Australia Censorship News

 2011: April-June

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30th June   

Dead Wrong...


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Australia's censors award a 15 rating to Dead Island compared with a BBFC 18 rating
Link Here

Deep Silver Dead Island DVD The hotly anticipated open world zombie game Dead Island has received an MA15+ rating from the Australian Classification Board.

In a decision that has surprised many in the video games industry, Dead Island has passed through the Australian Classification Board unscathed, receiving an MA15+ rating for strong horror violence, blood and gore.

In the UK, the game was passed 18 uncut with the BBFC comment: Contains strong bloody violence and strong language.

The BBFC also explained their decision to award an 18 rather than a 15.:

At 15 the BBFC's Guidelines state Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable . During DEAD ISLAND zombie enemies are frequently encountered during normal gameplay, and must be defeated in order to progress. The player can pick up virtually anything on the island to use as a weapon, which means that rowing oars and baseball bats are often utilised at the start, with weapons only becoming available as the player progresses in experience. The list of weapons includes knives, knuckle dusters, pistols, machine guns, shotguns and Molotov cocktails. When attacking the undead, blood frequently sprays from their bodies and onto the screen, and blood is seen smeared on the melee weapons as they are used. It is also possible to blow off limbs and heads with more powerful weapons such as the shotgun, with blood also spurting from the severed body parts. This level of violence dwells on the infliction of both pain and injury, and as such was not permissible at the 15 category.

Dead Island will launch globally on September 9, 2011 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

 

30th June   

Updated: First Steps...

Sex Shop City
 

SEX SHOP CITY

The largest city full of erotic articles and sex toys
 

SexShopCity
 

Australian ISPs to implement a minimal internet filter currently limited to URLs featuring child abuse
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

optus logoAustralian internet users will have their web access partially censored next month after the country's two largest internet providers agreed to voluntarily block more than 500 websites from view.

Telstra and Optus confirmed they would block access to a list of child abuse websites provided by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and more compiled by unnamed international organisations from mid-year.

But internet experts have warned that the scheme is merely a feel-good policy that will not stop criminals from accessing obscene material online and could block websites unfairly.

The voluntary scheme was originally proposed by the Federal Government last year as part of a wider, $9.8 million scheme to encourage internet service providers to block all Refused Classification material from users. The Government dropped its funding for the scheme last month due to limited interest from the industry, but a spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said a basic voluntary filter was still on track to be introduced by Telstra, Optus and two small ISPs.

The ACMA will compile and manage a list of URLs of child abuse content that will include the appropriate subsection of the ACMA blacklist as well as child abuse URLs that are provided by reputable international organisations (to be blocked), the spokesman said.

Electronic Frontiers Association board member Colin Jacobs also expressed concern at the scheme, saying the Government and internet providers needed to be more upfront about websites being blocked and offer an appeals process for website owners who felt URLs had been blocked unfairly.

Update: Telstra hacked off by censorship

26th June 2011. See article from online.wsj.com

Telstra logoAt least one Australian ISP is wavering on plans to begin blocking illegal websites next month because of fear of reprisals from internet vigilantes.

It came to light yesterday that despite a climbdown by the Australian government, four of the country's internet providers, including the two largest, were planning to launch a voluntary internet filtering scheme in July. The plan has been criticized as lacking transparency, accountability and any sort of visible appeals process, but never mind all that, it's full steam ahead!

Now, Telstra, one of the two big players involved, is apparently having second thoughts about the whole thing. A rep said last night that while the company remains committed to working with the government to cut access to child pornography, it hasn't actually made a decision to fire up the filter.

What's the hangup? Word on the street is that Telstra is worried about putting itself in the crosshairs of Anonymous and other internet vigilantes.   Patrick Gray of the Risky Business security podcast said Telstra was right to be worried. If they think there's a laugh in something and it ties in with their politics, they might have a go, sure.

Update: Strict Interpol List, Not Australia's bloated block list

30th June 2011. See article from sexparty.org.au

internet industry association logoAustralia's internet industry body has sought to distance its fledgling child pornography filtering scheme from the Federal Government's mandatory filtering policy, stating its own more limited approach was more akin to ISPs cooperating with law enforcement authorities and would not constitute a form of censorship.

The scheme is expected to see most of Australia's major ISPs voluntarily block a list of sites containing child pornography compiled by international policing agency Interpol, with the assistance of the Australian Federal Police. The legal instrument for the scheme to go ahead is section 313 of Australia's Telecommunications Act, which allows law enforcement to make reasonable requests for assistance from ISPs.

The framework has already been agreed to by Telstra and Optus, and most of the rest of Australia's major ISPs are expected to fall in line and implement the Interpol blacklist over the next year.

In an interview this afternoon, Internet Industry Association chief executive Peter Coroneos denied the Interpol filter would see a form of censorship reach Australia's internet sector. This is not censorship; this is law enforcement cooperation around material which is illegal to possess, he said. We've been at pains to try and distance this initiative from the Government's mandatory filtering scheme.

Coroneos highlighted a number of key differences between the IIA's policy and Labor's filter policy. For starters, he said, no new technology would need to be implemented in ISPs' networks to block the Interpol list, although both policies would see a block page displayed when a user tried to access a banned site. Instead, ISPs' network routing tables would block access to the sites directly, with a list of the banned sites to be provided by Interpol through the AFP to the ISPs.

Secondly, the Interpol list will contain a much more limited set of sites to be blocked than the Federal Government's scheme would affect. The Interpol list only contains several hundred sites, representing the agency's worst of list of sites containing media depicting children younger than 13 years in sexually exploitative situations. And the images must be of real people --- sites which contain computer generated or other created images are not included.

The Federal Government's list is believed to contain several thousand sites in a range of categories of material that have been refused classification, not just child pornography, for example, but pro-rape sites, bestiality, sites which promote crime and so on.

 

30th June   

Offsite: Secretive Obscenity...

Hot Movies
Internet
Video

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So what porn is hot, and what is not at Australian Customs?
Link Here  full story: Australian Customs Porn Declaration...Travellers to Australia asked to decalre legal porm

Get Your Own Porn stickerAustralian classification laws are in the process of being overhauled, an overhaul which may see their powers increased. But few people know exactly what is currently banned in Australia.

Discussion of what might or might not be excluded by an internet filter hits a road block when it comes to Refused Classification or RC - a term that is at best vague. We are told that the promised filter will be set to catch RC content. However, few people (including some of the legislators) actually know what RC means.

Refused Classification is also the basis for the term illegal pornography , a description now appearing on Australian airport landing cards. All travellers must declare potentially-RC items when arriving in Australia. However, because neither the Classification Board nor Customs publish their guidelines, no-one knows what might be potentially-RC - until they are told that they have broken the rules. The penalties for breaching these invisible regulations include fines, deportation and imprisonment.

The Classification Board briefs Customs on their Guidelines and periodically gives scaled-down presentations to adult publishers in order to clarify the broad, grey, contradictory area that the Code defines. But other than that, no-one knows what they are in detail... until they get caught flouting them.

One adult publisher has sought to document the official Guidelines, based on briefings by the Board and noting over time the reasons given for submitted content being Refused Classification. According to a former Classification Board member, this document accurately reflects the official but unpublished Guidelines.

According to the document, material including any of the following is refused classification:

  • No depiction of violence, sexual violence, sexualised violence or coercion is allowed in the category. It does not allow sexually assaultive language. Nor does it allow consensual depictions which purposefully demean anyone involved in that activity for the enjoyment of viewers.
     
  • Fetishes such as body piercing [and tattooing], application of substances such as candle wax, golden showers , bondage, spanking or fisting are not permitted. As the category is restricted to activity between consenting adults, it does not permit any depictions of non-adult persons, including those aged 16 or 17, nor of adult persons who look like they are under 18 years.
  • Violence: rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment. This includes actual violence (shooting, punching, pushing, throwing a person, etc), implied violence (gunshot sound effect, news article, mugshots), aftermath of violence (person with injury, dead body), threat of violence ( I'll kill you ), and violent behavior (woman holding gun while engaged in sex with man). Note down ANY and ALL violence, even if it looks contrived or unrealistic (plastic swords, etc). Depictions of dead people are also not permitted.

    The implied violence comment is so strict that it renders virtually all crossover drama/porn films (those that ape cop shows, fantasy films and drama, but with added full sex scenes).

    Adult videos have for instance been Refused Classification for showing a gun on a table or for showing a headline in a newspaper describing a murder. One video was refused classification because it was about people looking for a friend that had been kidnapped - even though the kidnapping was never shown. Another was rated RC because a character simply had a black eye. Another was rejected because of a scene showing a doctor putting on a pair of rubber gloves.
     
  • Sexual Violence: Spanking, choking, pinching, stepping on the face, hair pulling (either as a violent act or consensual fetish act), rough or man handling, face slapping, and general rough play are all prohibited;
     
  • General rough play is a description that could be attributed to virtually every film that features sex. Only one spank (as in a slap on the bum) is allowed at any one time. And that can't be very hard. All BDSM is banned.
  • Sexually assaultive language - a tone of voice or language that is demeaning and disparaging. Eg. Calling someone a whore or slut, or telling them to do something demeaning in a disparaging way. This does not include dirty talk .
  • Golden Showers: Urinating on one self or another person is objectionable. Female ejaculation or squirting is considered to be golden showers. The latter is controversial with medical discussion suggesting female ejaculation is a minority but normal sexual response.

...Read the full article

 

27th June   

Update: Flawed Senators...

Australia's nutter senators call for censorship of art
Link Here  full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

Australian senateThe report, released last week by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, says the defence of artistic merit is not enough to allow some controversial works of art to be exhibited, particularly when it comes to those that depict children.

Chairman Tasmanian and nutter senator Guy Barnett said the current classification system was broken and flawed and the recommendation was striving for uniformity across all media platforms. Visual arts should not be exempt from our criminal laws and our anti-pornography laws, he said.

Art Gallery of SA director Nick Mitzevich responded saying a one size fits all approach to classification might be damaging to the industry. Most of the visual arts industry censors itself and understands the moral compass of the industry, he said. I think there's little evidence to support such a draconian approach - a one size fits all. It seems it's bureaucracy out of control.

National Association of Visual Arts executive director Tamara Winikoff hoped the Federal Government would wait until the Australian Law Reform Commission's concurrent inquiry into the classification was handed down in January before entertaining the idea of a ratings system. She warned against putting visual arts into the same category as other media. Between all sorts of cultural productions there are similarities, but the way the work is seen and understood is really very different, she said: You can't just lump apples and oranges together.

 

25th June   

Comment: Pandering to Nutters...

Australian senate committee calls for more censorship
Link Here  full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

Australian senateAustralia's censorship system is fundamentally flawed, it fails to protect children from pornography and it does not prevent the legal availability of graphic depictions of actual sex in some places, according to a Senate committee report.

It wants an overhaul of the classification system and more censorial rules introduced to pander to supposed community concerns about the sexualisation of society and objectification of women.

A truly national scheme would ensure explicit material that is banned in some states is not available in other parts of the country, most notably in the ACT and parts of the Northern Territory, it said.

It found that concerns about sexual violence were being ignored by the system, as was the general rule that an R18+ classification meant simulation, yes - the real thing, no . Instead, numerous films showing graphic sex had been rated R18+ and sold in some jurisdictions.

It raised concerns about restricted adult magazines being displayed in shops next to comics and DVDs for children.

It says that rules should be uniformly restrictive for all media, including mobile devices, while references to context should be removed given the committee's finding they were helping to push explicit material into lower classifications.

Self-regulation of complaints about ads would be retained, subject to an appeal right to the Classification Review Board, although industry groups opposed that call.

Offsite Comment: Who's for promoting porn?

25th June 2011. See article from smh.com.au

The Classification Board has delicately suggested to the commission that if the availability of X18+ material was made uniform across the country, police and customs could concentrate on stopping the really nasty stuff refused any classification at all.

An entirely sensible thing to do, but despite the stupidity of an often-flouted rule that prefers violence to sex, and which makes it criminal to sell films of people doing what people do, who wants to be seen as promoting porn? Civil libertarians, yes. Anyone else?

...Read the full article

 

22nd June   

Updated: Politician Daring to Look Stupid...

We Dare up for a classification review in Australia
Link Here

We Dare Wii Australia's Classification Board is to review the current PG rating for Ubisoft's We Dare , a cartoon charades game which came in for nutter criticism earlier this year mainly over its adult style promotional video.

The review will be heard on June 17 by the Classification Review Board following an application being lodged by Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor. He said to GamesSpot

I asked the Classification Board to review We Dare following media reports that the game's PG rating may be inappropriate. I believe that this game is unsuitable for children and I look forward to the outcome of the Classification Board's review of its PG rating. I share the concern of many parents that children may be inadvertently playing games that are more suited to adult gamers.

The censors initally gave the Ubisoft-published party game We Dare a PG rating for mild sexual references. A number of the party games alluded to kissing, spanking, and stripping.

The censors ignored Ubisoft's initial advice during the application process to give the game an M rating. According to the board's initial report, classifiers did not feel that the game deserved an M rating because there is no sexual behaviour actually displayed in the game and the graphics it contains are highly stylised and cartoon-like:

The Board disagrees with the recommended classification of M, the report states. Given the reasons noted above, the Board is of the opinion the game warrants a PG classification with consumer advice of mild sexual references.

The game also caused controversy in the UK, where it was given a 12+ rating by the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) ratings board.

Update: PG Retained

22nd June 2011. See article from kotaku.com.au

Kokatu are reporting that We Dare , the controversial game from Ubisoft has retained its PG rating. According to the Classification Board, the overall impact... does not exceed mild .

A statement from the Classification Board claimed that this decision was a unanimous one.

A three-member panel of the Classification Review Board (the Review Board) has by unanimous decision determined that the computer game We Dare is classified PG (Parental Guidance) with the consumer advice mild sexual references .

This game contains a series of mini games which provide a single player (or a multiple of players up to four) with a variety of tasks. These mini games, which are randomly available to players based on a choice of moods , include dance moves and activities, which may require interaction with other players. There are no sexual references in actual game play. Text boxes, which contain miscellaneous facts about gender differences and interactions, randomly appear whilst a mini game is loading. Some of those text boxes contain mild sexual references. The text boxes contain no interactive elements.

 

18th June   

Update: A Matter of Police Priorities...

Western Australia sex shops given the nod to sell X rated DVDs
Link Here  full story: Sex Shop Raids in Australia...Police raid sex shops looking for porn

Western Australia flagPerth sex shops can continue to sell X-rated DVDs illegally without fear of prosecution.

WA Police has admitted that enforcing the State's movie classification laws on adult pornography is a non-core police activity and a low priority .

The police will investigate the sale of X-rated DVDs only if there is evidence of tangible links to organised crime.

In October last year, Attorney-General Christian Porter confirmed that it was an offence to sell X-rated DVDs under Section 81 of WA's Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1996. Offenders faced a $10,000 fine.

A spokeswoman for Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said police had to prioritise resources to areas of greatest demand and need:

WA Police maintains the view that the Classifications Branch of the Federal Attorney-General's Department is the most appropriate agency to investigate breaches of classification and copyright due to its considerable knowledge and experience, she said.

Referrals from the Classifications Branch are examined for organised crime involvement. Where there is no link identified, these matters are recorded on WAPol's database and filed for intelligence purposes only. The majority of other State jurisdictions adopt the same position and maintain that X-Rated adult pornography is essentially a non-core police activity and of low priority for police law enforcement.

Sex shops started selling X-rated DVDs early last year when they decided that the State's 14-year-old movie classification laws contravened their constitutional right to trade interstate. X-rated DVDs can be sold legally in Canberra and the Northern Territory and were previously available to WA customers by mail order.

 

16th June   

Update: Politician Daring to Look Stupid...

We Dare up for a classification review in Australia
Link Here

We Dare Wii Australia's Classification Board is to review the current PG rating for Ubisoft's We Dare , a cartoon charades game which came in for nutter criticism earlier this year mainly over its adult style promotional video.

The review will be heard on June 17 by the Classification Review Board following an application being lodged by Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor. He said to GamesSpot

I asked the Classification Board to review We Dare following media reports that the game's PG rating may be inappropriate. I believe that this game is unsuitable for children and I look forward to the outcome of the Classification Board's review of its PG rating. I share the concern of many parents that children may be inadvertently playing games that are more suited to adult gamers.

The censors initally gave the Ubisoft-published party game We Dare a PG rating for mild sexual references. A number of the party games alluded to kissing, spanking, and stripping.

The censors ignored Ubisoft's initial advice during the application process to give the game an M rating. According to the board's initial report, classifiers did not feel that the game deserved an M rating because there is no sexual behaviour actually displayed in the game and the graphics it contains are highly stylised and cartoon-like:

The Board disagrees with the recommended classification of M, the report states. Given the reasons noted above, the Board is of the opinion the game warrants a PG classification with consumer advice of mild sexual references.

The game also caused controversy in the UK, where it was given a 12+ rating by the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) ratings board.

 

10th June   

Hipster Hitler...

Australian online retailer removes t-shirts that 'offended' the jewish community
Link Here

hipster hitler An Australia-based online vendor has withdrawn T-shirts that satirized Hitler and the Holocaust following complaints by the Jewish community.

Red Bubble, a Melbourne-based company this week stopped selling the Hipster Hitler line of T-shirts that parody the Holocaust with slogans such as Eastside Westside Genocide, Back to the Fuhrer and Three Reichs and You're Out.

In a statement the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission praised the decision by Red Bubble: It's not a matter of free speech or censorship, said commission chairman Anton Block. It's a matter of sensitivity and decency.

Hipster Hitler, a New York-based art and clothing firm, still has the 'offending' T-shirts for sale on its own website.

 

8th June   

Update: British Viewers at the End of the Food Chain...

Human Centipede II passed R18+ by the Australian film censor
Link Here  full story: Human Centipede...Hype spreads mouth to arse
rt australia r18The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is a 2011 Netherlands/UK horror by Tom Six which has just been banned by the BBFC.

It is interesting to note that the film was passed R18+ for public exhibition in Australia. R18+ is equivalent to the UK 18 rating. The Australian censors do not mention cuts or modifications so presumably it is uncut

 

31st May   

Offensive Law...

Australian state to issue on the spot fines for strong language
Link Here

Austalia Victoria State flagThe Victorian Government plans to introduce laws this week that will give police permanent power to issue on-the-spot fines to people who swear.

Under the proposed legislation, people could be fined close to $240 for language that is considered indecent or offensive.

Attorney-General Robert Clark says the changes mean police will not have to use the courts to deal with people who use bad language: We're going to be confirming the power of police to issue on-the-spot infringement notices for these sorts of offences . It will also enable them to more effectively act against the sort of loud-mouthed, obnoxious behaviour that can make going out to public places unpleasant for other members of the public.

 

31st May   

Updated: End Game...

Australian government reveals proposed classification rules to finally allow adults only games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ bannedDraft changes to Australia's censorship rules have now been made public, outlining the type of content that could make it as an adults only R18+ game.

Under the proposed guidelines, an R18+ rating would allow:

  • Virtually no restrictions on themes
  • Violence except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency, and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults
  • Implied sexual violence, if justified by context
  • Realistically simulated sexual activity
  • Virtually no restrictions on language
  • Drug use and nudity are permitted.

The R18+ guides are similar to those that currently exist for film in Australia, except for the caveat that game violence must not offend community standards.

The MA15+ rating for games, too, has been tweaked in the proposal. While most of the guidelines for the rating have been retained, several have been added, including:

  • Strong and realistic violence should not be very frequent
  • Sexual activity must not be tied to rewards or incentives
  • Interactive drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted
  • Nudity must not be related to incentives and rewards.

The proposals have already been sighted by Australia's state and territory attorneys-general, who will review the guidelines before making a decision on the introduction of an R18+ rating for games at the next SCAG meeting in early July.

Update: State Support

30th May 2011. See article from kotaku.com.au

Tasmania flagThe previous pro R18+ Attorney-General for Tasmania, David Bartlett, resigned earlier this month, which sent alarm bells ringing for some. Thankfully, we've just gotten word that his successor, Brian Wightman, is following Bartlett by supporting the introduction of an adult rating for video games.

Journalism student, and Kotaku reader, James Sheppard interviewed him for an assigment, and asked him about his stance. During the interview Wightman claimed that he fully intended to push for an R18+ rating at the next SCAG meeting: It's not going to completely stop children getting this material, he said, it will reduce those that do and it definitely won't make things worse.

Comment: Why treat games more strictly than films?

31st May 2011.  See article from aussie-gamer.com

letter writingWhy should our classification system continue to uphold games to a higher standard than film?

The proposed draft guidelines for the classification of computer games released last week still have added clauses that give Australia's Classification Board assessors room to judge games to a higher standard than film.

For example, the guidelines for an R18+ film simply state that violence is permitted . But in the draft guidelines for R18+ video games, violence is permitted except where it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified .

For M and MA15+ films, the only directive about drug use is that drug use should be justified by context .

But the proposed guidelines for M and MA15+ games make the job of assessors much more difficult, adding that interactive drug use that is detailed and realistic is not permitted and drug use must not be related to incentives or rewards .

A similar caveat is added to the MA15+ guidelines for sex in games when compared to nookie on the big screen. Sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards according to the proposed guidelines, a guideline not directed at film assessors.

When there is little evidence to support the suggestion that interactivity heightens impact, it seems as though these caveats have been added simply to appease vocal minorities rather than in the interests of a robust classification system.

Read the full article

 

28th May   

Update: Playing the Survey Game...

Australian Government surveys public support their proposed guidelines for adults only games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australia Government: Attorney-General's DepartmentThe Australian Government's Attorney-General's Department has posted an online survey to gauge public opinion on the recently released draft guidelines for the R18+ ratings classification released earlier this week.

The survey simply asks users to select from the following 4 statements:

  • I support the proposed R18+ category for computer games and I support the proposed draft Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games.
  • I support the proposed R18+ category for computer games but I do not support the draft Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games.
  • I do not support the proposed R18+ category for computer games but I do support the draft Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games.
  • I do not support the proposed R18+ category for computer games and I do not support the draft Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games.

See survey

 

27th May   

Update: Bishops See...

Australian Bishops begrudgingly support an adults only game rating
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ bannedAustralian Catholic Bishops have begrudgingly welcomed proposed guidelines for adult rating for video games.

In a press statement, the Conference--which represents the official views of the Catholic church in Australia said:

In an ideal world, the sort of material that is included in R18+ or higher classification films and computer games would never be seen in a civilized democracy. However, it is not an ideal world and, in the real world in which we live, such material unfortunately is produced and is available, sometimes legally and often illegally, within our society.

The preferred position of the Catholic Church is that R18+ material should not be available. But if such an outcome is not achievable then the Australian National Classification Scheme should include an R18+ classification category for computer games.

Not all Christian groups are on this side, however. Vocal minority group, the Australian Christian Lobby, has lambasted the proposed guidelines, describing them as contrary to the interests of parents and children. ACL's chief of staff Lyle Shelton said in a press statement:

Not only is this proposal contrary to the claim that the introduction of an R18+ category for computer games would protect children by merely relocating existing MA15+ games to a new R18+ category, it would inevitably open the Australian hire and sale markets to a higher level of graphically violent and sexually explicit interactive games,

 

19th May   

Update: Lack of Interest...

Australia scraps scheme to provide parents with PC internet filters
Link Here  full story: Come Fly With Me...Multi-cultural comedy controversy

australian government logoPrior to getting committed to the idea of ISP website blocking, the Australian government had set up a scheme offering state recommended and subsidised filtering software for parents to install on their family PCs.

The Australian government has now decided to scrap its Voluntary Internet Filtering Grants Program in the 2011 federal budget:

The plan was intended to help give ISPs give consumers an additional filtering option for content that wasn't Refused Classification (RC), but that they still objected to. However there was limited interest among ISPs in the grants, and consumers had a number of filtering options at their disposal, including browser and search engine filters.

The government still plans to push forward with its involuntary, i.e. mandatory, blocking scheme that's been in the works since 2007.

 

16th May   

Update: Come Fly with Me to the Boonies...

British TV comedy deemed unsuitable for 'unsophisticated' regional Australia
Link Here  full story: Come Fly With Me...Multi-cultural comedy controversy

Come Fly Me 1 DVD Rural Australia won't be able to see the new comedy from the stars of Little Britain because TV executives believe it's too sophisticated for them.

Channel Nine's regional affiliates, WIN and NBN Television, have decided that David Walliams and Matt Lucas's airport-based satire Come Fly With Me is inappropriate for their regional audience in NSW. They will instead by shown a repeat of US sitcom Big Bang Theory .

The decision to filter the programming has upset some country viewers. Jess Corbett writes (with original grammar and spelling!):

i think its very unfair to assume that people in regional Australia wont understand the show as we are not sophisticated enough! We go to school and get taught the same things that places like sydney and melbourne do. Just cause we live in the country doesnt mean that be are all stupid bogans. And im sure that some if not most have seen little Britain so im sure that we can understand the show.

Despite weeks of teaser trailers hyping the PG-rated show, NBN head of programming and publicity Kellie Hampton said the network planned to first gauge the reaction in metropolitan markets to see if it was suitable to air.

 

16th May   

Update: A Sign of Repression...

Australia removes discriminatory signs banning porn and alcohol from Aboriginal people
Link Here  full story: Discriminatory Porn Ban in Australia...Porn is banned in Aboriginal communities

prescribed area signAustralia's Central Land Council has welcomed the decision to remove the large blue signs that were put up on Aboriginal land and Community Living Areas by the Australian Government during the Intervention in 2007.

CLC Director, David Ross said Aboriginal people in Central Australia had been deeply offended by the references to a ban on pornography and the size of the signs in general since they were first erected by the Howard Federal Government during the initial implementation of the Intervention.

 

11th May   

Update: Good Old Games...

Games delivery service makes it easier for Australians to get hold of censored games
Link Here

good old games logoA noted online distributor of popular video games such as The Witche r series has removed restrictions from its platform which limits some features to customers based on what country their internet address is from, potentially allowing Australians to clandestinely escape local video game censorship rules.

The feature, known as geo-IP or geo-location, is used by many online video game delivery platforms to restrict what forms of content customers in different countries can consume, and how much they will pay for it.

For example, it is common for Australian video game players to complain that the price of video games bought online can be different locally than in the United States with the price being set by determining a customer's IP address, despite the same content being delivered.

In a statement on its site published this week, game distributor Good Old Games said it had come to the conclusion that there were a number of issues with using a customer's IP address to determine what offer they were being presented with.

A good number of users can find themselves negatively impacted by a policy of using geo IP to set their region, the company said. For example, customers may be travelling when they want to purchase or download a game from GOG.com. In this case, automatic IP address capture might change the price or the content of the game they're ordering (such as the default language of the installer).

Furthermore, the company said, geo-IP data collection didn't always function correctly --- and could report an incorrect region for users. And lastly, it didn't want to violate its users' privacy by collecting data it didn't need to --- so had taken the decision to trust customers to voluntarily tell it their correct region when making a purchase.

 

9th May   

Toxic Politicians...

Australian shadow minister likens adult sexuality to a toxin
Link Here

toxic chemical storageChildren as young as four are being subjected to toxic sexual imagery in public places, says a Liberal MP determined to get tighter standards imposed on advertising.

Sophie Mirabella, shadow minister for industry, attacked explicit billboards and magazine covers, and demanded the Parental Guidance Recommended classification be reviewed.

She claimed in a speech that youngsters were being bombarded with near-pornographic video clips in shopping malls and highly suggestive promotions at sporting events. And she insisted this was intrinsically linked with the heinous crime of paedophilia .

We would never knowingly allow our children to be exposed to a harmful toxin. The fact is, they are. Every day, Mirabella told the Australian Families Association in Melbourne: We just rarely think about it in those terms. Whether we like to admit it or not, exposure to adult sexuality can be a toxin for young children. It's an uncomfortable admission.

Mrs Mirabella said self-policing of the advertising industry didn't work and called for a statutory body with powers to levy serious fines on offenders: Let's codify community standards, but this time let's all place weight on the medical opinion about the effects on children, and let's err on the side of caution. We would if it was a chemical toxin, wouldn't we?

Mirabella said she was not becoming a wowser opposed to free speech ...BUT... arguing that adults had a moral responsibility, above all else, to protect children from those things that could harm them .

 

7th May   

General Pants Pulled Up...

Australian retailer to cover up Sex! and fashion advert
Link Here

ksubi advert Australian retailer General Pants Co. and fashion label Ksubi will censor its joint Sex! & Fashion advertising campaign after a supposed consumer backlash against its content.

The campaign was rolled out in General Pants stores nationally on April 28 to promote a collection created by Ksubi in collaboration with the youth chain store retailer.

Its hero image comprises a woman naked from the abdomen up, save for gaffer tape on her breasts. There also appears to be a man unzipping her jeans from behind and the word sex appears in bold above her head.

While the campaign will remain in General Pants Co. front store windows until its scheduled end date of May 16, the retailer's CEO Craig King revealed the image will now be partially covered with black strips reading censored . We made a decision on Friday [to alter the campaign] after we'd heard some of the responses and consulted with Ksubi that we'd be altering the imagery to diffuse the situation, King said.

He added that sales for the Sex! & Fashion collection had been strong .

Among the criticisms levelled at the retailer were claims the Sex! & Fashion campaign was too graphic , inappropriate and stooping to new lows .

 

3rd May   

Update: Bewitched by Nutters...

Australia cuts computer game, The Witcher 2, to avoid being banned
Link Here

Witcher Premium PC DVD Namco Bandai has confirmed to Kotaku that The Witcher 2 has been cut for Australian release under an MA15+ rating.

According to Namco Bandai:

In the original version your character Geralt was given the choice of accepting sex as a reward for successfully completing this particular side quest. The Australian Classification Board originally refused classification as they deemed the inclusion of sex as a reward as not suitable for an MA15+ classification.

The change is only minor, in that the character choice is now made automatically for him. The character and the side quest are still in the game but presented in a slightly different context. No other cuts have been made and this change has no impact on gameplay, storyline or character development.

 

30th April   

Update: Capital Idea...

Canberra proposes a genuine adults only rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

Australia ACT flagCanberra will introduce an adult rating for video games, even if other states and territories refuse to implement one, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell has told The Canberra Times.

Corbell made the commitment when he criticised the stalled process for changing the censorship regime: I'm extremely frustrated by the protracted nature of this discussion ... I asked my department earlier this month to look at the options of unilateral action .

The ACT will only be able to break with other states and territories and introduce an R18+ rating for video games if the Federal Government creates such a category. Currently, unanimous agreement between all jurisdictions is required to make a change. Earlier this month Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor flagged introducing the adult rating, leaving it to each state and territory to decide the issue for themselves.

Corbell said: We want to provide better guidance for parents and remove unsuitable material from children and teenagers. The introduction of an R18+ classification will help achieve that. This is the right decision for Australian families and the right decision for parents who want to be able to make informed choices about the games their children play.

MLA Shane Rattenbury, legal affairs spokesman for Greens, conditionally backed ACT Labor's commitment meaning the legislation needed to introduce an R18+ rating for video games would have the numbers to pass the local assembly.

The ACT plan does not involve scrapping the MA15+ category as per the censorial South Australian suggestion.

 

29th April   

We Are Not Amused...

Australian TV show banned from joking about royal wedding
Link Here

chasers royal weddingThe Australian TV show The Chaser, which had planned an irreverent commentary to accompany images of the ceremony, has been pulled from ABC2's schedule, after learning that footage of the event is banned from being used in any comedy or satirical program.

ABC TV director Kim Dalton said he was surprised and disappointed that The Chaser could not be aired, while one of the show's stars, Julian Morrow, described the rule as out of step with a modern democracy.

Clarence House, which oversees the affairs of Prince William and drew up the broadcast contract with the BBC, issued a statement saying that it was standard practice for these kinds of religious ceremonies to include a clause which restricts usage in drama, comedy, satirical, or similar entertainment programs.

Organizations championing freedom of expression have questioned whether the royals should have the right to impose such restrictions, especially given that the taxpayer will pick up most of the costs involved in organizing the event.

Padraig Reidy, news editor at Britain's Index on Censorship, describes the royal family's control of the coverage as bizarre. He adds that plans for preemptive arrests and restrictions on the right to protest were even more concerning, branding as unprecedented the police's intended approach.

 

28th April   

Update: Nutter Politics...

South Australia set to redefine 15 rated kids games as adult only and then continue to ban adult games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

John RaulSouth Australia will soon introduce a new R18 rating for videogames...BUTl....this isn't the great step forward many Australian gamers have been hoping for.

At present, a 15 certificate is the highest a videogame can be awarded. But in the new system, all that will change is that previously 15-rated games will become 18-rated games, and stores will not be permitted to sell them to minors.

Games that were refused classification on the grounds that they were unsuitable for 15-year-olds will still be refused classification. Essentially, what was once deemed suitable for teenagers will now be locked down to adults only.

South Australian attorney general John Rau said that he hopes the new system will catch on elsewhere in the country, and explained that the decision was to create a more obvious separation between what is appropriate for adults, and what is appropriate for children.

There has to be a clear difference between what adults can get and what children can get, he told ABC News. At the moment the MA15+ classification is like a crossover point between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.

Tche system is unlikely to be officially confirmed before July, but Rau thinks it should go through easily. Speaking to Gamespot, he said: There will need to be some regulation or possible statutory amendments made but I don't think it will be hard to do this. We just have to wait until the federal position becomes clear.

 

18th April   

Update: Classic Nutters...

Submissions to Australian Senate classification review propose censorship of art exhibits
Link Here  full story: Australian Censorship Review... Reviewing censorship law for all media

davidAustralian artists could be forced to have their work checked by censors before being displayed. Some work could be blacklisted despite being legal, if nutter recommendations to a federal inquiry into Australia's film and literature classification scheme are accepted.

The Senate inquiry, launched by the nutter senator Guy Barnett, has heard submissions calling for any film containing full frontal nudity to be refused classification; artworks and books showing nudity to be classified; all artworks to be restricted to certain age groups; and that artistic merit should be abandoned when classifying art.

The executive director of the National Association for the Visual Arts, Tamara Winikoff, said many of the organisations that had made submissions to or spoken at the inquiry's hearings, and members of the inquiry, had tried to demonise artists and paint them as child pornographers.

We are particularly worried that artists might have to have all their work classified immediately, regardless of the material, she said. There is a sense [in the inquiry] that art is dangerous.

Senator Barnett, who chairs the inquiry, is a critic of the photographer Bill Henson, whose photograph of a naked 12-year-old girl sparked a ferocious debate in 2008. He questioned many of those appearing at the hearings about the Henson photographs.

The executive director of the Arts Law Centre of Australia, Robyn Ayres, said that: Classifying all artworks would create a huge workload for bureaucrats and impose heavy costs on artists who would have to pay for their work to be classified. It would create a huge hurdle for artists and it would create a chilling effect. We have already seen it with [the depiction of children in artworks]. Artists just don't want to be there ... there has been pressure taken over fairly innocuous work, she said, referring to the collapse of a charity auction for the Sydney Children's Hospital because hospital officials did not approve of a photograph of a six-year-old boy naked from the waist up.

The committee is to report by June 30.

 

12th April   

Update: Violated But Survives...

Australian censors pass A Serbian Film after cuts on the 3rd attempt
Link Here  full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

a serbian film poster In November 2010, the Australian Classification Board banned the 99 minute uncut version of A Serbian Film.

Distributors Accent then prepared a 97-minute censored version that they hoped would achieve the desired R18+. The Classification Board had other ideas, and in late February banned the cut version. 

Now the Australian censors have passed a 96 minutes version of the film with an R18+ certificate.

Note that the UK version runs at about 95:20s after having suffered 4 minutes of BBFC cuts. So it appears that the Australians will see a version similar to the cut UK release.

The DVD will be available to rent and buy this August.

 

8th April   

Update: Interfering in Democracy...

Australian church bans pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-same-sex marriage candidates from poll station
Link Here

The GreensAt the polling station set up at St Catherine's Catholic Church, Gymea, Monsignor Brian Rayner ordered a Greens party volunteer remove himself and his political posters from his property because of ideological differences.

Monsignor Rayner, whose Gymea church was paid $550 by the Electoral Commission to be leased as a polling booth for the day, told The Sun-Herald he would not have let the Sex Party or the Communist Party on church premises either.

I am environmental ... But why would I allow a group who are pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-same-sex marriage and anti-Catholic teaching on private property?

Instead, Monsignor Rayner told Greens volunteer Colin Ryan he could stand on the adjacent footpath.

Ryan said he had never encountered anything like this. I thought it was a joke at first .

Greens MP John Kaye called it a violation of free speech.

The church has to make up its mind. If it wants to be part of the democratic process then it has to allow for freedom of expression. If not, then it should remove itself from elections and miss out on the public funding.

An Electoral Commission spokesman claimed it was powerless to intervene. Such disputes were matters ... between the parties concerned .

See  article from  sexparty.org.au

Australian Sex PartySex Party president Fiona Patten said that religious organisations were paid good money to use their tax-exempt premises for a public service and they had abused that relationship. These two examples of intimidation and favouritism being evinced by clergy at polling booths, are clear indications of a breach of Section 151 of the NSW Electoral Act which expressly forbids this sort of behaviour under threat of 100 penalty points or 3 years jail , she said. The fact that an alleged Electoral Commission official has even come out in the Southern Courier backing the priest's actions and telling the Sex Party to Stop trying to blame the Catholic Church for all your woes , is highly irregular and shows bias on this issue .

She said that the Electoral Commission was very strict about what could be displayed on the perimeter of a polling place and the Sex Party and the Greens had adhered to these conditions. The NSW Electoral Commission must have a role to play to ensure that conditions are respected , she said. They need to clarify for the public whether these instances of interference are acceptable or not. If the priests had ordered Labor and Liberal posters taken down this would be under investigation now .

She said that it was incredibly hypocritical of church officials to take aim at Sex Party and Greens' policies on sex and gender, when their own backyard was littered with the broken lives of thousands of sexually abused children and they still would not allow women as priests.

The Sex Party has formally written to the NSW Electoral Commission asking for an investigation of the matter.

 

7th April   

Offsite: Ticking All the Right Boxes...

Australian Sex Party tick the customs porn declaration box
Link Here  full story: Australian Customs Porn Declaration...Travellers to Australia asked to decalre legal porm

Customs porn declaration stickerFiona Patten of the Australian Sex Party tells us what happens when you declare pornography on an Australian landing card.

My customs declaration card asked if I was carrying any goods that may be prohibited or subject to restrictions, such as medicines, steroids, firearms, weapons of any kind, illegal pornography or illicit drugs ?

The DVDs I had were vanilla US porn. But because Australia's classification laws around the X rating are so strict just about every film that is classified X18+ in Australia requires a few edits to make it legal. Without those edits it would become part of the Refused Classification classification and illegal porn under Customs regulations.

I showed the first customs official my Incoming Passenger Card with 'yes ticked for question one and tried to show him my films but was quickly sent to another official. He checked my card and again I tried to show him my discs but was told to put them away for now. All of my bags were then X-rayed - why I'm not sure. Again I was asked about my answer to question one and again I tried to show the official my films but was asked to put them away and directed to a counter behind a screen.

Finally an officer wanted to see my porn. Well actually I don't think he did but it was his job. I placed the DVD boxes on the counter and the officer had a quick look at the back cover informing me that this was not what they were looking for. They were only interested in illegal pornography.

...Read the full See  article from  sexparty.org.au

 

3rd April   

Update: Playing the Nutter Game...

Victoria's Attorney General looks likely to echo christian lobby nonsense and oppose an adult rating for games
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

robert clarklong awaited reforms of Australia's censorship of computer games look set to fail after Victoria state declared its 'strong concern' that the move will legalise games with high levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence .

Backed by a groundswell of support from the gaming community, the Gillard government is determined to fix the classification system for computer games, which allows unsuitable games to be rated for 15-year-olds, yet bans popular games for adults.

But the Ted Baillieu government's Attorney-General, Robert Clark, has echoed the concerns of the Australian Christian Lobby, putting him on a collision course with the federal government, which requires the backing of all states and territories to change classification laws.

Clark told Fairfax that he welcomed one impact of the reform, that some games classified MA15+ would move to the higher rating of R18+. But the move, he said, would also mean allowing games to be sold in Australia that are banned because of their high levels of violence:

[This] needs careful scrutiny and public debate. The Coalition government is very concerned that the draft guidelines currently being proposed by the Commonwealth would legalise games with high levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence, including violence against civilians and police.

Clark said the community should have a chance to discuss the draft guidelines, which have not been made public, and see what sort of games would be legalised. The Victorian government will decide our position based on our assessment of whether the final proposal will adequately protect the community, he said.

But Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O'Connor, told Fairfax:

The public has been consulted extensively on this matter and overwhelmingly support the introduction of an adult classification for games/

About 60,000 submissions were received in the last consultation round, showing huge community support for the introduction of an adult computer game classification. I await state and territory governments' views on the draft guidelines and remain open to sensible suggestions consistent with community expectations and good public policy.

 

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