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2nd July

 Update: Australia measures up as a big girl's blouse...


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More details on Australia's censorial new game and app banning scheme
Link Here  full story: Online Games Censorship in Australia...Online games producers try to evade censorship

measure bra size prankjpg In the past four months, the Australian Classifications Board has labelled 220 video games, making it illegal to sell, advertise or exhibit them in the country.

Australian newspapers have been downplaying the censorship saying that it doesn't sound so bad when one realises that the amount of bans is related to the large quantities of back catologue apps being processed via a new rapid decision program, perhaps up to 150,000 of them.

In fact that the 220 games are properly banned under censorial rules for what's allowed in adults only R18+ games. There was a lot of political opposition to allowing an adults rating at all and the final compromises rules ban games for content that would be perfectly legal in most western countries. For instance more or less anything to do with the depiction of drugs is banned from Australian games.

Examples of banned games on the list include:

  • AK47 Simulator
  • Torture the Murderer 2
  • Measure Bra Size Prank
  • Islam Today
  • Douchebag Beach Club
  • Pass the Grass
  • Time for Cocaine
  • Wrecking Miley
  • Police Bus for Criminals
  • 2015 Athletic Fruits Girls
  • Fun Swimming Pool Love Kiss

There are also several instances of the same game developer submitting multiple, obviously identical games (for example Weed Time submitted as Smoke a Bong FREE, Smoke a Bong, Smoke a Joint, Smoke a Joint FREE and Nose Dose ).

So it seems there are still serious discussions to be had around Australia's game censorship system, including the fact that Australia is much stricter than other countries when it comes to representations of sexual content and drugs, something that has resulted in the blocking of a handful of high quality, well-respected games that adult players in other countries enjoy.

 

27th June

 Update: Moving to make X prohibition an ex prohibition...


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The first parliamentary motion to legalise hardcore porn has been tabled in the Australian state of Victoria
Link Here  full story: X Rated Ban in Australia...Australians no longer rate hardcore as offensive
Australian Sex Party The first motion to legalise X rated films in an Australian state was tabled in the Victorian Parliament this morning by Fiona Patten of the Australian Sex Party. The motion reads:

That this House

(1) acknowledge that the National Classification Code defines X 18+ as a legal classification of film that contains real depictions of actual sexual activity between consenting adults in which there is no sexual violence or otherwise;

(2) acknowledge that, in Victoria, the sale and exhibition of X 18+ films is prohibited, but the ownership and purchase of such films is legal;

(3) note that this structure is not only illogical, but has enabled the availability of pirated and refused classification films that may feature sexual violence;

(4) change the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 to allow the sale and exhibition of X 18+ films, and bring the Act into line with the Federal Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, and the Australian Law Reform Commission's 2012 recommendations;

(5) note that this change will allow for tighter regulations of X 18+ films in Victoria, so that adult material is sold only to adults from age restricted areas, ensuring that sexually violent material is not available, and helping to combat piracy.

 

24th June

 Comments: Australia Adopts a Copyright Censorship Regime...

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EFF comments on the new Australian law
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Australia...Wide ranging state internet censorship

Electronic Frontier Foundation Australia's Internet censorship bill has been passed by the Senate, and will become the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015. The new law provides an accelerated process for rightsholders to obtain court orders for ISPs to block sites that have the primary purpose of infringing copyright, or facilitating its infringement--a term that the law does not define.

During debate the government rejected a series of safeguards that the Australian Greens attempted to introduce to mitigate the risk of abuse of the new law. Besides tightening the definitions, these amendments would have provided affected parties with a right of appeal, and explicitly protected providers of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), who now may face claims that their services are designed to facilitate copyright infringement.

What were some of the arguments in favor of the censorship law that came up in debate ? They range from less than compelling, to flat-out wrong. Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, stated that:

Provisions of the kind contained in the bill have been used in other jurisdictions, including the UK, Ireland and Singapore, and in these jurisdictions an injunction is often ordered without any opposition from the internet service provider concerned.

That's not quite true--for example, there has not been a single concluded case yet in Singapore (a country that also bans unlicensed public assemblies, and chewing gum). We can also add a couple of other entries to Fletcher's list-- Russia also recently introduced copyright censorship laws, shortly after its laws banning LGBT propaganda , and Turkey has had a similar provision in its copyright law since 2004, which it exercises regularly, besides also blocking social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Australia can now be proud to join that illustrious club.

Senator David Coleman foreshadowed the movement of web blocking outside of the legal regime established by the new censorship law, and into the darkness of informal backroom arrangements:

I concur with others in this debate in saying that I think the way that this will play out is that in the early days you will probably see a number of court actions initiated. You will see some court orders issued for take-down notices for infringing material. But then what will happen, logically, over time, is that ISPs and content providers will work together in a sensible way. No doubt they will circumvent much of that court formality and work together in a constructive fashion to take down offending material, and that is as it should be.

Amongst the minority of Senators who not only spoke against the law, but also voted against it, was David Leyonhjelm who labelled it bad law and said:

Website blocking is a drastic remedy and a blunt tool. The bill has the potential to be used against a range of legitimate sites and has inadequate protections for non-party interests. Meanwhile, placing increased emphasis on enforcement without addressing the other overdue reforms of the Copyright Act risks a ridiculously unbalanced copyright regime.

Similar criticisms were made by Senator Scott Ludlam, who did at least manage to successfully introduce one amendment requiring the government to finally respond to the Australian Law Reform Committee's (ALRC) report on Copyright and the Digital Economy , which had recommended that Australia adopt a fair use exception in its copyright law. The government has repeatedly brushed off this recommendation while pursing its own copyright enforcement agenda, but will now at least be required to provide the ALRC with the courtesy of a formal response by September 17--almost two years after the report was issued.

After bombarding Australians with one heavy-handed enforcement measure after another over the past twelve months--including mandatory data retention and a co-regulatory graduated response code (which is pending registration), the very least that Australian users deserve in return is for fair use to be given a fair hearing.

Offsite Article: Porn will be next on Australia's website-blocking agenda...

See  article from  smh.com.au

One way or another, you can be sure anti-porn crusaders will push to extend Australia's new anti-piracy laws.

 

22nd June

 Update: Torrents of internet censorship...

Australian senate passes bill enabling website blocking
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Australia...Wide ranging state internet censorship
parliament house logo The Australian government has given itself powers to censor the internet starting with websites facilitating copyright infringement.

In the eyes of at least one intellectual property academic, the passing of controversial anti-piracy, website blocking legislation in the senate represented a very dark day for the internet in Australia .

The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, introduced into parliament by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in March to curb online piracy of film and TV shows, was passed with Labor's support 37-13.

The legislation allows rights holders to go to a Federal Court judge to get overseas websites, or online locations , blocked that have the primary purpose of facilitating copyright infringement. If a rights holder is successful in their blocking request, Australian internet providers, such as Telstra and Optus, will need to comply with a judge's order by disabling access to the infringing location.

Sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickAssTorrents are expected to be among the first websites in rights holder's sights.

Dr Matthew Rimmer, an associate professor at the ANU College of Law and one of the bill's critics, labelled the bill quite radical :

It's a very dark day for the internet in Australia because there's been bipartisan support for this Luddite censorship bill.

He said sites that don't intend to host infringing material could get caught up and blocked, pointing to file-sharing sites like mega.co.nz and dropbox.com.

Australian Film Classification Board

Australia

The Film Classification Board

The Australian state censor has responsibility for cinema, home video, video games, books and magazines.

Appeals about censorship decisions are heard by the Classification Review Board.

Film & Game Classifications

- G: (General Exhibition) These films and computer games are for general viewing.

- PG: (Parental Guidance) Contains material which some children find confusing or upsetting, and may require the guidance of parents or guardians. It is not recommended for viewing or playing by persons under 15 without guidance from parents or guardians.

- M:  (Recommended for mature audiences) Contains material that is not recommended for persons under 15 years of age.

- MA15+ (Mature Accompanied) The content is considered unsuitable for exhibition by persons under the age of 15. Persons under this age may only legally purchase or exhibit MA15+ rated content under the supervision of an adult guardian.

- R18+ (Restricted) People under 18 may not buy, rent or exhibit these films

- X18+ (Restricted) People under 18 may not buy, rent or exhibit these films. This rating applies to real sex content only

- RC (Refused Classification)Banned

Note that there is no R18+ X18+ available for games so adult games often end up getting banned much to the annoyance of gamers.

Note also that films classified as X18+ (Restricted) are banned from sale or rent in most of Australia. They can only be sold from Northern Territory and ACT (Canberra). Mail order and imports are allowed though and possession of X18+ material is legal

Publication Classifications

 - Unrestricted

- Unrestricted Mature: Not recommended for readers under 15.

- Restricted Category 1: Not available to persons under 18 years. Softcore

- Restricted Category 2 : Not available to persons under 18 years. Only to be sold in adults only shops: Hardcore

- RC: Refused Classification. Banned

Only publications that would be restricted 1 & 2 need to be submitted for censorship. There is also a scheme that magazines only need to be submitted once. Subsequent issues inherit the same rating. However later issues can be 'called in' for reassessment if anything crops up to alert the censors of changes.

Websites:
Classification Board

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