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30th June   

Update: Hardcore Initiations...


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Court review of Irish Censor's depraved ban of Anabolic Initiations 5
Link Here  full story: Hardcore in Ireland...Censor ban on hardcore porn in Irish Courts

Irish Film Censors Office logo A case which came for hearing before Mr. Justice Kevin O’Higgins in the High Court in November 2007 was relevant to certain issues relating to censorship legislation.

On 13th April 2004, the Film Censor, John Kelleher had issued a Prohibition Order in respect of Anabolic Initiations #5 , which had been submitted for certification by Jacqueline Byrne, because in his opinion the viewing of it would tend, by reason of the inclusion in it of obscene and indecent matter, to deprave or corrupt persons who might view it. Notice of the Prohibition Order was published in Iris Oifigiúil on 16th April 2004.

On 11th June 2004, the applicant gave notice of appeal against the Prohibition Order.

In processing the appeal, which involved protracted correspondence with the applicant’s legal advisers, the Censorship of Films Appeal Board agreed to two oral hearings and acceded to a request that additional time be made available to the applicant so that expert evidence could be sought and submitted.

On 11th July 2006, the Censorship of Films Appeal Board upheld the decision of the Film Censor.

On 24th July 2006, the applicant applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review seeking, inter alia, to set aside the decisions of the Film Censor and the Censorship of Films Appeal Board.

At the hearing of the case before Mr. Justice O’Higgins, the issues netted down to whether or not sufficient reasons had been given to justify the decision and to comply with fair procedures. This issue concerned both the response of the Film Censor to the Board’s request to him for a statement in writing of reasons and to the affirmation by the Board of the Film Censor’s decision and, in particular, whether the reiteration of the grounds set out in the Video Recordings Act 1989 was sufficient. It was contended by the applicant that insufficient reasons for the failure to certify the video work were given, that this gave rise to a breach in fair procedures as she did not know why the work was refused and that this in turn limited her ability to challenge the decision - for example, on the basis of irrationality.

The constitutional challenge to the relevant sections of the 1989 Act was not pursued at the hearing. Mr. Justice O’Higgins delivered his judgment on 21st December 2007. He states in his judgment that it is apparent that the Film Censor can only refuse to grant a certificate declaring a video work fit for viewing if he is of the opinion that the work is unfit for viewing on very specific grounds set out in Sec. 3 (1) (a) or (b). The Court found that the reasons given in this case by the Film Censor informed the applicant of the specific grounds on which the decision was made and were sufficient.

The Court stated that just because a statement of reasons follows the wording of a Statute does not render an adequate reason into an inadequate one. Accordingly, the Court found that sufficient information was conveyed to the applicant in relation to the decision to refuse to certify the work, such that she could form a view on whether or not to challenge the decision. Accordingly, the Court found that there was no basis on which the Film Censor’s decision (affirmed on appeal) should be quashed.

A notice of appeal was served in late December 2007.

 

23rd June   

Update: No Joke...

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

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe
 

Lèse majesté law is damaging the prestige of Spain
Link Here

Magazine cartoon with Spanish prince One cartoonist depicts a drunken King; another shows the Crown Prince having sex. Now the humorists face separate trials for insulting King or country in a nation where humour is still a distinctly risky business. We have noticed a worrying trend in Spain, because these laws [against insulting the Crown] have been put into practice, Giulia Tamayo, of Amnesty International, said.

In the first case, two Basque newspapers are on trial for poking fun at King Juan Carlos I after an incident during an official visit to Russia in 2006. The Spanish King, an avid hunter, reportedly killed a circus bear named Mitrofan that had been plied with vodka to make it an easy target.

He was cooked! read the headline in the satirical supplement of a Basque newspaper, Deia. A photo-montage on the cover showed a drooling King wearing a Russian hat, brandishing a rifle over a dead bear and a barrel of booze. Deia and Gara, another Basque newspaper, are also on trial for publishing an article entitled The Tribulations of Yogi Bear.

In April a Spanish judge shelved the case, arguing that the cartoonists were covered by the right to free speech. Last week Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska was overruled by the Spanish National Court, which insisted that the cartoon and article constituted an attack on the monarch’s self-esteem . Insulting royalty or damaging the prestige of the Crown is a crime in Spain, punishable by up to two years in prison.

In a second case, two cartoonists working for the satirical weekly El Jueves are appealing against a €3,000 (£2,400) fine for a drawing of Crown Prince Felipe having sex with his wife and saying: Do you realise that if you get pregnant, it will be the nearest thing to work I’ve done in my life?

A Barcelona court shelved the case last year, but it was reopened last week by a superior court, setting the stage for another trial.

 

22nd June   

Update: EU Public Consultation...

Melon farming Fresh
A website
update service

See further details
Melon Farming Fresh

 

Age Verification, Cross Media Rating and Social Networking
Link Here  full story: Safer Internet programme...EU get their hooks into social networking

EU flag
Age Verification, Cross Media Rating and Social Networking

The European Commission has launched a public consultation titled Age Verification, Cross Media Rating and Social Networking :

The purpose of the public consultation is to gather the knowledge and views of all relevant stakeholders (including public bodies, child safety and consumer organisations, industry).

The gathered information will be fed into this year's Safer Internet Forum 2008 under the topics:

  • Age verification
  • Cross media rating and classification
  • Online social networking.

Deadline to send contributions: 31 July 2008

 

21st June   

Tinky Winky Censors...

France whinges at TV for babies
Link Here

French culture and communications minister Christine Albanel has called for greater awareness among broadcasters and parents of the potential dangers of TV aimed at very young children, such as U.S.-based channels Baby TV and BabyFirst .

In response to a report by France's Directorate General of Health warning against channels for children under three years of age, irrespective of the type of programming, Albanel said: I want to tell parents not to use these channels. They bombard children with images and sounds. We do not know what effects this may have on such young people.

Both Albanel and France's broadcasting authority Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel have expressed their concerns about the potential dangers represented by baby and toddler-oriented channels including Baby TV and BabyFirst, which are available in France and other European countries via cable and satellite.

As both channels are broadcast into France from the U.K., however, CSA restrictions on youth programming cannot be enforced. The regulator's intention is to make its British counterpart, Ofcom, more aware of its concerns.

 

19th June   

Discriminating Against European Citizens...

EU to propose all encompassing anti-discrimination law
Link Here

EU flag The European Union's executive will put forward a draft law banning all forms of discrimination, including on the grounds of age, religion and sexual orientation.

All discrimination is serious and deserves to be fought with the same determination, European Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot told a hearing at the European Parliament.

The 27-nation bloc has already agreed legislation barring racism and xenophobia. The European Commission had been expected to propose barring discrimination on the grounds of disability, and after lobbying by Euro MPs, this proposal will now be widened to ban all forms of discrimination, Barrot said.

Barrot said the new proposal, to be unveiled early next month, would need unanimity among EU states to be adopted. Other measures were also planned, he said.

 

14th June   

Age Constrictions...

Germany passes law requiring more prominent age labelling
Link Here

Counter Strike game The German Federal Assembly has passed a new law designed to prevent youths playing violent video games.

The new, revised law for the protection of the young also covers movies and internet sites of questionable content.

According to Heise Online, age certificates now have to be featured more prominently on video games and movies, and video games featuring highly realistic, cruel and lurid scenes of violence and death, which dominate the events as an end in itself are more or less going to be banned.

Video game developers are going to run into difficulties marketing, advertising and distributing their products. Conservative minister for family affairs, senior citizens, women and youth, Ursula van der Leyen, has even considered regulating internet cafes.

The move has been a response to school rampages in Emsdetten and Erfurt in which the perpetrators of the shooting sprees were apparently influenced by the violent computer game Counter Strike .

 

13th June   

T-Shirt Insult Proven...

Dutch police corrupt the law to molest t-shirt wearer
Link Here

Corrupt + police logo CTwo Dutch cops stop a guy in the street because of his T-shirt. It features something resembling the police logo printed on top of the O in the word CORRUPT.

They give him a $265 fine for insulting a government worker in function (yes, there's actually a law that punishes such a horror), which he quite rightfully declines to pay, preferring to let the case go to trial.

The other day, he gets his summons, and discovers he is now charged with aanranding (molestation).

 

11th June   

La Liberté Fades...

France imposes internet blocking on ISPs
Link Here

La Liberté guidant le peuple 1830 The French Government has apparently decided that it doesn’t much like being democratic, and that it would rather like to censor the Internet instead.

Not content with simply limiting itself to blocking despicable child sex abuse, a move three major ISPs in the US also agreed to yesterday, the French government feels it necessary to go a radical step further and decide for its citizens whether or not they can view content it considers inappropriately racist and or linked to terrorism.

In fact, worse still is that any site is now game for a French blockade, as Sarkozy’s government is inviting people to send in huge long lists of sites which offend their delicate sensibilities. The French government, which will purportedly be able to receive complaints from Internet users in real time, will be able to add sites to a so called “black list”, which it will then force national ISPs to block.

The move, announced by France’s Interior Minister, Michel Alliot-Marie, is France’s way of showing it is indeed taking a strong stand against cyber-criminality, but it seems that the line between ‘strong’ and ‘authoritarian’ is a little fuzzy on this one.

Alliot-Marie, only caring to justify the block on child sex abuse sites, noted Other democracies have done it. France could wait no longer. She added that all of France’s Internet Service Providers had agreed to comply with the new regulations which go into effect as of September.

 

8th June   

Offsite: Castlebar Lake Attracts Bigots...

Who the whinge at criticism
Link Here

Mayo Echo A popular community-based website in the west of Ireland was forced to cease operating last week in the fallout that followed the publication of an inflammatory article in a local newpaper attacking alleged gay ‘perverts’.

The article, penned by Tony Geraghty, editor and proprietor of local freesheet, the Mayo Echo, provoked widespread debate on Irish web forums. This quite startling front-page article, which reads like a bad Onion spoof, told the story of a recreational area in Castlebar, Co Mayo being transformed into a latter day Sodom, with hundreds of men visiting on a weekly basis to have anonymous sex with strangers, propositioning young boys, and getting their rocks off whilst thumbing through children’s magazines. Perhaps most horrifying, the article described ‘drooling perverts getting off whilst watching children’ playing at an adjacent playground.

Castlebar.ie was a tremendously popular local website, receiving as many as three million hits per month - or at least it did up until last Saturday, when the site announced on its main page that it had been ‘forced to cease operation after more than 10 years of publication [due to] threats of legal action received from a commercial publication based in Castlebar’, which it identified as the Mayo Echo. Editor Geraghty had objected to critcism of his article, and him, on the site’s very active forum. Indeed, an email from Mr Geraghty, previously available on Castlebar.ie, read:

I would like to express my utter disgust at postings placed on your website www.castlebar.ie on the ‘Online Forum’… There is lengthy discussion of an article published in the Mayo Echo this week, and some of the comments are completely unacceptable, untrue, and completely defamatory to myself…

The offending posts were removed, and, it is understood that the website issued an ‘unreserved and unequivocal apology’ - the first time in its history it had done so. But the unremitting cloud of legal threats finally forced that site administrator’s hand into shutting the site down entirely.

...Read full article

 

4th June   

Update: Free Speech Not Kosher...

Brigitte Bardot fined for criticising islamic slaughter methods
Link Here

Greeting for Eid A French court has fined former film star Brigitte Bardot 15,000 euros (£12,000) for inciting racial hatred.

She was prosecuted over a letter published on her website that complained Muslims were destroying our country by imposing their ways.

It is the fifth time Ms Bardot been convicted over her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers. This is her heaviest fine so far.

The fine related to a letter she wrote in December 2006 to the then Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, which was published on her website, in which she deplored the slaughter of animals for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. She demanded that the animals be stunned before being killed.

She said she was "tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts".

In a letter to the court Ms Bardot, who is a prominent animal rights campaigner, insisted she had a right to speak up for animal welfare.

The prosecutor said she was weary of charging Ms Bardot with offences relating to racial hatred and xenophobia.

 

31st May   

Update: Cinema Erotica...

Season of 13 hardcore movies to be shown on Dutch public TV
Link Here  full story: Deep Throat on Dutch TV...Public TV to broadcast Deep Throat

Deep Throat DVD Dutch culture minister Ronald Plasterk plans to take no action against public TV channel Nederland 3 to prevent it from broadcasting 13 X-rated movies this summer, reports the NIS News Bulletin.

The scheduled series, titled Cinema Erotica , follows a broadcast by the channel last February of adult classic Deep Throat , and is being protested as that broadcast was by Christian party leaders.

These films are characterized by connoisseurs as artistic, Plasterk said in a letter to parliament. He maintained that there is no reason to stop the broadcasts, nor does the government have the means to do so.

 

30th May   

Censor Survey...

Irish censor publishes Annual Report for 2007
Link Here

IFCO logoThe results of a national survey on attitudes to classification, carried out by MRBI for IFCO, (the Irish Film Censor'
s Office), are included in the Film Censor'
s Annual Report for 2007, which was published on 29th May.

The survey sample consisted of 1,000 persons aged 15+ representative of the national population in terms of gender, age, social class and region.

Among the main findings of the survey:

  • 80% of respondents agreed with the Film Censor'
    s decision to ban the video game Manhunt 2 on the grounds that its level of gross, unrelenting and gratuitous violence was unacceptable.
  • 85% would like to see IFCO'
    s age ratings on films downloaded over the internet (even though respondents were advised this is currently outside IFCO'
    s remit)
  • 72% said they would like to see IFCO'
    s age ratings displayed before films shown on Irish television channels such as RTE and TV3.
  • Asked which types of screen media they believe can have the most potentially negative effect on children, 44% of respondents said the internet, 32% video games, 17% television, 4% DVDs and 2% said cinema.
  • Asked which film content might be considered most potentially harmful for children, 63% said violence, 21% drugs, 11% sex and 4% said language.

Speaking today on publication of his report, John Kelleher said: Our research shows that those parents who do use our website - www.ifco.ie - appreciate the consumer advice it provides. It will therefore be our main priority now to significantly increase the level of public awareness, particularly among parents.

In 2007, almost 9,000 cinema films and DVDs were certified by IFCO.

 

29th May   

2257 Reasons for Concern...

Netherlands considers porn website age record keeping law
Link Here

Netherlands flagOperators of porn sites have to demonstrate that the models they use, at least 18 years.

The Lower House Tuesday adopted a motion to that effect from the SP and the PvdA unanimously adopted.

The government should put forward suggestions for July 1. It is claimed that this is a fair requirement for the operators of porn sites.

It is intended to make it easier for 'virtual searches', not only to detect child pornography, but also other forms of crime and terrorist crimes.

 

26th May   

Really Simple Stitch-up...

Publishers using RSS news feeds held liable for content in France
Link Here

RSS logoA French court has punished web publishers because of snippets of text that appeared on their sites via an RSS feed. It is believed to be the first time that a website operator has been held responsible for content delivered by a third party's RSS feed.

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a common way for publishers to make their content available to others. Individuals use RSS readers to see the latest headlines from their favourite sites without needing to visit each site.

A French court, the Tribunal De Grande Instance De Nanterre, has said that three websites, Planete Soft, Aadsoft and Lespipoles, are liable for invasion of privacy because of articles published by other people but available via RSS from their sites.

The articles concerned the director Olivier Dahan and actress Sharon Stone and were taken via RSS from publisher Gala.fr. Dahan's lawyer Emmanuel Asmar told OUT-LAW Radio that as well as a successful privacy suit against Gala, they also won cases against the three RSS feed publishers.

In this particular case the RSS reader displayed information made up of a simple link and the headline content: Sharon Stone and Olivier Dahan, the star has a romantic embrace with the director . This was sufficient to constitute an attack on his private life.

Media law expert Kim Walker of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said that there has not been a test case in the UK on link liability.

 

25th May   

Free to Write but not to Draw...

Magazine loses Belgian law suit over cartoon
Link Here

MO MagazineOn 25 April a Brussels court sentenced the “anti-globalist”  monthly magazine MO to a payment of 1 euro in moral damages to the businessman George Forrest because the magazine had printed a cartoon on its front page depicting Mr. Forrest, who owns a copper empire in Congo, in the traditional costume of Congo'
s former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

The court ruled that freedom of the press, as protected by article 25 of the Belgian Constitution, does not apply to cartoons because article 25, which dates from 1831, applies to “writers” but not to illustrators.

Article 25 of the Belgian Constitution states: The printing press is free; censorship can never be introduced; no deposits can be demanded from the writers, publishers and printers. If the writer is known and has his domicile in Belgium the publisher, printer or distributor cannot be prosecuted.”

Judges Valvekens, De Ridder and Morel of the 20th Chamber of the Court of First Instance in Brussels ruled that The cover illustration cannot be considered to be a direct expression of a thought or opinion protected by the freedom of the press because

Article 25 explicitly refers to ‘the writer.'
 The illustration used on the cover is merely a depiction of a person, and not a writing, to which the exceptional status that applies to offences relating to the printing press has no effect.

 

23rd May   

Senseless Sensitivity...

Netherlands gets all coy about art
Link Here

Ellen Vroegh: Exotic DancersA Dutch town has moved two paintings of nude women after complaints from Muslims and other people, stoking criticism that the Netherlands is curtailing artists'
 freedoms.

The town of Huizen east of Amsterdam confirmed media reports that it had moved two paintings of naked women by Dutch artist Ellen Vroegh from a waiting room in the town hall to a less public position nearby.

Visitors and some staff complained, not just Muslims but others too, a town spokeswoman said: We are against censorship ...BUT... there are people who have different opinions about nudity and nakedness and we wanted to give citizens a choice.

The artist said she was the latest victim of heightened sensitivity in the Netherlands about Islam after a cartoonist was briefly arrested last week on suspicion of offending Muslims due to his provocative drawings.

 

6th May   

Update: Hard Going...

Ongoing court case re legality of hardcore DVDs in Ireland
Link Here  full story: Hardcore in Ireland...Censor ban on hardcore porn in Irish Courts

Pen in handDear Mr. Kelleher,

You may recall I e-mailed you last year asking you to tell me what was the current legal status of R18 UK classified DVDs in the Republic of Ireland.

You replied that you could not so do, because, inter alia, your office was a party to High Court proceedings concerning that very issue.

I assume that those court proceedings have been resolved, one way or the other, by now, given that over a year has passed since then.

So, would you tell me what the "official position" is on this issue, please ?

Indeed I might remind you of your own statements in an interview with Gerry McCarthy of The Sunday Times newspaper (2nd July 2006) stating support for "good wholesome shagging" in the context of DVDs etc.


You go on to say: The biggest change is a recognition that people who are 18 are adults,
they should be able to make up their own minds.
Our role would be to advise, a consumer guide."

Well I, an adult, am directly asking you for the above said "advice" on this material's legal status in this jurisdiction.

Irish Film Censors Office logoJohn Kelleher replied:

I have no difficulty in responding to your question regarding the current legal status in Ireland of DVDs classified R18 in the UK. The position is that irrespective of whether a DVD may be classified R18 or otherwise in the UK, it cannot not be distributed in Ireland without a certificate from this Office.

My reluctance to comment did not relate to that question but to others which touch on the legal case referred to, which is, in fact, still before the courts. The High Court judgment of Mr. Kevin O'Higgins in December 2007, which found in favour of this Office and the Censorship of Films Appeal Board, has since been appealed to the Supreme Court.

Yours sincerely,
John Kelleher

Update: Sex Shop Legislation Being Considered in Ireland

May 6th 2008

Anthony emailed again and John Kelleher replied with answers interleaved and shown coloured in maroon:

Pen in handAnthony: Dear Mr. Kelleher,

I'm afraid, however, that your answer leaves me more confused than I was before.

Perhaps you misunderstood my question, I wasn't asking if a British BBFC R18 certificate was legally valid in the Irish Republic - I am aware that all videos rented or sold here and issued after Sept 1993 need a certificate from your office.

My question was whether video content that was consistent with the R18 category was likely to receive a certificate from your office or not.

Irish Film Censors Office logoJohn Kelleher: I cannot at present envisage a situation where video content consistent with the UK's R18 category would receive a certificate from IFCO. As you know, unlike the UK, where adult shops are licenced by local authorities and access to R18 material is strictly monitored, Ireland does not have licenced adult or sex shops. It will be a matter for the Oireachtas to determine whether this may change.

Anthony: In other words is consensual non-violent, "couple friendly" explicit sexual material going to be granted a, (presumably 18) certificate, or not ?

John Kelleher: That is not 'in other words'. The circumstances which determine a certificate may vary.

Anthony: I believe a cert was granted to 9 Songs , so the degree of explicit sexual detail would not seem to be the sole criterion in deciding whether a cert can be granted. In effect, the cert granted to 9 Songs shows that hardcore images are not legally "obscene" in the Republic.

John Kelleher: As with 9 Songs , the degree of explicit sexual detail was not the sole criterion. The key is context. In fact, the cert granted to ' 9 Songs does not, as you say, show that 'hardcore images are not legally 'obscene' in the Republic'.

Anthony: There's a second question which is related - What is the legal position of personal imports from the UK or indeed elsewhere in the world ?

John Kelleher: The Video Recordings Act 1989 makes it an offence to import into the state a video work for which a prohibition order is in force.

Anthony: If one should order by mail order a dvd featuring this content from abroad, is the importation of this dvd "distribution" in the meaning of the Act of the Oireachtas that you're working under? I refer you to the Video Recordings Act 1989, which governs the control and regulation of the supply and importation of video recordings. If it is, would the shop or the recipient, or both, be considered to have breached the Act?

John Kelleher: See preceding paragraph.

Anthony: If as seems likely (judging by your office and the Appeals Board's actions in the High Court case you refer to), the Irish Film Censor's Office has decided to keep what the man in the street would call "hardcore movies" effectively illegal -by denying such videos a certificate - that would seem at odds with your professed statement to let adults decide for themselves.

John Kelleher: I don't believe it is at odds but for reasons stated above, I do not wish to comment at this time.

John Kelleher: I have given answers, in so far as I can, to some of the questions you raise.

Because, as previously mentioned, there is a relevant case before the Supreme Court, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on some aspects of these matters. Likewise, there is amending legislation going through the Oireachtas currently, and perhaps further changes to censorship legislation in prospect, so I wish to reserve my opinion until such time as it may be sought in that regard.

Yours sincerely
John Kelleher.

Comment: intriguing

Anthony: His reference to amending legislation going through the Oireachtas (S. Irish Houses of Parliament) is intriguing.

My guess would be that they intend requiring sex shops here to have a licence, but not that they intend to allow them to sell hardcore dvds, in effect the pre-"loosening up" R18 situation in the UK. I may be wrong, perhaps they intend to copy the UK regulations, but my experience says otherwise. I'll enquire further about this legislation.

The line that doesn't mean that hardcore images are not legally obscene is an amazing statement. I mean presumably the ones contained in that particular film, 9 Songs , aren't obscene, or is the Film Censor breaking the law?

 

26th April   

Update: Sex Still Sells...

Sweden decides not to ban sexist advertising
Link Here  full story: Sexist Advertising in Sweden...Sweden considers banning sexist advertising

Girlie icecream Sweden has decided not to ban sexist advertising, saying it would risk undermining the country's cherished right to freedom of speech.

But the decision puts the country at odds with its Nordic neighbours. Norway and Denmark have strict limits on the use of such images for commercial gain.

In Norway, sexist advertising has been banned since 2003. The ban forms part of a much broader package of legal limits on advertising, protecting the depiction of religion, sexuality, race and gender.

Basically, if something is offensive or it makes the viewer feel uncomfortable when they look at it, it shouldn't be done , explained Sol Olving, head of Norway's Kreativt Forum, an association of the country's top advertising agencies: Naked people are wonderful, of course, but they have to be relevant to the product. You could have a naked person advertising shower gel or a cream, but not a woman in a bikini draped across a car."

Norwegian firms that refuse to remove or alter offensive adverts after having a complaint upheld face a hefty fine of 500,000 Norwegian kroner (£49,000; 62,500 euros).

Both Norway and Denmark are keen to emphasise that their advertising limits do not prevent freedom of speech, stifle creativity or mean that there is never a beautiful naked human form on display.

Denmark's advertising ombudsman Henrik Oe says many advertisers are becoming increasingly creative, using humour to stretch the boundaries and appeal to Danish consumers. He says he receives only around 10 complaints about sexist advertising each year and that firms normally remove the offending images quickly.

Sweden, however, despite commissioning a special government rapporteur to look into the matter, is not following the legal professor's advice that freedom of speech does not extend to commercial messages and limits are needed.

This law would be against freedom of speech, which is protected by the constitution , said Malin Engstedt, spokesperson for Equality Minister Nyamko Sabuni: The minister is not convinced that this law would improve things.

See Also:

 

24th April   

Minor Euro Games...

EU pushes for more to protect children from games
Link Here

EU logo EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Vivianne Reding has told the industry that a code of conduct for retailers must be in place within two years, so that existing ratings systems are better known.

The Commission has found that 20 of the EU's 27 countries use the Pan European Games Information (PEGI) system for classifying games by age.

Only four of the EU's member nations have banned violent computer games. These are the UK, Ireland, Germany and Italy.

There are 4 countries with no classification system in place at all are: Cyprus, Luxembourg, Romania and Slovenia.

PEGI, as an example of responsible industry self-regulation and the only such system with almost pan-European coverage, is certainly a very good first step, said Reding. However, I believe it can be greatly improved, in Europe and beyond, by making the public more aware about its existence and fully implementing PEGI Online. I also call on Member States and the industry to govern the sale of video games in shops to respect the fundamental need to protect minors.

Reding wants the industry to do more to promote and raise awareness of PEGI, for EU countries to make PEGI a part of their own classification systems, for countries to co-operate on age verification systems, and for the industry to create the code of conduct for retailers within two years.

Update: Manhunt 2 in Ireland

The Film Censor's Office (IFCO) banned Manhunt 2 last year after finding the gross, unrelenting and gratuitous violence unacceptable. It is the only video game banned in Ireland.

Deputy Irish censor, Ger Connolly told The Irish Times today that the ban on Manhunt 2 remains in place and that the publisher Rockstar Games has not sought to appeal the decision.

Someone buying the game online or importing it from another country would be committing a criminal offence, he said.

 

20th April   

Free Speech Bleeding to Death?...

Brigitte Bardot on trial for criticising religious slaughter
Link Here

Greeting for Eid Legendary French actress Brigitte Bardot has gone on trial facing a charge of inciting racial hatred after making comments concerning the religion of Islam.

She faces a possible two-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of €15,000 if she is found guilty.

The star, who is pursuing career as an animal rights activist, has faced similar charges of inciting racial hate on four prior occasions.

The latest charges came about after the star publicly published a letter she sent to French president Nicolas Sarkozy last year lambasting the Muslim religious festival of Eid al-Adha - due to its traditions of slaughtering a sheep.

In the letter she says: I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts.

Prosecutor Anne de Fonette told the court she was seeking a tougher sentence than on previous occasions, stating: I am a little tired of prosecuting Mrs Bardot.

The verdict is expected in several weeks.

 

19th April   

Inciting New EU Laws...

EU agree to offence of inciting terrorism via the internet
Link Here

EU logo European Union ministers have agreed to punish incitement to terrorism through the internet.

At a meeting in Luxembourg, EU justice and interior ministers tightened existing laws. Public provocation to commit terrorist attacks, as well as recruiting and training people for terrorism will be punishable offences throughout the EU.

EU officials said the decision to punish propaganda, recruitment and training for terrorism through the internet filled an important gap in European legislation.

They described the internet as a virtual training camp for militants, used to inspire and mobilise local groups.

Earlier this month, the EU anti-terrorism co-ordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, said the threat of terrorism in Europe had not diminished and about 5,000 internet sites were being used to radicalise young people.

National courts will now be able to ask internet service providers to remove such sites. But under pressure from Nordic countries and civil rights campaigners, ministers made clear that the new provisions may not be used to restrict freedom of expression.

Britain, Spain and Italy already punish public incitement to terrorism.

And as if to make the point

See full article from the Independent

A Muslim activist who became known for his publicly expressed extremist views was jailed for four and a half years yesterday for terrorism-related offences committed during a series of inflammatory speeches at a London mosque.

Judge Nicholas Price said that Abu Izzadeen a British-born convert to Islam, was a "leading light" in a group of men who used a gathering at the Regent's Park mosque in November 2004 to call for volunteers to fight British troops in Iraq and appeal for funds to finance insurgents abroad.

The judge said Izzadeen and his co-defendants had abused the right to freedom of expression. Izzadeen and Simon Keeler, another British-born convert from Whitechapel in east London, were singled out as having led the incitement. They were sentenced to serve four and a half years.

Judge Martin told Izzadeen: I am left in no doubt that your speeches were used by you as self-aggrandisement and not as an expression of sincerely held religious views. I find that you are arrogant, contemptuous and utterly devoid of any sign of remorse.

Abdul Muhid, also from Whitechapel, was sentenced to two years for fundraising for terrorism abroad. He will serve the term once he finishes a four-year sentence for soliciting murder during protests against the publication of cartoons in a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Mohamed. The other defendants were given prison terms between two years and three years nine months.

 

16th April   

Update: Fitna and Free...

EU will not develop new laws against blasphemy
Link Here

EU logo European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighborhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said in Saudi Arabia that the EU would not develop new laws against blasphemy.

Ferrero-Waldner was speaking in reference to the recent release of Fitna , a short film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, and Mohammed cartoons published in European newspapers in 2005 and 2006.

There are two principles involved in this matter: freedom of press and freedom of religion. Every individual has a right to express what he thinks is correct. Similarly, the other individual, who is not in agreement, can rebut in the same way, she said.

Ferrero-Waldner said that the Dutch government was quick to stress that the opinion made in the stupid film is not that of the government or its people: It is an individual opinion. We practice freedom of religion. You have to understand that Muslims have freedom to practice their religion in our country .

UNHuman Rights Council

Based on an article from myTELUS

UN logo Islamic countries have used a meeting of the United Nations' top human rights body to demand the prosecution of a Dutch politician whose anti-Qur'an movie has sparked Muslim protests.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and other members of the UNHuman Rights Council said the Netherlands should adopt laws against religious defamation.

We recommend to the government of the Netherlands that it must ... initiate prosecution against the author of the movie Fitna , Pakistan's representative Masood Khan told the 47-member council.

Nebahat Albayrak of the Dutch delegation told council members that the public prosecutor was investigating whether the film breaks any laws.

 

16th April   

Update: Thin End of the Wedge...

France parliament passes laws against encouraging anorexia
Link Here

No Anorexia poster advert Internet sites and blogs which assert an anorexic lifestyle to teenage girls were outlawed by the French parliament yesterday.

The law is the first attempt anywhere in the world to stamp out the "pro-ana" movement, a cult-like attempt to promote anorexia as a lifestyle which began in the United States eight years ago.

If, as expected, the legislation is also approved by the Senate, it will become a criminal offence in France to encourage another person to seek excessive thinness... which could expose them to a risk of death or endanger their health. Offenders risk two years in prison or a €30,000 (£24,000) fine.

Although the law would also apply to magazines, it is mostly aimed at internet sites and blogs which have sprung up in France in the past two years. These sites, which also exist in the UK, worship extremely thin female celebrities, including Nicole Richie and Victoria Beckham.

The French Health Minister, Roselyne Bachelot, told parliament: Giving young girls advice about how to lie to their doctors, telling them what kinds of food are easiest to vomit, encouraging them to torture themselves whenever they take any kind of food is not part of liberty of expression. The messages sent out here are messages of death.

A typical French blog, Be Perfect, Be Pro Ana, carries a long letter signed your future best friend Ana . It encourages teenage girls to refuse food, to make themselves sick and to take laxatives in order to match the body shape of their "thinspirations" such as Richie and Beckham.

The law's author, the centre-right deputy Valerie Boyer, says that between 30,000 and 40,000 people in France have anorexia.  She says this kills more people in France each year than any other mental disorder.

At the same time, Mme Boyer and the Health Minister have drawn up a voluntary charter on bodily image and anorexia . French advertisers, model agencies and pret-a-porter fashion houses have agreed to sign the charter and to refuse to publish images, especially of young people, which could promote an ideal of extreme thinness

 

15th April   

Update: Shameful EU Parliamentarian...

Easily panders to the easily offended
Link Here

EU logo President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering, said that he was against the anti-Islam film Fitna .

Talking to reporters in Doha on the sidelines of the eighth Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, he said that he understood the cultural differences between the Islamic world and Europe and that he was committed to dialogue based on partnership.

If there are people who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam, we do not believe they represented the mainstream of Muslim thinking… we [the EU] will not accept that Islam and terrorism are identical. We are not in favour of descriptions and pictures that identify violence with Islam. We are against any cartoons that could instigate violence, he said.

We are committed to the freedom of the press... BUT ...I am against publishing cartoons that hurt the feelings of others.

As a Catholic, I would feel insulted if someone derides the Pope. We might disagree with others but we have to respect them.

 

10th April   

Heavy Handed...

France to consider laws against encouraging anorexia
Link Here

No Anorexia poster advert Pro-anorexic websites which persuade young women to starve themselves could face punishment under new French proposals.

The French National Assembly will next week discuss bringing in a law to offer jail sentences of up to three years and €45,000 (£35,700) fines to anyone encouraging others to slim to the point of death.

It comes after the campaign headed by anorexic French model Isabelle Caro who appeared in a controversial advertisement showing her skeletal frame during Milan fashion week last. There has been a huge backlash across Europe against pro-anorexic websites.

Now Valerie Boyer, a French politician, has brought a motion to drive the sites out of action and deter others from setting them up. It is hoped the law would deter fashion houses from using very thin models to promote their clothes.

Boyer proposes jail sentences of up to two years and £23,800 fines for anyone who persuades a person to lose weight excessively enough to "compromise their health". In extreme cases, where the sites can be shown to have led to the actual death of an anorexic the punishment would increase to up to three years' jail and £35,700.

Boyer said anorexia was being promoted by magazines, internet sites and blogs. Judicial and penal sanctions were the only way to fight these abuses, she said.

Gerard Apfeldorfer, a French psychiatrist, said: There is a difference between incentive to 'go on a diet' and to encourage anorexia. Anorexia is a mental illness, often caused by imitation. But I am not sure the best way to prevent the disease is to put pressure on the advertising and fashion magazines. But he hoped it would persuade current sites to operate within the new law.

 

8th April   

Positive Views...

Danish study finds that users consider porn a positive influence
Link Here

Danish Hardcore magazine An article on the Psychology Today website reports on a recent study conducted in Denmark which found that men and women generally believe that hardcore pornography has a positive influence on their lives.

The study, which was written by Martin Hald and Neil Malamuth, found that those who watch hardcore pornography the most, pleasure themselves from it the most and who consider their source material to be the most realistic, also perceive the greatest positive effects from it.

The respondents also credited porn with improving their sex lives, their sexual knowledge and attitudes toward the opposite sex, and even their general quality of life.

Lead author Hald did acknowledge, however, that people tend to mitigate the effects of media on their own behavior, sometimes to justify increased consumption. Other studies have come to strikingly different conclusions than the Denmark study regarding porn's impact on individuals and families.

But co-author Malamuth, who is associate professor and chairman of the Department of Communication Studies at UCLA and co-edited of the book, Pornography and Sexual Aggression , published a paper in 2007 that provided a measured assessment of pornography's effect on individual behavior: In certain people who are already inclined to be sexually aggressive. It adds fuel to the fire. But for the majority of men, we don't find negative effects."

 

3rd April   

Update: Fitting the Stereotype...

Taliban claim attacks on Dutch soldiers were revenge for Fitna
Link Here

Fitna The Taliban has said two attacks on Dutch forces in Afghanistan were in retaliation for the anti-Islamic film Fitna. 

In a communique posted on the Internet, the Taliban said its Shura Council leadership announced reprisal operations against Dutch forces because one of the members of the Dutch parliament produced a film that hurts Islam, and he published it with bad intentions.

The Taliban statement referred to two attacks on Sunday, which it said killed a large number of "occupier soldiers."

The Dutch Defence Ministry said five Dutch soldiers were wounded in two separate incidents on Sunday, including one soldier who lost both his legs. None died.

 

2nd April   

Update: Netherlands to Prosecute Wilders?...

Or is the Dutch ambassador placating Qatar?
Link Here

Fitna The public prosecutor of the Netherlands is looking into Fitna , and based on the prosecutor's findings, charges could be filed against the far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders in a court, Dutch Ambassador to Qatar Hans Van Vloten Dissevelt told Gulf Times yesterday.

Dissevelt said Dutch leaders had time and again unequivocally made it clear that the film did neither convey the stance of the government nor the people but the personal view of an individual.

In Holland, we have full freedom of expression. There is absolutely no censorship. People are expected to behave responsibly and those who cross the limits will be accountable for their actions, the ambassador said.

Besides the public prosecutor, some NGOs are also considering taking Wilders to court, the envoy said. If the judge found Wilders has crossed the limits, he would be sentenced.

Asked why the government could not prevent the launch of the film Fitna , the ambassador said the Dutch government was not in a position to stop people from expressing their views before hand.

He said his country was pleased with the response to the film from governments and people around the world. Most of the people realise that it has got nothing to do with the Dutch people or their government. They have been able to identify the difference between the standpoint of a nation and the viewpoint of a national. A country should not be punished for the action of a single citizen.

 

1st April   

Update: Fitna Censored...

Mohammed cartoon cut from Fitna which is banned in Indonesia
Link Here

Fitna Geert Wilders, author of Fitna , has said he will edit out a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad shown in the movie.

Wilders said he would remove images of a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad, showing the Islamic prophet wearing a turban with a bomb in it.

Wilders's announcement comes after the Danish Union of Journalists said it would sue the MP for copyright infringement. The picture's author, Kurt Westergaard, said he was not contacted with a request for permission to use the picture: I don't want my drawing to be used in something that I don't know anything about. Had Mr Wilders contacted me, we could have talked together and I could have found out what he wanted with the drawing.

Wilders's office said the picture would be replaced with another cartoon of the prophet Muhammad. Additional, minor edits will also be made, said Wilders's representatives.

Meanwhile, UK website Liveleak.com, which removed Fitna from its website on Friday after staff received death threats, reinstated it two days later. We will not be pressured into censoring material which is legal and within our rules, reads a statement heading the video.

We apologise for the removal and the delay in getting it back, but when you run a website you don't consider that some people would be insecure enough to threaten our lives simply because they do not like the content of a video we neither produced nor endorsed but merely hosted, it added.

Even later the video on LiveLeak has been removed again for the copyright reason mentioned above. There is a note that an edited version will appear soon.

See full article from the BBC

Indonesia flag Indonesia has banned Fitna. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch right-wing Freedom Party (PVV), would also be barred from the archipelago. Yudhoyono said world leaders had a moral responsibility to prevent the making of such films.

See full article from the BBC

Dozens of Indonesians have demonstrated outside the Dutch embassy in Jakarta over Fitna.

Some protesters hurled eggs and plastic water bottles at the embassy as riot police formed a wall to keep them away. The demonstrators from the Muslim group Islamic Defenders Front, held placards saying Geert Wilders is a Christian terrorist , Kill Geert Wilders and Holland go to hell!

Hundreds of Indonesian school students also demonstrated against the film in central Java on Sunday.

 

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