US Censorship News

 2009: Oct-Dec

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30th December   

Censorship Deadline...

CD Universe - Buy Music CDs, TV on DVD, DVDs, Video Games for XBox, PlayStation 2 and Much More

US sensitivity of recent death of actress
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Deadline DVD Brittany Murphy Promotional artwork for a DVD release showing late actress Brittany Murphy lying apparently lifeless in a bathtub has been pulled by a US rental chain.

Redbox said it planned to complete the removal of DVD covers and posters from its outlets by 1 January.

The artwork promotes Deadline , a direct to DVD title in which Murphy played a writer staying in a haunted house.

Murphy, 32, was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre after collapsing in the bathroom of her Hollywood home on Sunday.

 

30th December   

Cop Out...

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Supporting the hype for A Couple of Dicks
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Couple of DicksDirector Kevin Smith has been forced to change the name of his new Bruce Willis cop comedy because studio bosses felt A Couple of Dicks would lead to marketing issues.

The filmmaker wanted to use the controversial title for the forthcoming film, but changed his mind after learning commercials promoting the project would be banned from three of the top TV networks.

Smith admits it was a tough decision to make, and he likens the name change - to Cop Out - to being castrated.

He tells EW.com, Losing A Couple of Dicks was almost akin to losing my own dick. It was a perfect buddy-cop movie comedy title. You couldn't say that title to somebody without a fucking smile crossing their face.

 

11th December   

Scoring Birdies...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

US Mainstream DVDs

Video Universe
 

Tiger Woods gets court injunction to ban nude images
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Old BaileyTiger Woods has won an injunction banning the English media from publishing new details about his personal life, after instructing London-based lawyers to take legal action.

The move, described by lawyers as unbelievable , prevents the media from publishing material that the US media would be able to publish, prompting further anger about the ability of foreign litigants to take advantage of repressive English laws.

This injunction would never have been granted in America , the media lawyer Mark Stephens said. It's unbelievable that Tiger Woods' lawyers have been able to injunct the UK press from reporting information here .

The injunction, granted by high court judge Mr Justice David Eady, comes amid intense press speculation about the golfer's alleged extra-marital affairs.

US media are reporting that the high court has blocked the publication of nude photos of Woods. The golfer's British lawyers, Schillings, deny that the nude photos exist and 'suggest' that any images in circulation have been doctored.

Woods would not have got an injunction like this in America, Gavin Millar QC, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, said. Privacy law is weaker in America than it is here. It is not articulated as a constitutional right and it's subject to much stronger rights to publish on the internet. The material may already be available in America, but in this country what Mr Justice Eady and others say is that unless it is in the public domain here, by virtue of having been published by the national media , they don't acknowledge that it is already in the public domain. The entire universe could be looking at it and it doesn't matter , Millar added. But clearly there is no point maintaining an injunction that is completely pointless.

But the injunction obtained by Woods, although it prevents publishing details of the photographs, marks a move away from the most repressive injunctions, experts say. The emergence of so-called super injunctions, which prevent the media reporting that an injunction exists, was revealed by the Guardian in October after the oil trading firm Trafigura obtained an order prevented any reporting of proceedings such as the one brought by Woods.

I suspect the Trafigura case has had something to do with this, said Millar. The whole question of whether they and judges are using their power in private hearings is very important, and they are now much warier of making super injunctions.

 

9th December   

Frosty the Inappropriate Snowman...

FTC wants further restrictions on advertising PG-13 movies
Link Here

Frosty Snowman DVD Region NTSC A video advertisement on CBS's Web site that mashes material from the iconic Frosty the Snowman Christmastime cartoon with two of the network's comedy series is supposedly offensive and should be pulled.

The video ad, Frosty the Inappropriate Snowman, takes authentic dialogue from CBS' How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men and dubs it on top of the cartoon classic, changing well-known Frosty scenes to contain suggestions that the snowman and his friends visit a strip club.

The mash-up also discusses Frosty's porn collection and contains repeated mentions of prior sexual conquests. The ad is intended to promote the network's upcoming broadcasts of Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns.

Television blogs characterized the video as hilarious. You'll never look at 'Frosty the Snowman' the same way again, read a post on tvshark.com.

BUt Bob Peters, president of Morality in Media, added that officials at the Federal Trade Commission should be concerned about the promotion.

CBS is doing much the same thing that alcohol and tobacco companies have done in the past -- namely, using imagery in advertising that would naturally attract children in order to market an adult product, Peters said in a statement to FoxNews.com. Legal matters aside, it should go without saying that CBS TV ought to be ashamed of itself -- using an animated Christmas season setting, complete with young children, to chat about strippers, whores, pornography, sadomasochism, sexual promiscuity, and more.

Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council said the advertisement was reprehensible. It's either ignorance or arrogance, but I can't imagine the folks at the once-Tiffany network should think this is OK, he told FoxNews.com. Someone had to write it and someone had to approve it. It speaks to the decisions that are being made at CBS these days.

Winter also called for the advertisement to be pulled, characterizing it as the outcome of the network attempting to do everything they can to be offensive rather than creative.

 

4th December   

The Media Age...

FTC wants further restrictions on advertising PG-13 movies
Link Here

FTC logoThe Federal Trade Commission wants advertisers of violent movies, music and video games to do more to restrict advertising and promotion of that content, including on broadcast and cable TV.

That was the conclusion of a new FTC report. Despite considerable improvements, the self-regulatory systems are far from perfect, said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

The report concluded that the music industry still advertises music with explicit content on TV shows with a substantial number of kids, and that movie studios intentionally market PG-13 movies to kids under 13.

The FTC recommended, among other things, that the movie and music industries develop specific criteria for restricting marketing of violent content to kids, and specifically on marketing of PG-13 movies to kids.

It also suggested that the movie, music and video game industries boost enforcement of online trailers without sufficient access restrictions, and that all improve the display or rating information in ads and packaging.

The FTC review labeled the games industry the strongest of the three entertainment sectors (games, music and movies), when it came to self-regulation. The Commission added that the game industry did not specifically target M-rated games to teens or T-rated games to younger children. Additionally, compliance with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) code within the videogame industry was high in all media.

Undercover shopping stings run by the FTC reported that retailers were strongly enforcing age restrictions for M-rated games, with an average denial rate of 80%. GameStop and Target were labeled as top enforcers. Toys R Us however, was specifically labeled as trailing when it came to enforcement, with only a 56% denial rate. The report called the use of gift cards to buy games online a potential gap in enforcement.

 

3rd December   

Update: The Book without a Spine...

Yale University Press criticised for spineless approach to free speech
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

The Cartoons that Shoock the World book A letter has been delivered to Yale university chastising it for not standing up for free speech in the face of imaginary threats of violence.

The letter was signed by sixteen organisations:

  • American Association of University Professors
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • American Society of Journalists and Authors
  • Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Center for Inquiry
  • College Art Association
  • First Amendment Lawyers Association
  • First Amendment Project Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
  • International Publishers Association
  • Modern Language Association
  • National Coalition Against Censorship
  • National Council of Teachers of English
  • National Education Association
  • People For the American Way Foundation

The statement, written by National Coalition against Censorship Executive Director Joan Bertin, argues that by capitulating to threats of violence, Yale has fed a climate in which people will be afraid to speak and publish freely. Yale's decision drew widespread criticism and debate from professors, students and alumni in the past three months.

The situation is extremely disturbing because Yale is a very prominent university, and their doing something like this might justify other institutions doing so, Bertin said. This action compromised the book, the press and an important principle: not only should academics be able to discuss these things among themselves, but in this country we're entitled to talk about and view the images.

 

29th November   

Might Offend...

Combination of Torah and Koran is banned from art exhibition
Link Here

Richard Kamler art An upcoming exhibition at The John Slade Ely House for Contemporary Art in New Haven.

After numerous requests that Richard Kamler, one of the participating artists, modify parts of his installation, and a month before the opening of the show, the organizers rejected his work for fear some members of the community may be offended.

Richard Kamler's work, “right around the corner” consists of an installation and a performative component, a Community Conversation. The art work refers to the changing environment of the Orchard Street Shul and to the growth of a Muslim community in the neighborhood. The installation consists of a table covered by a paper tablecloth, made from interwoven fragments of pages from the Torah and the Koran, upon which the books themselves, placed in a copper bowl, are resting. Their pages are interwoven as well. The Community Conversation was to consist of conversations involving leaders of both communities. The artist has a 30-year history of creating similar projects and showing them internationally.

The organizers demanded the removal or modification of the tablecloth, even after being repeatedly assured that no actual books were cut, that the tablecloths consisted of photocopies of fragments, and that religious scholars agreed that the installation did not violate any religious taboo. Their concern was that the piece “might offend somebody.”

 

26th November   

Chumps...

Image of Michelle Obama as a chimp causes rumpus for google
Link Here

Google logo Google has apologised over a picture of Michelle Obama that appeared when users searched for images of the US first lady.

The image came top of the Google Images results for Michelle Obama . Google placed a notice over the picture titled Offensive Search Results , saying: Sometimes our search results can be offensive. We agree.

Later on Wednesday the image dropped from top image results, though the BBC understands Google did not remove it. Instead, the image appeared to have been removed from Hot Girls, the site that originally published it, and was therefore no longer appearing prominently in Google searches.

The doctored image, a crude image of Mrs Obama partially transformed into a chimp,  created a flurry of interest - mainly negative - that sent the image shooting up Google's rankings.

We apologise if you've had an upsetting experience using Google, the company said.

Google says a website's ranking in its search results relies heavily on computer algorithms, using thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query. But the search engine says it does not remove images simply because it receives complaints. Google views the integrity of our search results as an extremely important priority, it said. Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because itscontent is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it.

However, the California-based web giant says it will take down certain images, if required by law to do so.

 

26th November   

Old Geyser...

Supporting the hype for Ninja Assassin
Link Here

Ninja Assassin Theatrical Release Are the parents sitting on the MPAA's ratings board out of their minds?

This is not a rhetorical question, because the answer is Yes, they are if they honestly believe that the stab em, rip 'em, slice 'em, dice 'em, martial arts exploitation action film Ninja Assassin doesn't qualify as an adults-only movie.

In the opening sequence of James McTeigue's high-velocity, gleefully gory experience, a ninja assassin wipes out a room full of scoffing ruffians. Heads explode in crimson showers. Body parts fall to the floor. It takes one man a few seconds before he realizes he's been neatly sliced in half, the long way. One half of him can only watch in horror as his other half slides to the floor.

Ninja Assassin isn't just one constant blood geyser. It's the Old Faithful of blood geysers.

That Ninja Assassin would merit a mere R rating shows just how the MPAA's Ratings Board has abandoned its responsibility to properly advise and warn American parents about the increasingly frank and explicit nature of today's movies.

 

25th November   

American Whinge Awards...

1500 complaints about gay kiss at the American Music Awards
Link Here

American Music Awards logo American Idol star Adam Lambert's performance at Sunday's American Music Awards has prompted more than 1,500 complaints by viewers.

During the closing act, the openly gay singer simulated sex on stage with a back-up dancer and kissed a male musician on the mouth.

Lambert told US network CNN that the kiss was in the moment .

ABC said the number of complaints was moderate .

Lambert, who performed his debut single For Your Entertainment , said that if people had been upset by his performance that it is a form of discrimination and it's too bad . He added: I had fun, my dancers had fun, the audience that was in the Nokia [Theatre] had fun. Anybody else who was watching it and enjoying it, thank you for being entertained.

The Parents Television Council (PTC), a media pressure group which campaigns against indecent content on US television, posted a statement on its website calling the show tasteless and vulgar . President Timothy Winter said members were outraged . He added: They just can't believe the nature of the content, the explicit nature, and how much graphic content there was.

 

22nd November   

Victims of Utah Hypocrisy...

Porn distributors sentenced to a year in jail
Link Here

Movies by Mail logo The operators of MoviesByMail.com have been sentenced to one year and one day each in prison after they both pleaded guilty to one count of distributing obscene material.

Cousins Sami Harb and Michael Harb also agreed to forfeit assets and face three years probation after release. As part of the plea, other charges from the 2003 federal indictment were dropped.

The charges were tied to the mailing of three films — Max Hardcore: Pure Max 18 , Max Hardcore: Extreme 12 and Extreme Associates' Cocktails 5.

All three movies were shipped via the U.S. Postal Service to Utah by the FBI's Obscenity Task Force in Cleveland, where MoviesByMail.com is based.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin M. Fojtik, in a statement to the court, said that MoviesByMail case represents community response to the increasing degradation depicted in adult pornography.

The adult pornography charged in this case went so far beyond any sense of community values, it warranted criminal prosecution, she said. While the defense has made much of this matter being brought in Utah, these images represent conduct that is beyond human dignity in any community in this country.

Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, challenged Fojtik's comments, claiming that the appetite for porn in Utah is insatiable.

When MoviesByMail operators were indicted [in 2003], Utah was ranked the No. 1 state in the U.S. for downloading adult content, Duke told XBIZ. Clearly, there exists demand for adult content in Utah.

Yet, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin M. Fojtik feels comfortable in speaking for all communities. No one is forced to watch adult content. The only victims here are the producers or distributors whose lives have been torn apart by an overzealous and oppressive Bush Department of Justice.

 

19th November   

Pulling the Wool Over the Eyes...

Talk of misleading the US games censor
Link Here

ESRB Speaking at the recent Montreal International Game Summit, the CEO of a game development company complained that publishers are deliberately deceiving the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) in a bid to receive lower age ratings.

Rémi Racine of Artificial Mind & Movement, creator of Wet and the upcoming PSP version of Dante's Inferno , said that publishers who attempt to trick the ESRB are looking for a wider audience—and subsequent profits— for their game.

Edge Online offered the following quote from Racine:

As a developer who has worked with a lot of different publishers, we're aware of many that have tried to cheat the rating. They say to the ERSB that it's a Teen rating [13+] rather than an Mature [17+] to try and sell more; you can do this just by sending them a video that doesn't show the most violent stuff and then you'll get the rating that you want rather than the rating you should get.

The ESRB's Eliot Mizrachi addressed Racine's claims, saying:

We regularly check games post-release to verify that submissions were complete, and it's very likely that if a game contains undisclosed content that would have affected the rating assigned, we'll find out about it. In such cases ESRB can actually impose fines up to $1 million as well as require corrective actions like re-labeling or even recalling product, both of which can obviously be very costly.

 

18th November   

Obama Firewalled...

On a trip to China Obama mentions free speech, but doesn't get away with it.
Link Here

Barrack Obama Chinese censors did their thing with Obama's call for freedom of speech on the internet

President Obama made his first visit to China this week and in a talk with Chinese students, Obama issued a call for internet freedom. Obama spoke about internet freedom and free speech. Ironically, the comments made by Obama regarding free speech and internet freedom became targets of the Chinese internet sensors and fell prey to The Great Firewall of China.

The Boston Globe quotes Obama saying, I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free internet - or unrestricted internet access - is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves. That generates new ideas. It encourages creativity.

The irony of the statements by Obama is that full transcripts of the speech posted on the Netease portal reportedly lasted online for only about 27 minutes before the censors pulled them and redacted the statements about internet freedom.

 

18th November   

Update: Age Old Issues...

US bill introduced to mandate age verification on adult websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Minors...Criminalising internet comms harmful to minors

US Senate A bill has been introduced in Congress that would impose prison sentences, fines and property seizures for online adult operators who make available any porn content, including content on splash pages, without an age-verification system.

The bill, HR 4059, also targets payment service providers, making them responsible to maintain internal policies to ensure that porn isn't displayed to web surfers who enter sites without first verifying that the user is at least 18.

The sweeping piece of legislation, known as the Online Age Verification and Child Safety Act, also swings jurisdiction over to the Federal Trade Commission, which would enforce age verification for all sites offering material defined as sexually explicit under 18 U.S.C.  2257.

Sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak, the bill also would establish a system to create certification for approved sites and a blacklist for adult operators who are not in compliance with mandatory age verification.

Industry attorney Colin Hardacre told XBIZ Tuesday that the bill is frought with issues. But first and foremost is the serious constitutional implications of attaching criminal liability for failure to verify age where there is still no reliable way to verify age on the Internet, said Hardacre of the Los Angeles-based Kaufman Law Group.

The legislation, introduced earlier this month, already has been referred to the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Energy and Commerce for review

 

10th November   

Update: Muhammad: The Banned Images...

US book publishes the Danish cartoons
Link Here  full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Muhammad 22Banned 22 Images Gary Hull The Huffington Post has reported that the newly founded Voltaire Press at Duke University has just published Muhammad: The Banned Images .

The book includes all the images that were omitted by the Yale University Press from Jytte Klausen's The Cartoons That Shook the World -- including the 12 Mohammed cartoons -- plus many more historically significant items (a total of 31), together with brief discussions of the context behind each work. The images, reproduced in high quality and in full color, include works by William Blake, Gustave Dore, and Salvador Dali, as well as Muslim artists from the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires.

The book includes an Introduction by Prof. Gary Hull, Director of the Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace at Duke University, who has been the driving force behind the book.

It also includes as an afterword, a Statement of Principle that is worth a look.

 

2nd November   

Update: Adults Only...

Uncut Manhunt 2 set for release on PC in North America
Link Here

Rockstar Games Manhunt 2 PS2 If you're still wondering two years after the game's release exactly what the Adults Only version of Manhunt 2 would have looked like, you'll finally have your chance to see it on Tuesday. The Adults Only (AO) rated version of Rockstar's Manhunt 2 will be released for the PC via download through Direct2Drive for $29.95 on 6th November.

This release is limited to Mexico, US, & Canada

 

31st October   

Update: Salvage Sale...

The Director's Cut of Terminator Salvation
Link Here

Terminator Salvation Extended Cut Blu ray Terminator Salvation is a 2009 US/German/UK/Italy action film by McG

The (US PG-13 rated) Theatrical Version was passed 12 without BBFC cuts for the 2009 cinema release and 2009 Sony DVD.

  • Director McG cut one shot to earn the US PG-13 rating. The quick cut involved featuring Sam Worthington's character Marcus stabbing a screwdriver through the shoulder of a thug.
  • But McG also removed the nude Moon Bloodgood shot claiming it: felt more like a gratuitous moment of a girl taking her top off in an action picture, and I didn't want that to convolute the story or the characters.

The pre-cuts were restored for the (US R rated) Director's Cut (Extended Cut) which was passed 12 without BBFC cuts for the 2009 Sony Blu-ray.

The BBFC put the triviality of the nudity cut in good perspective:

Terminator Salvation is the fourth instalment in the Terminator franchise and sees a grown-up John Connor leading the human resistance movement. It has been passed 12 for scenes of moderate violence and intense action.

The setting of the narrative in this film is an all-out war between the human resistance movement and Skynet with its army of Terminators. There are some spectacular battle sequences with heavy explosions and gunfire which include sight of many robots being destroyed, including a close-up shot of a robotic head being crushed by a helicopter. This sets the tone for much of the violence in the film. Most of the damage and injury is caused to the robotic characters while the human characters generally emerge unscathed. There is some injury detail seen, to the Connor character in particular, but these sequences do not dwell on detail and do not contain any emphasis on injuries or blood. For the most part the injuries are impressionistic and the fantasy setting is always well to the fore. Given this approach to the depiction of violence the film is contained at 12 under the terms of the Guidelines for violence at that level.

The film as a whole does have an unrelenting intensity which is a well established feature of fantasy films at the 12 level but the tone is comparatively light and plays very much to audience expectations for the genre. There is none of the darker, sadistic, elements that occasionally take such works to the higher category. Mature themes and sustained moderate threat and menace are allowed at 12 in the Guidelines and these are all elements that contributed to placing Terminator Salvation at 12 .

The extended version of the film also contains a scene featuring brief sexualised nudity as we see a woman remove her top, revealing one of her breasts. This is only seen from considerable distance and there is no clear or sustained nudity present within a sexual context. At 12 , the BBFC Guidelines state that in a sexual context nudity must be brief and discreet and this sequence in Terminator Salvation falls within those limits.

 

31st October   

Naughty But Nice...

Nutter commissioned survey finds 76% of those questioned find hardcore morally unacceptable
Link Here

Morality in Media logo The nutter campaign group, Morality in Media, have commissioned a survey by Harris Interactive.

The questions and overall breakdown of responses are as follows:

1. Viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet is morally acceptable

  • 6%--Strongly agree
  • 9%--Somewhat agree
  • 13%--Somewhat disagree
  • 63%--Strongly disagree
  • 9%--Don't know

2. Viewing hardcore adult pornography on the Internet is, generally, harmless entertainment

  • 7%--Strongly agree
  • 11%--Somewhat agree
  • 11%--Somewhat disagree
  • 63%--Strongly disagree
  • 8%--Don't know

Overall, women are more likely than men to disagree with each statement (morally acceptable - 85% women vs. 66% men; harmless entertainment - 82% women vs. 64% men).

Morality in Media president Robert Peters had the following comments:

There is a perception held by many that hardcore adult pornography has become acceptable in American society. But the perception is false. This is not to say that there isn't a market for hardcore adult pornography. There is. But what primarily fuels the market is sexual addiction, not casual viewing. Furthermore, just because a person experiments with this material or on occasion succumbs to the temptation to view it does not mean he approves of what is viewed or of all pornography, especially when online hardcore adult pornographers often promote their products aggressively and deceptively.

In Hamling v. United States, the Supreme Court recognized that the mere fact that hardcore adult pornographic materials are available in the nation or in a community does not 'make them witnesses of virtue' or prove that similar materials at issue in a criminal obscenity trial are acceptable under community standards and therefore legal to disseminate.

In Miller v. California, the Supreme Court also stated: 'This much has been categorically settled by the Court, that obscene material is unprotected by the First Amendment.' The Miller Court went on to define 'obscene' in a manner intended to restrict the reach of obscenity laws to 'hard-core' pornography. Today, most adult pornography distributed commercially is 'hardcore.'

It is unfortunate that so little has been done at the Federal level to curb distribution of hardcore adult pornography. Under President Clinton, the Justice Department turned its back to the proliferation of hardcore adult pornography on the Internet. Under President Bush, the Justice Department said the right things but failed to implement policies to get the job done. It remains to be seen whether the Obama administration will enforce federal obscenity laws.

 

30th October   

Widening the Net...

FCC consults on whether it should be censor for a wider range of media
Link Here

FCC logo The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a Notice of Inquiry seeking feedback and responses to the subject of the affect of electronic media on children and whether or not the Commission should have more power to wield authority.

Released on October 23, Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape presents some of the influence (both pro and con) emerging media has on youngsters, before asking for additional data on these subjects. Specifically the FCC is seeking information on the extent to which children are using electronic media today, the benefits and risks these technologies bring for children, and the ways in which parents, teachers, and children can help reap the benefits while minimizing the risks.

The FCC also is asking commenters to to discuss whether the Commission has the statutory authority to take any proposed actions and whether those actions would be consistent with the First Amendment.

 

30th October   

Fairer Standards...

US appeals court finds that national not local community standards should be applied to internet obscenity
Link Here

US Dept of Justice In a ruling of particular interest to US online adult businesses, a federal appeals court has decided that a national community standard to define Internet obscenity is more appropriate than a local one.

The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed fraud, conspiracy, obscenity and money-laundering convictions and sentences for Jeffrey Kilbride and James Schaffer, but remanded to the lower court for correction three counts described as felonies as misdemeanors.

A three-judge panel weighed a joint appeal of the first convictions in the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit for Internet adult obscenity and the first convictions ever under the federal CAN-SPAM Act.

The appellants' arguments focused on an unconstitutional jury instruction that allowed a jury in Arizona to convict Schaffer and Kilbride of obscenity based on lay witness testimony as to community standards existing in places all over the U.S.

On Wednesday, the court agreed with Kilbride and Schaffer's contention that a national standard is more appropriate for Internet communications and that the lower court failed to instruct the jury to that standard.

Gary Jay Kaufman of The Kaufman Law Group and Greg Piccionelli of Piccionelli & Sarno argued the case before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit.

Piccionelli said he was glad that the 9th Circuit to made this long-overdue change in obscenity law.

It has been clear to those of us practicing in the Internet law area for the last 15 years that the old formulation of letting the most conservative communities in America dictate what is or is not obscene on the Internet is deeply destructive to our fundamental freedoms, Piccionelli told XBIZ.

Kaufman said: This holding sounds the death knell for the long-standing Miller test for determining whether materials are obscene when the materials are published via the Internet or in email communications. What the court is saying, in effect, is that the days of trying to fit horse-and-buggy law to the digital age are over. And it makes sense - how can you subject a person to criminal prosecution for having the bad luck to open their email or log onto a website in Boise, Idaho, rather than Los Angeles?

 

29th October   

Update: Lost for Word...

Microsoft pull out of Family Guy sponsorship
Link Here  full story: Family Guy...TV programme found not so family friendly

Family Guy Season 8 DVD Microsoft has yanked its sponsorship from an upcoming half-hour special on Fox featuring Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, according to Variety. The special was set to air on November 8, and was going under the working title Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show. The show, announced earlier this month, was to be commercial free, but would feature Windows 7 marketing messages woven into the fabric of the program.

When it came to time to sign off on the show, however, Microsoft wasn't laughing. Variety reports that Microsoft executives came to view the special's taping on October 16, but got more than they bargained for when MacFarlane and Family Guy co-star Alex Borstein started doing jokes about the deaf, the Holocaust, and incest.

The special's content turned out to be a little too much for Redmond, and the company decided the show was not a fit with the Windows brand.

Even though Microsoft has passed on the show, Variety says Fox plans on going forward with the November 8 special in partnership with a new, yet-to-be-named sponsor.

 

28th October   

Takedown Hall of Shame...

New website highlights outrageous attempts to take down online content
Link Here

Takedown Hall of Shame Websites like YouTube have ushered in a new era of creativity and free speech on the Internet, but not everyone is celebrating. Some of the web's most interesting content has been yanked from popular websites with bogus copyright claims or other spurious legal threats. So today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is launching its Takedown Hall of Shame to call attention to particularly bogus takedowns — and showcase the amazing online videos and other creative works that someone doesn't want you to see.

Free speech in the 21st century often depends on incorporating video clips and other content from various sources, explained EFF Senior Staff Attorney and Kahle Promise Fellow Corynne McSherry. It's what The Daily Show with Jon Stewart does every night. This is 'fair use' of copyrighted or trademarked material and protected under U.S. law. But that hasn't stopped thin-skinned corporations and others from abusing the legal system to get these new works removed from the Internet. We wanted to document this censorship for all to see.

EFF's Takedown Hall of Shame at www.eff.org/takedowns focuses on the most egregious examples of takedown abuse, including an example of a YouTube video National Public Radio tried to remove just this week that criticizes same-sex marriage. Other Hall of Shame honorees include NBC for requesting removal of an Obama campaign video and CBS for targeting a McCain campaign video in the critical months before the 2008 election. The Hall of Shame will be updated regularly, as bad takedowns continue to squash free speech rights of artists, critics, and commentators big and small.

Many of the bogus takedowns come from misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Under the DMCA, claimants can demand that material be removed immediately without providing any proof of infringement. Service providers, fearful of monetary damages and legal hassles, often comply with these requests without double-checking them, despite the cost to free speech and individual rights.

The DMCA encourages a 'take down first, ask questions later' approach, creating an unfair hurdle to free speech, said EFF Activist Richard Esguerra. People who abuse this law to silence critics should be shamed publicly, and that's what we're aiming to do.

The Takedown Hall of Shame is part of EFF's No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign, which works to protect online expression in the face of baseless intellectual property claims.

 

27th October   

Update: Hardcore Nutters...

White ribbon wearers blame all the world's ills on porn
Link Here

White Ribbon The nutters of Morality in Media are gearing up for its annual White Ribbon Against Pornography (WRAP) Week.

WRAP is a Religious Right group's efforts to publicize what it sees as the harms of pornography. Led by the Morality in Media (MIM), the movement hopes to escalate enforcement of obscenity laws and put behind bars adult entertainment operators like Goldman, who faces a federal jury over an eight-count indictment on obscenity charges.

The group is distributing WRAP ribbons through Sunday and is promoting letter-writing campaigns to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

MIM President Robert Peters said Monday that there is a breakdown over enforcement of hardcore movies, and that he hopes that more adult entertainment operators leave the business altogether.

While enforcement of obscenity laws is not the whole answer to the pornography problem, vigorous enforcement will put many hardcore pornographers out of business and encourage others to get or stay out, Peters said. It will also send the message that pornography is a moral and social evil. Youth especially need to hear this message.

Peters blamed a fueled-up proliferation of adult material on the Internet for much of today's societal ills: It is clear that the explosion of hardcore pornography on the Internet and elsewhere is fueling this moral crisis. The Supreme Court has held that obscenity laws can be enforced against 'hardcore pornography,' and these days most commercially distributed pornography is 'hardcore.'

Meanwhile, Barry Goldman faces trial tomorrow at U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., over his efforts selling DVDs through TorturePortal.com.

 

27th October   

Update: Pandering to the Lesbian Sensitive...

Lesbian Vampire Killers beheaded for its US release
Link Here

Lesbian Vampire Killers Bloody-Disgusting.com has learned that Genius Products/Weinstein Company's December 29 DVD release of Lesbian Vampire Killers in the US has been re-titled to Vampire Killers .

Perhaps inspired by British distributors who offered supermarkets a version with a sticker conveniently blocking the word 'Lesbian'

 

25th October   

Update: Censorship Devices...

Kentucky continues its quest to confiscate domain names of gambling websites
Link Here  full story: Online Gambling in the US...US censorship problems with online gambling

Kentucky state seal The Kentucky Supreme Court has heard arguments in a potentially landmark case that could determine the future of online poker as well as set new standards and precedents regarding the censorship of the internet.

The Supreme Court hearing marks the latest legal stop in a year-long debate on whether or not the Commonwealth of Kentucky has the jurisdiction to seize gambling-related domain names that are accessible to residents of the state.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear gave the order to seize 141 gambling-related domain names in fall of 2008, claiming that they were gambling devices and, as such, violated an anti-gambling statute that has been on the state's legal books since 1974. The initial ruling by District Court Judge Thomas Wingate agreed with Beshear that the web sites were gambling devices and upheld the state's actions.

Several gaming groups including the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) and the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) appealed the case and organizations like the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also submitted written briefs to the court decrying Wingate's decision.

The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the online gambling sites, but the battle did not end there as the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

In addition to reiterating their belief that URL's do not constitute gambling devices, the respective attorneys speaking on behalf of the online gambling industry also emphasized the lack of due process in the proceedings, as the initial hearing with Judge Wingate did not allow for the opposition to be heard. Tate argued that the state's actions violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and the Commonwealth has no jurisdiction to take this sort of legal action.

It could take up to a couple of months for the court to issue their written decision. Should the court rule in favor of the Commonwealth, any domain names that do not block Kentucky residents from accessing their sites will be required to forfeit the URL to the state. During his argument, Lycan revealed that those domain names would be sold at public auction once they were under the state's control.

 

22nd October   

Updated: Puckered Out...

India bans the kissing in Hollywood romance between Indian prime minister and the Viceroy's wife
Link Here

Indian Summer The Indian government has ordered that love scenes between characters based on its first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten, the wife of Britain's last Viceroy, be deleted from a new Hollywood film of their romance.

Officials revealed they had given permission for the film Indian Summer , starring Hugh Grant and Cate Blanchett, to be filmed on location in India on the condition that scenes showing the couple in bed, kissing, and dancing, are deleted.

Another in which Nehru declares his love for Lady Mountbatten is also understood to have been deleted.

The script was vetted by a committee of senior government officials who were concerned it portrayed Nehru in a poor light.

The film, which is due for release in 2011, is based on Alex Von Tunzelmann's book Indian Summer, The Secret History of the End of Empire , which tells the story of Nehru and Lady Mountbatten's intense and clandestine love affair during the Mountbattens' return to India for the handover and partition in 1947.

The nature of Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten's relationship is still hotly contested in India, where many prefer to believe the lonely widower and the adventurous Vicereine were devoted but platonic friends.

Update: Postponed

22nd October 2009. Based on article from independent.co.uk

News that British film-makers planned to lift the lid on one of the most sensitive chapters of the last days of the Raj - the love affair between Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru - sent waves of panic through the modern-day Indian establishment when it was announced earlier this month.

The Delhi government, of which Nehru was the first prime minister following independence in 1947, demanded scenes be rewritten and depictions of physical intimacy be banned in exchange for granting permission to film. But now it seems it need not have worried about stepping in to safeguard the reputation of the founding father of the world's largest democracy - at least until the recession blows over.

Universal Pictures has postponed plans to start filming the adaptation of Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire by the historian Alex von Tunzelmann, according to Variety magazine.

Due to star Cate Blanchett as the amorous English aristocrat, with Hugh Grant as her socially ambitious husband the last viceroy, studio bosses are said to have baulked at the $30m to $40m (£18m to £24m) price tag for the venture with Working Title Films.

Director Joe Wright, who had hoped to start filming on location in India next year, said the budget pressures in a difficult market had added to the already troublesome conditions of shooting a major film in India and forced the delay. It was claimed he had considered going ahead on a reduced budget of less than $30m, but decided to hold on for the extra cash with Universal.

We were in between a rock and a hard place, he said. The Indian government wanted us to make less of the love story while the studio wanted us to make more of the love story.

 

20th October   

Rated R for Resigned...

US chief film censor to step down
Link Here

MPAA logo Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, has made it official that he will leave his post with the lobbying organization for Hollywood studios when his contract expires in September.

The news follows the quiet departures of several MPAA executives over the past few months and repeated industry criticism that Glickman's record has been mixed at best.

Glickman, who succeeded longtime MPAA chief Jack Valenti, has held his post for five years.

 

20th October   

Vaguely Harmful...

Repressive internet porn law challenged in Ohio court
Link Here

Ohio state seal A state law supposedly designed to protect children from pornography and predators on the Internet is too vague for the average citizen to know what is prohibited and what is permitted, according to the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

But Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray believes otherwise.

The two sides will argue their case before the seven-member Ohio Supreme Court on Oct. 20.

The law makes it a crime to directly send obscene or harmful material to a juvenile via electronic means, including the Internet. Cordray lumps email, individual messaging and private chat rooms as electronic means. The law also has a provision that lets people off the hook if they didn't know the recipient was a juvenile or they had no way of preventing a juvenile from seeing it.

The American Booksellers Foundation sued, contending that the law is unconstitutional and overly broad. In 2007, a federal court granted an injunction that bars authorities from trying to enforce the law. Then the U.S. 6th District Court of Appeals asked the state supreme court to review the statute and Cordray's interpretation of it.

 

16th October   

Cult-Like Practices...

Amway expose remains banned in Poland after 12 years
Link Here

Amway logo The Warsaw International Film Festival has bowed under pressure from the Amway direct sale retailer and withdrawn a critical documentary on the controversial company.

The film, directed by Polish film maker Henryk Dederko, reveals a number of the Amway corporation's secrets - including obvious violations of Polish law, claims the Warsaw Film Festival web site.

To prevent these seeing the light of day, Amway obtained a court ban [in 1998] on the film, preventing its release. Director Henryk Dederko and producer Jacek Gwizda ł a were sued by Amway several times on various counts. This was the first case of preventive censorship in the history of Polish cinema after 1989, the web site continues as part of the original blurb on the film, enticing cinema goers to see this as yet unseen documentary in Poland.

Showing the film as part of the festival would have been the first time that a Polish audience could decide for themselves about Amway's alleged cult-like practices and pyramid selling structures .

But TVP, which holds rights to the documentary, has withdrawn viewing rights from the Warsaw Film Festival - now in its 25th year - after the public broadcaster received legal threats from the US based corporation.

Amway said it would take TVP to court if Welcome to Life ( Witajcie w z.yciu ) originally made back in 1997, ever appears on the cinema screen. Organizers and sponsors of the Warsaw film festival also received warnings from Amway.

For twelve years, those who are depicted in the film have tried hard not to let anyone watch it, said Stefan Laudyn, Warsaw Film Festival director.

 

15th October   

Update: British Freedom of Speech Belittled...

California passes a law to ignore UK libel judgements
Link Here

California state seal The state of California has banned libel tourism in an effort to resist the influence of British judges.

Its governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law which will allow its courts to refuse to enforce libel judgments handed down in London.

He acted following alarm in the U.S. that powerful individuals use British courts to silence criticism and prevent investigation of their activities around the world.

California legislators said their courts must have power to block libel judgments from Britain which has become a jurisdictional Mecca for the rich and famous .

And in a verdict deeply embarrassing for the British government, they said the libel tourism law must be passed to pressure foreign jurisdictions like Britain to change its laws to place greater protections on free speech .

The California law means that courts in all the most important U.S. cities now have laws to shield Americans from damages and gagging writs ordered in the High Court in London.

New York and the state of Illinois have already passed libel tourism legislation and other states, including Florida, are in the process.

The California law gives its courts the right to refuse to enforce defamation judgements made abroad unless it is shown that the foreign court had the same or better freedom of speech protection than is given by the US constitution.

 

13th October   

Update: Cartoon Reality...

Alaskan prosecutor proposes a dangerous cartoons law
Link Here  full story: Dangerous Anime in the US...Japanese anime open to prosecution

Alaska state seal Alaskans may be headed down a free speech slippery slope as the state legislature considers strengthening state child pornography laws to include cartoons, drawings and animation. In other words, for the content to be considered contraband no actual human being would need to be involved.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, the idea is supported by the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and others in the state legislature.

The fight needs to happen, said Aaron Sperbeck, the crimes-against-children prosecutor in the Anchorage District Attorney's Office who is behind the idea. [Cartoon images] are almost as graphic and disturbing as real children. We need to get the conversation going.

Alaskan House Judiciary chair Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, supports adding cartoons and computer-generated images to the list of photos and videos of child sexual abuse currently criminalized under state law: I'm awestruck that it even exists, he said, adding the prosecutor has got a good idea and I'm going to support him.

 

11th October   

Update: Hate in the House...

US hate crime bill passed by House of Representatives
Link Here  full story: Hatred Laws in USA...US religion vs gay hate crime law

US Senate A long-debated bill to broaden US federal hate-crime law to cover violence against gays has been approved by the Democratic-controlled House in what would be the first major expansion of the law in more than 40 years.

The measure, which is expected to go before the Senate within days, had faced a veto threat from President George W. Bush, but enjoys President Obama's support.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said: As the president said back in April, the hate-crimes bill takes on an important civil rights issue to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association, he said.

The measure passed by a vote of 281 to 146.

The hate-crime legislation would expand the law to cover acts of violence motivated by a victim's sexual orientation, gender, disability or gender identity. Existing federal law defines hate crimes as those motivated by bias based on religion, race, national origin or color.

The measure also would give federal authorities more leeway to help state and local law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. It also makes grants available to states and communities to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles and to train law enforcement officers in investigating, prosecuting and preventing hate crimes.

The bill also creates a new federal crime for attacking members of the military because of their service.

A number of Republicans assailed the measure as thought crimes legislation, contending that it could lead to the prosecution of a pastor delivering sermons against homosexuality if one of his church members committed a hate crime. They have hinted at a constitutional challenge.

Congress should protect all Americans equally and not provide special protections to a few politically favored groups, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement. It violates the principle of equal justice under the law and also threatens to infringe on the free speech rights of the American people.

The bill's supporters, however, say that they added language to the measure to protect freedom of religious expression.

 

7th October   

Censorship by Bureaucracy...

US Supreme Court refuses Free Speech Coalition challenge to the onerous 2257 record keeping requirement
Link Here

Free Speech Coalition logo Without comment, the US Supreme Court has denied a challenge to 18 U.S.C.§2257, the onerous federal recordkeeping and labeling law for the adult entertainment industry.

The 14-year-old case weighed by the court, Connection Distributing Co. vs. Holder, involved the ability of a publishing company to post sexually explicit photos of swingers to accompany advertisements seeking like-minded adults.

But the justices' refused to reconsider a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reaffirmed the legality of 2257.

The justices' denial is a big defeat for the Free Speech Coalition. FSC attorneys argued that 2257 is overly broad because it requires age verification for older adults and because it applies to couples in their own homes.

Diane Duke, executive director of the FSC, told XBIZ that she was disappointed that the Supreme Court didn't grant cert: 2257 does nothing to stop child pornography; it does nothing more than overburden legal adult businesses. It is outrageous it is unconstitutional and we are going to continue the fight.

FSC is prepared to continue the fight challenging the new regulations and broadening the plaintiff base, she said.

 

6th October   

Blog Ads...

US Federal Trade Commission applies payment disclosure guidelines to product reviews on blog sites
Link Here

FTC logo US regulators will for the first time crack down on bloggers who fail to disclose fees or freebies they get from companies for reviewing products.

The Federal Trade Commission, FTC, decided to update its nearly 30 year old guidelines to clarify the law for the vast world of blogging. Offenders could face eventual fines of up to $11,000 (£6,900) per violation.

In a statement the FTC said the revised guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

Until now, bloggers had not been covered by the guidelines - something which had concerned consumer groups. They had argued that for a long time that the links between some bloggers and companies were not always totally transparent and clear for readers.

Consumers are increasingly dependent on the internet for purchase information, said Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation of America. There's tremendous opportunity to steer consumers in the wrong direction. There is nothing in the new rules about how disclosures must be made. That's left up to the endorser, said Richard Cleland, assistant director of the FTC's division of advertising practices. It can be a banner, part of the review. The only requirement is that it be clear and conspicuous.

The FTC said its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final web guidelines, which will take effect from 1 December. The commission had unveiled a draft of the proposed policy last year.

The guides are not binding by law, but rather interpretations of law that hope to help advertisers comply with regulations.

 

5th October   

Offsite: Crushing Free Speech...

US Supreme court to hear about the dangers of censoring depictions of animal cruelty
Link Here  full story: Animal Cruelty in US Media...Legal challenge to censorship of animal cruelty

Dogs of Velvet The discovery of graphic videos in which kittens, rabbits, hamsters and other small animals are stomped to death by women, usually with their bare feet or in high-heeled shoes, led to a federal law that is now the subject of a legal battle that involves questions about animal cruelty, free speech and the specter of censorship.

The 1999 law, pushed through Congress by Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, banned the production, possession and sale of videos depicting acts of animal cruelty for commercial gain.

In Washington, the Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether the law should be overturned on the grounds that it threatens free speech.

The legal case has caught the attention of the film industry, book publishers, news organizations and other opponents of censorship, all of which have filed legal briefs asking the court to strike down the statute.

On the other side are animal rights groups and attorneys general from 26 states, including California, who argue the law should be upheld.

Three tapes at the center of the legal proceedings show brutal, bloody scenes of pit bull fighting. Robert Stevens, an author and sometime film producer, was arrested and charged with three counts of violating the law after federal agents seized the tapes during a predawn raid of his home in 2003.

Stevens was convicted and sentenced to 37 months in prison for selling the videos. Last year, Stevens scored a legal victory when the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia overturned his conviction and ruled that the federal law illegally restricts free speech. Though the court said preventing cruelty to animals is a worthy goal, it rejected the government's argument that the law is justified by a compelling interest in protecting animals from wanton acts of cruelty.

The decision set the stage for Tuesday's proceedings before the Supreme Court.

...Read full article

 

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