Riot Cop: The riot cop Uncommon Infected will spawn at all. In fact, if just one player on the server is running the Australian edition, the riot cop will not spawn at all.

See also Comparison Cut vs Uncut from youtube.com

The article also describes simple configuration file edits can change the cut demo version into the uncut demo version

 

2nd November   

Update: Adults Only...

Uncut Manhunt 2 set for release on PC in North America
Link Here  full story: Manhunt 2...Computer game proves controversial

Rockstar Games Manhunt 2 PS2 If you're still wondering two years after the game's release exactly what the Adults Only version of Manhunt 2 would have looked like, you'll finally have your chance to see it on Tuesday. The Adults Only (AO) rated version of Rockstar's Manhunt 2 will be released for the PC via download through Direct2Drive for $29.95 on 6th November.

This release is limited to Mexico, US, & Canada

 

2nd November   

Update: Free Bangladesh!...

Bangladesh bows to Chinese censorship and sends police to close photo exhibition
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

Freedom Exile Autobiography Holiness Dalai Bangladeshi authorities called in police over the weekend to prevent the opening of a photographic exhibition about Tibetans in exile that Chinese diplomats wanted banned.

The photojournalism event had been organised by Students for a Free Tibet with support from the Drik network. Dhaka Special Branch police officers moved in to bar visitors after the head of Drik, Shahidul Alam, refused to cancel the event.

Entitled Tibet 1949 – 2009, the photo exhibition intended, to portray, in whatever small fraction, the journey of Tibetans from their homeland to exile. The exhibition was expected to run from 1-7 November.

According to reports from www.mediahelpingmedia.org Alam had earlier been contacted by Qian Kaifu, Cultural Counsellor of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Bangladesh, who asked him to cancel the exhibition, suggesting that the Bangladesh-China relationship would be affected if the show went ahead.

Alam says he was offered partner opportunities in China in return, but reminded Mr Kaifu that Drik was an independent gallery, unconnected with the government of Bangladesh. Alam says he was called the next day by the Bangladesh ministry of culture saying China is a friend, you mustn't show pictures of the Dalai Lama. When he declined again, the Special Branch were called in.

 

2nd November   

Update: The Spoon Lady Complains...

Rebecca Adlington considers punishment for Frankie Boyle's quip to be inadequate
Link Here  full story: Frankie Boyle...Whinges about Frankie Boyle and Mock the Week

golden spoon Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington has formally complained to the BBC that it let comedian Frankie Boyle off with a slap on the wrist over jokes that caused her deep hurt.

The double gold medal winner at last year's Beijing Olympics has demanded an explanation from the BBC Trust over why it chose not to punish the comic for outrageous slurs that left her humiliated .

And her agent has called for the BBC to ban Boyle over his comments.

During an episode of BBC2's satirical show Mock the Week last year, soon after Miss Adlington's Olympic triumph, Boyle said she resembled someone looking at themselves in the back of a spoon and followed up with sexual innuendo.

The comments sparked 75 complaints, but although the BBC Trust criticised Boyle and agreed that his remarks were unfair and offensive it took no further action such as barring him from its programmes for a period.

Miss Adlington has now written to the Corporation, calling its rebuke no more than a slap on the wrist for comments which fell well below the standards of common decency . She questioned the effectiveness of the Trust's disciplinary process and called for the corporation to take greater responsibility for its stars.

The BBC Trust said last night it had received Miss Adlington's letter and would consider it, but added: At this stage we have no plans to review the finding .

 

2nd November   

Update: Elite Censors...

Ofcom whinges at Elite TV website
Link Here

Elite TV ad Elite Days
Elite TV, 10 July 2009, 11:30

Elite Days is a daytime chat programme broadcast without access restrictions. It is located in the adult section of the Sky EPG on the service Elite TV. Viewers can call a premium rate telephone number and talk to an onscreen female presenter. Viewers see the female presenters engaged in conversation but cannot hear what is being said as music is played over the images. At certain intervals the presenters switch on a microphone and speak directly to viewers to encourage them to call into the premium rate telephony service ( PRS ) number.

Ofcom received a complaint that the programme featured a promotional reference to the website, www.elitetvonline.com , and that this website included strong sexual material which was available without any protections. Ofcom accessed the website after the complaint was made and noted that it contained some strong sexual images equivalent to BBFC R18-rated material ( R18-rated equivalent material ). This material could be easily accessed by simply clicking to confirm that the user was over 18.

Although this R18-rated equivalent material was not broadcast on-air, Ofcom was concerned that it appeared on a website being promoted during a daytime interactive chat programme.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.2 – In the provision of services, broadcasters must take all reasonable steps to protect people under eighteen.
  • Rule 1.3 – Children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
  • Rule 2.1 – Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material.
  • Rule 2.3 – In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

The broadcaster informed Ofcom that it has decided to remove any adult material from the unregistered area of its website.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 1.2, 1.3, 2.1 and 2.3

While the content of websites is not in itself broadcast material, and therefore not subject to the requirements of the Code, any on-air promotional references to websites are broadcast content. Such references must therefore comply with the Code. In this case Elite TV broadcast during the late morning a promotional reference to its website, www.elitetvonline.com, that contained strong sexual images that Ofcom considered to be equivalent to R18-rated material. There were no protections on the website – for example prior registration before being able to view - and therefore this material could have been accessed easily by under-eighteens.

The promotion on television of this website was therefore of concern to Ofcom. Rules 1.2 and 1.3 require broadcasters to take reasonable steps to protect people under eighteen and ensure that children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from unsuitable material. Rules 2.1 and 2.3 require broadcasters to comply with generally accepted standards so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from offensive material.

It is Ofcom's view that websites that contain unprotected R18-rated equivalent material must not be promoted on an Ofcom licensed service. This is to ensure adequate protection for the under-eighteens and compliance with generally accepted standards.

Appropriate protection on a website would be, for example, the need to purchase access to the R18 material by using a credit card or similar means that allows an age check to be done. In this case no such protections were present on the website and therefore Rules 1.2 and 1.3, and 2.1 and 2.3 were contravened.

 

1st November   

Update: Gangs of Censors...

Police to screen warning about gangs at cinemas showing 1 Day
Link Here

1 Day poster Birmingham police chiefs are to issue an on-screen warning about gun crime before a controversial new movie about gang life in Birmingham is shown on the big screen.

1 Day tells the story of two rival gangs caught up in the underworld of drugs and guns. The movie was filmed around Birmingham and stars local actors.

Now police say they will place an advert ahead of any other screenings to highlight the real dangers inherent in gang-related criminality . The advert features an illuminated headstone with the catchline: Once upon a time, they were dying to join a gang.

The film's writer-director, Penny Woolcock, said: The film shows how people get sucked into that life and it clearly spells out the consequences, which is people end up dead or in prison. The film absolutely does not glamorise that lifestyle. It has a clear moral message.

A force spokesman added: Our general advice is for individual cinemas to make a responsible and informed decision based upon local circumstances and taking into account the views of their local communities.

 

1st November   

Offsite: One Law for the Rich...

Britain's libel laws are killing investigative journalism
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Big Brother Watch Logo Libel, for those who aren't law students, lawyers, or Guardian readers with Twitter accounts, is a type of law which says you can't say untrue things about people, and if you do, you have to pretty much crush them under a ton of money to make up for it. Well, that's what it's supposed to do. However, in the last 15 years or so, powerful people have started using Britain's archaic and creaking libel system to stop anyone saying anything about them, true or not. I was the victim of this law.

For those not working in the slowly dying print industry, libel is the big bad nightmare of most of the publishing companies we have left. The dull money men fear and hate libel in the UK - it is incredibly expensive to defend a libel action, and absolutely catastrophically expensive if you lose.

...Read full article