EU Censorship News

2008: Oct-Dec

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27th December   

Update: Barely Legal Blocking...

Danish blocking lists contains sites with US 2257 record keeping compliance legal notices
Link Here

According to Wikileaks the recently leaked Danish website blocking list is compiled by the Danish police and the Save The Children group and is supposed to contain child pornography.

It has already been determined by a poster at Somebody Think of the Children that the list also includes a website for a Dutch trucking company -

However, it  can now be confirmed that the list also contains several LEGAL pornographic sites.

USC 2257 is the US legal compliance notice that all US porn sites are required to display.

Using Google to search for "USC 2257" reveals that the very first site on the list contains the US statement providing age confirmation and contact details for the authorities to verify the records. And indeed the site appears to be legal and legitimate.

The suggestion is that the Danish Authorities may be extending their banning remit to include such material as Hustlers Barely Legal.


25th December   

Landmines for the Soul...

German nutters produce the Cologne Declaration against 'killer games'
Link Here

A coalition of German nutters has published an anti-game violence position paper that is being referred to as the Cologne Declaration.

The declaration was issued in response to the German Culture Council's recent recognition of video games as cultural assets.

The Cologne Declaration argues that violent games are harmful to children as well as to the building of a peaceful society.

Several prominent German social scientists have signed on to the edict, which specifically refers to Counter-strike, DOOM 3, Crysis, Call of Duty 4 and Grand Theft Auto IV as killer games and landmines for the soul.

The document revives the notion that shooting games were developed by the U.S. military in order to condition recruits to kill and asserts that violent games further the aims of the military-industrial-media complex. Researchers who have defended games are labelled as collaborators and accomplices of the video game industry by the declaration, which calls for the government to end state support for game development and ban violent games. The document concludes with:


24th December   

Transparent Blocking...

Wikileaks publishes list of blocked sites used by Danish ISPs
Link Here

Wikileaks has obtained and released a list of all 3,863 websites that are being censored by Danish Internet Service Providers as of February 2008.

The system is used to filter out child pornography, although Wikileaks points out it can be used to censor anything and claims most sites on the list are still censored (i.e must be on the current list), even though many have clearly changed owners or were possibly even wrongly placed on the list.

Wikinews asked if Wikileaks was worried about the criminal implications of linking to so much illegal content, but they were not. The said that it was politically untenable to prosecute them, pointing out that Wikileaks is hosted in many different countries across the globe.

We asked them if they were concerned about the possibility of censorship in the UK, Denmark, Finland etc.?

No, Wikileaks told us: We welcome it. Wikileaks said it was because it will demonstrate how censorship systems are abused.

Wikileaks added As an analogy, one might argue that everyone should have a loaded gun in the house to protect themselves against home invasions. This seems perfectly reasonable; however experience has shown that once the gun is in the house, it will find other targets.


21st December   

France Dogged by Censors...

Police remove Russian art photos of naked man with animals
Link Here

An eccentric Russian performance artist who likes pretending to be a dog and biting members of the public has complained of censorship in France after police removed from a prestigious art fair in Paris several photographs of him cavorting with animals.

Police confiscated 30 photographs by Oleg Kulik. The pictures, taken in the late 1990s, show Kulik naked on all fours. In some of them he appears to simulate sex with animals.

Owners of XL, the Moscow art gallery, who were attending the international art fair, were questioned about the collection for several hours by police and complained of being handcuffed.

Martin Bethenod, head of the fair, denied the works were offensive. The art world had been deeply shocked by the raid, he said.

Photographs of Kulik in his kennel, in a pigsty and surrounded by cattle had previously been exhibited in France without any problem, he said, adding that the photographs had an unquestionable artistic status and that Kulik's art is represented in French national collections. The gallery, he noted, had put up a warning that some people might find the images distasteful.


19th December   

Update: Fit for Lords...

Fitna to be screened at the House of Lords
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

The UK's House of Lords will show Geert Willders' controversial Islam film Fitna . So says Wilders following the European Parliament's refusal to show the short film.

The European Parliament rejected a request by the UK MEP Gerard Batten of the anti-European Independent Party to allow Fitna to be shown in Strasbourg to MEPs and journalists. Wilders called the ban "censorship" and compared the European Parliament to Saudi Arabia.

Wilders has recently shown Fitna at meetings in Jerusalem and New York. He said the film will also be on view in the House of Lords in January.

Christian democratic MEP Maria Martens was pleased by the decision not to show Fitna in the EP. The film has nothing to do with freedom of expression. This freedom does not give the right to offend.

Conservative MEP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on the other hand called the banning of Fitna unbelievably stupid because the film does fall within the boundaries of the law and Wilders has now got more publicity and attention than if he had been able to show his film.


18th December   

Update: Not Fit for Euro Parliament...

Fitna banned from European Parliament
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

A press conference showing of Geert Wilders' anti-Islam/anti-immigration film Fitna has been cancelled by order of European party leaders.

UKIP MEP Gerard Batten had invited Wilders to the parliament to show the film and give a talk. Now he will just give a talk.


17th December   

Libel Liability...

French protest at the arrest of a newspaper editor over a readers website comment
Link Here

A demonstration was held on 5 December outside Paris's Palais de la Justice to protest against the heavy-handed treatment of the former publisher of the left-wing French daily newspaper Libération, Vittorio de Filippis.

De Filippis was arrested early in the morning of 28 November at his home in the outskirts of Paris. De Filippis was insulted in the presence of his 14-year-old son before being handcuffed behind his back and taken in a police van to the basement ‘holding pen' of the Palais de Justice. During his wait to be charged, he was strip-searched. His ordeal lasted for five hours.

His crime? During de Filippis' brief tenure as publisher of Libération, from June to December 2006, a reader's comment was left on the newspaper's website concerning a libel case being brought by Xaviel Niel, founder of the internet company Free, against the newspaper. As publisher of the newspaper at the time de Filippis is considered responsible for all editorial content, even one left by a member of the public. Libel, in France, is a criminal offense.

Whilst it caused uproar from political parties on both sides of the spectrum, and Frédéric Lefebvre, a spokesman for the UMP, President Sarkozy's party, called the arrest and interrogation ‘surreal', the response from the government has been muted. Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, in a faint echo of Jacqui Smith's protestations over Damian Green's recent arrest, merely said that The police officers followed procedures and were simply acting on the orders of the investigating judge handling the case.


16th December   

Dangerous Cartoons...

European Court upholds conviction resulting from 9/11 newspaper cartoon
Link Here

The European Court of Human Rights held that the publication of a cartoon representing the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, with a caption which parodied the advertising slogan of a famous brand: We have all dreamt of it… Hamas did it, provoked a certain public reaction, capable of stirring up violence and demonstrating a plausible impact on public order in a politically sensitive region, namely the Basque Country.

Therefore the conviction did not violate Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of the applicant's conviction for complicity in condoning terrorism.

The drawing was published in the Basque weekly newspaper Ekaitza on 13 September, 2001, two days after the attacks of September 11.

Following publication of the drawing, the Bayonne public prosecutor brought proceedings against the cartoonist Denis Leroy and the newspaper's publishing director on charges of complicity in condoning terrorism and condoning terrorism.

In January 2002 the court convicted them of these charges and ordered them to pay a fine of EUR 1,500 each, to publish the judgment at their own expense in Ekaitza and two other newspapers and to pay costs.

Denis Leroy then appealed to the European Court.

Summary of the judgment

The Court considered that the applicant's conviction amounted to an interference with the exercise of his right to freedom of expression. This interference was prescribed by French law and pursued several legitimate aims, having regard to the sensitive nature of the fight against terrorism, namely the maintenance of public safely and the prevention of disorder and crime. It remained to be determined whether this interference was necessary in a democratic society.

The applicant complained that the French courts had denied his real intention, which was governed by political and activist expression, namely that of communicating his anti-Americanism through a satirical image and illustrating the decline of American imperialism. The Court, however, considered that the drawing was not limited to criticism of American imperialism, but supported and glorified the latter's violent destruction. In this regard, the Court based its finding on the caption which accompanied the drawing, and noted that the applicant had expressed his moral support for those whom he presumed to be the perpetrators of the attacks of 11 September 2001. Through his choice of language, the applicant commented approvingly on the violence perpetrated against thousands of civilians and diminished the dignity of the victims.

Although the domestic courts had not taken the applicant's intentions into account, they had examined whether the context of the case and the public interest justified the possible use of a measure of provocation or exaggeration. In this respect, it had to be recognised that the drawing had assumed a special significance in the circumstances of the case, as the applicant must have realised. He submitted his drawing on the day of the attacks and it was published on 13 September, with no precautions on his part as to the language used. In the Court's opinion, this factor - the date of publication - was such as to increase the applicant's responsibility in his account of, and even support for, a tragic event, whether considered from an artistic or a journalistic perspective. In addition, the impact of such a message in a politically sensitive region, namely the Basque Country, was not to be overlooked; the weekly newspaper's limited circulation notwithstanding, the Court noted that the drawing's publication had provoked a certain public reaction, capable of stirring up violence and demonstrating a plausible impact on public order in the region.

Consequently, the Court considered that the grounds put forward by the domestic courts in convicting the applicant had been “relevant and sufficient”.

In conclusion, having regard to the modest nature of the fine imposed on the applicant and the context in which the impugned drawing had been published, the Court found that the measure imposed on the applicant had not been disproportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. Accordingly, there had not been a violation of Article 10.


14th December   

Update: Jobs for the Girls...

Recent developments in Irish film censorship
Link Here

I decided to fire off some more questions to the Southern Irish State Film Censor, John Kelleher.

Here are a few news articles covering some of the film censorship developments over recent times.

This one is particularly interesting, and depressing. At least the censors hired by the BBFC aren't selected on a party political-jobs for the boys basis.

I said to the Irish Censor, about a year ago, that the assistant censors were largely female, and married (or had children) or were older, and that all three of these factors had been shown to give a predisposition towards censorship.

He had the nerve to question my basis for saying that!

5 minutes spent reading the public research on either the BBFC or Ofcom websites would convince anybody of that, quite apart from it being plainly obvious to anyone who has talked about these issues to these different groups or just has a grasp of real life.

Of course I was on the wrong tack, what I didn't know back then was that the assistant censors were largely picked for their present or past membership of the Fianna Fáil political party!

In addition, despite the appeal by Shauna's Adult shop over Anabolic Initiations No.5 to the Supreme Court still not having been resolved, the police here are still seizing adult dvds on the basis that they don't have a certificate from IFCO which IFCO refuses to grant, of course.

This article says that it's IFCO sending them in.

But the censor told me that they were just called in by the police to adjudge whether a seized video was something that would be classifiable or not, ie just an expert witness which is also the BBFC official line.

Other articles:

There is now a new act, the catchily named Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 . It is available online as a pdf

The sections to do with censorship are sections 9 and 10.

It amends the law on cinema certification and dvd certification, reaffirming as it does so, a ban on a cinema certificate if the film contains blasphemy , something I raised with the censor as they clearly just copied the phrases used in the Censorship of Films 1923 Act.

The (Irish) Video Recordings Act 1989 in contrast talks about stirring up religious hatred which isn't quite as bad, or out of date as a concept if still objectionable on free expression grounds.

This new law was reported in the press:

I have received a reply from the censor but I want to follow up some of his answers so I'll send you more when I have it.


13th December   

Broken TV Censorship...

Italians unimpressed by TV's cutting of key scenes in Brokeback Mountain
Link Here

Italian politicians, commentators, and gay rights groups are taking Italian state television to task for airing the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain without two scenes depicting sexual encounters between its male lead characters, reports the Associated Press.

The Oscar-winning film tells the story of two cowboys who fall in love and have a years-long secret affair. Protesters say that the unaired scenes — in which the two lead characters, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, kiss and have passionate sex in a tent — are central to the film's plot and would never have been cut from the film if they involved heterosexual characters.

RAI TV said in a statement that the cut version of the film, provided by the distributor to be shown during prime time, had been aired by mistake. No one had checked for an uncut version for the late-night airing in question, it said.

But some protesters said that the scenes should have stayed in no matter when the film was shown.

I don't believe it was an oversight, I believe it was preventive censorship, said gay rights advocate and former lawmaker Vladimir Luxuria, adding that cutting the key scenes was like showing the Mona Lisa without its head.

It is grotesque that RAI censored scenes that have the same content as those seen in most prime-time movies,
conservative lawmaker Benedetto Della Vedova was quoted as saying by the Corriere della Sera newspaper. Luigi Vimercati, a center-left lawmaker, told the paper he would take up the issue in parliament.


13th December   

Update: Politically Safer...

EU starts a Safer Internet Programme on 1 January 2009
Link Here
Full story: Safer Internet programme...EU get their hooks into social networking

JThe EU will have a new Safer Internet Programme as of 1 January 2009.

Following the overwhelmingly positive vote on 23 October in which the European Parliament expressed its support for the new Safer Internet Programme, the Council of Ministers has adopted the new Programme. The €55 million  programme will cover the period 2009-2013.

A new Eurobarometer survey shows that 60% of European parents are worried that their child might become a victim of online grooming and 54% that their children could be bullied online.

The proposed new programme will co-fund projects to:

  • Increase public awareness: empower young people, their parents and teachers to make responsible choices online by advising them on relevant precautions to take.
  • Provide the public with a network of contact points that could be reached either via a website or a phone number, for reporting illegal and harmful content and conduct, in particular on child sexual abuse material, grooming and cyber bullying.
  • Foster self-regulatory initiatives in this field and involve children in creating a safer online environment.
  • Establish a knowledge base on new trends in the use of online technologies and their consequences for children's lives by bringing together at European level technical, psychological and sociological expertise.

The € 55 million budget for the new Safer Internet Programme will be distributed as follows: 48% should serve to raise public awareness, 34% to fight against illegal content and tackle harmful conduct online, 10% to promote a safer online environment and 8% to establish a knowledge base.


4th December   

Banner Protest...

Berlusconi to steer G8 nations into regulating the internet
Link Here
Italian president and media baron Silvio Berlusconi has said that he would use his country's imminent presidency of the G8 group to push for an international agreement to regulate the internet.

Italy's G8 presidency begins on January 1. The holder country is responsible for organising and hosting the G8's meetings and setting the agenda.

Berlusconi didn't explain what he meant by regulate the internet , but the mere mention of it has prompted dismay among Italian commentators. Berlusconi owns swathes of the Italian mass media.

The left-wing newspaper L'Unita wrote: You can not say that it is not a disturbing proclamation, given that the only countries in the world where there are filters or restrictions against internet are countries ruled by dictatorial regimes: those between China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia.

La Stampa reports Italian bloggers are planning to protest against any move by the president to tighten government control over the web tomorrow. They plan to display anti-Berlusconi banners on their websites.

Any G8 move next year to regulate the internet led by Berlusconi is likely to attract criticism. He has often been accused of using his power to try to silence dissent. He lost a long-running libel battle against The Economist earlier this year after it said he was not fit to run Italy and was this week suing American critic Andrew Stille for defamation*.


3rd December   

Update: Pariah State...

European Parliament delegation compare Turkey to pariah states
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

A delegation from the European Parliament urged Turkish officials to make the necessary legal arrangements to enhance freedom of expression and eventually lift the ban on access to YouTube.

Banning YouTube, Google's blogging site, the websites of a teachers' trade union, Richard Dawkins and even a Turkish dictionary stands alongside more than 40 cases against writers and journalists even since the reform of the so-called anti-Turkishness article of the penal code, Richard Howitt, the vice president of the European Parliament's Human Rights Sub-Committee, said in a written statement on Friday.

The British Euro MP called for the ban to be overturned at a meeting with Turkish Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin in Ankara on Thursday, the statement added.

Howitt criticized the ban, saying that around 1,000 websites are blocked in Turkey and this places the country alongside some of the world's worst nations for cyber censorship. As a modern country looking forward to European Union membership, Turkey should be embracing new communications rather than putting itself in the same bracket as some of the world's pariah states, Howitt added in the statement.


1st December   

Hard Graft...

Irish politicians given a cushy number of censoring films
Link Here

Ten politically appointed censors were each paid an average of €30,000 a year for watching films.

The Assistant Classifiers earned a total of €1.2m in pay and expenses over the last four years for travelling to Dublin to watch movies and deciding whether or not they should be banned, or for what age group they are suitable.

Assistant film classifiers earn €182 a day plus travel and subsistence for their work of classifying videos, said the Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan.

Of the 10, many of whom have no apparent qualifications in the area of film, a number have been Assistant Classifiers for 15 years.

Among them is former Fianna Fail Dail candidate Olga Bennett, the Fianna Fail Meath activist Tony Stapleton, former Kildare Fianna Fail county councillor PJ Sheridan and the former Fianna Fail TD Marian McGennis. Former Fianna Fail senator Tom Fitzgerald, who was a close associate of Charles Haughey, has been in the job for the last six years. A more recently appointee is Green activist Elizabeth Davidson.

In this new age of quango busting, where departments were supposed to look forensically through their books, it was amazing this convenient retirement home, where ex Fianna Fail politicians and one Green activist get paid to spend the day watching films, had escaped unscathed, said Flanagan: The minister should give this particular perk an X-rating and abolish it.


30th November   

Hardly Stimulating the Economy...

Italy resurrects it's 25% porn tax idea
Link Here

The Government of Italy, headed by President Silvio Berlusconi decided to apply a special tax on materials and artistic expressions related to pornography.

The measure, approved recently by the Council of Ministers to fight the ongoing global financial crisis, establishes a tax of 25% that will be applied to pornographic newspapers and magazines, including DVDs and associated products.

The Italian Government left no room for doubt as the tax covers all literary, theatrical, cinematographic, audiovisual and multimedia works, including those made and reproduced with computer or tele-matic support, in which there are sexually explicit images or scenes ... by adults, Section 31 of the Article says.

The porn tax was initially proposed in 2002 by Vittorio Emanuele Falsita, the then Parliamentary Representative of the Italian political party Forza Italia (Italian Force) - founded by Berlusconi in 1994 -, but was never applied.

The Government has established what it considers pornography but the Executive will still have to approve a decree within two months in which all the details will be given and the different categories established, including what is sexually explicit and what is not, Italian media said.


30th November   

Chilling Laws...

Counter terrorism laws counter media freedom
Link Here

Privacy International have a new report, Speaking of Terror: A survey of the effects of counter-terrorism legislation on freedom of the media in Europe.

It finds:

International bodies including the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Union (EU) have adopted many international agreements that either ignore or only pay scant attention to fundamental human rights and the importance of a free media. Their agendas are often driven by those countries that are most aggressive in adopting expansive counter-terrorism laws including the UK, US and Russia. The role of European institutions such as the EU and the CoE have resulted in greater adoption and harmonization of these laws than most other regions.

New laws on prohibiting speech that is considered extremist or supporting of terrorism have been a particular problem. These laws are used in many jurisdictions to suppress political and controversial speech. Newspapers have been closed and journalists arrested. Web sites are often taken down or blocked.

State secret and national security laws are regularly being used against journalists and their sources even as access to information laws are widely accepted and adopted across the CoE. There are also growing restrictions imposed on photographers not based in law.

Protection of journalists' sources are often undermined by governments seeking to identify officials who provide information even though they are widely recognized both in national laws and in decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Newsrooms are often searched.

New anti-terrorism laws are giving authorities wide powers to conduct surveillance. Other new laws impose technical and administrative requirements on the ability to intercept communications and keeping information. Of particular concern are data retention laws which require the routine surveillance of all mobile and Internet users that can be used to easily identify sources and journalists' investigations.


28th November   

Update: Nutters vs Games...

German nutters and politicians discuss violent computer games
Link Here
Full story: Games Censorship in Germany...German politicians target video games

German nutters and politicians have just held a conference on violent computer games:

Douglas Gentile was, by far, the most moderate of the panel. He called to get rid of the simplistic idea that video games are either good or bad. And although he criticized ESRB, he opposed to a ban of the most violent games, asking for more media literacy instead.

Werner Hopf, who presented a longitudinal study claiming that violent video games is the most important risk factor in violent criminality rejected this idea, claiming that it was a trick of video game industry. Not only did he call for a ban of extremely violent computer games, but he also called for the suppression of USK (German rating systems) because according to him it's too close to the industry. He asked for its replacement by a more independent rating organization.

[Hopf's study found that (1) playing violent electronic games is the strongest risk factor of violent criminality and (2) both media-stimulated and real experiences of aggressive emotions associated with the motive of revenge are core risk factors of violence in school and violent criminality. The results of our study show that the more frequently children view horror and violence films during childhood and the more frequently they play violent electronic games at the beginning of adolescence the higher will these students' violence and delinquency be at the age of 14].

USK was also criticized by researchers from the KFN, the Criminology Institute lead by Christian Pfeiffer, one of the most vocal German opponents against killer games . Regine Pfeiffer, Christian's sister, even attacked Electronic Arts violently, calling it a pig company.
[According to the report, she was frustrated in her efforts to sue EA over a violent game (Dead Space?) because the publisher is not headquartered in Germany].
Finally, journalist Rainer Fromm reiterated his objections against sadistic and militaristic games. But he also said that he considered video games per se as a great hobby, even telling that he plays them regularly as well as his children. He also reiterated his very positive opinion of eSports.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann was happy about the success of this conference, and it confirmed him in his view that some violent games such as GTA 4 or The Godfather : Don Edition must be banned...


28th November   

Update: Atlas of Repression...

MEP suggests that the EU consider Turkey's website blocking when considering EU membership
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

Letter to the European Parliament on Turkey's banning of by Sophie in 't Veld MEP:

I am writing to express my concern at reports of a Turkish court compromising freedom of expression in the context of Turkey's application to join the EU.

I would like you to investigate the specific example given below and attempt to see if it forms (as we fear) part of a wider picture of concern, and take the matter up with the Turkish authorities.

The example we cite relates to the blocking of the website of Professor Richard Dawkins, the world-famous evolutionary biologist. A criminal court in Istanbul reportedly banned the site in September 2008 on the grounds that it violated Adnan Oktar's personality after Professor Dawkins criticised Oktar creationist book Atlas of Creation , which is being distributed in Europe in large numbers.

The basis of our complaint is the web/press reports shown in Appendix 1 , which were drawn to my attention by the UK's National Secular Society of which I am a Honorary Associate. I am also writing as the Chair of the EU Working Group for the Separation of Religion and Politics.

Such blockings are in stark contrast to the progress you have been calling for as one of the conditions for Turkey's succession to the EU. What is happening is worse than Turkish authorities not standing up for freedom of expression; it appears that the state's mechanism itself is enforcing the restriction on freedom of expression.

Our concern about the banning does not rest in principle on Professor Dawkins' eminence; however the court's decision is all the more worrying, given it is difficult to think of anyone more qualified than him to speak on science matters, being the Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

We believe it essential that the EU remains committed to insisting that countries are not permitted to accede until they conform to fundamental rights. We admire your work in this area and note in Appendix 2 below a number of references you have made to requiring Turkey to improve freedom of expression, for the benefit of others who read this letter, which we regard as an open one.

I look forward to receiving confirmation that you intend to investigate the matter, and subsequently what action you intend to take, including making references to renewed concerns in your reports about the progress being made by candidate states in the vital areas of fundamental rights.


27th November   

Navel Gazing...

Sex workers speak against Nordic nutters who want remove prostitution from MEP's hotels
Link Here

A new morality restriction being put up for proposal by the European Parliament would forbid any MEP from staying at a hotel that maintains contacts with prostitutes.

The Sex Workers Interest Organisation (SIO) in Denmark has condemned the move by the EU, saying that it stigmatizes prostitutes.

The SIO has called on all European sex workers to boycott any politician who supports the policy at next year's European Parliament elections.

One sex worker named Sue told Politiken: The hotels are where we work. We can't do it in backyards or in cars. The proposal will force many out into the streets.

Soren Sondergaard of the People's Movement Against the EU defended his position by saying that his proposal is neither for nor against prostitution ...BUT... that he is primarily concerned about protecting the women. If you're just a little bit internationally founded and don't just sit around fiddling with your navel, you'd know that lots of women are kept as slaves and have no free choice in what they do. If the Sex Workers Organisation can't see that, they're a really bad union, Politiken quoted the left-wing Sondergaard as saying.


21st November   

Update: Pegging On...

PEGI to roll out new rating symbols in Europe next spring
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

The new traffic light rating system from PEGI is to be introduced into mainland Europe this spring.

Age rating symbols are yet to be finalised, but the current imagery that includes a spider, fist and syringe, is to be expanded on to include descriptive text. This follows suggestions from the Byron report that the symbols were previously too confusing for consumers.

When settled upon, age ratings will be coloured red, orange and green, rather than the current black and white. However, they are currently being reworked from the first design to avoid copyright issues with the UK's BBFC colour-coded ratings.

PEGI has agreed those changes and they will be implemented as part of the PEGI system in the new year, probably in the spring by the time the information has been transmitted to all publishers and incorporated as part of the approvals process for the format holders, said Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA.

It's still unclear if the traffic light system will be used in the UK as the government is currently looking through information submitted following the Byron review before it decides on the way games should be rated.

The introduction of traffic light colours and changes to the descriptors have been approved, they are now being worked through with lawyers to ensure they do not infringe any existing trademarks and can be adopted smoothly.


19th November   

No Easy Solutions Verified...

European Commission publishes reports on classification and age verified
Link Here

The European Commission have reported on the results of a public consultation on Age verification, Cross media rating and classification and Online social networking:


The detailed responses received to these questions are indicative of the seriousness with which respondents view the issue of the safety of minors using social networking services. The areas of consensus, as set out in the points 1-5 of the introduction to this summary document, cover many of the most important policy aspects of social networking:

  • Bullying and other threats which young users inflict upon each other may be more likely to arise than threats from adults.
  • Much is known about potential risks, but more research on the nature and extent of harm actually experienced by minors online is needed.
  • Parental involvement in their children's online activity is important, but principles of privacy and trust should dictate how parents help children to stay safe.
  • Education and awareness are the most important factors in enabling minors to keep themselves safe.
  • Industry self-regulation is the preferred approach for service providers to meet public expectations with regard to the safety of minors. Legislation should not place burdens on service providers which prevent them from providing minors with all the benefits of social networking. However, available safety measures vary greatly from one provider to another and mandatory minimum levels of provision may need to be established.

They have also published an expert report on age verification solutions and cross media rating and classification, including the results of the public consultation on these topics.


A significant number of stakeholders gave their input to the online consultation and provided valuable input at the Safer Internet Forum on the issues of pan-European Cross Media Rating and Classification and Age Verification Solutions.

Industry and consumer organisations do not believe that a pan-European Cross Media Rating and Classification policy is either feasible, or instrumental for the protection of minors from harmful content for traditional offline media distribution platforms. Users are accustomed to existing national solutions and efforts to introduce a new system will only create confusion and not the clarity sought after by the approach.

PEGI, the cross border solution for games has been a success, even if improvements may still be achievable. There are also national and industry driven initiatives for rating and labelling of web pages and video on demand that are promising, including machine readable techniques. Some Member States are also considering implementing Cross Media Solutions based on the model of Kijkwijzer.

The Commission is, however, not pursuing a top down approach, but will continue to act as a facilitator and encourage the uptake of solutions for the protection of minors within the EU.

A number of Age Verification Solutions are available for the protection of minors within the EU, some of which were presented at the Safer Internet Forum. In some Member States there are legal requirements for their use. There is an overall consensus, however, that existing technologies are not sufficiently effective and should not be used to replace educational efforts, parental control and other means of protecting minors online. Despite the shortcomings, there is a certain market acceptance for their use. Concerns were also raised about the false sense of security that might be provided and the adverse effects on safety this might have. Privacy and data protection were also raised as important issues. Additional research is needed, and a standard for Age Verification can be pursued.


18th November   

The Wikipedia Stasi...

German politician censors local wikipedia
Link Here

A far-left German politician has been forced to withdraw an injunction against online encyclopedia Wikipedia after it revealed details of his Stasi past.

Former secret service bodyguard Lutz Heilmann faced a storm of criticism and ridicule after taking legal action forcing the website to remove the information

Donations to the German Wikipedia soared five fold to around 16,000 euros a day, fuelled by angry users. The response has been overwhelming, said Mathias Schindler, a spokesman for Wikimedia, a non-profit group that supports Wikipedia's German-language version. It's reassuring that an attempt at censorship triggers such a huge reaction from the public.

Heilmann was reportedly upset that Wikipedia stated he had not finished his university degree, had worked for an pornography company and had been a bodyguard for the Stasi secret police until it was disbanded after the communist regime's collapse in 1989.

While the first two claims were untrue, the third was a case of hairsplitting, Schindler said.  Heilmann quit the Stasi several days before it was disbanded, he said.

These details have been changed but it was the heavy handedness of Heilmann's response that sparked anger.

The portal – the doorway to German-language Wikipedia entries – resumed service at lunchtime yesterday after Heilmann dropped his injunction and offered his sincere regret. In no way did I intend censorship, he said.

He is reportedly pursuing legal action against three individuals who he claims contributed to the entry.


18th November   

Update: Taking Offence at Insulting Football Songs...

Sectarian football song condemned in the European Parliament
Link Here
Full story: Football Sectarianism...Sectarian Rangers football song wind up

THE notorious Famine Song sung by Rangers fans was condemned on the floor of the European Parliament last night.

Irish MEP Eoin Ryan described the chant aimed at Celtic supporters as despicable, and has written to all Scotland's MEP's, seeking their support to end the sectarian behaviour.

The Famine Song

I often wonder where they would have been
If we hadn't have taken them in
Fed them and washed them
Thousands in Glasgow alone
From Ireland they came
Brought us nothing but trouble and shame
Well the famine is over
Why don't they go home?
Now Athenry Mike was a thief
And Large John he was fully briefed
And that wee traitor from Castlemilk
Turned his back on his own
They've all their Papists in Rome
They have U2 and Bono
Well the famine is over
Why don't they go home?
Now they raped and fondled their kids
That's what those perverts from the dark side did
And they swept it under the carpet
And Large John he hid
Their evils seeds have been sown
Cause they're not of our own
Well the famine is over
Why don't you go home?
Now Timmy don't take it from me
Cause if you know your history
You've persecuted thousands of people
In Ireland alone
You turned on the lights
Fuelled U boats by night
That's how you repay us
It's time to go home.


16th November   

Update: Face/Off...

Facebook removes pages inciting violence against gypsies
Link Here

Facebook has removed several pages from its site said to have been used by Italian neo-Nazis to incite violence after European politicians accused the Internet social networking site of allowing a platform to racists.

Seven different group pages had been created on the site with titles advocating violence against gypsies.

The existence of these groups is repulsive, said Martin Schulz, Socialist leader in the European Parliament which lodged a complaint with the California-based company.

Facebook said it had removed the pages because they violated its terms of use: Facebook supports the free flow of information, and groups provide a forum for discussing important issues. However, Facebook will remove any groups which are violent or threatening .

Italy's Roma, or gypsy, communities have been subjected to several attacks in recent months while Italy's media has focused attention on violent crimes committed by gypsies. The government has dismantled illegal shantytowns where many Roma live.


13th November   

Petting with Pets...

Sweden debates bestiality
Link Here

The unmasking this week of an animal sex network by the Stockholm newspaper Expressen has  highlighted the issue of bestiality.

Members of parliament are urging a tightening of the laws (bestiality was decriminalised along with homosexuality in 1944) but the government is resisting the pressure.

Should a human be allowed to affectionately stroke the teats of a female dog? asked Eskil Erlandsson, the Agriculture minister, explaining the complexities of an anti-bestiality law: or does that count as the sexual abuse of an animal? The minister, famed for his outspoken manner, later left many Swedes aghast when he gave an even more explicit example.

One, the Swedish Animal Welfare Agency, registered 115 cases of bestiality between 2000 and 2005. This is regarded however as the tip of the iceberg and some published projections suggest that between 200 and 300 dogs and cats a year are being sexually assaulted.

The Expressen story has stoked up the debate even more. It infiltrated a reporters into a group run by the organiser of a flourishing internet animal sex forum. He owns a farm with dogs and horses and told the newspaper that he had regular sex with his female dog but claimed the animal initiated the act. This is a sufficient defence under current Swedish laws to prevent prosecution under charges of animal cruelty.

The network of around 30 people, mainly men, organise regular rendezvous with different farmyard animals and dogs. The events are often filmed for later use in pornographic films.


11th November   

Victims of Intimidation...

Call for protected freedom of speech for muslim reformers
Link Here

Governments across Europe must do more to safeguard freedom of speech for Muslim reformers who face threats from extremists, a think tank has warned.

The UK-based Centre for Social Cohesion highlighted the cases of 27 writers, including Sir Salman Rushdie, activists, politicians and artists.

The centre said they had suffered violence and intimidation for criticising Islam or seeking reform.

It said governments had a duty to ensure free speech for all citizens.

The report - Victims of Intimidation: Freedom of Speech within Europe's Muslim Communities - said official failure to offer victims the protection they needed had left "significant numbers" of Muslims unable to express themselves.

It said this also created the impression that more Muslims were opposed to free speech than was actually the case.

The centre called for European governments to promote greater religious and social harmony by demonstrating that they see Muslims and those of Muslim background as complete citizens, neither restricted in their freedoms nor unduly permitted to issue threats against others.

Douglas Murray, director of the Centre for Social Cohesion and co-author of the report, said Muslims found it increasingly difficult to criticise elements of their faith or culture without fear of reprisal.

In a free society, no belief or set of values should remain beyond open criticism. To grant a belief system amnesty from discussion concedes that intimidation and violence can succeed.

Unless Muslims are allowed to discuss their religion without fear of attack there can be no chance of reform or genuine freedom of conscience within Islam.


10th November   

Humourless in Belgium...

Magazine forced to censor mock up of police chief having sex with secretary
Link Here

Reporters Without Borders condemns a Brussels court ruling on 4 November ordering the weekly Humo to immediately withdraw all copies of its latest issue from sale on penalty of paying a fine of 250 euros for each copy left on sale.

The summary judgment was issued in response to an action brought by the federal police chief about a satirical photo-montage showing his head, and that of his secretary, super-imposed on naked bodies.

After the newspaper filed an appeal, the court put a ceiling of 25,000 euros on the fine.

We deplore the court's ruling and the disproportionate nature of the legal procedure used,” Reporters Without Borders said: Satire is by definition an inalienable part of freedom of expression. Morality and good taste cannot under any circumstances justify media censorship in a country that belongs to the European Union.

The satirical section of Humo 's 4 November issue, called the Het Gat van de wereld (Backside of the world), had photomontages of federal police chief Fernand Koekelberg frolicking naked with his secretary, Sylvie Ricour, who had been suspended after several newspapers suggested there was something irregular about the way she got the job - only to be reinstated on the orders of the Council of State.

Humo put a new version of the issue on sale today with a black strip across the cover page and the words Humo censored. Page 175 with the photomontages was kept, only now the photos were covered with a black strip and the word Censored.


10th November   

Googling For Prosecution...

Italy to take Google employees to court over YouTube bullying video
Link Here

Google is awaiting confirmation that four employees will face charges in Italy for failing to stop the publishing of a video of a disabled teenager being bullied.

The employees will face charges of defamation and failure to exercise control over personal data, with court proceedings to start Feb. 3 in Milan.

Prosecutors appear concerned that the video also highlighted the boy's disability, which could run afoul of data protection rules, said Marco Pancini, Google's European public policy counsel.

The three-minute video in question depicts four youths harassing a boy with Down's Syndrome and eventually hitting him in the head with a pack of tissues.

It was posted in September 2006 on Google Video, one of the company's video upload sites. Google removed the video within a day after it received a complaint from the Italian Interior Ministry, which has a department that investigates Internet-related crime. By that time, the video garnered around 12,000 hits.

Google maintains charges against the employees are unwarranted, Pancini said. Europe's E-commerce Directive exempts service providers from prescreening content before it is publicly posted, he said. Also, the video was technically uploaded to a Google server in the US, not in Italy, Pancini said.


10th November   

Long Running Censorship Saga...

Little House on the Prairie 18 rated in Finland
Link Here

Finland has just rated the DVD release of the children's television series, Little House on the Prairie , as suitable only for adult viewing.

In an attempt to save money, the heads at Universal Pictures decided not to submit the series to the censors for inspection.

Turns out that Finnish authorities charge around $2.57 per minute to assess the age limit on films and television series.

The distributors who decide not to pay the fee can only sell their flicks with the sticker Banned for under-18s.

Matti Paloheimo, Director at the Finnish Board of Film Classification, said Long series can get quite expensive to check, and some use this exemption in the law to their advantage. Such unchecked material should not be shown to children publicly.


7th November   

An Indirect Insult to Dutch Freedom...

Insulting religion to carry a 1 year jail sentence
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in the Netherlands...Netherlands considersl blasphemy laws

It appears we were a little hasty in celebrating the demise of the Dutch blasphemy laws.

Danish journalist Flemming Rose has contacted MWW, relating the concerns of a Dutch colleague about this supposed repeal. All is not as it seems.

The intention is to introduce the concept of indirect insult and expand an existing law which protects people on the basis of race, age, disability, and sexual orientation to include protection on the basis of religion or conviction . This means that remarks directed at Islam, Christianity, Buddism or - depending on your interpretation of conviction - even homeopathy and astrology, could be interpreted as indirect insults to people, and prosecuted as such.

According to a commenter on the original story, this law carries a maximum sentence of 12 months, whereas the original defunct blasphemy law carried a maximum 3 month sentence.

Writes Rose:

This spring the Dutch minister of justice Hirsch Ballin wrote a note to parliament asking them to consider stiffening blasphemy laws. In the aftermath of the scandal surrounding the arrest of Gregorius Nekschot parliament refused to go along, and this proposal is the compromise that the government came up with.


6th November   

Update: Barely Legal...

Constitutional challenge to impossibly vague German law
Link Here

Hustler Europe has filed a constitutional complaint against a newly enacted section of German law that criminalizes sales and distribution of content depicting adult actors who show a youthful appearance.

The new law, section 184c of the German criminal code, went in effect November 5. It immediately affects the Barely Legal series produced by Larry Flynt Publications' company in Europe.

In the complaint filed with the Federal Constitutional Court, Hustler Europe alleges the law violates constitutionally protected rights to freedoms of opinion, occupation and property. It is asking the court to suspend the provision until it reaches a final decision.

The Federal Constitutional Court will have to check whether §184c Criminal Code violates the constitutionally guaranteed freedom rights, Marko Dörre, Hustler Europe's attorney, said. We demand clear regulations for more legal certainty.

Hustler Europe Managing Director Helen Clyne told XBIZ it was ultimately about more than the affect on Barely Legal , a popular series both in the U.S. and in Europe.

Until the court rules, Hustler Europe is barred from distributing Barely Legal , Not the Brady XXX series and This Ain't the Munsters XXX.


5th November   

Offending Africa...

Irish press council ruling is limiting freedom of speech
Link Here

Freedom of speech is being limited by the Irish Press Council and its Press Ombudsman.

Some editors are worried by a decision of the Press Council relating to Africa. They believe these decisions may make it harder for writers to say what they feel, or for the media to report on stories that matter to the public.

Columnist Kevin Myers has just been rapped across the knuckles by the Press Council for his offensive opinions on Africa. It has never been a crime simply to cause grave offence, nor can you sue if offended by someone's words unless you are actually libelled.

Kevin Myers is a controversialist who caused consternation in last July's Irish Independent, he claimed that Africa is giving nothing to anyone ... apart from Aids.

The Press Council received dozens of complaints about that Myers article.

Principle 8 of the Code of Practice of the Press Council, as agreed with media, states: Newspapers and periodicals shall not publish material intended or likely to cause grave offence or stir up hatred against an individual or group on the basis of race, religion, nationality, colour, ethnic origin, membership of the travelling community, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness, or age.

The Press Council found against Myers because he used the failings of some to stigmatise whole societies, employing a level of generalisation that was distorting and seriously insulting to Africans as a whole. His article was likely to cause grave offence to people throughout sub-Saharan Africa and to the many Africans in particular who are now resident in Ireland.

Which is no doubt true. But the Press Council specifically rejected complaints that Myers was anything more than offensive. It did not find reason to conclude that the article was likely to stir up hatred or that there was any intention of doing so.

So it is now clear that Principle 8 of the Press Council code is actually two principles. The first is simply that Newspapers and periodicals shall not publish material intended or likely to cause grave offence, to anyone! The rest of Principle 8, including its long list of possible victims, relates only to cases where someone has stirred up hatred.

Where is the balance between causing offence and suppressing freedom of speech? Many readers welcome some offensive comments about the powerful or rich, or about irritable self-righteous pressure groups. What is freedom of speech if it is not the freedom to say on occasion things that most people in society find offensive?


2nd November   

Backward Censors...

Swedish number plate censors and oral sex
Link Here

Officials with Sweden's Road Administration (Vägverket) have denied a driver's request for a licence place with what at first glance appears to be a completely innocent combination of characters.

Recently, the agency received a request from an individual who wanted a licence plate reading X32IARO. Despite no obviously offensive reference in the desired combination, Vägverket nonetheless rejected the application.

When read in reverse, as it would be seen through a rear-view mirror, X32IARO suddenly appears nearly as ORALSEX.

The guiding principle is that a licence plate shouldn't be offensive, regardless of whether it's read forwards or backwards.


1st November   

Netherlands Sees the Light...

Dutch Justice minister recommends to repeal blasphemy law
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in the Netherlands...Netherlands considersl blasphemy laws

Justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin (Christian Democrats) has finally given into pressure and is to recommend that blasphemy is no longer a criminal offence.

Although the law, which was brought in to protect Christians from being insulted is almost defunct, in the past the minister has believed it to be useful to protect Muslims from Islam-bashing, says Friday's Volkskrant.

The law was last used in 1968 against the writer Gerard Reve. He was found not guilty.

Hirsch Ballin had suggested expanding the current legislation to cover all religions but MPs were against the move, arguing it would conflict with freedom of speech, the Volkskrant says.


1st November   

Update: Formula Voodoo...

Website wishing misfortune on Hamilton under fire
Link Here

The Foreign Secretary was urged to make a formal protest to the Spanish government over online racist abuse of Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.

The FIA, the sport's world governing body, and McLaren, Hamilton's F1 team, have condemned a voodoo-style website in Spain where hundreds of abusive messages, many of which refer to Hamilton's colour, have been posted.

Visitors to the site – about 20,000 to date – are encouraged to drop imaginary nails, pins or porcupines on a mock-up of the Interlagos circuit, in Sao Paulo.

Hamilton will take to the circuit on Sunday for the Brazilian Grand Prix, needing only to finish in the top five to become the youngest champion in Formula One history.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, the chairman of the party's Ethnic Minority Taskforce, condemned the abuse and said more action needed to be taken. He urged the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, to make a formal protest to Spain asking them to stop the abuse.


30th October   

Update: Court Sticks Pins into Sarkozy...

French president pained by the decision
Link Here
Full story: Insulting the French President...French president takes voodoo doll makers to court

A French court has rejected a demand from Nicolas Sarkozy, the president, for a ban on a Sarkozy doll and voodoo manual that encourages readers to stick pins in it.

The doll is decorated with some of the French leader's most famous quotes, like Get lost you pathetic a***hole – to a bystander who refused to shake his hand at an agricultural show in 2007.

Update: Undignified

29th November 2008. See article from

A doll representing the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and an accompanying voodoo manual with directions for sticking pins into the figurine can remain on sale, a court has ruled – but it must carry a notice saying it harms the president's dignity.

The court ruled that the kit constituted an offence against the personal dignity of Sarkozy. But it said it would be disproportionate and harmful to liberty of expression to ban their sale outright.

It ruled the doll may be sold provided it carries a notice of the judgment attached. The manufacturers must also pay the costs of the case as well as a symbolic 1 Euro in damages.


29th October   

Update: Government Mellows Over a Fine Wine...

French minister supports allowing internet websites for wines
Link Here
Full story: Alcohol Advertising in France...Extreme adverstising restrictions on alcohol

The French minister of health supports changing the Evin Law to allow wine advertising on the internet.

Despite continued fierce opposition from anti-alcohol groups, Roselyne Bachelot told Le Figaro: When we initially drew up the Evin Law we did not take into account the internet, because at the time it was not as developed as it is today.

Despite this, national demonstrations against the law will still go ahead on Thursday.

A CIVB spokesperson told While we welcome the news that the internet may now be a legal method of promotion for winemakers, this has not yet been made official – and is not the only threat to French wine.

Demonstrators will cover up any signs for villages that also carry the name of an appellation - such as Saint Emilion, Pauillac or Margaux - to highlight the absurdity of the censorship.


28th October   

Thumbs Down...

Left 4 Dead game sold with censored cover art in Germany
Link Here

Left 4 Dead, UK version The USK are Germany's game classification board. And as you may already be aware, they're a conservative bunch, banning games that even Australia let slide. But this is new. Witness Germany's box art for Valve's upcoming zombie co-op shooter, Left 4 Dead

While every other region's box art shows a left hand with the thumb bitten off - zombies feast on the flesh of the living. On the German version, the thumb's simply tucked in behind the hand there. No gore.


23rd October   

Gearing Up for Censorship...

Gears of War 2 banned in Germany and maybe Japan
Link Here

A Microsoft spokesperson has told Edge that Epic's long-awaited Gears of War 2 game will not be released in Japan.

We can confirm that Gears of War 2 will not be available in Germany or Japan indefinitely said the spokesperson.

The reasons why the game will not be released remain unclear. In May this year Germany's ratings organization declined to issue the game an age certificate.

The BBFC passed Gears of War 2, 18 uncut.

Update: Evidently this story is causing waves within Microsoft. A spokesperson has contacted us to clarify that no announcement has been made about plans for Gears of War 2 in Japan.


23rd October   

Update: Safe Internet...

European internet gets safer for children by $71 million
Link Here
Full story: Safer Internet programme...EU get their hooks into social networking

The European Parliament on Wednesday agreed on a $71 million, five-year plan to protect children from illegal content on the Internet and online bullying.

The Safer Internet program, which runs between 2009 and 2013, will cover Web 2.0 services such as social networking sites Facebook and MySpace as well online multiplayer gaming. It also will fight harmful behavior such as bullying.

The proposed new programme will:

  • Reduce illegal content and tackle harmful conduct online: actions to provide the public with national contact points for reporting illegal content online and harmful conduct, focusing in particular on child sexual abuse material and grooming.
  • Promote a safer online environment: fostering self-regulatory initiatives in this field. To stimulate the involvement of children and young people in creating a safer online environment, in particular through youth panels.
  • Ensure public awareness: actions targeting children, their parents and teachers. Encourage a multiplier effect through exchange of best practices within the network of national awareness centres. Support contact points where parents and children can receive advice on how to stay safe online.
  • Establish a knowledge base by bringing together researchers engaged in child safety online at European level. Establish a knowledge base on the use of new technologies by children, the effects these have on them, and related risks. Use this to improve the effectiveness of ongoing actions within the Safer Internet Programme.


22nd October   

Sticking Pins in Sarkozy...

French president gets wound up by voodoo doll
Link Here
Full story: Insulting the French President...French president takes voodoo doll makers to court

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has threatened to sue a publishing company unless it withdraws a Sarkozy doll that comes with a voodoo manual telling readers to plant pins in it.

The doll is emblazoned with some of Sarkozy's most famous quotes such as Get lost you pathetic arsehole -- his words to a bystander who refused to shake his hand at a farm show last year.

Readers are encouraged to plant pins in the quotes.

Nicolas Sarkozy has instructed me to remind you that, whatever his status and fame, he has exclusive and absolute rights over his own image, his lawyer Thierry Herzog wrote to publishers K&B in a letter published by newspaper Le Monde.

Herzog said Sarkozy would sue the publishing firm if it didn't respond and pull the product. K&B has issued 20,000 copies of the manual and doll.


22nd October   

Respect and Privacy...

Council or Europe issues guidelines for ISPs and online game providers
Link Here

The Council of Europe today launched, in close cooperation with European online game designers and publishers and with Internet service providers, two sets of guidelines which aim to encourage respect and promote privacy, security and freedom of expression when, for example, accessing the Internet, using e-mail, participating in chats or blogs, or playing Internet games.


16th October   

Film and Publications...

Ireland censors to merge
Link Here

Ireland's Department of Justice has introduced a series of cutbacks to save €11m across 20 bodies.

One of many measures is that the Film Censor's Office and Censorship of Publications Office are to be amalgamated.

The Censorship of Publications Board

Based on article from

The Censorship of Publications Board is an independent board in Ireland established by law to examine books and periodicals for sale. The Board may prohibit the sale and distribution of books and periodicals if they are found to be obscene. A prohibition on the sale and distribution of a particular publication means that it is illegal for this book to be bought, sold or distributed around the country. Books that are prohibited may be appealed to the Censorship of Publications Appeal Board. Both the Censorship of Publications Board and the Appeals Board consist of five members each. Members of both boards are appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Posts on these boards are without remuneration (i.e., they are unpaid).

The Censorship of Publications Board will examine any book or periodical referred to it by a Customs and Excise officer and any book referred to it by a member of the public. It may also examine any book or periodical on its own initiative. In Ireland, there is no category of restricted access - a publication is either prohibited or it is not prohibited. The Board does not prohibit publications very often, and in some years, nothing is prohibited.

The Board has regular meetings to discuss publications referred to it. Every member of the Board will have read the publication before the meeting. For a book to be prohibited, at least three members must agree with the decision and only one can dissent (i.e., disagree). If the prohibition is passed, it comes into effect as soon as it is announced in Iris Oifigúil (Ireland's official State gazette). A prohibition order on a book ceases on the 31 December following a period of 12 years beginning on the date of the order coming into effect.

Books are prohibited if the Censorship of Publications Board considers them to be indecent or obscene. Periodicals are prohibited if the Censorship of Publications Board considers them to be frequently or usually indecent or obscene. Both books and periodicals may be prohibited if the Board considers that they advocate abortion or ways of carrying out abortions. Periodicals may also be prohibited if the Board is of the opinion that they have given an unduly large proportion of space to matters relating to crime. In practice, however, publications are usually only reported to the Board for obscenity. The Board will measure the literary, scientific or historical merit of the publication. It will take note of its general tenor, the language in which it is written, its likely circulation and readers and anything else it feels is relevant. It may take into account any communication with the author, editor or publisher.

The Gardai may be issued with a search warrant if they suspect that prohibited books or periodicals are being kept anywhere for sale or distribution. If they find prohibited publications, they may remove them. If you are convicted of possessing prohibited publications, you may be liable for a fine of 63.49 euro or six months imprisonment.


14th October   

Europe with Even More Frontiers...

EU Audio-Visual Media Services Directive to be adopted by Council of Europe
Link Here

The Council of Europe (CoE) is a larger body than the EU with 47 rather than 27 member states.

It intends to  extend the scope of a convention that affects the regulation of TV broadcasting to include video on-demand services and some online video. The changes will match those already made by the European Union.

The most important change to the rules will relate to their coverage. The regulations will no longer apply simply to television content, but to video on demand services.

The Convention does not include home-made audio visual material, such as that which someone would post to a sharing site such as YouTube. It only includes commercial material.

The Convention also governs the retransmission of services and orders states to allow material which complies with the rules in the Convention to be re-transmitted into their country, with exceptions for material which breaks the rules of the Convention or broadcasting rules in the country of first broadcast.

On the subject of content restriction it proposes:

  • television broadcasts do not, include programmes which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular those that involve pornography or gratuitous violence7. This provision shall be extended to other television programmes which are likely to impair the physical mental or moral development of minors, except where it is ensured, by selecting the time of the broadcast or by any technical means, that minors in the area of transmission will not normally hear or see such broadcasts.
  • on-demand services which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors are only made available in such a way that ensures that minors will not normally hear or see such on-demand services.

The Government has asked for responses to the initial consultation by 31st October, and the CoE has said that a more formal consultation will take place at the end of the year.


14th October   

An Image of Unfairness...

German copyright cases goes against Google Image Search
Link Here

Bloomberg reports that Google lost two court cases in Germany over the display of thumbnails in their image search results.

Google's preview of a picture by German photographer Michael Bernhard violates his copyrights, the Regional Court of Hamburg ruled, his lawyer Matthies van Eendenburg said in an interview today. Thomas Horn, who holds the copyrights on some comics that were displayed in Google search result.

“It doesn't matter that thumbnails are much smaller than original pictures and are displayed in a lower resolution,” the court said in its ruling for Bernhard. By using photos in thumbnails, no new work is created, that may have justified displaying them without permission.

In the US, fair use laws make it possible to offer such third-party services without specifically asking for permission. Adult magazine Perfect 10 once lost a case against Google in these regards, after an original decision was reversed. (In any case, Google's bots respect the “robots.txt” protocol, where webmaster can disallow the spidering of images.)

A Google rep said: The ruling of the Regional Court of Hamburg is bad for internet users and users of image search engines in Germany in general – just as it's bad for thousands of site owners who based their business on image searches.

Charges were also brought against other provides of image searches, such as AOL, T-Online, Yahoo. With this ruling, the court of Hamburg throws German internet users back into the digital stone age. And this is not just in regards to Google image search, but all of them. We are confident that the Regional Court will correct the ruling in the appeals procedure.


11th October   

Update: Wine Watershed...

France to apply TV watershed to internet
Link Here
Full story: Alcohol Advertising in France...Extreme adverstising restrictions on alcohol

The French wine industry is calling for demonstrations across the country on October 30 to protest recent government and court decisions that would severely limit not only wine advertising, but wine writing.

This year alone, the wine industry has been hit with these blows:

  • A French court ruled that newspaper and magazine articles on wine must contain health warnings, in much the same way the United States requires tobacco advertising to include warnings. But remember we're not talking about advertising, but journalism.
  • That same court ruled that wine and beer cannot be advertised on the Internet.
  • Proposed new laws will put wine on the same level as pornography by limiting access to wine- and alcohol-related sites only to certain hours, with the rationale of protecting minors.

The recent court decisions are the latest manifestations of the French Evin Law, which was enacted in 1991 to control the advertising of wine and spirits. The law limited advertising to showing a product, naming the place where it was made, how it was made and how it should be consumed. It eliminated all references to social or financial success, or to wine as part of any social or domestic scene.

The rationale for the law was the high rate of deaths in France that could be attributed to alcohol and tobacco abuse. But the recent restrictions betray hostility to any sort of pleasure derived from wine. This, I would think, is about as un-French as you can get.


8th October   

Raw Whinging...

Lesbian kiss winds up Irish nutters
Link Here

RTE's new series Raw is proving too hot to handle for some viewers who have complained to the Broadcasting Complaints Commissioner about certain scenes.

The new TV drama received a number of complaints over the week following scenes broadcast last Monday night.

Now the BCC has contacted the national broadcaster about the complaints and is awaiting a response from RTE.

Monday night's episode reportedly received five objections from viewers to the national broadcaster and the BCC received one complaint.

The episode in question featured a lesbian kiss and a full frontal scene between two men.

But a spokeswoman for RTE said that she believed the show on Monday did not cause huge offence as there were only five complaints received.

The six-part series is set in a fictitious Dublin restaurant and follows the lives and loves of the staff. The series has already shown several sex scenes and one incident where bodily fluids were served at the restaurant as part of a practical joke.


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