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28th December   

Dangerous Tweets...

US Senators are looking to close down social media accounts by groups such as the Taliban
Link Here

US SenateUS Senator Joe Lieberman is heading up a movement in the US Congress that would like to see Twitter censor the Taliban's tweets, in order to eliminate violent Islamist extremism propaganda on social media.

The Taliban has been prolific on Twitter, but their account tweets a mixture of up-to-the-minute information about NATO attacks, as well as anti-Western propaganda.

Leslie Phillips, a spokesman for the senate homeland security committee, said:

Senator Lieberman's efforts to eliminate violent Islamist extremism propaganda from the internet and social media has been a campaign of persuasion.

He has written letters, for example to Google seeking the company to enforce more strongly its terms of service, which ban the sort of thing that we see from violent Islamist extremists.

Google is said to be resisting the demands that the accounts be closed. They are specifically citing the fact that, unlike Al Quaeda, the Taliban is not considered a terrorist group by the US government.

 

10th December   

Update: Bloggers Aren't Journalists in Oregon...

US blogger doesn't qualify for shield law legal defence designed to protect journalists and their sources
Link Here  full story: Shield Laws...US protects journalists but not bloggers

OregonAn Oregon court has denied a blogger protection under that state's shield laws because she isn't employed by a media organization,

Blogger Crystal Cox was accused of defaming Obsidian Finance Group in blog posts critical of the company's founder Kevin Padrick. The accusation was based on writings Cox had based on information she said was leaked from a company insider. Cox lost the defamation case and had to pay out $2.5 million.

According to Seattle Weekly. While defending her posts as factual, Cox also declined to reveal her source, claiming protection under Oregon's shield laws. Her bind was that concealing her source weakened her defense that her posts were factual and the court decided that Cox wasn't eligible for the shield law defense.

The judge wrote:

Although defendant is a self-proclaimed investigative blogger and defines herself as media, the record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Thus, she is not entitled to the protections of the law

 

6th December   

Update: Korean Copyright War...

US seizes domains of websites offering movie downloads to Korean speakers
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

homeland security logoOperation In Our Sites, launched by the US Department of Homeland Security's ICE unit, continues with the seizure of 11 Korean domain names that were allegedly related to movie piracy.

Since Korean websites are becoming likely targets for the operations launched by US authorities, the well-known banner that declares a site illegal, alerting its visitors that it has been shut down by law enforcement agencies, now has a Korean translation of the warning.

007disk.com, 007disk.net, 82movie.com, 82movie.net, 82us.com, bzserv.info, itvwmg.com, ktvwmg.com ,wmgitv.com, wmgus.com and wmgus.net were domains that offered download links to the latest movies in return for a small fee.

Many of the seized domains belong to a US company, even if they were clearly designed to target Korean speakers.

So far, 350 domains have been taken into custody by the US federal government and these operations will not stop too soon.

 

5th December   

Update: Block on Blocking...

US lawmaker proposes another bill to prevent US internet censorship expertise being exported to repressive countries
Link Here

US SenateA bill that would restrict U.S. exports of technology that can be used by repressive regimes to censor the Internet or conduct surveillance on users will be introduced in the House soon.

The sponsor, Representative Chris Smith said the proposed legislation is in response to reports that some governments have used American products to crack down on dissidents. He said:

How will all these dictatorships ever matriculate into democracy if the dissenters...are all in prison, hunted down with high-tech capabilities sold or acquired through U.S.-listed companies?

Previous attempts by Smith to bar U.S. companies from enabling online political censorship in authoritarian countries have stumbled.

Smith's latest bill to enact a Global Online Freedom Act would prohibit the export of telecommunications technology that can be used for online censorship or surveillance to countries the State Department would determine to be restricting the Internet, according to a draft reviewed by the Journal. A license would be required to export to other countries when the end-user was a government.

Efforts also are under way in Europe to both implement Internet surveillance technology and to crack down on its use on other countries. The European Commission intends next year to propose allowing each EU member to halt exports of technology that isn't on the current list of controlled items if there is evidence it could be used to abuse human rights, an EU official said.

 

3rd December   

Offsite: US Internet Censorship without Adequate Judicial Oversight...

Judge orders hundreds of sites de-indexed from Google, Facebook
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

doj logoAfter a series of one-sided hearings, luxury goods maker Chanel has won recent court orders against hundreds of websites trafficking in counterfeit luxury goods. A federal judge in Nevada has agreed that Chanel can seize the domain names in question and transfer them all to US-based registrar GoDaddy. The judge also ordered all Internet search engines and all social media websites ---explicitly naming Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Bing, Yahoo, and Google---to de-index the domain names and to remove them from any search results.

The case has been a remarkable one. Concerned about counterfeiting, Chanel has filed a joint suit in Nevada against nearly 700 domain names that appear to have nothing in common. When Chanel finds more names, it simply uses the same case and files new requests for more seizures. (A recent November 14 order went after an additional 228 sites; none had a chance to contest the request until after it was approved and the names had been seized.)

How were the sites investigated? For the most recent batch of names, Chanel hired a Nevada investigator to order from three of the 228 sites in question. When the orders arrived, they were reviewed by a Chanel official and declared counterfeit. The other 225 sites were seized based on a Chanel anti-counterfeiting specialist browsing the Web.

...Read the full article

 

30th November   

Updated: The App Rating Game...

US computer game ratings group set to move into rating mobile apps
Link Here

ESRB logoThe Entertainment Software Rating Board ESRB, is teaming up with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association trade group to create a standardized rating system for mobile apps and games.

The groups teased the existence of the new new ratings system, which will be based on age-appropriateness of their content and context, ahead of an official announcement.

There is currently no unified standard for content-based ratings across mobile platforms.

Since its creation in 1994, the industry-backed ESRB has rated over 21,000 console and PC games released in the United States. In April, the group introduced an automated system to aid in rating the high number of digitally distributed console games.

Update: ESRB Ratings to be used for Apps

30th November 2011. See article from business.avn.com

CTIA, the international nonprofit association representing wireless carriers, in collaboration with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), has announced the development of a mobile application ratings system to be implemented next year.

In a press release, CTIA stated:

The CTIA Mobile Application Rating System with ESRB will utilize the well-known and trusted age rating icons that ESRB assigns to computer and video games to provide parents and consumers reliable information about the age-appropriateness of applications. Today's announcement is an extension of CTIA's 2010 Guidelines for Application Content Classification and Rating.

When developers submit their applications to a participating storefront they will be able to complete a detailed yet quick multiple choice questionnaire that is designed to assess an application's content and context with respect to its age-appropriateness. This includes violence or sexual content, language, substances, etc., as well as other elements such as a minimum age requirement, the exchange of user-generated content, the sharing of a user's location with other users of the application and the sharing of user-provided personal information with third parties.

Once developers complete all answers to these questions, their applications are rated within seconds. Each rated app is issued a certificate and a unique identifying code that may be subsequently submitted to other storefronts during their respective onboarding processes, avoiding the need for developers to repeat the rating process. This means consistent ratings across participating storefronts and a convenient, cost-free process for app developers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the age-based ratings categories will be the same as those used by ESRB for video games, adding, The carriers, which sell apps via their own storefronts---much as Apple Inc.'s iTunes sells music---are expected to roll out the ratings sometime next year. Each carrier will decide for its own store whether the ratings will be mandatory for some or all apps, or entirely voluntary.

iPhone apps will not be covered, since Apple already has set up a far more censorial ratings system.

Also Google said publicly that it didn't make a lot of sense to sign on to the new ratings system because it already had its own system.

ECRB ratings for video games are:

  • EARLY CHILDHOOD (EC) Content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
     
  • EVERYONE (E) Content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
     
  • EVERYONE 10+ (E10+) Content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
     
  • TEEN (T) Content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
     
  • MATURE (M) Content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.  This category is particularly designed to ensure that the most adult possible can be sold at many supposedly 'family friendly' retailers who refuse to stock adults only titles.
     
  • ADULTS ONLY (AO) Content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.  Many US retailers refuse to carry AO titles.
     
  • RATING PENDING (RP) Titles have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release.)

 

30th November   

Update: Happy 30th Anniversary at Last...

Producer credit restored to 30th Anniversary Edition of Halloween II
Link Here  full story: Halloween II...Campaign to restore the producer's credit
Halloween Blu ray Jamie Lee Curtis Halloween II is a 1981 US horror film by Rick Rosenthal.

Universal released a 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray on 13th September 2011.

But the fans were not impressed as explained in a news story shortly after the release:

In a completely disgraceful move, Universal/MCA replaced producer Moustapha Akkad's credit, on the new release of HIS film, Halloween II, with their own corporate logo.

What's worse, they did it after his tragic death, when he is not here to defend his own work. Therefore, we need to let the studio know that we will not stand for it. No one did more for the Halloween franchise than Moustapha Akkad, and we want his credit put back - NOW.

Do not but this, or any other Universal DVD, until they fix this shameful situation! And if you have bought it, return it.

Solidarity among Michael Myers lovers, for the Godfather of Halloween, Moustapha Akkad, R.I.P.

Universal responded to the campaign and explained that the omission of the credit was a mistake and that release will be fixed.

moustapha akkad credit And indeed Universal made good with the pledge, and have now issued a replacement complete with the well deserved credit.

Where possible Universal are now emailing buyers of the errant disk:

Dear Halloween II Blu-ray Owner,

We're happy to let you know that revised Halloween II Blu-ray discs are now available.

For information on receiving a replacement, please let us know your mailing address and daytime telephone number.

Sincerely,

Consumer Relations UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOME ENTERTAINMENT

 

26th November   

War on Google...

Senior US politician demands Google censorship in support of the war on terror
Link Here

Google logoUS Senator Joe Lieberman is calling on Google to censor more content on its blog platform.

Lieberman apparently believes that censorship of anti-West and violent jihadist content will keep people from wanting to attack America. At least that's what it sounds like when you read the senator's formal letter to Google CEO Larry Page - asking Mountain View to censor content on its blogs.

Lieberman thinks that Google's primary mission should be to keep the Internet free of radical ideology and help the government fight its war on terror. Lieberman references the blog of recent lone wolf terrorist suspect Jose Pimentel as a reason to police content on Google's blogger platform. Pimentel allegedly used the Internet to access instructions to make bombs and share his support for violent Islamic extremism, writes Lieberman.

Lieberman ends his letter claiming that Google is getting in the way of the government's fight against terrorists. I strongly believe that Google should expand that standard to include your other platforms. The private sector plays an important role in protecting our homeland from the preeminent threat of violent Islamic extremism, and Google's inconsistent standards are adversely affecting our ability to counter violent Islamic extremism online, Lieberman said.

 

26th November   

Update: War on Football Shirt Piracy...

US seizes 131 more domain names
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

doj logoUS authorities have initiated the largest round of domain name seizures yet as part of their continued crackdown on counterfeit and piracy-related websites. 131 domain names have been taken over by the feds to protect the commercial interests of US companies. The seizures are disputable, as the SOPA bill which aims to specifically legitimize such actions is still pending in Congress.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have resumed Operation In Our Sites , their domain name seizing initiative.

TorrentFreak has identified 131 domains taken over by the government during the last 24 hours (See article for list),.

This time the action appears to be mostly sites selling sports kit, football jerseys etc, but there are also DVD and software sellers.

Update: 70 More

25th July 2012. See article from thehill.com

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it has seized 70 domain names of websites accused of selling counterfeit products. During the operation, federal law enforcement officers purchased sports jerseys, baby carriers and luxury goods from the sites. Many of the goods purchased from the sites were shipped from outside the United States.

Federal authorities have seized a total of 839 domain names, including the latest round of seizures, according to ICE. Of that number, 229 domain names have been forfeited to the U.S. government.

 

25th November   

Comment: A Choice of the Director's Cut or the Vicar's Cut...

US DVD released with officially sanctioned version with bleeped strong language
Link Here

Sons Perdition Artists Not Provided The DVD release of the documentary, Sons of Perdition , about teens exiled from Warren Jeffs' FLDS Church, comes with a choice: Full of swears or Utah nice.

The movie was given an R rating by the MPAA for its adult language. The DVD (which is released Nov. 29, on Oprah Winfrey's OWN Documentary Club label) presents the movie with that language intact,  but also offers an audio option that bleeps out the strong language.

We understood that a large audience, including teenagers, wouldn't be able to view the film due to the strong language. But we wanted to give everyone a chance to see this powerful story, said co-director Tyler Measom in a statement. The story is essentially the same, just without the cuss words.

Update: Vicars and Trainspotters

25th November 2011. From Alan

I think you're a bit unfair to vicars! I know a few, and I don't think any of them would blush at a few cusswords. One of them - a rector actually - cheerfully recounted to me and others how he had given an undertaker the instruction Turn that fucking coffin round - now!

hailee steinfeld for miu mii advertVicars are also good trainspotters - e.g. the Revd W. Awdry of Thomas the Tank Engine fame - and I'm sure they might notice that the rails in that picture to which the increasingly barmy ASA objected are red rusty. No train had been down those tracks in years, Hence, no danger to the model.

From the Melon farmers

Fair comment. Henceforth the Vicar's Cut will be renamed as the Nutter's Cut.

 

18th November   

Boxed in by Censors...

MPAA turn down appeal for a PG-13 for the R Rated The Possession
Link Here

dibbuk boxThe MPAA's rating appeals board has upheld the R rating given to Lionsgate's children's horror The Possession.

The Classification and Rating Administration had assigned the movie an R for violence, terror, and disturbing images in October, prompting an appeal for a PG-13 instead.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars in The Possession, formerly titled Dibbuk Box , with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert producing, and Ole Bornedal directing. The movie follows a divorced father whose youngest daughter becomes strangely connected to an antique wooden box she purchased at a yard sale.

 

18th November   

The World has a Seizure...

The EU comes out against new SOPA law enabling the US to seize domain names worldwide
Link Here  full story: SOPA...Internet censorship in the name of preventing piracy

eff The European Parliament has adopted a resolution which criticizes domain name seizures of infringing websites by US authorities.

According to the resolution these measures need to be countered as they endanger the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication. With this stance the European Parliament joins an ever-growing list of opposition to the proposed US law called Stop Online Piracy Act .

Starting in 2010, US authorities have used domain name seizures as a standard tool to take down websites that are deemed to facilitate copyright infringement.

Despite fierce criticism from the public, legal experts and civil liberties groups, taking control of domain names is now one of the measures included in the pending Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), legislation designed to give copyright holders more tools to protect their rights against foreign sites.

Opposition to SOPA has been swelling in recent days, and today the European Parliament adds its voice by heavily criticizing the domain seizures that are part of it. A resolution on the EU-US Summit that will be held later this month stresses the need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names.

If SOPA does indeed become law the US would be able to shut down domains worldwide, as long as they are somehow managed by US companies. This includes the popular .com, .org and .net domains, and thus has the potential to affect many large websites belonging to companies in EU member states.

 

11th November   

Update: Shame about American Prudery...

Myths about the distribution of an NC-17 (adults only) film in the US
Link Here  full story: MPAA NC-17...US adults only certificate is the kiss of box office death

shameAfter a showing of the NC-17 rated Shame at the US AFI Fest, National Association of Theater Owners president John Fithian talked to TheWrap about Shame and the distribution of adult rated films..

Fithian said about Shame:

It would have destroyed this film to cut it down to an R rating. Too many filmmakers and too many studios do that, and I applaud Steve McQueen and Fox Searchlight for sticking to their guns.

This is the kind of film that the NC-17 is designed for, and I think we need more bold filmmakers and distributors to make content appropriate for the rating and release it that way.

Fithian then claimed that distributors reluctance to release NC-17 films was largely based on myth. He said:

The first myth, is that theaters will not play movies with the rating.

That's just not true. We've surveyed 100 of our members, and three of them said they would never play NC17s, just as a personal choice. So that myth is 97% false.

And the other myth is that you can't advertise movies that are rated NC-17. That's wrong, too. Fox Searchlight released a Bertolucci picture a while back [9 years ago] called The Dreamers , and [company president] Steve Gilula says they got it played where they wanted to get it played. In terms of advertising, one newspaper in Utah wouldn't take advertising for NC-17, and that was about it.

 

11th November   

Diary: Nutters Do Their Bit to Publicise Hide/Seek Exhibit...

Catholics whinge at Brooklyn Museum art exhibit
Link Here

hide seek Hide/Seek
Brooklyn Museum, New York
18th November 2011 to 12th February 2012

The art exhibition Hide/Seek cam to the public's attention courtesy of nutter rants targeted at David Wojnarowicz's 1987 short film A Fire in My Belly.

Predictably, the Christians' crusade continues as local groups are now pressuring the Brooklyn Museum to remove the late artist's film from the exhibition.

Both the Christian Post and Daily News note that the Brooklyn Museum has received many complaints from members of local groups outraged by the shortened, 13-minute version of the 21-minute original's ten-second segment in which ants crawl over a crucifix.

In reaction to the forthcoming exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, Director Arnold Lehman said he received thousands of pre-programmed emails from a Catholic group. Lehman said the film is an important piece of American art history. He told the Daily News: For a city that prides itself on diversity and creativity, there couldn't be a better exhibition.

Brooklyn's Catholic Diocese has also requested that the work be censored from the show.

Meanwhile Pastor A. R. Bernard, who leads Brooklyn's Christian Cultural Center said: What is the point? I think this is the piece in the Hide/seek collection they really need to hide.

Undeterred, the museum plans to show every piece in the Hide/Seek exhibition, which opens November 18 and remains on view through February 12.

 

3rd November   

Update: Seven Years On...

US court again rules that the TV censor was wrong to impose the massive for Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

janet jackson wardrobe malfunctionA US federal appeals court has again threwn out a $550,000 fine against CBS by the US TV censors of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia had issued a similar ruling in July 2008. But that decision was sent back to the appeals court in May 2009 by the Supreme Court after it ruled in a separate case that the FCC had the right to hold broadcasters accountable even for unscripted and isolated foul language.

The appeals court heard another round of arguments in the Janet Jackson case in February 2010. It has now ruled that while the FCC had the authority to police fleeting images, the nipple-baring episode was on-screen for nine-sixteenths of a second, the commission acted arbitrarily because it had not announced that it had changed its policy until after it decided to fine CBS.

The FCC failed to acknowledge that its order in this case reflected a policy change and improperly imposed a penalty on CBS for violating a previously unannounced policy, the appeals court said in a 2-to-1 decision written by Judge Marjorie O. Rendell and joined by Judge Julio M. Fuentes.

The majority said the decision by the FCC was arbitrary and capricious because the commission did not announce that it was stiffening its guidelines for fleeting material until March 2004, after the February 2004 Super Bowl broadcast.

 

30th October   

Diary: Street Alchemy 2.0...

Poster Boy gets to exhibit his controversial re-imagings of New York Subway adverts
Link Here

Poster Boy War Art Street Alchemy 2.0
Real Art Ways Hartford, Connecticut
Until 30th January 2012.

A previously canceled exhibition of work of Poster Boy, the semi-anonymous street art provocateur known for slicing up and reconfiguring advertisements in New York subway stations, is back on.

The show, titled Street Alchemy , had been scheduled to go on view at Trinity College in September, but was abruptly canceled when the dubious legality of his work came to light. At the eleventh hour, Trinity got cold feet regarding Poster Boy's practice of using materials stolen from public advertisements.

The Connecticut-born artist, nee Henry Matyjewicz, quickly claimed censorship: They don't know where the billboards come from, and I'm not going to incriminate myself, a representative for the artist said in an interview with the BBC.

Luckily for Poster Boy, the good people at Real Art Ways, an alternative, multidisciplinary arts organization in Hartford, Connecticut, were undeterred by the unorthodox provenance of his materials.

Executive Director Will K. Wilkins commented, the decision to cancel the show brought Poster Boy's work to our attention... we don't ask artists where they got their materials. They don't have to pass a test. The deployment of appropriated material, Wilkins says, is intrinsic to the work: the implication that they are stolen is part and parcel of the artistic expression.

The show, entitled Street Alchemy 2.0 , will run until January 30, 2012.

 

29th October   

Update: More Serbian...

The US release of A Serbian Film is less cut than the UK version
Link Here  full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

Serbian Film Srdjan Todorovic A Serbian Film is a 2010 Serbia adult horror by Srdjan Spasojevic with Srdjan Todorovic and Sergej Trifunovic. See IMDb

In the UK the film was released after 4:12s of BBFC cuts.

The film has now just been released in the US on 25th October. Early reports indicate that, although MPAA Unrated, it has been cut by 1 to 2 minutes.

Cuts are to the obvious newborn baby scene and to a hooded sex scene revealed as incest.

The Swedish release though is reported to be uncut.

 

28th October   

Updated: Google Transparency Report...

Google reveal the number of requests for them to remove or hide content
Link Here

Google logoGoogle have revealed the number of requests for them to remove content, mostly from YouTube and to hide content from searches. The figures cover the period January to June 2011.

UK

Google received 7 UK court orders to remove 43 items from searches. 14 on grounds of defamation and  28 on grounds of privacy or security.

Google received 1 UK court order and 52 letters from the likes of police and government requesting removal of a total of 220 YouTube videos. 61 for privacy and security, 135 for national security, 3 for violence and 1 for hate speech.

US

Google received 24 US court orders and 3 government/police requests to remove 198 items from searches. 188 of these on grounds of defamation

Google received 6 US court order and 26 letters from the likes of police and government requesting removal of a total of 113 YouTube videos. 62 for privacy and security, and 16 for defamation.

Google also received 5 court orders to remove 379 Google Groups on grounds of defamation. Also 18 requests to remove 47 items from Blogger blogs.

The US requests are a 70% increase over the previous 6 month.

Update: Occupying the High Ground

28th October 2011. Based on article from readwriteweb.com , thanks to Nick

In a show of good faith, Google touted the fact that it has refused to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in the U.S. who requested the removal of YouTube videos of police brutality and criticisms of law enforcement officials.

Google cited its transparency report from the first half of this year, but to mention it with violent crackdowns at Occupy Oakland this week, is telling. Google said:

We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests.

 

27th October   

Updated: Shame...

Difficulties for the distribution of an NC-17 (adults only) film in the US
Link Here  full story: MPAA NC-17...US adults only certificate is the kiss of box office death

shameFox Searchlight's US distribution deal with Shame specified that the studio would not re-edit the movie for a lower-rating even though it's almost certainly going to get an NC-17. The movie, which follows the downward spiral of a sex addict (played brilliantly by Michael Fassbender), features copious sex and nudity with a sprinkling of implied incest.

There are multiple challenges to marketing an NC-17 movie. Most networks won't air promos for an NC-17 film (at least not during primetime), newspapers are wary of buying ads for NC-17 movies, and even theaters aren't eager to show NC-17 movies because it's adults only. This allows for stupid folks to come out an accuse the theater of not being family friendly.

Actually Shame has been very well received wherever it has been shown on the festival circuit, so Fox will market the film on the strength of good reviews and word of mouth. It has a good start as it picked up awards at the Venice Film Festival for Best Film and Best Actor.

Shame isn't going to open with a wide release. It opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 2nd, which means that the studio will only have to rely on newspaper ad buys in those cities. Fox will also put a green-band (suitable for all ages) trailer into theaters.

The Fox studio co-president Steve Gilula said:

I think NC-17 is a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter. We believe it is time for the rating to become usable in a serious manner. The sheer talent of the actors and the vision of the filmmaker are extraordinary. It's not a film that everyone will take easily, but it certainly breaks through the clutter and is distinctive and original. It's a game changer.

Update: MPAA Rating

26th October 2011.  See article from ropeofsilicon.com

Shame has now officially received its NC-17 rating from the MPAA with the comment: for some explicit sexual content.

Update: BBFC Rating

27th October 2011. See article from bbfc.co.uk

BBFC logo Meanwhile the BBFC have just published their rating for Shame. It has been passed 18 uncut with the comment:

Contains strong sex and sex references

 

26th October   

Holy Terror...

The latest Frank Miller graphic novel rattles a few cages
Link Here

Holy Terror Frank Miller There is nothing subtle about Frank Miller's newest graphic novel, Holy Terror . The book opens with the quote: If you meet the infidel, kill the infidel , which Miller attributes to the islamic prophet Mohammed.

Miller is no stranger to controversy. His stories, which include the film inspiring 300 and Sin City , regularly explore the darker corners of society amid shades of moral grey.

His latest work was originally envisioned as a Batman tale after September 11 attacks on the US, the comic features heroes The Fixer, and thief-come-love interest, Natalie, as they join forces to stop an Al Qaeda plot on Empire City, a thinly veiled New York City.

For some, this underlines a worrying shift in American entertainment. We are witnessing a growing industry of information and fear-mongering, and this work fits in the centre said Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He described the work as shameful .

In a post on his website dated September 23, Miller unapologetically defended Holy Terror as a piece of naked propaganda , but propaganda in a virtuous sense. Holy Terror is his contribution to the fight against terrorism.

Despite wary reviews, Holy Terror was the best-selling graphic novel in September, according to Diamond Comic Distributors.

 

24th October   

Updated: Thirtieth Anniversary...

New UK DVD and US Blu-ray releases of Rick Rosenthal's 1981 Halloween II
Link Here  full story: Halloween II...Campaign to restore the producer's credit
Halloween II DVD Donald Pleasence Halloween II is a 1981 US horror film by Rick Rosenthal. See IMDb

Passed 18 uncut with previous cuts waived for:

  • UK 2011 Scanbox R2 DVD at UK Amazon just released on 10th October 2011
  • UK 2010 Lions Gate Online
  • UK 2010 Lions Gate R2 DVD
  • UK 2002 Sanctuary R2 DVD

The US release is uncut and MPAA R Rated for:

  • US 2011 Universal 30th Anniversary R0 Blu-ray just released on 13th September 2011
  • US 2005 Universal R1 DVD at US Amazon
Previously passed 18 after 17s of BBFC cuts for:
  • UK 1990 Castle VHS

The BBFC cuts were:

  • Cuts to the scene where Michael dunks a nurse into a boiling Jacuzzi. The final two thrusts under the water have been removed, a close up of her burnt face and also Michael throwing her naked body to the floor.

Summary Review: Successful exercise in terror

It is rare that horror sequels (or any film sequels) manage to capture the tone and feel of their predecessor. However Halloween 2, made 3 years after John Carpenter's original, is a successful exercise in terror.

However, expect more violence than the almost entirely blood-free first outing.

A very worthwhile film for lovers of the horror genre.

Update: Boycott Universal's Halloween II

23rd October 2011. See campaign from facebook.com , thanks to TheDVDMonster

boycott halloween ii logo In a completely disgraceful move, Universal/MCA replaced producer Moustapha Akkad's credit, on the new release of HIS film, Halloween II, with their own corporate logo.

What's worse, they did it after his tragic death, when he is not here to defend his own work. Therefore, we need to let the studio know that we will not stand for it. No one did more for the Halloween franchise than Moustapha Akkad, and we want his credit put back - NOW.

Do not but this, or any other Universal DVD, until they fix this shameful situation! And if you have bought it, return it.

Solidarity among Michael Myers lovers, for the Godfather of Halloween, Moustapha Akkad, R.I.P.

The Latest

The campaign coordinator writes:

Universal has said that they will fix the situation, and apologized for the error. We believe that no harm was intended and it was a mistake.

But, wow, the power of Halloween fans united. We will keep you posted, as news develops...

 

17th October   

Town Hall Tits...

US town of Manchester bans art exhibition featuring decorated shop dummies
Link Here

paint the ta tasAn art exhibit has been banned from Manchester Town Hall in Connecticut

The Manchester Art Association exhibit of 35 painted and decorated torsos were considered inappropriate.

The show was planned to promote breast cancer awareness. Local artists responded to a call for an exhibit called Paint the Ta Tas (large breasts), and the result is more than a dozen painted and decorated female and male torsos that were considered inappropriate for a public office.

Town officials made the decision after looking at a website that the art organization suggested as an example of the original exhibit, but the mannequins online were quite different from the torsos planned for town hall.

The examples that they told me to look at are just terrific, sometimes inspiring, sometimes shocking. It's art. It's provocative, a little bit controversial, it's terrific stuff. It's just that Town Hall is a place of business Town Hall Manager Scott Shanley said.

Now the 35 torsos are on display at the gallery of Manchester Memorial Hospital, which is open to the pubic seven days a week. The hospital has not received a single complaint on the exhibit, which is actually getting the attention they need to spread the word about breast cancer awareness.

 

15th October   

Update: Dangerous Link...

US man pleads guilty to lese majeste charges in Thailand
Link Here  full story: Lese Majeste in Thailand...Criticising the monarchy is a serious crime

Thailand flagA US man has pleaded guilty in Thailand to charges of commenting unfavourably about the monarchy.

The Thai-born man, who uses his American name Joe Gordon, is accused of posting a link on a blog to a royal biography banned in the country.

Lese majeste is an extreme offence in Thailand, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, but defence lawyers hope the guilty plea will result in the usual 50% reduction in sentence.

Judges are due to sentence Gordon on 9 November.

Gordon, has previously denied the charges, media reports say, but after repeatedly being denied bail he changed his mind.

 

10th October   

Offsite: The 99 Censors...

TV adaption of burkha clad superhero comic book seemingly put on hold on fears of controversy
Link Here

the 99Naif Al-Mutawa anticipated a struggle when he launched an Islam-inspired comic book series that he hoped would become a symbol of toleration.

He worried about the comics being banned in Saudi Arabia - which wound up happening, briefly -- and he expected to be challenged by conservatives in Islam, since Al-Mutawa wanted to buck the trend of Islamic culture being directly tied to the Koran.

But it wasn't an Islamic cleric that stalled the series, called The 99, after the 99 attributes of Allah, which the superheroes are supposed to embody.

It is the American market, and the voices of Islam's Western critics, that have caused the most problems for The 99, says Al-Mutawa, who is the focus of a PBS documentary airing next week.

...Read the full article

 

4th October   

Comic Defense...

Historic comic book censorship seal taken over for fund raising purposes
Link Here

cca logo The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced that it has received the intellectual property rights to the Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval in an assignment from the now-defunct Comic Magazine Association of America, which administrated the Code since the 1950s.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, As we reflect upon the challenges facing intellectual freedom during Banned Books Week, the Comics Code Seal is a reminder that it's possible for an entire creative field to have those rights curtailed because of government, public, and market pressures. Fortunately, today comics are no longer constrained as they were in the days of the Code, but that's not something we can take for granted.

The CBLDF will take over licensing of products bearing the Comics Code Seal, including t-shirts, providing a modest source of income for the organization's First Amendment legal work. Graphitti Designs is currently offering t-shirts with the Code Seal to benefit CBLDF.

Brownstein adds It's a progressive change that the Comics Code seal, which is yesterday's symbol of comics censorship, will now be used to raise money to protect the First Amendment challenges comics face in the future. That goal probably would have been unimaginable to the Code's founders, who were part of a generation of comics professionals that were fleeing a witch-hunt that nearly trampled comics and any notion that they deserved any First Amendment protection.

 

2nd October   

The Good Rating...

The Good Doctor reduced from an R Rating to a PG-13
Link Here

good doctorThe MPAA has reversed its earlier R rating for the upcoming Orlando Bloom drama The Good Doctor , reducing it to a PG-13 on appeal.

The indie film was originally slapped with an R rating for some crude sexual references by the MPAA's Classification and Rating Administration. However the movie will now be rated PG-13 for thematic material, disturbing situations and some crude sexual content.

Also read: Harvey Wins! MPAA Overturns Blue Valentine's NC-17The decision to reverse the rating was made following arguments by Jonathan King and Julia Lebedev, the film's producers.

MPAA logo

MPAA

Motion Picture Association of America

Films are rated for US theatrical showings and video formats by the MPAA.

The MPAA is a trade organisation, not a state censor. Ratings are voluntary and are not sanctioned by US law. Distributors can opt out of MPAA ratings and release the film MPAA Unrated.

The MPAA are also very active in actions against film piracy.

The MPAA established the modern ratings under the presidency of Jack Valenti

MPAA Presidents:
 - Jack Valenti 1966-2004
 - Dan Glickman 2004-2010
- Chris Dodd 2011-present

MPAA Ratings:

-  G: General Audiences: All ages admitted

- PG: Parental Guidance: Some material may not be suitable for children

- PG-13: Some material may  be inappropriate for children under 13

- R: Restricted: Under 17 requires  accompanying  parent or adult guardian
[in UK terms = 17A]

- NC-17:  No one 17 and under admitted
[in UK terms = 18]

- Unrated, not an MPAA rating but a distributor opt out

Previously there was an X rating which was replaced by the NC-17 in 1990. Distributors could also opt for this X rating without submitting the film for rating. This opt out was commonly used by porn distributors and the X rating became associated with porn. The replacement NC-17 is only available for films submitted to the MPAA.

The NC-17 is commercially unattractive as many theatres and a few retailers consider  themselves 'family friendly' and therefore refuse adults-only material.

MPAA's  film rating department is called Classification and Rating administration (CARA)

Websites:
  MPAA Corporate
CARA

Melon Farmers News:
US Censorship News
 

ESRB logo

ESRB

Entertainment Software Ratings Board

ESRB is a US trade organisation that assigns the age and content ratings displayed on all computer and video games, enforces marketing guidelines, and advises on online privacy issues.

ESRB Ratings:

- EARLY CHILDHOOD (EC) Content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.

- EVERYONE (E) Content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

- EVERYONE 10+ (E10+) Content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

- TEEN (T) Content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

- MATURE (M) Content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.  This category is particularly designed to ensure that the most adult possible can be sold at many supposedly 'family friendly' retailers who refuse to stock adults only titles

- ADULTS ONLY (AO) Content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.  Many US retailers refuse to carry AO titles

- RATING PENDING (RP) Titles have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release.)

Melon Farmers News:
US Censorship News