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10th January
2010
  

Offsite: Sing a Song of Censorship...

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Andrew Dismore MP to propose extending VRA to sports and music DVDs

Andrew DismoreSport or music videos containing cage-fighting, nudity and self-mutilation are currently available to buy without a censorship certificate.

MP Andrew Dismore will this week push to amend the current censorship law which allows these films to be exempted from the usual classification system, under the House of Commons' 10-Minute Rule.

At present videos and DVDs primarily concerned with sport, religion or music do not have to carry a classification.

These have included the cage-fighting DVD UFC Best of 2007 , a combat video featuring martial arts and other fighting techniques, which is available on the high street quite legally without age restrictions, having claimed exemption from classification.

It means there is no age rating or consumer advice, although it contains close-ups of bloody and sustained head blows, some of them in slow motion.

Tory Culture spokesman Jeremy Hunt last month called for the law to be redrawn to remove these exceptions.

Now Dismore is to begin this process, introducing classifications for the images of 'concern'.

A spokeswoman for the BBFC said: As the regulator, the BBFC has been concerned for some time about the content of some very popular music and sports DVDs which have claimed exemption under the Video Recordings Act but which we believe should not be exempt. We do not have any powers to require these DVDs to be submitted for classification. We believe that it is important that material which will be attractive to young audiences should be properly labelled to enable parents to know that their children are protected from inappropriate material.

 

13th January
2010
  

Update: Exempt from Reason...

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

Andrew Dismore sponsors Video Recordings (Exempt from Classification) Bill

Andrew DismoreAndrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab):

I beg to move, that leave be given to introduce a Bill to extend the criteria under which music and sports video works and documentaries lose their exemption from classification.

Although we passed-or perhaps I should say re-passed-the Video Recordings Bill last week, for technical reasons of urgency it was not practical to propose amendments at that stage. However, some small but highly significant amendments are needed to ensure a more robust regime for child protection. As chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I am an ardent supporter of the right to free speech and expression, but I acknowledge the need for a system of regulation that protects children from harmful content in film, videos and DVDs.

At the current time, we have a very effective system of classification. The British Board of Film Classification undertakes extensive research into public opinion about what is acceptable content. The BBFC also takes account of research evidence and the advice of psychologists, health care professionals and the police, among others, to produce guidelines, which are updated every four years, that ensure that the content that reaches children in the UK legally in the form of film, DVDs and videos is of an age-appropriate nature and is not harmful to them.

However, there are gaps in the current regime covering videos and DVDs under the Video Recordings Act 1984-the VRA-and that is what my Bill aims to address. The VRA permits a number of exemptions to the classification regime. Currently they relate not only to video games but to other video works such as music and sports videos. When the Act was passed in 1984, the assumption was that such works were unlikely to cause any concern. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has recognised that the regime for video games needs to be updated, and the Digital Economy Bill, currently in the other place, is intended to do so. As an aside, it is important to note that in doing so it should in no way undermine the classification regime for linear-non-interactive-material by confusing the responsibilities of the BBFC and those of the Video Standards Council, which is intended to be the statutory authority for classifying video games.

Except in relation to video games, exemptions are unfortunately not addressed in the Digital Economy Bill. That is a missed opportunity and the reason why I have chosen to bring forward my Bill, which would extend the criteria under section 2 of the VRA to result in specified video works losing exemption from classification. At present, exemption can be claimed for video works such as music and sports videos, which can be very popular with children. Those videos can then be sold to children perfectly legally, even if they contain material that is potentially harmful. My Bill is not intended to extend the VRA to all such exempted works, only to those that contain content that is potentially harmful, such as graphic violence, sexual content falling 12 Jan 2010 : Column 561 short of actual sexual activity, imitable dangerous behaviour and drug use. Harmless video works of football matches or artists from the The X Factor would remain exempt.

I have seen some of the less benign sport and music videos myself. For example, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's UFC Best of 2007 is a combat video featuring martial arts and other fighting techniques. It is available on the high street to any child because its distributor has, quite legally, claimed exemption from BBFC classification under the VRA. It therefore carries no age rating or consumer advice. It contains close-up images of bloody and sustained head blows, which are replayed in slow motion from every conceivable angle to ensure that the best possible view is given of the moments of impact.

Another work that I have seen is Motley Cre's Greatest Video Hits , which features topless lap dancing and a George W. Bush lookalike in a limousine with a prostitute. The packaging carries an E for exempt rating. Gorgoroth's Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam features bloody bodies being crucified and a sheep's head on a spike. The American band Slipknot is hugely popular with children, some as young as 10, as well as with teenagers. As expected from the band's reputation, its 10th anniversary DVD features strong content designed to offend parents. Among the most concerning images are those of the consequences of self-mutilation carried out by two teenage girls who have carved the name Slipknot into their arm and torso respectively, yet the video carries a letter E in a green triangle indicating that it is exempt from VRA classification.

Those are all works that parents could and should legitimately expect to be regulated, yet under the current legislation they can all be sold legally without any age restriction. Indeed, it is worth noting that some of that material is rated and age-restricted in other countries. For example, the German film classification body rated the Slipknot DVD as suitable only for those aged 16 and above and the Gorgoroth DVD as suitable only for adults.

Trading standards officers would welcome the power to prosecute the supply of such unclassified works, but believe that the current legislation exempts them because, for example, they do not contain gross violence, which is a very high threshold, or actual sexual activity. Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services, which represents local authorities on this matter, and the BBFC both support my Bill's minor amendments to section 2 of the VRA in order to broaden the criteria that determine when a video work loses its exemption. Such amendments would enable law enforcement agencies to prosecute the supply of video works that are currently exempted, to protect children from potentially harmful media content.

I understand that the Government believe that the enforcement authorities can already take such action. However, the view of those who actually have that responsibility is that they cannot, because of the very high bar set by the VRA in order to lose an exemption. For example, had the Slipknot DVD shown the two girls actually in the process of mutilating themselves with a sharp blade, that may well have constituted gross violence under the VRA, but showing the scars after the event almost certainly does not constitute violence sufficient to lose exemption from classification.

Many responsible members of the home entertainment industry voluntarily seek classification certificates for exempted video works that contain such potentially harmful material. Members of the British Video Association-the BVA-do so even though they are not legally obliged so to do. Their actions in this regard are to be commended. I understand that BVA members support amendments to the Video Recordings Act that would make it a legal obligation on distributors to have potentially harmful material classified, as proposed in my Bill, but there are distributors who do not take the same responsible attitude. That lack of a level playing field serves only to add to consumer confusion.

A parent looking through a shelf of music or fighting videos, some of which are rated 15 or 18, but some of which are marked E for exempt, is likely reasonably to draw the conclusion that the E video is suitable for younger children. Otherwise, the parents would assume, surely it would have been classified. Yet often, the content of E for exempt videos is virtually identical to or worse than that of an age-restricted product. I would therefore like to urge my hon. Friend the Minister to support this Bill.

To conclude, this Bill is aimed at modernising the VRA and improving consumer-and most particularly-parental empowerment, to protect their vulnerable children from harmful video material. I commend this Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered, that Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mike Gapes, Rob Marris, Mr. Virendra Sharma, Mr. Edward Timpson, John Austin, Ms Karen Buck, Clive Efford, Mr. John Whittingdale, Judy Mallaber and Keith Vaz present the Bill.

Mr. Andrew Dismore accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 26 February and to be printed.

 

30th March
2011
  

Update: Exempt from Modern Life...

Out of touch MP re-opens old whinge about BBFC exempt music videos

Gloria De Piero Labour's culture spokesman, Gloria De Piero has written to Culture Minister Ed Vaizey to re-open an old whinge about music and sport videos being exempt from the Video Recordings Act.

She wrote:

I have seen some of this content, which includes cage fighting, dangerous combat techniques, topless lap-dancing, illegal drug abuse, and racism. It is clearly unsuitable.

Yet because the video is of a type that which enjoys exemption from statutory classification and because the content falls short of the extreme content which causes the video to lose that exemption, it may be supplied to children. The Government needs to act.

Mr Vaizey expects to make an announcement on the issue soon, she said.

Responsible parts of the video industry do send problematic exempt material to the BBFC for classification but others do not. A BBFC spokesman said:

When the Act was passed in 1984, legislators could not have anticipated some of the material which is legally claiming exemption today.

This means that children can legally obtain this potentially harmful material with no restriction on its supply.

The BBFC believes, along with politicians and parents, that the more extreme music and sport DVDs and some documentaries, should lose their exempt status and be give appropriate age restrictions to protect children.'

Comment: 18 rated sport

1st April 2011. From goatboy

UFC 107 Penn Sanchez DVD There are UFC DVDs available unrated in the UK that almost certainly would have been BBFC 18 had they been submitted.

Heck UFC 107 - Penn vs. Sanchez is unrated and the main event in that one is a total bloodbath.

However UFC bouts have rules decided on by the various US state athletic commissions, and is most certainly a sport.

In addition I doubt they have many fans under 18, I'd guess them going out unrated is just to save the BBFCs fees rather than attracting a young audience.

 

23rd April
2012
  

Update: Same Old Song...

Parliamentary motion querying a lack of action about requiring state censorship of music videos

House of Commons logo Early day motion 2968: Age Ratings For Music Videos

That this House

  • is concerned about the lack of progress being made in the formulation and introduction of age ratings for music videos which currently are exempt from any restrictions in the UK;

  • believes this to be totally unacceptable as many contain material which is often highly inappropriate for children in respect of language, violence and sexual imagery;

  • is alarmed that despite promises made, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has so far failed to even establish a consultation process on this most important matter; and

  • calls on the Government to act quickly to protect children from being exploited by such unacceptable commercial practices.

Primary sponsor: Alan Meale, Labour, Mansfield

Signed by:

  • Peter Bottomley, Conservative, Worthing West
  • Ronnie Campbell, Labour, Blyth Valley
  • Martin Caton, Labour, Gower
  • Katy Clark, Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran
  • Jim Dobbin, Labour, Heywood and Middleton
  • Mark Durkan, Democratic and Labour, Foyle
  • Mike  Hancock, Liberal Democrats, Portsmouth South
  • Margaret Ritchie, Social Democratic and Labour , South Down
  • Steve Rotheram, Labour,  Liverpool Walton
  • David  Simpson, Democratic Unionist, Upper Bann

 

2nd September
2012

 Update: Who Pays the Censor?...

BBFC calls for censorship of currently exempt music and sport videos

The Bitch Of Buchenwald DVD The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will this week close a three-month consultation that most observers believe will end a loophole which means DVDs with titles like The Bitch of Buchenwald and Britain's Bloodiest Serial Killers can claim exemption from BBFC censorship.

As things stand, most sport, documentary and music videos can claim an exemption from classification. The BBFC's head of policy, David Austin said:

The great majority of exempt video works are fine. They are not going to harm anyone, but there are a significant number of titles that are potentially harmful to children.

We know from our postbag that parents are concerned about exempt videos. Usually they write and say, 'Why did you give this video an E classification?' The answer is we didn't as it never came to us -- it would not have gone to anyone.

The BBFC estimates that around 200 videos might be caught by a change in the law.

Austin showed the Guardian examples of videos that have claimed exemption but would have been classified. One of the more shocking is a documentary about the American heavy metal band Slipknot . It shows one fan who has carved the word Slipknot in to her forearm and another who has done the same in her belly, to which someone is seen pointing in admiration.

A music video by the Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth, which was rated X in Germany but is unrated in the UK, shows topless women being crucified with blood running down their breasts. A Robbie Williams video for the song Come Undone, contained on an exempt compilation, In and Out of Consciousness, shows drug taking and Williams cavorting in bed with two naked women.

Other potentially problematic DVDs include wildly violent cage fighting DVDs and ones that instruct in krav maga, the combat techniques developed by the Israeli army.

All the signs are that the government will change a law that was made in 1984, when no one could have foreseen a problem with music or instructional videos. The BBFC, together with other regulatory bodies, is calling for exceptions to the exemptions that would cover material that is violent, sexual, discriminatory, has repeated strong language or contains imitable behaviour such as drug use.

A DCMS spokesperson said: DCMS launched a consultation in May on the exemptions from age rating that currently apply to music, sports, religious and educational videos. The government will publish its response in the autumn.

 

25th May
2013

 Update: So how much does he expect society to change because of this decision...

Government announces that slightly sexy pop videos will have to be vetted by the BBFC

Ed Vaizey The government announces that more DVDs are to carry an age rating, more is to be done on online age ratings and WiFi will be family friendly. placeholder

Age ratings will be given to a range of video content that is currently exempt - such as some music and sports DVDs - so that those unsuitable for younger children will have to carry a British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) age rating in future.

Video Recordings Act

The government is publishing the response to its recent consultation on the Video Recordings Act which addresses concerns about the exemptions from age rating that are currently given to a range of music, sports, religious and educational DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.

The Video Recordings Act will now be changed so that any of these products that are unsuitable for younger children will have to carry the familiar 12 , 15 and 18 BBFC age ratings in future. The changes are expected to come into force in 2014.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said:

Government realises that the world has moved on since these exemptions were written into the Video Recordings Act some 30 years ago.

The changes we've announced today will help ensure children are better protected, and that parents are provided with the information necessary for them to make informed choices about what their children view.

In order to help ensure parents can make more informed decisions about the material their children watch online, ministers are also calling on industry to develop solutions so that more online videos - particularly those that are likely to be sought out by children and young people - carry advice about their age suitability in future.

 

12th December
2013

 Comment: More Expensive Sexy Music DVDs...

DCMS publishes draft bill to remove classification exemptions for music, sport and religion DVDs that would be 12 rated or higher
DCMS logo The Department for Culture, Medi a and Sport has published a draft bill to remove the current blanket exemptions for music, sports, religious and educational videos.

Videos that would be U or PG rated will continue to be exempt but videos that would be rated 12 or higher now need to be censored by the BBFC before they can be legally sold in the UK.

The mechanism to predict whether videos require censorship is provided by a long list of content that would likely trigger at least a 12 rating. If none of the triggers apply then the video need not be submitted.

The changes will be applied via a Statutory Instrument meaning that it will not be debated in parliament.

The DCMS has invited public comments on the draft which are to be sent to VRARegs@culture.gsi.gov.uk by 31 January 2014.

The  new regulation amends Section 2 subsections (2) and (3) of the Video Recordings Act 1984:

Subsection (2) of the current Video Recordings Act reads

(2) A video work is not an exempted work for those purposes if, to any significant extent, it depicts--

  • (a) human sexual activity of acts of force or restraint associated with such activity;
  • (b) mutilation or torture of, or other acts of gross violence towards, humans or animals;
  • (c) human genital organs or human urinary or excretory functions;
  • (d) techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences;

This will be replaced by

The Video Recordings Act 1984 (Exempted Video Works) Regulations 2014

(2) A video work is not an exempted work for those purposes if it does one or more of the following-

  • (a) it depicts or promotes violence or threats of violence;
  • (b) it depicts the immediate aftermath of violence on human or animal characters;
  • (c) it depicts an imitable dangerous activity without also depicting that the activity may endanger the welfare or health of a human or animal character;
  • (d) it promotes an imitable dangerous activity;
  • (e) it depicts or promotes activities involving illegal drugs or the misuse of drugs;
  • (f) it promotes the use of alcohol or tobacco;
  • (g) it depicts or promotes suicide or attempted suicide, or depicts the immediate aftermath of such an event;
  • (h) it depicts or promotes any act of scarification or mutilation of a person, or of self-harm, or depicts the immediate aftermath of such an act;
  • (i) it depicts techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences or, through its depiction of criminal activity, promotes the commission of offences;
  • (j) it includes words or images intended or likely to convey a sexual message (ignoring words or images depicting any mild sexual behaviour);
  • (k) it depicts human sexual activity (ignoring any depictions of mild sexual activity);
  • (l) it depicts or promotes acts of force or restraint associated with human sexual activity;
  • (m) it depicts human genital organs or human urinary or excretory functions (unless the depiction is for a medical, scientific or educational purpose);
  • (n) it includes swearing (ignoring any mild bad language); or
  • (o) it includes words or images that are intended or likely (to any extent) to cause offence, whether on the grounds of race, gender, disability, religion or belief or sexual orientation, or otherwise.

These Regulations do not apply in relation to any supply of a video work which was first placed on the market before [...] 2014

Offsite Comment: Exempt from Common Sense

12th December 2013. See  article from  strangethingsarehappening.com by David Flint

Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus These new rules are vague enough to allow a whole bunch of the material that is causing the moralisers to have kittens to still pass as exempt . Let's look at the Miley Cyrus performances that have recently caused so much fuss, for instance. Would the video for Wrecking Ball need to be certified? Certainly not, because the nudity is suggestive, not graphic. Would her notorious performance with Robin Thicke really be considered to be more than mild sexual activity ? Again, surely not by any reasonable person.

...Read the full article

 

20th February
2014

 Update: Guessing that most will be 12 rated with the occasional 15...

Sexy music videos set to require BBFC vetting from 6th April 2014
DCMS logo The Department for Culture, Media and Sport looks set to bring a new law into effect on 6th April 2014. The law will remove the current blanket exemptions for music, sports, religious and educational videos.

Videos that would be U or PG rated will continue to be exempt but videos that would be rated 12 or higher now need to be censored by the BBFC before they can be legally sold in the UK.

The mechanism to predict whether videos require censorship is provided by a long list of content that would likely trigger at least a 12 rating. If none of the triggers apply then the video need not be submitted.

The changes are applied via a Statutory Instrument meaning that it doesn't require debate in parliament.

The draft bill was as follows but it is possible that changes were made after a public consultation

The  new regulation amends Section 2 subsections (2) and (3) of the Video Recordings Act 1984:

Subsection (2) of the current Video Recordings Act reads

(2) A video work is not an exempted work for those purposes if, to any significant extent, it depicts--

  • (a) human sexual activity of acts of force or restraint associated with such activity;
  • (b) mutilation or torture of, or other acts of gross violence towards, humans or animals;
  • (c) human genital organs or human urinary or excretory functions;
  • (d) techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences;

This will be replaced by

The Video Recordings Act 1984 (Exempted Video Works) Regulations 2014

(2) A video work is not an exempted work for those purposes if it does one or more of the following-

  • (a) it depicts or promotes violence or threats of violence;
  • (b) it depicts the immediate aftermath of violence on human or animal characters;
  • (c) it depicts an imitable dangerous activity without also depicting that the activity may endanger the welfare or health of a human or animal character;
  • (d) it promotes an imitable dangerous activity;
  • (e) it depicts or promotes activities involving illegal drugs or the misuse of drugs;
  • (f) it promotes the use of alcohol or tobacco;
  • (g) it depicts or promotes suicide or attempted suicide, or depicts the immediate aftermath of such an event;
  • (h) it depicts or promotes any act of scarification or mutilation of a person, or of self-harm, or depicts the immediate aftermath of such an act;
  • (i) it depicts techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences or, through its depiction of criminal activity, promotes the commission of offences;
  • (j) it includes words or images intended or likely to convey a sexual message (ignoring words or images depicting any mild sexual behaviour);
  • (k) it depicts human sexual activity (ignoring any depictions of mild sexual activity);
  • (l) it depicts or promotes acts of force or restraint associated with human sexual activity;
  • (m) it depicts human genital organs or human urinary or excretory functions (unless the depiction is for a medical, scientific or educational purpose);
  • (n) it includes swearing (ignoring any mild bad language); or
  • (o) it includes words or images that are intended or likely (to any extent) to cause offence, whether on the grounds of race, gender, disability, religion or belief or sexual orientation, or otherwise.

These Regulations do not apply in relation to any supply of a video work which was first placed on the market before [6th April] 2014

 

21st March
2014

 Commented: Suffocating the Film Industry...

Britain tweeks film censorship law to increase red tape and censorship costs for its local industry
UK Government arms These are good times for British film fans. The UK is lucky to have some of the best DVD labels in the world ( Arrow , the BFI , Masters of Cinema , Odeon , Second Run , Second Sight , Nucleus...) producing essential releases of that cater for every taste.

But this golden age could be coming to an end, courtesy of some well-meaning government legislation. From May, the way home video material is classified is changing: material that is currently exempt from classification will have to be vetted by the BBFC.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) decided that the best way to stem the tide of tabloid claims of pop video filth is to tighten up BBFC ratings. And they came up with some new and expensive regulations.

The main change is that any documentary material that contains clips of things that might be considered unsuitable for children will no longer be exempt from classification. So any DVD extra (an interview, for example) that contains a clip from the main feature will have to be scrutinised again. A single use of the word 'fuck' is enough to put the work in 12 rated territory and hence need expensive vetting by the BBFC.

A 90 minute film on DVD/Blu-ray will set you back £ 615 plus VAT, according to the fee calculator on their website. No big deal to the major labels but potentially calamitous for the knife-edge economics of the independent sector. It was Marc Morris, of Nucleus Films who first sounded the alarm about these changes and he offers a case study of the impact they'll have on industry.

The documentary Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide proved a big hit, but parts of the material, particularly the framing documentary were exempt from classification. Morris estimates it would cost between £ 6,000- £ 7000 more had the documentary been made after the new law comes in.

Alan Byron, MD of Odeon Entertainment notes:

The economics behind collector's releases will now dictate that extra features are reduced and more vanilla editions will appear.

It goes without saying that all this was pushed through without consulting any of the labels it affects -- and there's been virtually no communication from either the DCMS or BBFC to explain that the changes were even happening

 Francesco Simeoni of Arrow Films concurs:

The new legislation has serious implications for niche labels, says . Our audience is very much on an international level and so we must compete with territories that do not have to contend with such costs. Whether we choose to include content for our releases has a whole new set of financial considerations which means we are at a significant disadvantage to our competitors.

...Read the full  article

Comment: Not Exempt from criticism

comment 20th March  2013. From Stuart

We know all this, and it's not as bad as this article is making out. The BBFC podcast explains in great detail about scrapping the E certificate, and it's not about suffocating the industry. It's about informing the public about what the contents are in the DVD which some viewers might find objectionable, which gives them a choice on whether to watch it, or not.

This is not the 80s, the Whitehouse/Ferman days are long gone.

Offsite Comment: Extras Tax

21st March  2013. See  article from  huffingtonpost.co.uk by film director Pat Higgens

Killer DVD Region US NTSC I haven't had any argument with the BBFC for a long time.

Until this week, when they announced a potentially catastrophic change to their policy.

Not catastrophic to the big boys, of course. Not catastrophic to the Harry Potter s or Star Trek s of this world. As usual, shit rolls downhill towards the guys at the bottom.

In fact, this change of BBFC policy would probably be unnoticed by everybody except small independent distributors and the filmmakers whose films are distributed by them.

Filmmakers like me.

...Read the full article

 

3rd April
2014

 Update: Extra fees that will suffocate small UK film distributors...

Film critic writes open letter to Maria Miller asking about unfair extra expenses.

maria miller To: Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Dear Ms. Miller,
Please forgive this open letter; it's an ungainly form of communication but I approached your department for an interview and didn't hear back. So...

You might not realise it but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has undertaken a course of action that puts a number of small businesses at direct risk. Right now, Britain has some of the most exciting and inventive independent DVD labels in the world, companies doing everything from producing definitive editions of art-house classics to rescuing the forgotten treasures of British film.

The sheer quality of their work has made them indispensable to discerning viewers around the globe. Hell, if you want a recommendation, just ask the Prime Minister -- those Borgen box-sets he's so fond of are released by Arrow Films , one of our very best.

All that's under threat because of new regulations from the DCMS.

Let me explain: as it stands, the Video Recordings Act 1984 exempts certain types of material -- including documentary articles -- from the scrutiny of the British Board of Film Classification (an organisation, it's important to note, that charges heftily for its services).

Since most DVD extras -- the featurettes, interviews and visual essays that so often supplement the main feature -- are classed as 'documentaries', independent DVD labels can create high-quality special editions stuffed to the gunnels with extra material without incurring the prohibitive BBFC costs.

That's all going to change. The VRA is being amended to remove certain of the existing exemptions. While some material will remain free from classification, the changes are profound enough to have independent DVD labels extremely worried.

You're no doubt aware that all labels are facing huge problems from online piracy -- if a film can be illegally grabbed for free, why buy it? Well, a lavish suite of DVD extras is a damn good incentive to slap down the cash. But additional BBFC costs will place a huge strain on already tight budgets: this means fewer extras will be produced. Inevitably, some labels will go to the wall -- as a direct result of Government legislation.

It's important to note that these problems are unintentional: these changes are a response to parental pressure to do something about saucy music videos. Targeting physical media, though, seems a curiously toothless response in the age of YouTube: these changes look set to harm independent DVD labels and do nothing about the issue you're ostensibly trying to address.

According to the documents that lay out these changes, they were the result of a detailed consultation. However, none of the labels I have spoken to were even aware of the changes until very recently. I must ask: did the DCMS consult with ANY independent labels about the changes?

Given the impact these changes will have on businesses, I hope you'll reconsider the changes to the VRA, to prevent unintended damage. It also seems worth asking if you are prepared to meet representatives of the independent DVD labels and hear their concerns directly. Ask them nicely and they might even give you some of their discs. Then you can see for yourself just how good they are and why it would be such a loss if any went under. If you want any recommendations, I'm happy to oblige.

Yours etc.
James Oliver

 

1st May
2014

 Offsite Article: Call Yourself A Fan? Lousy Sales And Internet Piracy!...

Exempt symbolsPooch considers the market economics of charging BBFC fees for DVD extras and of internet piracy

See article from cinema-extreme.blogspot.co.uk

 

31st July
2014

 Update: More expensive red tape...

Previously exempt music, sport and documentary DVDs will require a BBFC certificate from 1st October 2014
Miley Cyrus Reinvention DVD

   currently exempt

Music videos released on DVD and Blu-ray that might contain content unsuitable for children will soon be required to be submitted to the BBFC for certification.

The new measures will be introduced from October 1 to cover Blu-ray, DVD and CD formats - but will not apply to online digital works.

If it is judged that content in a video would typically attract an age rating of 12, 15, 18 or R18, the BBFC will issue a certification. The turnaround for certification currently stands at up to seven days. Of course the DVD producer has to foot the expensive bills. There are also labelling requirements around the display of the rating on packaging and products.

 

22nd August
2014

 Update: The Video Recordings Act 1984 (Exempted Video Works) Regulations 2014...

Details of the new law that will come into force on 1st October 2014 requiring BBFC censorship for more music, sport, religion and documentary videos
UK Government arms The new law modifies section 2 of the Video Records Act to become something like:

Section 2: Exempted Works

(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3) below, a video work is for the purposes of this Act an exempted work if, taken as a whole--

(a) it is designed to inform, educate or instruct;

(b) it is concerned with sport, religion or music; or

(c) it is a video game.

(2) A video work other than a video game is not an exempted work for those purposes if it does one or more of the following:

(a) it depicts or promotes violence or threats of violence;

(b) it depicts the immediate aftermath of violence on human or animal characters;

(c) it depicts an imitable dangerous activity without also depicting that the activity may endanger the welfare or health of a human or animal character;

(d) it promotes an imitable dangerous activity;

(e) it depicts or promotes activities involving illegal drugs or the misuse of drugs;

(f) it promotes the use of alcohol or tobacco;

(g) it depicts or promotes suicide or attempted suicide, or depicts the immediate aftermath of such an event;

(h) it depicts or promotes any act of scarification or mutilation of a person, or of selfharm, or depicts the immediate aftermath of such an act;

(i) it depicts techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences or, through its depiction of criminal activity, promotes the commission of offences;

(j) it includes words or images intended or likely to convey a sexual message (ignoring words or images depicting any mild sexual behaviour);

(k) it depicts human sexual activity (ignoring any depictions of mild sexual activity);

(l) it depicts or promotes acts of force or restraint associated with human sexual activity;

(m) it depicts human genital organs or human urinary or excretory functions (unless the depiction is for a medical, scientific or educational purpose);

(n) it includes swearing (ignoring any mild bad language); or

(o) it includes words or images that are intended or likely (to any extent) to cause offence, whether on the grounds of race, gender, disability, religion or belief or sexual orientation, or otherwise.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2):

A video work promotes something if the work is likely (to any extent) to stimulate or encourage that thing.

Human or animal character means a character that is or whose appearance is similar to that of:

(a) a human being, or
(b) an animal that exists or has existed in real life, but does not include a simple stick character or any equally basic representation of a human being or animal;

Imitable dangerous activity means an activity which:

(a) if imitated by a person, may endanger the welfare or health of any person or animal, and
(b) may be easily imitated by a person; and violence does not include any violence that is:

(a) mild, or
(b) not directed towards human or animal characters, unless it is sexual violence. .

Note: the original definition of an exempted work is retained for video games.

 

1st October
2014

 Update: New Laws start today...

A new government imposition of burdensome and unnecessary BBFC censorship on music, sport and documentary DVDs starts on 1st October

bbfc cash logo Video Recordings Act extended to previously exempt works

The BBFC announced:

On 4 August 2014, the Video Recordings Act was amended to lower the threshold at which certain video content loses its exemption from classification. This amendment comes into effect on 1 October 2014.

From 1 October, documentaries, sports and music video works that can currently claim exemption will be required to seek a BBFC classification if they contain material which could be potentially harmful or otherwise unsuitable for children and, as with video games, works will have to be classified if they contain material which would be rated 12 and above.

See also BBFC Submission Guide covering fees and procedures [pdf]

The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014

See new law from legislation.gov.uk

A new law came into force today allowing use of copyright material for the purposes of parody:

Caricature, parody or pastiche

Fair dealing with a work for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche does not infringe copyright in the work.

So at least we can now generate parody BBFC symbols.