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19th March

 Update: Resuscitating the Film industry...

Australia tweeks film censorship law to reduce red tape and censorship costs for its local industry
Link Here  full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media
australian government logoThe Australian government has introduced legislation to reform the National Classification Scheme, primarily to make it faster and more cost effective to classify content for mobile platforms and online games.

Films that are released in 2D and 3D versions won't have to be classified twice, a measure for which the industry had long lobbied.

Independent distributors had also complained about the costs of having small films classified but their push for cheaper fees fell on deaf ears.

However festivals and cultural organisations will no longer have to submit cumbersome applications to the Classification Board for a formal exemption before they screen material, providing they satisfy criteria in the Classification Act.

The legislation will remove the need for reclassification when minor changes are made to computer games such as software updates or bug fixes, or when a new song is added to a karaoke game.

The reforms are the government's first response to proposals by the Australian Law Reform Commission's review of the National Classification Scheme.

The Commission delivered further recommendations:

  • Abolish the legally binding age restriction on MA15+ rating so it becomes an advisory guidance.
  • Apply uniform classification categories to content aired across all platforms, including online and mobile.
  • Rename the RC (refused classification) category as Prohibited.
  • Retain the Classification Board for films and computer games but create a single agency to regulate the classification of media content, handle complaints and educate the public about the scheme.
  • Empower the Classification Board to review appeals, replacing the independent Classification Review Board.

But the prospects for widespread changes were ruled out by the state and federal Attorneys-General, who indicated last year that they would merely consider areas for short-term reforms.

 

6th March

 Update: State censorship queried but not restricted...

Australian authorities continue to use powers to force ISPs to block websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Australia...Wide ranging state internet censorship

australian government logoThe Australian Federal Police, the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC), and one unnamed agency have indicated to the government that they would likely seek to keep using powers in the Telecommunications Act to force ISPs to block websites.

In April 2013, following a bungle by ASIC that resulted in accidentally blocking customer access to 250,000 websites when the agency was just seeking to block websites associated with investment fraud, it was revealed that three government agencies had been using Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act to compel ISPs to block customer access to websites on their behalf.

Following public backlash, and amid cries of censorship and criticism over the lack of transparency over the power, the then-Labor government promised to review the power, and improve the oversight and transparency of the process.

At the time, despite the controversy, it seems that internally agencies had indicated to the government that they intended to continue using the power. A briefing document from a meeting convened by the Department of Communications in May 2013, and published online under Freedom of Information revealed that the three agencies the department had discovered to be using section 313 indicated that they will continue to so in the future.

The heavily-redacted briefing document showed the police had used the power 21 times between June 2011 and February 2013 to request ISPs to block websites listed on the Interpol worst of child abuse websites , and would continue to do so in the future.

The Department of Communications told ZDNet in December that it was still in consultation with government agencies on the use of the power.

Attorney-General George Brandis indicated last month that he is considering giving the power to the Federal Court to give injunctions to ISPs to force the companies to block copyright-infringing websites such as The Pirate Bay.

 

23rd February

  Making Waves...

Brisbane Council bans film festival advert with a gay take on iconic From Here to Eternity image
Link Here
brisbane queer film festival advertAn advertising poster of two men in a passionate embrace has been censored by Brisbane City Council'.

Lifestyle chairman Krista Adams has deemed the image too confronting and banned it, pending a review by the Advertising Standards Board.

The image in question, a parody of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr's passionate beach embrace in the 1953 film From Here to Eternity , was designed as a publicity poster for the Brisbane Queer Film Festival which begins at the Powerhouse on March 28.

The ban could potentially expose the council to liability under the anti-discrimination act, by anybody who feels aggrieved by this decision.

While many in Brisbane's gay community are 'outraged', Powerhouse artistic director Kris Stewart played down council's decision.

We got word from Krista there were reservations about one of the three images we had planned. My sense was it is a very sexualised image and the decision would have been the same whether it was two men or a man and a woman.

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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Australia News