Fascinating to see all these moral high grounders and gender extremists debate the rather unproven harm of porn
whilst glorying in the chance to put men in prison. As if this doesn't cause actual massive harm to otherwise law abiding men, their wives and their children. Not to mention the tax payers who have to foot the hefty bill to trash these people's lives
Public Bill Committee for the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill
Third Sitting, Thursday 13 March 2014
David Austin : My name is David Austin. I am the assistant director at the British Board of Film Classification, responsible for policy and public affairs. The BBFC is the UK's independent regulator of film and video content.
We operate online and offline. Our interest in clause 16 is whether it will have any impact on our classification of sexually violent and abusive pornography, particularly as we are under a legal obligation under the Video Recordings Act 1984 not to classify
any content that is illegal.
Murray Perkins : I am Murray Perkins. I am a senior examiner at the BBFC. I have responsibility for day-to-day classification of pornographic works and a particular expertise in those pornographic submissions.
Committee member Dan Jarvis : Do you think there are examples of sexually violent material that would not be captured by the Bill as drafted?
David Austin : Yes, there are examples of sexually violent material that are not caught by the Bill. There are a number of areas of violent and abusive pornography that are not caught. It might help if I list one or two of those
Clause 16 clearly talks in terms of realistic and explicit depiction of rape in pornography. We deal with quite a large number of pornographic works every year and have done for many years. Some of these feature clearly fictional depictions
of rape and other sexual violence in which participants are clearly actors, acting to a script. These works may include scenes of relentless aggressive abuse, threats of physical violence with weapons and forced acts of sex. Depending on how realism is interpreted
in future -- certainly it has been interpreted very narrowly in the past, but I understand that the Government will amend some of the explanatory notes to the Bill on realism -- that may change.
Another area where we cut porn on harm grounds under the Video Recordings Act relates to abduction scenarios where individuals are shown bound, kidnapped, struggling with bonds, and whimpering -- shown as victims restrained against their
will with no other context. We also cut grooming scenarios which feature the grooming of individuals portrayed as youthful, sometimes youthful and vulnerable --sometimes they may have the appearance of children, although they are not children but adults --
by characters in dominant roles. Animation is another area which we cut. There is a Japanese genre called hentai which is a pornographic genre which features things like incest, underage sex and forced sex. They may be realistically animated but you could
argue that they are not realistic in the terms of the Bill. The fact that animated images can be harmful is already accepted by Parliament in the Coroners and Justice Act where pseudo images of children in sexual abuse situations are illegal.
The final area relates to explicit rather than realistic. We remove from pornographic works sexually violent content that in our view is harmful, where, for example, you cannot see the explicit act of penetration but the viewer is led
to believe that this is a rape scenario, albeit acted. We remove that content.
Dan Jarvis : Do you think there would be merit in explicitly referring in the Bill to those extreme types of pornography?
David Austin : One of the things that we need to bear in mind in relation to this Bill is that although clause 16 is tightly defined, the offence is one of possession, and when we cut in the physical world, on a physical DVD,
the offence is one of supply. The Bill is part of a wider approach to aligning protections online and protections offline. We understand that, following a consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published in July 2013, the Government will
bring forward legislation to deal with exactly the kind of content that I have just described to make this content illegal on UK video-on-demand platforms. That will align our standards on harm, which are based on research, with the standards applied by Atvod,
the Authority for Television on Demand, which is the UK regulator of UK-hosted video on demand. That legislation would cover UK-hosted content that I have just described.
Committee member Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab): Mr Austin, you mentioned as a throwaway that child abuse and child grooming were covered under other legislation. Could you expand a little on that? Is it strong enough as it
David Austin : It was in reference to animation. We have not seen the updated explanatory notes on the Bill -- I do not know whether they have been published yet. The notes that we have seen do not talk about animated content.
It is possible to argue -- do not know how the courts will interpret it -- that animation is not realistic, even though it is getting more and more realistic all the time with computer-generated imagery. CGI images of children and animated images of children
in sexual abuse situations are illegal under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, so that would take care of animated depictions of child abuse, but it does not take care of animated depictions of rape of adults, for example.
Sarah Champion : But are animated or real films of child abuse and child grooming covered under current legislation?
David Austin : That is covered in other legislation, yes.
Update: Press and politicians pick up on BBFC suggestions to extend the definitions of Dangerous Pictures
30th March 2013. See article
The Daily Express Writes:
David Cameron vowed to ban pornography involving simulated rape and said that online videos would be subject to the same rules as those sold in sex shops.
However. MPs were astounded when David Austin, assistant director of the British Board of Film Classification, revealed that actors who are clearly following a script could avoid falling foul of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is making
its way through Parliament.
As the Bill stands, an image will be banned if it portrays something in an explicit and realistic way . So-called blue films are not, however, usually renowned for their realistic plot lines.
There are examples of sexually violent material that are not caught by the Bill. Clause 16 clearly talks in terms of realistic and explicit depiction of rape in pornography.
Addressing MPs, Labour's shadow crime and policing minister Diana Johnson said:
What the Government is doing is welcome and it's important but at the moment it doesn't go as far as the Prime Minister originally promised. His pledge was to ban material that was so extreme that it would be banned from licensed sex shops.
We're not talking about role-play here but hardcore pornography portraying rape and violent abuse.
In a letter seen by the Sunday Express, Mr Cameron promised to take action to end loopholes by amending the Bill.