Bully , a new documentary premiering Friday, will be released with no rating, following a failed effort to have the MPAA rating
changed from R to PG-13.
The movie's rating attracted national attention, thanks to a Change.org petition started by 17-year-old Katy Butler. The petition MPAA: Don't let the bullies win! Give 'Bully' a PG-13 instead of an R rating! has almost achieved its goal of gaining
half a million signatures.
The film's no rating status will prevent it from being screened in certain theaters, which is a risk The Weinstein Co. decided to take.
Update: Nutters of the Parents TV Council Unimpressed
The Parents Television Council responded to the announcement that the Weinstein Company will release the documentary Bully unrated by calling on all major theaters, including AMC, to adhere to their own policies not to exhibit unrated films. PTC
warns that showing unrated content is a threat to the continued viability of the ratings system. PTC President Tim Winter said:
This move, regardless of intentions, sets a precedent that threatens to derail the entire ratings system. If a distribution company can simply decide to operate outside of the ratings system in a case like 'Bully,' nothing would prevent future filmmakers
from doing precisely the same thing, with potentially much more problematic material.
It is unfortunate that the serious problem of schoolyard and online bullying is being overshadowed by a misguided and manufactured controversy over the MPAA rating. It's even more unfortunate that the MPAA ratings system, which only exists as a tool to
help parents make informed viewing decisions for their own families, is being deliberately undermined by Weinstein and his colleagues in the entertainment industry, and that their efforts may well spell the demise of a system that has benefited parents
and families for over forty years.
Either ratings mean something, or they don't. The MPAA's job is not to make subjective judgments about the merit of a film or the importance of the film's message. The MPAA's sole task is to take an objective measure of the adult content in a film, and
apply the appropriate rating. Though the MPAA's system is not perfect, it has been remarkably consistent at least in this regard: any more than a single 'sexual expletive' (usually the 'F-word') will lead to an R-rating. 'Bully' employs multiple uses of
this 'sexual expletive,' and that is why it was given an R-rating.
US lawmakers have proposed a bill that would label most video games with the warning:
Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.
Joe Baca and Frank Wolf have introduced the Violence in Video Games Labeling Act citing the supposed negative effects that video games have on people's health, despite increased findings that suggests otherwise.
The video game industry has a responsibility to parents, families and to consumers, to inform them of the potentially damaging content that is often found in their products, They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility.
If the bill passes, the only games that would be exempt would be those with an ESRB rating of Early Childhood (EC). All others would require the warning on the game box, regardless of whether the game actually featured violent content.
Previous attempts to pass the bill occurred in 2009 and 2011. The Entertainment Software Association, which represents video game publishers in the US, called the bill unconstitutional. In a statement made to Game Informer, the trade group said:
We would commend Representatives Baca and Wolf to the reams of bourgeoning academic research demonstrating that video games can be innovative learning and assessment tools in engaging and educating America's youth, especially in core subjects such as
science, technology, engineering and math.
With millions of sites to get through it is hardly surprising that the block lists are crap. The banned site list must surely be an automated process with perhaps a cursory scan if humans get involved. The censors need to be sued for the losses incurred
when sites are incorrectly blocked.
T-Mobile USA offers a feature to censor access to certain kinds of content. This is called Web Guard. Supposedly Web Guard is
supposed to inhibit access to content that falls under the following categories: Alcohol, Mature Content, Violence, Drugs, Pornography, Weapons, Gambling, Suicide, Guns, Hate, Tobacco, Ammunition.
We were able to extract part of the list of censored content and discovered that sites that do not fall under these categories were also censored. This feature is enabled by default on all prepaid accounts and although it can be disabled by customers who
wish to do so (if over 18 years of age), it is not clearly stated in the error page how to do so.
While most of the censored sites are legitimately categorized, there are certain ones that do not fall under the categories of the block. Here is a list of sites that we found to be censored, but that we don't believe belong to any of the banned
America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography. A wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences.
Addiction to pornography is now common for adults and even for some children. The average age of first exposure to hard-core, Internet pornography is now 11. Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence
against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.
Every family must now be concerned about the harm from pornography. As a parent, I am concerned about the widespread distribution of illegal obscene pornography and its profound effects on our culture.
For many decades, the American public has actively petitioned the United States Congress for laws prohibiting distribution of hard-core adult pornography.
Congress has responded. Current federal obscenity laws prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common
carrier. Rick Santorum believes that federal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced. If elected President, I will appoint an Attorney General who will do so.
The Obama Administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws. While the Obama Department of Justice seems to favor pornographers
over children and families, that will change under a Santorum Administration.
I proudly support the efforts of the War on Illegal Pornography Coalition that has tirelessly fought to get federal obscenity laws enforced. That coalition is composed of 120 national, state, and local groups, including Morality in
Media, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Family Association, Cornerstone Family Council of New Hampshire, Pennsylvania Family Institute, Concerned Women for America, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern
Baptist Convention, and a host of other groups. Together we will prevail.
Update: Nutters harangue Mitt Romney to follow Rick Santorum's anti-porn promises
Greetings and best wishes. We are writing to seek a meeting with you in the near future to discuss the necessity of enforcing federal obscenity laws should you be elected president. Those laws prohibit distribution of obscene (hardcore) pornography on
the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops, through the mail, and by common carrier.
The U.S. Department of Justice has stopped all enforcement of these laws at a time when our nation is suffering an untreated pandemic of harm from pornography.
Illegal adult obscenity contributes to addiction, divorce and break up of families, harm to children who have easy access to the material, violence against women and misogyny, as well as to sexual trafficking. Children are targeted by the pornography
industry, and they often engage in sexually exploitive behaviors as a result of their exposure to pornography. Many suffer life-long consequences.
Consumption of adult pornography leads many to consume harder and more deviant material over time and even leads many to consume child pornography, contributing to the widespread and increasing problem of child pornography distribution in America.
We believe that the next president needs to understand that a wealth of research now exists that provides overwhelmingly evidence of the great harms caused by pornography. We deserve to have the nation's obscenity laws enforced. There is widespread
public support for enforcement of these laws, which were passed overwhelmingly by the United States Congress.
We look forward to meeting with you and thank you for your consideration
Alan E Sears: President, CEO, & General Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund
Tony Perkins: President, Family Research Council
Phil Burres: President, Citizens for Community Values
Bishop Harry Jackson: Washington, DC
Mathew d Staver: Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel
Tim Wildmon: President, American Family Association
Donna Rice Hughes: President, Enough is Enough
Laura Lederer: President Global Centurion
Ted Baehr: Chairman, Christian Film & Television Commission
Josh McDowell: Josh McDowell Ministry
Austin Ruse: President, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute
Patrick A Trueman: President & CEO, Morality in Media
Dr Richard Land: President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Comment: Rick, If You're Against Porn, Don't Watch It
In 2008, Florida's 8th Congressional District elected what would turn out to be one of Congress's most liberal members, Alan Grayson.
But having been voted out of his congressional seat in 2010 hasn't stopped the feisty former New Yorker from commenting on a wide variety of social issues ... including porn.
He has excellently responded to Rick Santorum's nutter pandering call to prosecute makers and sellers of hardcore porn. He wrote:
In a TV interview on Sunday, Rick Santorum said that if he is elected President, he will file criminal charges against the distribution of pornography. Santorum specifically referred to exposure on the Internet, so presumably he would censor the
The Internet Police. What a concept.
I have a dramatically simpler idea.
Rick, if you're against pornography, then don't watch it.
You see how that works? Let me give you some more examples.
If you're against contraception, don't use it.
If you're against abortion, don't have one.
If you're against Moslems, don't become one.
If you're against gay marriage, don't have one.
If you're against unions, don't join one.
If you're against universal health care, just keep your distance from doctors and hospitals.
If you're against homosexuality, then feel free to limit your sexual interest to the 3 billion human beings of the opposite gender.
What I'm basically trying to say to Rick Santorum, and everyone like Rick Santorum, is this: mind your own business.
Former Senator Rick Santorum surprised few today with his decision to pull up stakes and suspend his campaign for the Republican nomination for president.
This also means that, unless he is tapped for the ticket, Santorum's so-called war on porn is officially a dead issue. Romney may share the same belief about prosecuting porn, but he is so uncomfortable with any subject that is even remotely messy that
it is inconceivable he will ever mention the p word without having been forced to do so, and even then he'll probably just walk away from the issue altogether.
Weinstein Company thwarted in its quest to get Bully exhibited for the teen market
1st March 2012. From press release from the Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company was not well pleased by the MPAA R Rating for the film Bully (aka The Bully Project ) for the
amount of strong language.
After the failed appeal against the rating, the Weinstein co initially threatened to pull out of the MPAA and then suggested that they would release the film unrated.
These suggestions seem to have wound up the theatre owners and others in the industry leading to a press release from the Weinstein Co stating their position:
National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) President & CEO John Fithian sent Harvey Weinstein a letter dated February 24 on behalf of NATO stating that they may urge theater owners to treat BULLY as an NC-17 rated film. With an NC-17 rating,
children under the age of 18 will not be permitted to see the movie even with a parent or guardian present. The NC-17 threat comes in response to The Weinstein Company's (TWC) suggestion to release BULLY, which has the sole purpose of educating children
and highlighting how bullying has become a national crisis, in theaters unrated after the MPAA failed to lower the R rating given for some language.
As a company we have the utmost respect for the National Association of Theatre Owners, but to suggest that the film BULLY could ever be treated like an NC-17 film is completely unconscionable, not to mention unreasonable. In light of the tragedy that
occurred yesterday in Ohio, we feel now is the time for the bullying epidemic to take center stage, we need to demand our community takes action.
It seems that all the fuss about the R Rating of the Bully is down to just 6 expletives.
John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, wrote to Harvey Weinstein, explaining that 'rules is rules' and that it would not be a good idea for Weinstein to try and release the movies unrated:
Grateful As a father of a 9-year-old child, I am personally grateful that (the Weinstein Co.) has addressed the important issue of bullying in such a powerful documentary. Yet were the MPAA and NATO to waive the ratings rules whenever we believed that a
particular movie had merit, or was somehow more important than other movies, we would no longer be neutral parties applying consistent standards, but rather censors of content based on personal mores.
That leaves the makers of Bully with the question of whether to edit or bleep the expletives, which are part of the antagonistic behavior documented between kids in the film. Right now, director Lee Hirsch is declining to do that, and has the
backing of Weinstein. The director says such editing would minimize the harsh realities of bullying.
To cut around it or bleep it out, it really absolutely does lessen the impact and takes away from what the honest moment was, and what a terrifying feeling it can be (to be bullied), says Hirsch: I feel a responsibility as a filmmaker, as the
person entrusted to tell (these kids') stories, to not water them down.
Bully has been rated PG by British Columbia film censors. Parental guidance is advised for the documentary in the western Canadian province, and the film comes with a warning of coarse language; theme of bullying.
Director Lee Hirsch, who has been campaigning against the restrictive R Rating awarded by the US film censor, said:
Last night, I learned of the B.C. board's decision to grant Bully a PG-rating. I am thrilled that kids of all ages can now join their parents, teachers, social work advocates and leaders to bring about change for this deeply important cause.
Meanwhile in the US a petition with 200,000 Signatures will be delivered to the MPAA calling for a PG-13 rating.
Update: Nutters praise the censors but seem a bit confused about public opinion
Conservative Alberta became the second Canadian province to give the Lee Hirsch documentary about an epidemic of U.S. school bullying a PG-rating.
The Alberta censors included a parental guidance warning, indicating themes or content in Bully may not be suitable for all children.
Meanwhile, the advocacy tools website Change.org has announced that 20 members of the US Congress have signed on to a petition asking the MPAA to lower the R rating it gave to director Lee Hirsch's documentary Bully .
The bipartisan group, led by Representative Mike Honda wrote:
We are writing to express our sincere disappointment in the MPAA's decision to issue an 'R' rating for the soon-to-be-released documentary Bully. This important project shows the real life anguish of many teenagers in this country who are tormented,
harassed, and bullied by their peers. This truth should be shared with as wide an audience as is appropriate and possible. We believe an R-rating excludes the very audience for whom this film is desperately important.
started by high school student Katy Butler, has garnered over 275,000 signatures, helped by public support from Ellen Degeneres and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Lawmakers, parents' advocates, filmmakers and teenagers are complaining that language and sex are scrutinized while violence gets a pass ( Bully received an R because it contains scenes of teens hurling profanities). Critics also say that the
system of five alpha and alphanumeric characters are blunt tools rather than nuanced instruments and that the overall process is too secretive and rigid.
Michigan Representative Hansen Clarke said:
The hypocrisy is that the very movies that contribute to violence can be seen by teenagers because they get a PG-13, [referring to The Hunger Games]. And the one film ('Bully') that actually teaches them to respect others is given an R.
Dan Isett, public policy director of the nutter group, Parents Television Council, agrees a rethinking is necessary. Like Clarke, he believes movies such as The Hunger Games - and a lot of other films that are approved for teen viewing - merit R ratings:
Certain movies will never get an R no matter what's in them. That's the problem when the ones policing the system have an economic incentive to give films a certain rating.
Yet some legislators, such as California's Representative Linda T. Sanchez, say the rating panels are thinking too narrowly by counting swear words and body parts while ignoring the larger context. It seems like the MPAA missed an opportunity here,
she said of Bully, arguing that raters should have taken into account the movie's message.
The MPAA says that making its system more flexible would require raters who can offer value judgments. And that, the group's chief, former U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, says, takes it into a messy thicket. Who am I going to hire to do
that? Writers? Critics? Dodd said in his office last week as the Bully controversy was building. That's not a business we want to be in.
The MPAA, which administers the US ratings system via its Classification and Rating Administration, has already heard eight appeals for films
scheduled for release this year. That's double the number the group heard for movies released in 2011 and surpasses the seven appeals it heard for 2010 films.
Failed appeals were:
Bully , a documentary about bullying. Producers failed to get the rating reduced from an R for strong language to PG-13.
Sea Level , an action adventure. Producers failed to get the rating reduced to G.
Killer Joe , a crime drama. Producers failed to get the rating reduced from NC-17 for graphic aberrant content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality to R.
Haywire , starring Gina Carano in an action picture. Producers failed to get the rating reduced from an R for some violence to PG-13.
This Means War. Producers failed to get the rating reduced from an R.
Apart . Producers failed to get the rating reduced from an R.
The Possession , a thriller. Producers failed to get the rating reduced from an R and so made cuts for a PG-13
The only successful appeal was:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower , a high-school romance. It was reduced from R to PG-13
I think studios are starting to push a little harder, said Ethan Noble, who runs Motion Picture Consulting, a company that assists filmmakers and studios with ratings and who has worked on numerous appeals, including the one for Bully. And while I think that this is the best system we can have, there does seem to be a disconnect between what the ratings board wants and what filmmakers think should be allowed.
That disconnect, say Noble and others, comes from changing social mores about language and other areas of explicit content while the MPAA, Noble said, is basically using the same system it's had in place for years.
Implemented by longtime MPAA chief Jack Valenti largely to avoid government censorship, the US movie rating process is a well-worn, if murky,
A group of modestly salaried employees watch dozens of movies every month and offer an initial rating. The MPAA does not reveal the identities of these individuals, or their qualifications, other than to say they are parents who are not affiliated with
the film industry.
If producers are not happy with the rating that panel gives a film, they can take it to an appeals board of at least nine people. The MPAA does not say who is on the appeals board, though it is believed to be composed mainly of a rotating group of studio
and theater executives - and representatives of religious groups are sometimes present. (The MPAA itself gets one vote.) A maximum of two people are allowed to argue on behalf of the film at an appeals session, which is closed to the public. Records of
such sessions are sealed.
To win an appeal, a filmmaker must receive the support of two-thirds of the appeals panel. The ratings are overseen by the MPAA's Los Angeles-based Classification and Ratings Administration, headed by Joan Graves.
Only producers, not the public, can appeal ratings.
The MPAA says film ratings do not assess the value or social worth of a movie or censor any aspect of a film. They simply provide clear information to parents (and all interested moviegoers) about a film's content.
The group's chief, former U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut cites a study commissioned by the MPAA and conducted in 2005 by a company called the Opinion Research Corp. that found 76% of parents with children younger than 13 believed the
ratings were useful or very useful.
He also noted that few ratings are appealed. We had something like six appeals out of more than 400 cases last year, he said. That says that we're doing something right.
A long-running dispute over Pro-Palestinian bus adverts in King County, Washington state finally came to a compromise.
Adverts were allowed to run on buses, but the message was very different from what was originally requested.
The new ads are part of a campaign titled, I'm a Palestinian, with the saying equal rights for all underneath. The messages will run with pictures of everyday Palestinians on Metro Transit buses.
The ads were sponsored by SeaMAC, the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign devoted to the Palestinian cause, which attempted to launch an ad in 2010 with the message, Israeli war crimes...your tax dollars at work with a picture of a demolished house
by an Israeli military strike.
The 2010 ads were denied by a federal judge on the basis of threats made by those opposed to the ads. The judge said that officials had a reasonable basis for limiting the content of the ads on public buses, citing safety concerns in part because threats of violence and disruption from members of the public (from e-mails, phone calls, and anonymous photographs) led bus drivers and law enforcement officials to express safety concerns, and the court finds that it was reasonable
for the cancellation of the ads.
The ACLU civil liberties organization joined the fray and helped with a legal defense. The ACLU continues to represent SeaMAC in a continuing appeal against King County regarding the initial banned adverts.
The MPAA has given an NC-17 rating to William Friedkin's crime drama Killer Joe , prompting Liddell Entertainment to announce
it will appeal the ruling.
The film stars Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch and is due for its U.S. premiere at SXSW in March and a domestic launch this summer.
Hirsch portrays a 22-year-old drug dealer who has his stash stolen by his mother and has to come up with $6,000 quick or he's dead. Desperate, he turns to Killer Joe (McConaughey) when he finds out that his mother's life insurance policy is worth
The Classification and Rating Appeals Board has upheld the NC-17 rating given to the movie Killer Joe .
The Classification and Rating Administration (CARA) had assigned the movie the NC-17 rating for graphic aberrant content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality.
In the appeal brought by LD Entertainment, the Appeals Board heard statements on behalf of Killer Joe from David Dinerstein, President of LD Entertainment, and Tracy Letts, Pulitzer Prizewinner, Playwright and Screenwriter.
It seems that some newspaper editors think that abortion does not belong in the funnies section of their papers, and their reluctance is getting national attention.
The comic strip that is causing the uproar is Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury. Several newspapers around the country have decided not to publish the popular satirical comic this week because of a storyline dealing with those now-infamous ultrasounds.
Although Doonesbury often deals with politics, it has been more than 20 years since Trudeau last tackled the subject of abortion. In a recently released statement defending the strip, Trudeau said: This is happening in statehouses across the
country...it's lunacy, and lunacy, of course, is in my wheelhouse.
Adam Rehmeier's The Bunny Game , banned in the UK, will hit the US in July from new distributor Autonomy. This will be
their first release.
Screen Daily reported that Derek Curl, David Gregory and Lewis Tice's new distributor aims to release uncompromising cinema on a worldwide scale and will handle four films this year, starting with Adam Rehmeier's torture porn. Autonomy president Curl
The Bunny Game is the last word on the torture-porn sub-genre. I was shocked by its audacity and the raw honesty that it depicted, making me question our collective enjoyment of extreme violence in cinema. At Autonomy Pictures we are not afraid to
release such a film, which will undoubtedly inspire heated reaction, because it will allow audiences to make up their own minds.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower has now been downgraded from R to PG-13 by the
Classification and Rating Appeals Board of the MPAA.
Erik Feig, president of production at Lionsgate Motion Picture Group and Stephen Chbosky, the director, screenwriter and author of the novel on which the movie was based, appeared before the board to make their case for the lower rating.
Originally, the Classification and Rating Administration assigned the movie an R rating for teen drug and alcohol use, and some sexual references.
However the booking of Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, suggested that the producers had a younger audience in mind. The movie is about 15-year-old high school freshman who is taken under the wings of two seniors while he copes with his first love,
played by Watson, the suicide of his best friend and his own mental illness.
US internet censors at the Department of Homeland Security have seized a domain name registered outside of the US, by individuals who are not
American citizens, and who registered with a Canadian registrar.
What is unique about this case is that the American authorities did not get the domain's registrar - a Canadian company - to pull the domain. Instead they went to Verisign, which operates the entirety of .com, and had them pull the glue records, the
The domain in question, bodog.com, is a big name in online gambling. It was set up and run by Canadian billionaire Calvin Ayre. He, and three others involved with the site, have been indicted and could be extradited to the US if the
authorities catch them.
The indictment claims that Bodog paid out $100m in winnings to US gamblers, in violation of US law. The company is also accused of spending $42m to promote the site in various US states, including Maryland. The move came after an undercover investigation
by the FBI, and with the help of a snitch who used to work at Bodog.
Sports betting is illegal in Maryland, and federal law prohibits bookmakers from flouting that law simply because they are located outside the country, said US attorney Rod Rosenstein in a statement.
By going to the root operator of .com and having the records pulled - bypassing the registrar entirely - the DHS has sent the world exactly one message: anything hosted in the US, registered in the US, or using a domain whose root is controlled by a US
corporation is subject to American law.
A bill that would have imposed a 1% tax on the sale of violent video games in the state of Oklahoma has been rejected, Eurogamer
The bill lost a subcommittee vote by a narrow margin of 5-6, largely due to concerns over a founding premise that linked video games to bullying and obesity among children.
The tax would have applied to any game rated Teen, Mature or Adult Only by the ESRB, whether violent or not.
Half of all the money recouped from the tax would have been donated to the Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund - a charity dedicated to outdoor education initiatives. The other half would have been donated to the Bullying Prevention
There's a new billboard that's raising nutter eyebrows and turning heads in New York. It's called Art on the Wall
and is one of four by photographer Kenneth Willardt.
The 8 by 10 foot panel is hanging on the wall of a Chelsea gallery and features a nude woman floating in water and with her breasts exposed, (presumably blurred in the photo).
Anne Brigitte Sirois is the director of the Guided by Invoices gallery next door. She said Kenneth Willardt s Art on the Walls is something he wanted to do to beautify the city. And that it is sensual and beautiful but definitely not porn.
Inconsequential views from street revealed the comments: Hello. This is New York City. What are we the Taliban here? We can't show a naked woman and breasts. One driver said I don't think its appropriate anywhere. It's gonna cause
a lot of accidents.
The Weinstein Company is appealing the US R rating assigned to filmmaker Lee Hirsch's documentary Bully , a frank look at America's bullying crisis in schools.
Co-chairman Harvey Weinstein will personally appear at the Feb. 23 appeals hearing at MPAA' s Classification and Rating Administration (CARA). He maintains that the R rating, assigned for some strong language, will keep Bully out of middle
schools and high schools, the very locale where it needs to be seen the most.
Director Leo Hirsch said:
I made Bully for kids to see -- the bullies as well as the bullied. We have to change hearts and minds in order to stop this epidemic, which has scarred countless lives and driven many children to suicide. To capture the stark reality of
bullying, we had to capture the way kids act and speak in their everyday lives -- and the fact is that kids use profanity.
It is heartbreaking that the MPAA, in adhering to a strict limit on certain words, would end up keeping this film from those who need to see it most.
Update: The Weinstein Co threatens to leave the MPAA over the R Rating for Bully
The Weinstein Co. is so shocked and upset that the MPAA upheld the R rating of its documentary Bully , it is
considering taking a leave of absence from the association.
The company had asked MPAA's Classification and Ratings Appeals Board to rate the movie PG-13. The board's tally was one vote short of the number needed to change the rating.
After learning of the board's decision, Weinstein Company co-chair Harvey Weinstein said in a statement that The Weinstein Company is considering a leave of absence from the MPAA for the foreseeable future. We respect the MPAA and their process
but feel this time it has just been a bridge too far.
American broadcaster NBC has apologised after M.I.A. put her middle finger up during her Super Bowl half-time performance.
She made the gesture whilst singing: I don't give a shit, during a performance of Madonna's new single, Give Me All Your Luvin'.
The screen was briefly blurred after M.I.A.'s gesture in a failed attempt to cut out the camera shot. The broadcaster said M.I.A. did not do anything similar during rehearsals and the league had no reason to believe she would do anything during
NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey Said:
We apologize for the inappropriate gesture that aired during half-time.
The NFL hired the talent and produced the half-time show. Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.
The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans.
An Oklahoma lawmaker has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would impose a tax on violent video games .
Oklahoma State Representative William Fourkiller introduced bill HB 2696, which would add a 1% tax on games rated Teen, Mature, and Adults Only by the ESRB.
Half of the revenue would be put towards a Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund with the rest going to a Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund. Both of these things would be created as part of the law.
AVN commentators suggested that maybe there is some shrewd business thinking going on.
Bill Marriott told an interviewer from the Associated Press:
I've always been concerned about [pornographic] movies in rooms. In the next three or four years, we won't have any more of those. That's something we've had a real problem with because the Church is very, very opposed to pornography, as it
should be, and we are for families. But the owners of our hotels were making a lot of money. In fact, the only movies that make any money are pornography.
The Church, of course, is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons. And according to one hotel insider, porn accounts for 80 to 90 percent of all in-room movie purchases?
Now Marriott can keep the religious nutters happy by turning off their in-house porn systems. But the replacement entertainment will provide internet access and a high definition TV for a suitable fee...
Los Angeles City Council has tentatively approved a measure that would require porn performers to wear condoms on production
In a preliminary 11-1 vote, council members voted to approve the measure, which would require porn producers to provide and require the use of condoms on set in order to receive film permits in Los Angeles.
The ordinance still requires a second vote next week for final approval.
The council also agreed to create a group of law enforcement officials and state occupational safety regulators to determine how the measure would be enforced.
Councilman Paul Koretz said before the vote:
We can spend literally millions of dollars on an unnecessary election or we can do the right thing for free. For better or worse, the city of Los Angeles is nationally known as the capital of the adult film industry. We should be nationally
known, also, as the home of a safe adult film industry.
The Los Angeles City Council, 9-1, approved a new ordinance Tuesday requiring that all adult film actors wear condoms when filming within city limits. The ordinance, when it goes into effect, will allow the LAPD to perform spot checks on any set
once a film permit is issued.
The measure next goes to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for his signature.
The Free Speech Coalition said that the adult industry trade group is in discussions with industry leaders and considering options for next steps.
Actors in adult movies filmed in Los Angeles will be required to use condoms under an ordinance signed into law by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and porn industry leaders say the regulation could lead them to abandon the nation's porn capital.
The law, signed Monday, will take effect 41 days after it is posted by the city clerk, something that could happen as early as this week.
Nutters with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which lobbied for years for such a law, expressed jubilation Tuesday and said they would now turn their attention to getting a similar condom requirement adopted elsewhere.
A newspaper cartoon has caused a stir in Cleveland.
Okay, I know how bad it sounds, but they all really do look alike to me... said the cartoon rabbit to police after viewing a line-up of several animals depicted on the other side of a glass partition.
Was the bunny racially insensitive? Did his comment invoke the cliche that all blacks look alike, or worse, that all black criminal suspects are indistinguishable? Apparently, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer thought so. On January 13, the editors
pulled the popular comic strip, Non Sequitur, from the newspaper. In its place was a note that said the strip was deemed objectionable.
Hundreds of angry readers found this decision objectionable, voicing their complaints in online posts that excoriated the paper for outright censorship. The readers pointed out that the animals in the line-up were not the same color, size
or even species. They noted that the bunny's comment was more apologetic than it was antagonistic. Mostly, they didn't understand the fuss. As one reader wrote: The only thing I found controversial was the fact that you did not publish it.
Filesonic, one of the Internet's leading cyberlocker services, has taken some drastic measures following the Megaupload shutdown
and arrests last week. In addition to discontinuing its affiliates rewards program, the site has disabled all sharing functionality, leaving users only with access to their own files. Many hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of links all
around the web have now been rendered useless, at least temporarily.
This combination of news all adds up to a pretty big deal. Filesonic isn't just some also-ran in the world of cyberlockers. The site is among the top 10 file-sharing sites on the Internet, with a quarter billion page views a month.
Like Megaupload, Filesonic appears to based in Hong Kong and it's clear that the authorities there already worked with the US government to shut down Kim Dotcom's operations and seize his assets there.
The events of the last week have turned the cyberlocker world upside down and there is quite literally panic among users and site operators.
The Megaupload takedown appears to be a game-changer.
Fileserve, another leading player, also ended its affiliate program this weekend. Additionally, this morning TorrentFreak received news that Fileserve has now joined Filesonic in banning all 3rd party downloads.
VideoBB and VideoZer have both reportedly closed their rewards program and according to reports have also been mass deleting accounts and huge numbers of files.
Other sites closing their affiliate programs and/or deleting accounts/files include FileJungle, UploadStation and FilePost.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has announced that the encyclopedia will go dark this Wednesday in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act,
Wales tweeted that the English-language version of Wikipedia would go down at midnight this Wednesday, Eastern standard time (5am in the UK), and come back up in 24 hours.
The heat is rising in the SOPA debate. Over the weekend, for example, three top Obama-administration officials issued a statement that said, in part, While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a
serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.
Presumably at least partially in response to the White House's statement -- and a possible Obama veto -- SOPA author Smith has dropped the DNS-blocking provision of the controvertial bill -- an action also taken by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT),
sponsor of the Senate's equivalent, the PROTECT IP* Act.
This links to a protest page with comment and a petition:
Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.
Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs
already oppose SOPA and PIPA.
The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.
Founder Jimmy Wales said:
More than 162 million people saw our message asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge, it said.
You said no. You shut down Congress's switchboards. You melted their servers. From all around the world your messages dominated social media and the news. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet.
Along with Facebook, Google and other major technology corporations, Wikipedia says the laws would place onerous obligations on websites to vet content uploaded by users, and threaten free expression online.
In a dramatic display of the power of online protest, a congressional vote on the anti-piracy bills Pipa and Sopa have been shelved after
some of the internet's main players demanded a legislative rethink.
Just two days after chunks of the internet went dark in opposition to proposals that critics claim will hamper the flow of online information, Senate majority leader Harry Reid announced the postponement of a planned ballot on Pipa, also known as
the Protect IP Act.
Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary committee, followed suit, saying his panel would delay action on similar legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or Sopa, until there is wider agreement on the legislation.
The decision to postpone the votes was made in light of recent events , Reid said -- taken to be a reference to Wednesday's day of action in which Wikipedia led the way with a 24-hour blackout.
During the CNN primary debate in South Carolina on Thursday, the four remaining Republican candidates vying for the White House nod came out against the Sopa. GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney said the law was far too intrusive and could hamper
job creation and would harm the economy. His main rival, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, said existing laws were sufficient to allow an aggrieved copyright holder to sue, while libertarian Ron Paul said the bill threatened freedom.
The U.S. Justice Department has charged seven individuals connected to the file-sharing site Megaupload.com, accusing them of a massive worldwide online piracy scheme that costed more than $500 million in damages and generated more than
$175 million in profits, according to a Justice Department release. Megaupload's CEO is the rapper and DJ Swizz Beatz.
The business is allegedly led by Kim Dotcom of Hong Kong and New Zealand. Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand along with associates.
The main site, Megaupload.com which has been shut down, is accused of infringing on copyright by distributing movies, television shows, books and software even before their release dates. The companies Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited are
accused of having a business model expressly designed to promote uploading of the most popular copyrighted works for many millions of users to download. The site provided financial incentives for uploading popular content, the indictment
The interest in this case is likely to be high as it is conveniently timed to match interest in the recent SOPA protest.
The Megaupload case continues, with Kyle Goodwin from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) asking the court to return the files, that were legal, back to Goodwin.
Goodwin lost his files when Megaupload was seized in January, since then they've been to court, both for a hearing and a mediation, but nothing has changed according to the EFF.
On May 24, EFF filed a brief asking the court to order Goodwin's rightfully owned data returned. But the problem is, is that's not just Goodwin's files, it's the thousands upon thousands of other Megaupload users who had data on their servers,
where they thought it was safe.
EFF has asked the court to implement a procedure to make all of those customers whole again by giving them access to what is legally theirs.
Goodwin used Megaupload to house business files, with others losing person data and information.
Update: MPAA: Megaupload Users Can Have Their Files Back, But...
Almost half a year has passed since Megaupload's servers were raided by the U.S. Government, and still there is no agreement on how former users can retrieve their files. Previously the authorities and MPAA have objected against such a mass
retrieval, but in a filing at the court today the movie industry changed its tone. The MPAA states that users can have their files back as long as access to copyrighted files is blocked.
In the wake of the January shutdown of Megaupload, many of the site's legitimate users complained that their personal files had been lost.
Among these users are many people in the U.S. military who used the site to share pictures and videos with family. Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom previously informed TorrentFreak that least 15,634 soldiers had accounts at Megaupload, between them
sharing hundreds of thousands of files.
But as of January those files were rendered inaccessible and attempts by the parties involved to come to a solution have failed miserably.
Last month one of Megaupload's users, represented by the EFF, filed a motion asking the court to facilitate such a user data retrieval. Today, the MPAA filed a response to this motion in which they appear to be more open to the request.
materials, MPAA's lawyers write.
But along with this sympathy comes a caveat. The movie studios don't want users to have access to copyright-infringing files.
If the Court is willing to consider allowing access for users such as Mr. Goodwin to allow retrieval of files, it is essential that the mechanism include a procedure that ensures that any materials the users access and copy or download are not
files that have been illegally uploaded to their accounts.
Update: US authorities refuse to give back property they have stolen...
Innocent bystanders who lost mountains of data, personal files, documents, and more when the popular but illegitimately operated cloud-based site MegaUpload was taken down, may end up being just plain out of luck, at least for a while. The US
Deparment of Justice wants to block former user Kyle Goodwin from accessing his high school football videos which he uploaded to the site.
But what happens to those who didn't do anything wrong? Lawyers for the US Attorney say the answer is nothing. In the same way that if you left a video game at a friend's house on the night that police raided your friend's house with a warrant,
the government does not have a duty to make sure you get your stuff back in before the case is resolved.
Bejewelled, a jewelry store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn owned by Miss Young Sook Kim, had been selling Hindu/Buddhist
swastika earrings for $5.99.
Despite clearly rotating in the opposite direction to the Nazi swastika, as most Buddhist, and even neo-Pagan swastikas do, pressure from one NY Councilman, as well as politicians, the Anti-Defamation League, and the media, has been brought down
hard on Miss Kim.
New York City Councilman Steve Levin personally visited the store and demanded the Korean owner remove them from her shelves.
According to Fox News, A day earlier, politicians and advocates told FoxNews.com that the earrings were the latest example of anti-Semitism in New York and New Jersey. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer demanded that the store
immediately stop selling them.
Ron Meier, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League's New York office says that he was instrumental in getting the earrings removed. Although he acknowledges that the owner understood them as Hindu/Buddhist, as far as he's concerned the
fact that other people will wrongly interpret it as a sign of evil is reason enough to have it effectively banned.
It took a little while to really bridge the cultural divide, he says, because they really understood it in one way and New York understood it in very much a different way.
The White House just released a statement commenting on the pending SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills in congress. While the Obama
Administration sides with the opposition by saying that free-speech should be protected, censorship is evil, and that DNS-blocking is a no go, the statement doesn't mean that the bills are off the table.
Responding to two petitions signed by over 50,000 people each, the Obama administration recited much of the criticism voiced by SOPA/PIPA opponents. The Administration wrote:
Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small. Across the globe, the openness of the Internet is increasingly
central to innovation in business, government, and society and it must be protected.
To minimize this risk, new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on
The only strong position the Obama Administration takes is against DNS blocking. Here, the White House sides with many of the tech experts, and against the MPAA, by concluding that tampering with DNS poses a threat to the Internet.
In fact many of the lawmakers previously in favor of DNS-blocking have suddenly started to back pedal. They probably got a heads up and changed their tone before the White House statement was released. SOPA author Lamar Smith said DNS blocking
would be removed from the bill until further notice.
Distributors Lionsgate have got their heart set of a PG-13 rating for the children's horror The Possession.
The film was originally given an R Rating but Lionsgate appealed. The appeal was turned down by the MPAA in November 2011 and so the R Rating stood.
Now Lionsgate have cut down the movie to obtain the required PG-13 rating.
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.
On January 18, the online community at reddit will go dark for 12 hours in opposition of the Stop Online Piracy Act now being considered
in the House and its companion PROTECT IP Act in the Senate. Both bills would give copyright holders tremendous power to have websites blocked, to get their advertising cut off, and to shut down their credit card or PayPal payments.
reddit's community has been organizing all manner of objections to the two bills, including a targeted (and successful) boycott of GoDaddy, which supported the legislation. This time, site admins decided to get involved in order to get the word
out to all of reddit's users.
Instead of the normal glorious, user-curated chaos of reddit, we will be displaying a simple message about how the PIPA/SOPA legislation would shut down sites like reddit, link to resources to learn more, and suggest ways to take action..
We're not taking this action lightly. We wouldn't do this if we didn't believe this legislation and the forces behind it were a serious threat to reddit and the Internet as we know it.
Starting this Tuesday, the US Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in Case No. 10-1293, better known as Federal
Communications Commission, et al v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., et al.
The case will revive a discussion, and start a process to determine, on what federal indecency restrictions should be placed on radio and television broadcasters.
The Supreme Court case concerns incidents at the Billboard Music Awards , shown on Fox. At the 2002 show, Cher referred to critics of her work by saying Fuck 'em. I still have a job and they don't. A year later, Nicole Richie said,
Have you ever tried to get cow shit out of a Prada purse? It's not so fucking simple.
The FCC concluded that the broadcasts violated its indecency regulations, though the agency stopped short of imposing fines. Federal law lets the FCC levy a $325,000 fine on each station that airs indecent material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The case will also look at a scene involving brief nudity on a 2003 episode of NYPD Blue.
Of course, the upcoming ruling will also affect radio broadcasters, who are under essentially the same indecency guidelines as their television counterparts. The Obama administration has stated in court that broadcasters should present a relatively safe medium for...children.
One hopes, however, that while this case looks at off-the-cuff profanity, the FCC will begin to move closer to specific guidelines so broadcasters can be certain what is, in fact, deemed indecent and what isn't.
Update: Court hears government case for TV censorship
The Supreme Court appeared ready to give government regulators the continuing authority to regulate profanity and sexual
content on broadcast television after a lively hour of arguments.
The justices and lawyers all stayed polite, not actually using any obscene words, preferring the legally acceptable f-bomb or s-word to describe the controversial content at issue in the high-stakes free speech dispute.
The court will decide whether the Federal Communications Commission may constitutionally enforce its policies on fleeting expletives and scenes of nudity on television programs, both live and scripted.
In many televised instances, one cannot tell what is indecent and what isn't said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It's the appearance of arbitrariness about how the FCC is defining indecency in concrete situations, she added.
But with so many programming choices on broadcast, cable and satellite TV, All the government is asking for is a few (broadcast) channels where you can say -- they are not going to hear the s-word, the f-word. They are not going to see nudity,
Chief Justice John Roberts said.
The court's ruling, which will come in a few months, could establish important First Amendment guidelines over explicit content on the airwaves.
Lawmakers in the US state of Georgia are considering a bill that would make it illegal to alter photos to
make it appear someone's head is on a nude body unless they o-k it.
Pam Dickerson filed HB 680 in December. It would make it illegal to Photoshop a photo and post the image online without permission.
A person would break the law if they defamed a person by identifying them in a so-called obscene depiction in such a manner that a reasonable person would conclude that the image depicted was that of the person so wrongfully identified.
The obscene depiction, under the law would include a body showing genitals, pubic areas, buttocks and the female breasts below the top of the nipple. It also includes actual or simulated acts of masturbation, homosexuality, intercourse or physical
contact that implies sexual acts, even over a clothed body.
If enacted, any person convicted of violation the law would be guilty of a misdemeanor and would be punished by a maximum fine of $1,000 or by a year in jail, or both.
Leading Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have each pledged to
enforce federal obscenity laws against major commercial distributors of hardcore adult pornography.
The pledges, compiled and published by Morality in Media, are part of the organization's The War on Illegal Pornography mission, which invites Internet users to message the front runners anti-porn sentiments.
None of the other Republican candidates nor President Obama has responded to efforts initiated by MIM to learn their views, the organization said.
Twitter has to provide the U.S. Department of Justice with all account information for three users who allegedly support WikiLeaks, a federal
judge has ordered. The data will be used in the investigation into WikiLeaks and its leader, Julian Assange.
U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady denied a motion to suspend previous orders that would allow the DOJ access to the Twitter account information of three people who are suspected of having ties to WikiLeaks.
The information the Department of Justice requested is extensive as Salon reported: It includes all mailing addresses and billing information known for the user, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter,
all known email accounts, as well as the 'means and source of payment,' including banking records and credit cards.
In December 2010, a magistrate judge granted the Department of Justice permission to seek the three account holders' Twitter information under a secret order. The ACLU took the case before a magistrate judge who ruled in favor of the
Department of Justice. The case was then presented to an appeals court, presided by Judge O'Grady who upheld the ruling. This most recent decision allows investigators into WikiLeaks to move forward with their request for Twitter account
The Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA, is bad news. Bringing piracy to heel is a noble goal but imposing sweeping, arbitrary laws that can force websites offline with almost no judicial oversight isn't the way to go about it. The
average guy on the internet may not care much one way or the other [probably because he's not even aware of what's going on] but some backlash is beginning to be felt: Go Daddy dropped its support for SOPA a couple of weeks ago following calls for
a boycott of its services and now Sony, Nintendo and Electronic Arts have all followed suit - sort of.
Sony Electronics, Nintendo and Elecronic Arts, which had previously thrown their weight behind the proposed legislation, are now all notably absent from the most recent list of SOPA supporters. Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Sony Music Entertainment
and Sony Music Nashville remain on the list, which is unfortunate, but of greater concern is the continued presence of the Entertainment Software Association, the industry association which counts among its members Sony, Nintendo and EA. The
support is still there, in other words, less direct and better camouflaged but still very much a part of the process pushing for the implementation of SOPA.