Australia Censorship News

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25th September   

Updated: Never Ending Wave of Zombies and Censors...


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Australian censor bans another game, Left 4 Dead 2
Link Here  full story: Left 4 Dead 2...Australian censor bans video game

Left for Dead 2 A quick glance at at Australian Classification Board database shows that Valve's upcoming Left 4 Dead 2 has received a rating of RC, ie refused classification and banned.

Back in June, we reported that the refusal to classify games not suitable for those over 15 was applicable only to brick and mortar sales; however, the ban now applies to downloadable games as well, which means Australian gamers will not be able to purchase this game over Steam, Xbox Live, or through any other legal channel.

Left 4 Dead 2 is set in the Deep South of the U.S., your team of four players must once again fight for survival against a never-ending wave of zombies and mutant monsters.

Update: Australia's Censors explain their Ban

18th September 2009. Based on article from gaming.icrontic.com

Australian Film Classification Board The Australia's Film Censorship Board have now published their reasoning behind their ban of the video game Left 4 Dead 2:

The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 years to play.

The game contains realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon “the Infected” who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently. The player can choose from a variety of weapons including pistols, shotguns, machine guns and sniper rifles. However, it is the use of the “melee” weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage. These close in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore. Projectile shots to infected humans can cause abdominal wounds which can reveal innards or even cause intestines to spill from the wounds.

The Infected attack the player in an unrelenting fashion, with numerous foe attacking the player at one time. The use of the “melee” weapons can wipe out several Infected in one blow which cause the above mentioned blood and gore effects. The player kills a very large amount of enemy characters to proceed through the game. Whilst no post mortem damage can be inflicted, piles of bodies lay about the environment.

The interactive nature of the game increases the overall impact of the frequent and intense depictions of violence. This coupled with the graphic depictions of blood and gore combine to create a playing impact which is high.

A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the violence is strong in playing impact and therefore warrants an MA 15+ classification with the consumer advice of strong violence.

Decision: This game is Refused Classification.

Update: Unlikely to be Banned in New Zealand

18th September 2009. Based on article from blogs.pcworld.co.nz

New Zealand flag New Zealand deputy chief censor Nic McCully told PC World the Australian decision would not influence any decision the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification might make: It's different legislation in Australia... they do not have an R18 rating available to them [for games].

The first Left 4 Dead was given an R18 rating in New Zealand and McCully said that she would be surprised if Left 4 Dead 2 had vastly different content. However, she said she had not yet received any request from a distributor wanting to sell the game in New Zealand, and the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature would have to review the game and classify it before it could go on sale in New Zealand.

Update: EA comment on Australia's ban on games for adults

24th September 2009. Based on article from au.gamespot.com

Electronic Arts logo Left 4 Dead publisher EA have commented on the Australian ban. Tiffany Steckler, an EA spokesperson, told GameSpot AU that adults should have the right to choose what games they play.

It's funny that a place like Australia, which has come up with some pretty violent material in the past with something like Mad Max, can effectively ban video games for the same reason, she said.

EA believes that adults should have the right to make their own choices when it comes to the content they consume.

Steckler would not comment on whether Valve will make any changes to the game following the Classification Board of Australia's decision.

Update: Valve to appeal the ban

25th September 2009. Based on article from gameplanet.co.nz

Valve logo Valve has formally appealed the Australian Classification Board decision to ban the zombie shooter sequel Left 4 Dead 2 .

In the Australian censor's decision on 17 September, it stated that the game was unsuitable for an MA 15+ rating due to frequent and intense depictions of violence and graphic depictions of blood and gore. The censor did note in its report that a minority of the board believed the game warrants an MA 15+ classification with the customer advice of strong violence, the same classification given to the original Left 4 Dead - which may provide Valve with a foothold for its appeal.

 

17th September   

Update: Conroy Report's In...


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ISP internet censorship report to be published soon
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Stephen Conroy The Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam has  confirmed that Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has taken receipt of his ISP-level filtering report, but was yet to release it.

The live pilot trial into ISP-level filtering has recently been completed, Conroy said. He explained how his department would release it shortly.

He also addressed concern about the potential influence for politicians in blocking material they might push to be censored:

As I indicated at [Senate] Estimates, I have been in discussion with some in the industry about an enhanced practical measure to ensure confidence that a government minister or a government bureaucrat is not the sole arbiter. There have been a number of options floated

The Classification Board may consider all of the items that are ... to be classified.

An industry-based body may also be an option, where an industry body with the government agency involved could go through and examine [refused classification material]. That's one of the options I'm considering. Another being a parliamentary committee [that] can also examine the classification process.

There are a number of options that the government is generally considering.

 

17th September   

Should be Locked Up...


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Australian politician looks for criminal charges for parents who show their children 18 rated films
Link Here

Scott Morrison Australian parents who expose their children to pornography would face criminal charges under plans being drawn up by a senior Liberal MP to shield the young from sexual material.

Not So Liberal frontbencher Scott Morrison is pushing for changes to the law after being made aware of a child protection case in his Sydney electorate where a father with a 'recognised' pornography addiction watches explicit movies and web videos in front of his child aged under five.

The child's mother has complained both to police and the Department of Childrens Services but been told there is nothing in the law to prevent such conduct. Adults cannot be charged with indecent exposure inside their homes and there is no case to be made for child abuse unless the father physically interferes with his child.

Morrison said the case had exposed a 'loophole': The problem was the father in this case was not seeking to expose the child to this material, or anything else he was doing, as a step towards physically or sexually abusing the child. He just didn't seem to care that bringing this stuff into the home and putting it in full view of his own child was a problem. While his actions may not constitute a sexual offence against a child under the strict definitions of the law, most of us would agree he is a complete idiot.

Morrison said the NSW Classification Act states that a person must not privately exhibit in the presence of a minor a film classified R18, unless the person is a parent or guardian of the minor. The same Act says that a person must not sell or deliver to a minor a publication classified Category 1 restricted or Category 2 restricted, unless the person is a parent or guardian of the minor.

This is not on, he said: The same position seems to be taken up by most, if not all, other jurisdictions, including in Victoria where your mum and dad can show you an X18+ film at home.

Convenor of the Australian Sex Party Fiona Patten said the existing laws did not cover R-rated films, but did cover X-rated movies which contained sexual imagery: Sorry…he's trying to pull the wool over their eyes about pornography! Not content with calling the object of his attention, ‘porn' and then revealing that its actually R rated DVDs he's trying to have locked up, he's suggesting legislation to force parents to lock R rated DVDs in a cupboard like guns.

 

17th September   

Offsite: Delaying Games...

Gamespot enquires about late running R18+ for games consultation
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Gamespot logo Last April, Censorship Ministers meeting at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) in Canberra failed to come to a unanimous decision regarding changes and the release of the R18+ discussion paper, prompting then-Minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus to take matters into his own hands, announcing his department would take over handling the R18+ public consultation and see to its release.

When GameSpot AU interviewed Debus in April, a proposed deadline of July 31, 2009 was given for the public consultation process. However, Debus was replaced as Minister of Home Affairs by Brendan O'Connor in June as part of a cabinet re-shuffle and since then, no news about the public consultation has surfaced.

...Read full article

 

14th September   

Censorial Aerosols...

Australian censors ban graffiti magazine
Link Here

Death from Above The Wentworthville branch of the New South Wales Police recently submitted two Aussie graffiti magazines to the Classification Board for rating.

Death From Above Issue 1 (May 2003) was banned according to www.graffiti.org

City Circle Magazine Issue 2 (May 2009) was rated M (Not recommended for readers under 15 years).

 

13th September   

Update: Gothic Origins of a Ban...

Australian censors revoke certificates to 2 games
Link Here  full story: Dragonball Origins...Atari recall Dragonball Origins game from Australia

Dragonball Origins game Dragon Ball: Origins on the Nintendo DS hit the news in January 2009 when  a shot of one of the character's pants forced a recall of the game so it can be given a more mature M rating.

refused-classification.com is now reporting that this M Rating has now been revoked.

Gothic II , a role playing PC game has also had its M Rating revoked.

The precedent for a revoked certificate began with the Hot Coffee mod to GTA: San Andreus. So refused-classification.com are speculating that this latest action from the Australian censor may be related to content modification.

 

10th September   

Update: Swinging too Far towards a Vindictive Nanny State...

All charges dropped against baby swinging video uploader
Link Here  full story: Swinging Baby...Circus family video clip causes police hassle

Swinging Baby video A Queensland man plans to sue police who arrested and charged him for child abuse offences after he uploaded a video of a man apparently recklessly swinging a baby to a video website.

Australian prosecutors have dropped all charges against Chris Illingworth opening the door to a compensation claim.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not to proceed with the case. The decision follows soon after censors responded to a separate complaint about the clip by giving it the equivalent of a 15 rating.

This prosecution was discontinued yesterday after the matter was reviewed... taking into account all of the circumstances involved including the classification given to the material by the Classification Board, prosecutors said.

 

10th September   

Update: Ruddy Hackers...

Anonymous attack Australian PM's site in protest about internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Anonymous logo The Australian Prime Minister's website has been hacked in protest over proposed reforms of internet censorship.

The website, www.pm.gov.au, was brought down  along with that of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, but both were back online about an hour later.

A post on the Inquisitr blog shows a flyer, allegedly from the group Anonymous, claiming they organised the hack in response to a Federal Government proposal to introduce mandatory internet filtering.

Anonymous are a loose collection of internet users known for posting anonymously to message boards and who have previously organised global rallies protesting against Scientology.

The Anonymous flyer complains that the proposal to introduce internet filtering would block legal content, and take censorship to levels like that seen in China.
Related Coverage The flyer called for Senator Conroy to resign and also posted a link which is claimed to be a list of websites on the banned content list.

 

9th September   

Update: Cult of Censorship...

Scientology calls for Australian laws to censor their critics
Link Here

Scientology logo Scientology has called upon the Australian Government to censor the internet and media locally in direct response to protests from Anonymous.

In a long, rambling submission made to the Australian Human Rights Commission made earlier this year, the 'Church' attacks Anonymous calling them, among other things, a hate group of cyberterrorists that is engaged in a malicious campaign of hate that is an anathema to democracy.

The submission states:

In Australia Anonymous have mounted a sustained campaign of misinformation against the Church. As we are a minority religion with the vast majority of the population unaware of our true beliefs and humanitarian programs, their campaign has no justifiable purpose and violates the Church of Scientology's and parishioners rights to human dignity and religious freedom under the Constitution.

Scientology wants the Internet and media in Australia censored to prevent any negative stories being told about the church, and more, including:

  • Banning the use of domain name registration anonymity tools such as WhoisGuard by sites who talk about the church
  • The introduction of criminal sanctions for vilification of religion, including jail time for serious religious vilification.
  • The prohibition of concealing ones identity with a mask by people engaged in campaigns of harassment and vilification against religions (which they specifically mean Guy Fawkes masks.)

The statement gets worse:

It is recommended that a law be enacted to prevent the dissemination of antireligious propaganda in the media, which is based on unfounded hearsay and either known or reasonably known to be untruthful. Such dissemination shall be the subject of a civil penalty provision in favour of the defamed Church, and/or its individual parishioners if they are individually named or otherwise identified.

 

5th September   

Update: Menace of Overly Cautious Do Gooders...

Australian police continue to persecute uploader for widely available video rated MA15+
Link Here  full story: Swinging Baby...Circus family video clip causes police hassle

Swinging Baby video Queensland Police want to send a man to jail for up to 20 years on child-abuse charges over a video the Federal Government's own censors have classified as MA15+.

Chris Illingworth was charged late last year with accessing and uploading child-abuse material after he published, on a video-sharing site, a video of a man swinging a baby around like a rag doll.

Despite having no involvement in the creation of the three-minute clip, he was committed to a trial by jury in the District Court on July 8. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment for each of the two charges.

Illingworth's solicitor, Chelsea Emery has said that, if the case goes ahead, every Australian who surfs the net could be vulnerable to police prosecution.

But the Australian Communications and Media Authority, responding to a complaint about the video on July 9, sent the clip to the Classification Board, which classified the content MA15+.

Under the Classification Board's guidelines, the impact of MA15+ material should be no higher than strong and violence and strong themes should be justified by context. MA15+ material is considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age.

As a result of the Classification Board's decision, the content is not prohibited under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, read a letter from ACMA, seen by this website.

Queensland Police has said any Australians who simply view the clip could face a maximum of 10 years in jail but today it refused to comment on the apparent disparity between its and the Classification Board's definition of child-abuse material.

The information on the Classification Board's classification decision has been passed on to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. A spokesman said Illingworth's case would be reviewed.

It is not suggested that the Classification Board's decision to give the content a relatively minor MA15+ rating will have any bearing on Illingworth's trial, but the case has caused much controversy because the clip has already been shown on numerous Australian and US TV news shows and can still be found online today.

The video was just one of hundreds that Illingworth has uploaded to the Liveleak video sharing website as an administrator of the site.

This decision by the Classification Board shows either that the criminal definitions [of child abuse material] are too broad, or that the police and the public prosecutors are overly enthusiastic in bringing criminal charges under those provisions, Nic Suzor, spokesman for the online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said.

In the Queensland Police brief of evidence, Susan Cadzow, specialist pediatrician at Royal Brisbane Children's Hospital, said she thought the clip represented child abuse: The child's demeanour at the end of the video would seemingly suggest that no significant injury has occurred. However, it does not exclude the presence of a [hidden] injury, Cadzow said in her statement.

 

2nd September   

Update: Ruddy Embarrassing...

Opposition senator lays into Rudd's internet censorship policy
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Nick Minchin The Rudd Government plan to introduce mandatory ISP-level filtering was dead in the water and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy should end the farce now, the Opposition's leader in the Senate Nick Minchin said.

Senator Minchin, who risks a backlash from elements within the Coalition, says Senator Conroy already knows the mandatory filtering plan is heading for the rocks and was delaying its demise to avoid ultimate embarrassment.

Senator Minchin complained that Government had not even said what metrics it planned to use to determine whether a filtering trial could be considered successful or not.

Almost two years after coming to office with a plan to censor the internet, Senator Conroy has not even managed to release results for long overdue filtering trials, let alone come close to actually implementing this highly controversial policy, Senator Minchin said.

Huge doubts also continue to surround the type of content Labor wants to filter and how it will compile a black-list which would form the basis of its filtering regime.

The Coalition has said from the beginning it was prepared to assess any credible trial results, but almost two years after coming to office Senator Conroy has failed to produce them, let alone put forward any formal proposal for consideration, Senator Minchin said.

 

31st August   

Offsite: Censorship has No Place in Film...

Chinese efforts to censor our festival overshadowed by Ken Loach's equally insidious attempt
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

The 10 Conditions of Love logo This year's Melbourne International Film Festival was beset by attempts to censor our programme. The most celebrated effort came from the local Chinese consulate – demanding the withdrawal of the documentary 10 Conditions of Love about Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled voice of the Uighur minority. The festival's refusal to comply with this diktat produced an extraordinary response: the withdrawal of several Chinese films, hackers assaulting our website and ticketing system and waves of abusive emails, faxes and phonecalls.

The Kadeer controversy overshadowed an equally insidious attempt to censor our programme by the English filmmaker Ken Loach. While the Chinese wanted to silence Kadeer, Ken Loach demanded that we refuse any cultural sponsorship from Israel.

...Read full article article

 

29th August   

Update: Australian Censorship Just Like in Iran...

YouTube video of killing during Iranian election protests declared as 'prohibited content' in Australia
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Iran protests on video On 20 June 2009, a young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, was shot and killed during the Iranian election protests. Her death was captured on video, and spread virally on the Internet, becoming a rallying cry for the Iranian protests.

Given the notorious attempts by the Iranian government to censor the protests, both online and in the media, I thought it would be fitting to test Senator Stephen Conroy's assertions that the Government's proposed mandatory Internet filter was unlike the censorship that occurs in Iran and under other undemocratic regimes.

I submitted the following to ACMA:

I am an Australian resident. I believe the content at the following links is prohibited content or potential prohibited content hosted outside Australia within the meaning of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

  • Boing Boing post with embedded YouTube video showing the death of Neda Agha-Soltan and associated commentary.
  • YouTube video showing the death of Neda Agha-Soltan.
  • YouTube video showing another angle of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan.]

Each contains graphic video, apparently real, of a young girl shot in the chest and bleeding to death over the course of a couple of minutes.

The first link has no restrictions for viewing the video (but contains a textual warning). The second two links require registration and a declaration of date of birth (and also contain textual warnings).

The videos document the recent violence in Iran.

Today, 64 days later, I received a notice from ACMA confirming that the content was prohibited content.

As part of the ACMA's investigation of the complaint, it applied to the Classification Board for classification of the content concerned. As a result of the Classification Board's decision (R18+), and as the content is not subject to a restricted access system, it is prohibited content under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

ACMA has an obligation to blacklist (ie, add to the list of websites containing prohibited content, which is distributed to makers of IIA Family Friendly Filters) any site hosting prohibited content overseas. ACMA has no discretion not to blacklist content that meets the statutory definition of prohibited content.

Although the position was ambiguous initially (and is arguably still uncertain), Senator Stephen Conroy has now stated that the Government wants to constrain mandatory Internet filtering to content that is refused classification. (Though, refused classification content is much broader than his statements suggest.)

Because this content was classified R 18+ and not refused classification, this content would not be subject to mandatory filtering under a regime that mandated filtering only of content that has been refused classification.

However, none of this applies to sites hosted in Australia. ACMA can still issue a take-down, or link-deletion notice, to any site hosting, or linking to, R 18+ content that is not subject to a restricted access system (or other prohibited content). And you can be fined $11,000 per day if you don't comply with the notice by 6:00 pm the next business day.

 

28th August   

Update: Human Rights Go Walkabout...

UN finds Australia breaches human rights in discriminatory laws against Aborigines
Link Here  full story: Discriminatory Porn Ban in Australia...Porn is banned in Aboriginal communities

UN logo Australia breached international obligations on human and indigenous rights by imposing radical restrictions on Aborigines during a crackdown on child abuse in Outback communities, a United Nations expert said.

James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous human rights, said a 12-day fact-finding tour of Australia revealed that the Aboriginal minority still suffers from entrenched racism.

His comments came as the government launched its latest attempt to address the inequality, ill health and poverty among Australia's 500,000 indigenous people. The government said it would set up a national representative body this year to advise it on policies relating to Aborigines.

Anaya, a University of Arizona human rights law professor, said he was particularly concerned by restrictions imposed on Aborigines in the Northern Territory in response to a 2006 government-commissioned report that found child sex abuse was rampant in remote indigenous communities.

The government suspended its own anti-discrimination law so it could ban alcohol and hardcore pornography in Aboriginal communities and restrict how Aborigines spend their welfare cheques. The restrictions do not apply to Australians of other races.

These measures overtly discriminate against Aboriginal peoples, infringe their right of self-determination and stigmatise already stigmatised communities, Anaya said. The measures were too broad and had been imposed for too long, despite a lack of evidence that the ban on alcohol had reduced alcohol abuse, he said.

The restrictions were incompatible with Australia's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he said.

Nutters voice a rather predicable solution to the discrimination

28th August 2009. Based on article from au.christiantoday.com

ACL logo Bans on X-rated pornography in Northern Territory indigenous communities should be extended to all Australian communities, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) said.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said that rather than lifting critically needed bans on pornography in NT communities in response to United Nation concerns that they are discriminatory, the bans needed to be applied across Australia so that they assist all communities badly affected by pornography.

The Little Children Are Sacred report released by the NT Government in June 2007 identified pornography as one of the main drivers of an epidemic of sexual abuse which included the rape of babies and a case of a 17-year-old forcing younger children to watch pornography and then act it out, Wallace said.

It once and for all put paid to suggestions that pornography isn't harmful to children.

Given the way pornography helped fuel documented cases of sexual abuse in NT indigenous communities it would be irresponsible in the extreme to put more children at risk by lifting the pornography bans there.

However, there is certainly a case to be made that the bans are discriminatory when this situation wouldn't be confined to indigenous communities. There would be many other communities in Australia - even some in our major cities - which are isolated by lack of opportunity and social disadvantage and would be as badly affected by pornography. Surely all children need protecting.

Wallace called on the Federal Government to work with all States and Territories to deal with the issue of pornography: For a start the production and sale of X-rated pornography in the ACT – and the territory's thriving mail order business to the States – should be banned. Attorneys-General from all jurisdictions should then be jointly deciding on a national approach to protect Australians from this serious problem.

 

28th August   

The Wonderful World of No Sex...

Australian TV censor harangues cable company over marginally adult TV
Link Here

Cathouse DVD Australia's TV censor, ACMA, have imposed enforceable undertakings about program classification on FOXTEL after finding code breaches

This is the first time an enforceable undertaking has been offered and accepted from a licensee in the subscription television sector. In January 2009, the ACMA accepted an enforceable undertaking from The Nine Network and WIN Corporation licensees relating to the classification of Underbelly and Gordon Ramsay programs on commercial free-to-air television.

The enforceable undertaking was imposed in response to investigations into episodes of the programs Cathouse (Showtime Channel), The Wonderful World of Sex (The Comedy Channel) and Naked Wild On (E! Entertainment Channel). These programs were found to contain sexual content and/or nudity that could not be accommodated at the MA15+ classification, and therefore breached the ASTRA Subscription Television Codes of Practice 2007 (the codes).

The programs in question were classified R18+ by the Classification Board. Under the codes, content higher than MA15+ cannot be broadcast on subscription broadcast television services and can only be shown on subscription narrowcasting television services when access is restricted by disabling devices.

‘The ACMA considers classification-related breaches which are at the upper threshold of what may be broadcast on Australian television as particularly serious.  The undertaking requires FOXTEL to develop, implement and maintain a classification compliance strategy to deal with content that contains the classifiable elements of sex and/or nudity. The strategy acknowledges community sensitivity around adult content and includes obligations to ensure that programs are correctly classified. The undertaking requires FOXTEL to request that all channels confirm in writing that they will comply with the strategy and also aim to ensure that compliance with the strategy is a requirement of all new and renewed channel supply contracts.

 

22nd August   

Muff Ban...

Australian Film Censor bans film festival screening of Matinee
Link Here

Matinee DVD The Australian film censor has banned the screening of Jennifer Lyon Bells short film, Matinée at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF).

The MUFF wrote to oppose this decision on two grounds:

Firstly, the decision negates the artistic merits of the film. While graphically sexual, Matinée is a picture which embodies many of the qualities which should be sought after in high quality artistic filmmaking. The lead performances are strong and memorable, and the direction and production design work twofold, both ensuring a subtle, entirely naturalistic feel, and a highly stylized, enigmatic and atmospheric world, the likes of which is often attempted in independent cinema but rarely so deftly achieved.

Secondly, and most importantly, MUFF opposes the censor's decision on the grounds that it represents a hypocritical and troubling suppression of transgressive female-centric sexuality on film. The modus operandi of Blue Artichoke Films, Bells production company, is to create films which portray realistic sexual intimacy, depict empowered female characters, possess artistic merit and strong narratives, and do not fall back upon the damaging and often dangerous stereotypes of female sexuality that the Western media is accustomed to. In other words, Bell is looking to produce films about sexuality which women can enjoy, free of masculine control.

It is outrageous that the censor has sought fit to ban Matinée for the sole reason that it depicts actual sex. The sex depicted in the film, while real, is set within a relationship based on love and mutual desire. What we see in Matinée is two consenting adults (characters, not porn clichés, with a deep and complex established relationship) making love. That is all. Nowhere in this film do we see any violence, sexual abuse, cruelty or malice; we merely see the intimacy which occurs between loving partners every day in real life. The fact that this depiction is considered to be too disturbing for an adult audience, and yet films which depict shocking and graphic violence and/or sexual abuse (yes, simulated, but made to look and feel real) are passed by the censor, is unacceptable.

 

17th August   

Australia Censors on Dope...

Director considers MA15+ rating too high for his movie
Link Here

Stone Bros poster An Aboriginal director has slammed Australia's film censors for what he says is an unnecessarily harsh rating for his new film, and accused them of falling victim to indigenous stereotyping.

Richard Frankland is angry that his film Stone Bros , which centres on two young Aboriginal men on a road trip to Kalgoorlie, has been rated by the Film Classification Board as MA 15+ because of its drug use.

Frankland accused the board of partly basing the rating on a scene that is not even in the film. In its official report the board describes the scene as 'marijuana … being cut from the plant' before it is formed into joints: They certainly haven't done their job properly. Some people make subconscious assumptions when they see indigenous subjects … I think they're either under-resourced and understaffed and can't cope with the amount of work they're doing or someone's just made a terrible error.'

Stone Bros, which was warmly received at the Dungog Film Festival in May, opens in cinemas next month.

Frankland said the rating, which deems the film unsuitable for viewers under 15, would limit its audience, especially among young Aborigines who were struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. This film is coming from a marginalised group in society, where there's a high suicide rate that can be attributed directly to drug use, low self-esteem and alcohol abuse. We know that this film if utilised properly can assist a lot of people in stepping out of those areas.

Unable to afford the $8000 fee to appeal, Frankland called on the classifiers to review the decision to get a fairer and perhaps a little bit visionary judgment.

A spokeswoman for the classification board said the reasons for the rating were detailed in its report: This film contains numerous visuals of explicit marijuana smoking and the hallucinatory effects of consuming the illicit drug, the report said, noting scenes that show characters dumping a bag of joints on a table, smoking four joints simultaneously and being heavily drug-affected while driving.

Update: Review Scheduled

3rd September 2009.  See article from theage.com.au

The Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, has demanded the Classification Review Board reconsider the film following representations from its distributors, Australian Film Syndicate and director Richard J. Frankland.

The Classification Review Board will meet on Saturday September 12 to consider the applications.

 

13th August   

Update: Scientology, Iran and Australia...

Anonymous takes action against the world's internet enemies
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Anonymous logo An internet activist group calling itself Anonymous is taking on Kevin Rudd over his censorship policies.

They've released a video threatening their full-fledged wrath if the government doesn't abolish its internet filtering plans.

The group is also demanding the resignation of communications minister Stephen Conroy.

They claim he has has no level of understanding of the topic he is dealing with.

Anonymous led a high profile campaign against the Church of Scientology, and has tried to subvert censorship in Iran. The group is composed of members of different internet discussion forums and subcultures.

 

13th August   

Updated: Reefer Madness...

Australian censor bans Risen, the 3rd games ban of the year
Link Here

Koch Media's medieval role-playing video game Risen has become the latest title be banned by the Australian Classification Board.

Sex or drugs, or a combination of the two look to have been the reason that the game was banned here in Australia.

In Europe the game has been given a PEGI 16 rating.

In the US the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has already rated it as Mature meaning that it is suitable for persons 17 years and older.

The ESRB describe the sex and drug content as follows.

During the course of the game, players can interact with prostitutes (referred to as "whores" in the game) at a local brothel. Players can trigger a lengthy dialogue to engage in their services; sexual activity is strongly implied, but never depicted on screen

Many of the characters in the game smoke a fictional drug called "brugleweed." The "wood reefer" plant is described as having a mild relaxing effect on users, and can be bought, sold, and used by players.

Update: Australian Censors on Brugleweed

13th August 2009. Based on article from escapistmagazine.com

Australian Film Classification Board Australia's Classification Board has detailed its reasons for refusing to issue a classification for the upcoming RPG Risen and as expected, the presence of implied sex and pretend drugs is simply too much for the country's sensitive children and adults to handle.

Then Board confirmed in an email that sex and drugs - even drugs that sound as though they were lifted straight from a Harry Potter novel - are a big no-no in videogames down under.

The game contains 'quests' which a player may choose to complete by acquiring sexual services of prostitutes, the Classification Board said in an email: Though it is purportedly not a necessary element of game play, players gain rewards or advance through the game more easily by engaging in sexual activity with prostitutes. Despite sex being given discreet treatment within the game, sexual activity is clearly linked to incentives or rewards.

The fictional drug "brugleweed" is given a similar treatment. "A player can trade and smoke this drug, which mirrors an illegal 'real-world' drug in its terminology, use and depiction. Dialogue refers to the drug having a 'relaxing effect' on the character. 23 'experience points' are gained by using the drug for the first time whilst every use thereafter leads to a moderate gain of three 'experience points'. This direct link between the use of 'brugleweed' and a positive increase in 'experience points' is an example of drug use related to incentives or rewards, which must be classified RC.

 

9th August   

Update: Sex and Politics...

Australian Sex Party achieves official recognition
Link Here  full story: Australia Sex Party...Adult trade association organises a politcal party

Australian Sex Party The Australian Sex Party has obtained approval from the Australian Electoral Commission for registration as a political party.

The commission, which announced the registration on its website, said it had received several objections.

The party's convenor and likely future candidate Fiona Patten said: One of the reasons for establishing the party was to provide a positive platform for sexual issues amongst the negative notions of sex that most politicians and political parties have, she said in a statement.

 

4th August   

Stupid Stunts...

Kyle and Jackie O Show pulled from radio
Link Here

Kyle & Jackie O Show An Australian radio show has been pulled off air after a lie detector stunt saw a 14-year-old girl say she had been raped.

The Kyle and Jackie O Show on Sydney's 2Day FM was put into recess pending a review over the incident last week.

The move follows public 'outrage' over the segment, which saw the girl quizzed about whether she was sexually active.

Host Kyle Sandilands has also been sacked from his role as a judge on Australian Idol over the row.

The radio show saw the girl strapped to a polygraph machine as her mother - who had volunteered to be on air - quizzed her despite apparently knowing she had been assaulted when she was 12 years old.

Sandilands was accused of further insensitivity when after the revelation he asked: Right, and is that the only sexual experience you've had?

Co-host Jackie O'Neil put an end to any further discussions when she realised the conversation had crossed a line.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd led the criticism against the radio show, saying: This is a young girl and I am, as I think most Australians are, really distressed at the way in which the young person has been treated.

Child welfare officers and police have now been ordered to investigate the teenager's claims.

 

3rd August   

Update: Antichrist in Australia...

Film censor intervenes for showing at Melbourne Film Festival
Link Here  full story: Extreme Cuts...Lars Von Trier sexual violence causes a stir

Antichrist DVD Lars Von Trier's controversial new film featuring two scenes of genital mutilation, Antichrist , will be released commercially in Australia in November.

The Melbourne International Film Festival will screen it this week after a rare intervention by the Australian Classification Board

The censor made the extraordinary request to view the film when the festival announced it would screen it. Normally, the major Australian film festivals are granted special Customs and censorship clearances by the office prohibiting people under 18 from attending films (except in special sessions). The censor need only view the films if they are due for commercial release. The censor granted the festival its exemption in a letter that arrived on the day the festival opened.

Festival director Richard Moore said the film was a deliberately provocative piece . It's Lars von Trier thumbing his nose in a way at contemporary film, at contemporary filmmaking and his own mystique.

Transmission Films, which acquired the film for Australian distribution last week, expects it to receive an R rating with warnings. The company's joint managing director, Andrew Mackie, said: I hope it's controversial. Mackie said he had given the director an unconditional guarantee he would not distribute the film in Australia if it needed modification or editing.

 

27th July   

Updated: The 10 Conditions of Love...

China annoyed by Melbourne Film Festival entry about a Uighur activist
Link Here  full story: Festivals of Politics...Boycotts and politics at film and book festivals

The 10 Conditions of Love logo The Chinese Government has stirred more controversy in Australia by demanding that a film about a Chinese Uighur Muslim activist be dropped from the country's largest film festival.

The Cultural Attache at China's Consulate in Melbourne contacted the organisers of the Melbourne Film Festival, and insisted that they drop the documentary about Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled businesswoman and activist whom the Chinese Government blame for last week's riots in restive Xinjiang province.

Richard Moore, the executive director of the film festival told The Times that the attache, Chunmei Chen, demanded he justify his decision to include the film, The 10 Conditions of Love , in the festival.

We had a strident conversation, Moore said: Ms Chen urged me to withdraw the film from the festival and told me I had to justify my actions in programming it. I told her that under no circumstances would I withdraw the film, that I had no reason to do so. I don't need to justify my actions, unless it's in relation to our own sense of morals.

The film tells the story of the relationship between Ms Kadeer, leader of the World Uigher Congress, and her activist husband Sidik Rouzi and explores the effect on her 11 children of her campaign for autonomy for China's Uigher population. Two of Ms Kadeer's sons have been jailed as a result of her actions.

Ms Kadeer is due to speak at the Melbourne Film Festival next month after being invited by the film's producer John Lewis.

Ms Chen said the Chinese were also very unhappy that Rebiya is coming here as a guest, said Moore: She proceeded to list Rebiya's crimes, everything from evading taxes to being a terrorist. It was a real character assassination. To be honest, after a couple of minutes listening to this very detailed list of accusations I phased out. In the end I hung up. I would never normally do that but when you have someone who isn't listening to you and won't stop talking I just said 'I have nothing else to say, goodbye.'

Update: China pulls 2 films in response to refusal to ban 10 Conditions of Love

23rd July 2009. Based on article from telegraph.co.uk

China has withdrawn two films from an Ausrtralian film festival after the event's director refused to ban a documentary about Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.

Two weeks before the Melbourne Film Festival was due to open, director Richard Moore received a phone call from Chen Chun Mei at the Chinese consulate, who asked him to withdraw the film. He refused and politely hung up . Then, on Tuesday, he was notified that two Chinese films were being pulled out of the festival.

Moore claimed the film-makers withdrew their movies after he ignored pressure from Beijing to drop the documentary about Ms Kadeer. He said he believed Beijing had ordered the withdrawal of films Perfect Life and Cry Me a River in an attempt at political intimidation ahead of the August 8 screening: It's hard to draw any other conclusion .

Chow Keung, the Hong Kong-based head of Xstream Pictures, which produced both films, said he had no problem with the screening of 10 Conditions of Love . However, the film-makers had an issue with Ms Kadeer appearing as a festival guest. The group had no links with the Chinese authorities, he told the Australian: We are independent filmmakers. This response is by consensus, and it is very personal. He said he did not blame the Melbourne festival organisers: We respect their programming freedom. But hundreds of ordinary people have just been killed in the conflict in Xinjiang. I know the families of two of the victims, and it offends my sense of morality to appear there alongside (Kadeer) as a guest. I would not be comfortable.

Tickets to 10 Conditions have since sold out and a second screening is being scheduled.

Update: Chinese Hackers Attack Film Festival Website

27th July 2009. Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Chinese hackers have attacked the website of Australia's biggest film festival over its decision to screen a documentary about the exiled Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer.

Two days after the Melbourne international festival opened, hackers replaced programme information with the Chinese flag and anti-Kadeer slogans and sent spam emails in an attempt to crash the site, according to reports in the Australian press.

We like film but we hate Rebiya Kadeer, one message said, demanding an apology to the Chinese people.

The festival director, Richard Moore, said staff had been bombarded with abusive emails after he rebuffed demands from the Chinese government to drop the film about Kadeer, The 10 Conditions of Love , and cancel her invitation to the festival.

The language has been vile, Moore told the Melbourne Age: It is obviously a concerted campaign to get us because we've refused to comply with the Chinese government's demands.

He said the festival had reported the attacks, which appear to be coming from a Chinese internet protocol address, and was discussing security concerns with Victoria's state police. Private security guards are being hired to protect Kadeer and other patrons at the film's screening on August 8.

Update: Chinese Prove Their Repressive Nature

1st August 2009. See article from theepochtimes.com

The artistic director of Brisbane's International Film Festival (BIFF) says she is horrified by the behaviour of the Chinese consulate and the ensuing cyber attacks on the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).

I think it is appalling. It is a really strange, inappropriate kind of tactic in a society that has freedom of speech, Anne Demy-Geroe told The Epoch Times.

Ms Demy-Geroe said she is receiving calls from friends in Europe equally horrified at the bullying and stands firmly in the belief that international film festivals have a duty to screen controversial films.

 

25th July   

Update: Sex Politics...

Australian Sex Party well on the way to government recognition
Link Here  full story: Australia Sex Party...Adult trade association organises a politcal party

Australian Sex Party The Australian Sex Party, a proposed political party which filed papers for recognition by the Australian government last month, has completed its four-week comment period with only four complaints from the Australian population.

Yesterday our office received the objections people had made to the Electoral Commission about our political party registration, Australia Sex Party organizer Fiona Patten said: There were only four, which was a little surprising. We now must respond to them and allay fears that the democratic process as we know it will cease to exist with the birth of the Australian Sex Party, which seems to be the concern of some. So we are now in the final stretch and hopefully will be approved as a fully fledged Australian political party this time next month.

 

24th July   

Update: Uncensored Politics...

Anti censorship campaigner appointed to post with the Australian Democrats
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Australian Democrats logo The Australian Democrats have announced Sydney technologist Geordie Guy as their new National Technology Policy Coordinator.

Currently a board member of Electronic Frontiers Australia, Guy has been an active figure in the fight against internet censorship as proposed by the Rudd Government.

He is a computer systems architect with a decade of experience working with business and people in the IT industry itself as well as other markets and a qualified network engineer.

The Technology Policy working group under Mr Guy's direction will continue the Australian Democrats' search for a better solution than censorship to current web content concerns through the nointernetcensorship.com campaign website.

 

15th July   

Update: The Fashion to Complain...

Bruno clocks up the complaints in Australia and gets banned in Ukraine
Link Here

Bruno film poster Bruno is to become the most complained-about film of the year in Australia and is set to be sued by a terrorist leader featured in the movie who claims the interview was conducted under false pretences.

Bruno, which features swingers' parties, barely-pixelated oral sex and a "talking" male appendage, has clocked up 12 complaints with the Classification Board since it started screening in Australia with a MA15+ rating last Wednesday.

All say the film, based on Sasha Baron Cohen's flamboyantly gay fashionista character, should be rated R18+.

MA15+ bars under-15s without a parent or guardian while R18+ bars under-18s from viewing the film at all.

In New Zealand, Bruno has been rated R16, which restricts those aged under 16 from watching.

In the US, it is rated R, which means under-17s must be accompanied by a guardian.

Ayman Abu Aita, who is labelled in the movie as a terrorist group leader, said he was shocked when he learned five days ago the film depicts a homosexual character and contains scenes including full frontal male nudity and graphic homosexual fetish sex.

Aita also slammed Baron Cohen as a big liar who made up stories when describing to David Letterman the way he met Aita at an undisclosed location. Aita said he is pursuing legal action against Baron Cohen.

Ukrainian Dick Censors

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Ukraine flag It may have been the visit to the swingers' party that did it. Or perhaps it was the scene where Brüno drops in to see a medium and simulates oral and anal sex with a ghost. Either way, the antics of Sacha Baron Cohen's Brüno all appear to be too much for Ukraine.

According to reports, Ukraine's culture and tourism ministry is set to ban the film Brüno , which was due for release in the post-Soviet country next week.

The ministry has so far not explained its decision. But it appears to have taken the view that several of the scenes – among them a mock gay parade, and one in which Brüno shows off his penis – were likely to offend conservative and religious opinion.

Ukraine's Catholic west and orthodox east take a dim view of gay rights, and hold highly traditional social views. And despite efforts by Ukraine's western-leaning political elite to integrate with Europe, there is little sign of a more liberal view taking hold.

Yesterday, however, some sources in Ukraine's cinema industry suggested that the controversy may simply be an elaborate publicity stunt, dreamed up by distributors Sinergia to boost the film ahead of its release.

The Ukrainian website korrespondent.net, however, today reported the ban was genuine.

 

14th July   

Updated: Unproven, Ineffective Relief from Internet Nasties...

Australian campaigners against government filtering introduce censorsdyne
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Censordyne ad GetUp! has officially launched Censordyne, an ad and website campaign combo to help stop the Government from introducing Internet censorship in Australia. The group hopes to show the ad on Qantas flights in August when politicians are on flights to Canberra as Parliament resumes.

Children's welfare groups Save the Children and the National Children's & Youth Law Centre joined GetUp! in the campaign, issuing a joint statement:

We argue that the tens of millions of dollars that such a scheme will cost should instead be diverted to appropriate child protection authorities and police to prevent the abuse of children, and towards effective community-based education strategies that give children and parents the skills to protect themselves.

Further, PC-level filtering software should be promoted to and provided to parents that wish to protect their children from inappropriate internet content.

The Australian Library and Information Association, Civil Liberties Australia, Liberty Victoria, National Association for the Visual Arts, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, QLD Council for Civil Liberties and Dr Alex Byrne FALIA, University Librarian, UTS, also signed the statement.

Senator Conroy's office responded, claiming GetUp's campaign misrepresents the Government's position: For its last campaign on the issue, GetUp! falsely claimed that any form of filtering would slow internet speeds by 87%, the statement said: Now it resorts to spurious claims about the future expansion of the list of content that may be filtered. The Government regards freedom of speech as very important and the Government's cyber-safety policy is in no way designed to curtail this.

Update: Sensitive Airlines and Sensitive Teeth

14th July 2009. Based on article from smh.com.au

Qantas has put the kybosh on online activist group GetUp's latest anti-censorship campaign, refusing to run the Censordyne ad on its flights.

Simon Sheikh, chief executive of GetUp, said the group had planned to run the parody ad on all Qantas domestic flights into Canberra next month to ensure it was seen by politicians and their staff members around the first sitting week of Parliament.

But Qantas refused to run the ad, which lampoons the Government's forthcoming internet filtering scheme, saying it had a long-standing policy not to run political advertising.

Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline, which owns the Sensodyne brand, on which the parody campaign is based, said it was considering legal action against GetUp. It said it was not consulted over the campaign and did not endorse GetUp's use of the word "Censordyne".

Hardly a brand improving association: Censordyne promises unproven, ineffective relief from internet nasties

A group of mainly smaller internet providers are now finishing their trials of the Government's internet filtering scheme and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has said he expects to release results within weeks. Senator Conroy has said the results will determine whether the Government proceeds with the controversial election policy.

 

11th July   

Stephen Conroy Internet Villain...

UK ISPA dishonours Australian minister for internet villainy
Link Here

ISPA logo The UK ISP trade association ISPA famously make awards to the internet Hero and internet Villain of the past twelve months.

These went respectively to the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), for their work in recognising publicly that the focus of music companies should be the development of new business models for distributing content online, and to Stephen Conroy and the Australian Government for continuing to promote network-level blocking despite significant national and international opposition.

Unsurprisingly, no-one turned up to collect the internet Villain award. But collecting the Internet Hero award on behalf of Featured Artists Coalition, Billy Bragg urged greater co-operation between the music and internet industries.

FAC Chairman and Blur drummer Dave Rowntree added: I hope this shows that artists are willing to talk with ISPs about the challenges of adapting music industry business models to the digital age. We have to work together – the status quo is not good enough.

So is ISPA going soft on file-sharing? Of the 9 nominations in the Hero/Villain categories, one nomination for villainy went to France's President Nikolas Sarkozy, for his role in promoting draconian sanctions in respect of internet piracy (the "loi Hadopi").

A spokesman for ISPA confirmed that they do not condone unlawful file sharing. However, he said: We feel that disconnection and technical sanctions are disproportionate. We are very much in favour of working toward a better position than the present through the more pragmatic approaches that the FAC have come out with. We want to change the focus away from music companies calling for people to be cut from the internet.

 

8th July   

Update: Underwhelmed by Discriminatory Legislation...

So has a porn ban cured Aboriginal society woes?
Link Here  full story: Discriminatory Porn Ban in Australia...Porn is banned in Aboriginal communities

Australia: Northen Territories flag Only a handful of people have been prosecuted for possessing pornography in Northern Territory Indigenous communities, where the explicit material is banned.

The ban was one of a raft of measures, including alcohol restrictions, introduced in remote communities when the federal intervention was initiated in 2007.

The Darwin Magistrates Court today heard that only a handful of people have faced court for having the material under intervention laws. The ABC understands the number is as low as five.

 

8th July   

Update: Panic and Censor...

Australians fearful of the excesses of art, film, television and the internet
Link Here  full story: Art Censorship in Australia...Getting wound up by children in art

Bill Henson photo Watching the smouldering ruins of the Henson bonfire in the past few months, I've had reason to recall the old ambassador's wisdom. The transition from Howard to Rudd has seen not much change from the social caution of the old era. The liberals inside Labor are almost as embattled as they were inside the Coalition. That Rudd is, as we were warned, very, very conservative involves more than maintaining the American alliance. It also means continuing to promise fearful Australians protection from the excesses of art, film, television and now, above all, the internet.

As the year drags to a close, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is fine-tuning a regime of internet censorship unique in the democratic world. Under direction from Rudd, the Australia Council is drafting protocols that will tie in bureaucratic knots any artist dealing with children and present extraordinary obstacles to their work being put on the net. And the nation's attorneys-general are roaming the outskirts of censorship law to try to crack down on images of naked children. Kevin Rudd's Australia is in a funk over art and kids.

...Read full article

 

2nd July   

Update: Lost Credibility...

New Zealand Whinges at Australian film certificate
Link Here  full story: Land of the Lost...Land of the Lost controversy in Australasia

Land of the Lost film poster Complaints from the public have prompted the chief censor to lift the rating for the film Land of the Lost from PG to M.

Chief censor Bill Hastings said New Zealand automatically adopted G, PG and M ratings from Australia, but the system was not always perfect.

But there is an inbuilt safety valve - if members of the public are concerned about a film's rating they can ask me to review it.

The M label applies to films containing offensive language and sexual references.

 

1st July   

Update: Conroy is an Embarrassment...

ICANN says that Australia will embarrassed itself over internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

ICANN logo The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) chief has said the Australian government will embarrass itself if it pushes ahead with plans to install a national Internet content filter.

The group is a non-profit corporation that oversees management of domain names and IP addresses, Internet Protocol address space allocation and generic Top Level Domains.

ICANN board chair Peter Dengate Thrush said national Internet content filters are ineffective at law enforcement. The plan was introduced by federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

The government has set itself up for embarrassment, Thrush said: I have no problems with the principle behind it [but] censoring material outside the country is difficult and the tools to do it cost a lot.

 

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