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26th December   

Update: Brighton Music Censors...

Brighton council on dodgy grounds for music censorship
Link Here  full story: Brighton Music Censors...Licensing rules to restrict bands and their lyrics

Get Rich poster Brighton council is trying to ban anti-gay music in clubs yet is loaning CDs from its libraries of artists who have penned homophobic lyrics.

Pubs and clubs which play or allow artists to perform songs inciting homophobic acts face having their licence taken away in Brighton and Hove.

But it has emerged that work by Buju Banton, who recorded a song called Boom Bye Bye which advocates the shooting of gay men, and an album of songs by rapper Eminem, which includes homophobic lyrics, are available for loan at Brighton and Hove City Council libraries.

The CDs were initially withdrawn yesterday after The Argus contacted the council but tonight a spokesman for the authority said: We've not banned any acts from nightclubs and it's not our role to provide artistic taste police in our cultural facilities either.

The council last week voted to tackle so-called "murder music" with a new section to its licensing policy. Although the new council policy cannot legally ban any form of music, it was specifically designed to discourage murder music acts and allows licences to be reviewed if performances include incitement to violence.

The council spokesman said: A small section in the council's new licensing policy is aimed at preventing crime and antisocial behaviour in licensed premises. There is no ban or censorship on any particular artist or song and this section of the policy is not there to prevent people being offended - its sole purpose is to prevent crime and disorder.

This is a separate issue to the library service, which also does not aim to censor material which is legally available to the public. The library service sets out to maintain a balanced stock of material, offering a wide range of materials reflecting a broad spectrum of views and opinions. The Eminem Marshall Mathers LP was released over seven years ago, the lyrics are controversial and the CD is labelled with an explicit content warning."

 

16th December   

Censorship Strategic Plans...

IWF expand from child protection into adult censorship
Link Here

IWF logo The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) are developing their three year strategic plan for 2008-10:

As we look ahead to manage current and emerging demands and we are inviting comments on our draft goals and key priorities which will form the basis of our plan.

We are consulting key stakeholders in the successful UK partnership for tackling potentially illegal content online, especially child sexual abuse content, and inviting your comments and contributions.

Here is a draft which sets out our role, our perception of our key priorities and our key three-year goals, together with some early ideas of the activities we might embark on to achieve our goals. Linking from the plan is a consultation document containing some questions and we would be pleased to receive your feedback.

We would appreciate your comments by close of business on Monday 14th January 2008 and we look forward to hearing from you.

As the IWF move from child protection into censorship of adult pornography there plans are surely of interest to all. In particular they are suggesting the analysis of: The (potential) inclusion or exclusion of content in its remit such as child sexual abuse cartoons, extreme pornography but seeking to drop incitement to racial hatred.

 

9th December   

Update: More Gore...

Legal threat to Sex Gore Mutants resolved
Link Here

Sex Gore Mutants logo The popular Sex Gore Mutants website was under threat of closure as a result of legal action over a defamation claim.

Thankfully things have been sorted and Al posted the following note

Well four days of stress later and I'm informed that now no action will be taken to close down the site and that the legal folk consider that this matter is now fully closed as confirmed by the complainant.

However the entire affair has shown how easily sites can be threatened. It has also shown how little effort was made to either defend the site or even to see if the problem could be readily resolved without recourse to draconian measures.

 

5th December   

Brighton Ear Muffs...

Brighton council ban homophobic songs from pubs and clubs
Link Here  full story: Brighton Music Censors...Licensing rules to restrict bands and their lyrics

Get Rich poster Homophobic rap music has been banned in Brighton in case it offends the city's large gay population.

Music venues in the city have been ordered not to play certain tracks by artists such as Eminem and 50 Cent.

If pubs and clubs flout the ban, they can be stripped of their licence and closed down.

All music - whether played live or from a recording - that "incites hatred towards minorities" on religious, racial or sexuality grounds is affected.

The move follows an outcry last year over a scheduled performance by the notorious Jamaican artist Buju Banton.

Brighton and Hove's head of licensing, Dee Simson, said: We have a good record on equality and we felt it was important to include this in the licensing policy.

But Trevor Madison, production co-ordinator at Concorde 2, said: Who knows where these things are going?



1st  December

  

Missives Missing...

   

Sex Gore Mutants website under threat

Sex Gore Mutants logoThe popular Sex Gore Mutants website is under threat of closure as a result of legal action over a defamation claim.

From Sex Gore Mutants:

I am very saddened to inform you that I have been contacted this afternoon and informed SGM will be forcibly taken offline this coming Monday afternoon after legal complaint was made in reference to our article on The DarkSide magazine.

I was contacted yesterday (Friday) at 4pm with an extensive Defamation notice, the basic core as follows...

Re: www.sexgoremutants.co.uk

We write (following) our investigations and further complaint from the solicitors acting on behalf of the complainant; we have noticed that the site above contains defamatory allegations against the complainant. In accordance with the jurisdiction of the English Courts this publication is deemed to be defamatory in accordance with the common law provisions of the Defamation Act 1996; on the basis that the statement "would tend to lower the party in the estimation of right-thinking members of society." This is not only against our terms and conditions but is also in breach of UK Law and various sections of the associated statute(s)

...and so it goes on, frustratingly there was no advance notice of this legal challenge nor no prior contact from the complainant. The Defamation notice only referred to SGM (as a whole entity online publication) with no clue whatsoever as to what the allegation referred to and worryingly only notice that they plan to 'take action (on myself and SGM) without any further notice' from this coming Monday at noon (and as I received the notice at 4pm on a Friday I only had one hour that day and three hours on Monday morning to try address this).

Obviously alarmed I made some calls to try find out what exactly the complaint was. Having clarified what the issue was my first step was to remove that page from our server immediately as I do not wish SGM to be forcibly removed from the net due to something as simple as an old critical review piece. Worryingly though, I also tried to clarify if this would stop further action taking place but have not been given any assurances nor will I receive any till Monday at the earliest as the issue is now in the hands of various solicitors and legal department (as they say, once a ball starts rolling it can be hard to stop).

Fingers crossed we can try stop SGM being pulled on Monday (I had been planning to run a massive update tomorrow but have put this on hold till we sort this out) - worst case scenario (at this point) is we find another server provider.

Either way, between legal costs and personal stress this is not a good day for myself or online journalism as a whole.

From Starz Forum

The Darkside contributor in question, Calum explains his case in comments on the Starz forum:

I have since emailed the server, who emailed me to say they were dealing with this, to state that - as Alan has kindly taken the piece down (which, again, I didn't ask for) I would be extremely upset if they did anything to censor his views of my work or to close down his site. If anything happens to the contrary I will happily fight with him to have the site restored.

I wouldn't have bothered complaining about one bleeding sentence if I knew the server were going to start going crazy!!

Hopefully all will be resolved shortly but it does rather show that a few ill judged words can cause sufficient hurt to get lawyers involved. And this may then create expensive legal juggernauts that  may escalate action way beyond that intended.

And of cause it is always a bit of background concern to the Melon Farmers website that surely contains more than its fair share of ill judged words.

 

22nd November

  

Police Dicks in Newport...

   

Rag doll dick covered up on police advice

Spot the difference David & artThe owners of a clothes shop have been ordered by police to censor artwork depicting a naked man for fear it may cause "harassment, alarm or distress" to the public.

An officer from Gwent Police told Flick Sawkins and Angela Harker of Starling Vendetta Boutique they could be prosecuted under section 5 of the Public Order Act unless the offending body part was covered.

A strategically-placed fig leave now hides the modesty of the "window installation" by artist Kate Montgomery which takes pride of place in the shop’s window in Newport, south Wales.

Wardens working for Newport City Council were initially approached by shoppers several weeks ago concerning the naked body before the complaint was passed to police.

According to Newport West MP Paul Flynn, there is now a 140 strong petition demanding the removal of the fig leaf on the grounds of artistic freedom plus a bit of council-bashing. On his website blog, he added: It’s difficult to believe that anyone would be outraged by what seems to be a human body made out of rags – sorry an attractive vintage art object.

It seems the owners of the boutique, which only opened last month, are similarly incredulous about the cover-up. On their website they said: We don’t entirely agree with this decision and would be interested to know what you, our customers, think.

 

14th November

  

Green Garbage Recycling...

   

Stephen Green in high court to request blasphemy prosecution

Jerry Springer: The opera DVD coverStephen Green of Christian Voice is having his day in High Court. He is seeking the right to bring a private prosecution for the common law offence of blasphemous libel.

The case arises over the production and presentation of the award-winning musical Jerry Springer — The Opera at theatres around Britain from October 2003 to July 2006 and then its broadcast on BBC in January 2005. Mr Green wants to prosecute Jonathan Thoday for the production of the play and Mark Thompson, then Director-General of the BBC, for the broadcast.

He applied last year, two years after the broadcast, for a summons to bring the prosecution but was refused at the City of Westminster magistrates' court. Now he is going to the divisional court to challenge that refusal.

Blasphemous libel is the publication of any matter that insults, offends or vilifies the Deity, or Christ, or the Christian religion. It is irrelevant whether there was an intention to blaspheme - the intention to publish the material is sufficient.

But the district judge who heard the initial application held that it was arguable that the Theatres Act prohibits prosecution on the ground of blasphemy; and in any event, Green had not shown a prima facie case. However, Green then won leave from Mr Justice Underhill to seek a judicial review of the district judge’s ruling.

The case is a key test of whether the laws of blasphemy are compatible with free speech, as enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Liberty, the human rights group, has intervened in the case and will argue that free speech protects the secular, sacred and profane alike — and that people should see free speech and conscience rights as running together.

But the case will also be a fresh test of whether blasphemy should exist as a criminal offence at all. Liberty will also argue that the offence should not be recognised in English law at all — because of its lack of sufficient legal certainty as held by the Irish Supreme Court in a case in 2000. The Council of Europe also recommended in June this year that blasphemy should be decriminalised, as has the Law Commission, in a working paper in 1981 and in its final report in 1985.

The chief reason cited for abolition is that blasphemy applies only to Christianity and the Council of Europe is concerned that members of a particular religion should be neither privileged nor disadvantaged by the criminal law.

But attempts to scrap it have foundered. David Blunkett, when Home Secretary, floated the abolition of blasphemy and blasphemous libel in 2004 as part of a package of measures to include the offence of incitement to religious hatred. The idea of the repeal was to answer critics, such as Rowan Atkinson, the comedian, who argued that the new incitement law would stifle criticism of religion, cartoonists' lampoons or jokes about vicars and priests.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: No person of faith should doubt the importance of free speech to freedom of religion — we must remember that even Jesus was prosecuted for blasphemy. This law has quite rightly been a dead letter for many years and is ripe for repeal, not a mischievous private prosecution.

The proposal was welcomed at the time by the National Secular Society, which said that it had been fighting the blasphemy law for more than 100 years. But at the same time, it expressed concern that the new incitement laws may be creating a new “all religions” blasphemy law.

The balance is a fine one — but incitement to religious hatred is clearly distinct from remarks that followers of a religion find insulting, disrespectful or undermining of their beliefs.

There is a growing case that the laws of blasphemy are anachronistic, inconsistent and ripe for repeal. Religions, it is said, should be strong enough to defend themselves. What is even more unarguable is that they should not be a tool to stifle freedom of expression.


21st November

 Update: 

Green's Case...

   

Offensive, spiteful, systematic mockery and wilful denigration of our freedom

Jerry Springer: The opera DVD coverChristian evangelists have launched a High Court battle for the right to bring a private prosecution for blasphemy over Jerry Springer: The Opera.

The show was an offensive, spiteful, systematic mockery and wilful denigration of Christian belief, one that that no-one would dream of making about the prophet Mohammed and Islam, two judges were told.

Stephen Green, national director of the evangelical group Christian Voice, is challenging a refusal by District Judge Caroline Tubbs at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in January to issue a summons for the start of a private prosecution against the Director-General of the BBC Mark Thompson, who allowed the controversial show to be screened on BBC2. Green also wanted to issue a similar summons against the show’s producer, Jonathan Thoday, who staged it at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End and then in a nationwide tour.

Michael Gledhill, QC, appearing for Green, said that such prosecutions for blasphemous libel were extremely rare, occuring perhaps once a generation. He said it was not being argued that God cannot be criticised, he said. Such criticisms were commonplace in a number of plays and productions broadcast on television. Rather, he said, the complaint arose from the manner in which the criticisms were made.

Gledhill argued that the district judge had erred in law in refusing to issue the summonses as the show had clearly “crossed the blasphemy threshold”.

He argued: This is not just about protecting the rights of a section of the Christian population. It is about protecting the constitution of the nation which is built on the Christian faith.

Neither Mr Thoday nor Mr Thompson felt the least inhibition in ridiculing God, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the sacrament of the eucharist and Christian belief, Gledhill told Lord Justice Hughes and Mr Justice Collins at the High Court in London.

Through Jerry Springer: The Opera they had treated the Christian faith with contempt, reviling it by parodying Christian beliefs scurrilously and in the most ludicrous manner.

The human rights group Liberty is intervening in the case to argue that the blasphemy laws are outdated and that free speech rights must protect sacred, profane and secular language alike.

Gledhill accused District Judge Tubbs of failing properly to assess whether the elements of blasphemous libel had been made out in the case of Jerry Springer: The Opera. He argued no reasonable person, applying the correct legal test, could find that the elements of blasphemy were not present.

David Pannick, QC, for Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, said that people’s religious beliefs might be integral to British society but equally so was freedom of expression, especially in matters of social and moral importance.

The Opera won a large number of awards for exceptional artistic achievement, a recognition that this was a powerful satire on a particular type of exploitative television and not, as the claimant fails to appreciate, an attack on Christianity. He added that the target of the satire was not religious belief but the confessional talk-show genre.

Thompson, in a submission, said that the judges should refuse permission for a private prosecution for several reasons: there had been “very considerable delay” by Mr Green in making his application: the programme was broadcast in January 2005; the attempt to bring criminal proceedings was “verging on the vexatious”; and the claimant had sought at a late stage to amend his application.

The hearing continues for a 2nd day.


22nd November

 Comment: 

Lots of Laughs...

   

Christian Voice claim to support civil liberties

Jerry Springer: The opera DVD coverThe Daily Mail reported:

Mr Green said he was 'hugely disappointed' Liberty was seeking to use his case to challenge blasphemy laws, which he described as vital for protecting God's name.

He added: "It is a great shame that Liberty have gone down this road, and strayed away from their core activities of defending civil liberties, which we as an organisation support."

Looooooooool! Christian Voice support defending civil liberties!

Yeah they do! They want civil liberties for all...

Apart from gays.

And people who say things which upset their precious religious beliefs.

Yeah civil liberties for all say Christian Voice!

Lol!

From the Times

Meanwhile the case has now completed and the High Court reserved judgment on whether Christian evangelists could bring prosecutions against Mark Thompson, BBC Director-General, and the producer of the controversial show Jerry Springer – The Opera.

A time scale for the publication of the judgement has not yet been provided


26th November

 Update: 

Blasphemy is Blasphemous...

   

God doesn't need protection of human laws

Jerry Springer: The opera DVD coverReplying to questions on a BBC TV programme, Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has publicly agreed with the Christian think-tank Ekklesia that it is time for Britain's archaic blasphemy law to be abolished.

Lord Carey, who is an outspoken conservative evangelical within the Church of England, was responding to comments by Ekklesia co-director Jonathan Bartley on a discussion about blasphemy on BBC1's Sunday morning current affairs and religion programme, The Big Questions.

The ex-Archbishop protested against what he said was an increase in "offensive" material about Christianity in the public domain, including Jerry Springer - The Opera. But Lord Carey said that Christ told his followers to put away their swords and did not seek to defend faith by force.

Bartley said that a blasphemy law was itself blasphemous from a theological viewpoint, because it suggested that the transcendent God somehow needed human laws for protection.

 

13th November

 Update: 

Contempt of Scottish Justice...

   

Naked Ramblers appeal against contempt rejected

Naked Rambler at John O'GroatsOn Wednesday, five judges at the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh rejected Stephen Gough’s appeal against contempt findings.

Gough, claimed he had been denied a fair hearing by an independent tribunal after sheriffs held him in contempt of court for appearing naked in court.

He also maintained that to appear naked in court was a right guaranteed under freedom of expression according to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, said: If he seeks to express the view that an individual has the right to be naked at all times and in all places, there is nothing to prevent his doing so orally or in writing while remaining properly dressed.

The court is entitled to enforce standards of decency and decorum in the dress and demeanour of those who appear before it, whether as witnesses, lawyers, jurors or accused.

Gough known as The Naked Rambler refused to put clothes on for a court appearance again today. He was not brought into the dock from cells at Edinburgh Sheriff Court because he would not get dressed. It was left to his defence agent John Goode to enter a not guilty plea in advance of his trial next week.

Gough, of Eastleigh in Hampshire, is charged with committing a breach of the peace by being naked in a public place at St Leonards Hill in Edinburgh on October 15.


20th November

 Update: 

Sick Justice...

   

Lunatics are in charge of Scottish Justice

Naked Rambler at John O'GroatsThe Naked Rambler is set to be checked out by psychiatrists after picking up his 12th straight conviction for breach of the peace. 

Stephen Gough took just five steps outside the police station holding him before being re-arrested last month. The 48-year-old was completely naked when police picked him up.

Yesterday, he was found guilty of breach of the peace at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and ordered to undergo psychiatric assessment.

Sheriff Kenneth McIver said: It may be he should be in hospital not a prison.

His solicitor has revealed Gough was assessed by mental health professionals last month who reported 'no concerns of any significance'.

 

10th November

  

Filth Seize Filth...

   

Police raid shop over Cradle of Filth T-shirt

Cradle of Filth t shirtA shop owner charged with religious prejudice after selling a supposedly obscene T-shirt will not face trial.

Daniel Moore sold the T-shirt, which features the slogan "Jesus is a cunt" and a pornographic picture of a nun, to an undercover policeman.

Minutes later a team of ten police officers raided his Edinburgh shop and he was charged with selling obscene material aggravated by religious prejudice.

Moore insisted on his innocence during several appearances at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, and the Crown has now decided the case can be dealt with through an alternative to prosecution.

The owner of Electric Cabaret was adamant he had only ordered the T-shirt after a number of his teenage customers requested it. The T-shirt promotes Vestal Masturbation by the band, Cradle of Filth.

He insisted that he warned people of the dangers of wearing the top. Speaking from his shop yesterday, he said: I don't think it should ever have gone as far as it did. I knew I was innocent all along - this has been a waste of money. The T-shirt is band merchandise and my customers chose to order it. I told the guy that bought it that he shouldn't wear it on the street.

Moore claimed the charge was unfair because he did not stock the T-shirt, or display it in his store. An alternative to prosecution can take the form of a written or personal warning or a "fiscal fine" of up to £100. Once this happens, the accused cannot be prosecuted for the offence and will not have a criminal record.

Moore's solicitor, Victoria Good, condemned the suggestion that religious aggravation was the motive behind the sale of the T-shirt. She said: The initial suggestion that the offence was aggravated by religious prejudice is clearly unfounded - this was nothing more than a business transaction. The T-shirt is unpleasant, but surely there is an issue of freedom of speech involved here.

 

5th November

  

Naked Pettiness...

   

Show posters offend small minds in small towns

Get Naked: The Boys are Back in TownA nude stage show is shocking small town audiences in Britain... or at least the posters for the show are. Several English local authorities are asking for the full-frontal images on the billboards advertising the show to be covered up with modesty stickers.

Get Naked: The Boys are Back in Town is an all-male, all-singing, all-nude ensemble cabaret piece inspired by the hit off-Broadway show that has become a cult international franchise in the last six years. The posters, which feature the cast covered by nothing but the glow of the spotlight, have already drawn complaints at the start of a national tour this month.

Last week Tamworth council requested stickers to cover the performers' genital areas and this week's performance in Worcester has caused a similar flurry of sticker activity. Following complaints from the public, the Tamworth Information Centre has ordered posters to be covered with black-out strips. Iwan Dam, the show's Dutch director and one of the performers, is both amused and perplexed.

If we had done a different poster, it would be for a different show, he said. It is not vulgar or about sex. It is not like the show Puppetry of the Penis or a strip show. We don't touch our penises. We have chosen all the songs because there is a good reason why they should be sung naked.

The cast of eight, including a pianist, each sing a solo about their own body. The audiences have been 80% women, 10% gay men and 10% straight men who have come with their partners.

This is not a Chippendale's show, or a greatly sexualised show. It's very much about the ordinary, average Joe, his life and his relationship with his body, said producer Mark Vijn. It's a humorous show that we fully expect to touch a chord with both male and female audiences.

 

 

31st October

 Comment: 

A Right Royal Cock Up?...

   

Blackmail case makes law look like an ass

Old BaileyNo one wins when the law looks like an ass. Like an overrun teacher whose barely audible “Silence!” is drowned out by a cacophonous class, British law is currently prohibiting the publication of names that everyone knows.

The High Court order prohibiting the naming of a minor royal involved in an alleged sex-and-drugs blackmail plot is effectively useless because the name is only two seconds away from anyone with access to the internet and possessing the search skills of most British children. Similarly, the alleged killer of the murdered schoolboy Rhys Jones has been named on the website YouTube, although police have been attempting to get the name removed.

The current stance of English law, prohibiting the publication of information that anyone can access, is unsustainable. To command respect, the law needs to enjoy the confidence of the public. The law must not look daft. It thrives or wilts according to its acceptance by the public.

The standards that UK law wants to impose are, in fact, very sensible and for the public good. If a law court wants to prevent the victim of an alleged blackmail plot from becoming public (and remember, blackmail is a serious crime) that is a mark of a civilised society. If, to ensure a killer gets convicted following a fair trial, the law wants to stop prejudicial material about him from being aired in public, again that is a sensible rule. It’s not a convincing and rational answer for us to say yes, but the whole world has lurched into an informational free-for-all now, so let’s just slide down this spiral into chaos with the rest of the world

...

The internet age will need to develop a new set of laws to reflect global village life. That will be an acute challenge because different cultures have fundamentally different ideas about such things as freedom of expression, fair trials and the protection of reputation. But democratic control and policing of the internet according to a set of agreed international laws will be no more challenging than many things we already do every day such as international trade..

 

26th October

  

Hated Law...

   

A judge's view on the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

QuetzalcoatlThe Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 was brought into force at the start of this month.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Likewise, laws against stirring up racial hatred already existed, but they were over 20 years old. The new provisions bring the law up to date by creating new criminal offences of inciting racial hated. That covers everything from the everyday use of words and behaviour to the production and distribution of written or recorded material. For each of the offences, the words or material must be threatening, and it must be intended to stir up religious hatred.

"Religious hatred" is defined as hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to their religious belief, or even their lack of religious belief. Oddly, though, the Act steers clear of defining exactly what amounts to a religion or a religious belief. Someone once famously grafittied “Eric Clapton is God”, but does that make him a religion? Who will decide then whether a particular belief amounts to a religion?

Step forward the judges. The courts will decide.

The new Act does produce a list of religions that will be covered, though it must be made clear that this list is by no means exhaustive. All the major religions are covered, along with various sects, but what about people who have no religious belief? Curiously, the Act does give atheists and humanists a degree of protection from scorn.

But the Act has important reservations. It makes clear that it is not intended to prevent people from seeking to convert others to or from a particular belief. Nor is its purpose to stifle discussion about different belief systems, even if that discussion steeps to antipathy, dislike, ridicule or insult or abuse. But I am not sure that sits easily with the mischief the Act is attempting to prevent.

The dividing line between permitted discussion and unlawful criticism is a difficult one that is likely to test the mettle of the courts. Stirring up race hatred is clearly a very sensitive issue, so it is not surprising that the Act makes it clear that no prosecution can proceed without the consent of the Attorney-General.

While the good intentions of the Act are not to be doubted, its nuances are likely to keep lawyers and the courts busy for some time. But that's something new laws invariably do.

 

17th October

  

Better Safe than Sorry...

   

Naff internet blocking leaves Be Unlimited in a very sorry state

be logoBe Unlimited (owned by O2) has caused a stir with some users who have reported the inability to access some websites hosted by Lycos. It appears that the cause has been Be's implementation of blocking access to child abuse images based on a list published by the Internet Watch Foundation.

The problems experienced by Be users trying to access legitimate content originate from the way in which the company implemented the blocking of sites on the IWF list.

The IWF claim the list contains specific URLs which point to web pages containing live images of child abuse, but blocking these often requires specialist technology which examine the web address in detail.

Be's implementation appears to be rather more crude by converting these into IP addresses and blocking all access to those on their network. This has the side effect of blocking access to potentially thousands of other legitimate websites which are not connected in any way with the illegal images, except by the fact they share the same physical server (a normal practice in website hosting environments).

Update: Lost Fortune

10th November 2007

Thanks to Shaun

The incompetent filtering at Be led to the web hosting company FortuneCity being made unavailable. This has now been rectified but only after complaints about the company's inadequate service.

 

14th October

  

Responsible Journalism...

   

Court decision protects diligent journalists against libel

Bent Coppers book coverThe court of appeal yesterday delivered a landmark judgment for investigative reporting when it ruled that the publishers of a book about police corruption could rely on a defence of "responsible journalism".

The unanimous ruling by three appeal court judges will make it easier for newspapers and publishers to defend themselves from libel actions by arguing that, even if not every allegation can be proved, their writing amounted to "responsible journalism" on a matter of public interest.

Lords Justices Ward, Sedley and Hooper overturned a preliminary ruling that Graeme McLagan, author of Bent Coppers: The Inside Story of Scotland Yard's Battle Against Police Corruption, could not rely on the so-called Reynolds defence because his writing did not meet the standards of responsible journalism.

The libel action was brought against the book's publishers, Orion Books, by Michael Charman, a former Metropolitan police detective who was asked to leave the force for discreditable conduct. He claimed the book suggested there were "cogent grounds" for suspecting him of being involved in police corruption.

The Reynolds defence originates in a 1999 House of Lords judgment in a case brought by the former Irish taoiseach Albert Reynolds, which was intended to create a protective shield for responsible investigative reporting.

The appeal court judges said yesterday that the allegations about Charman could not be proved, but they ruled that McLagan, a former BBC home affairs correspondent, had taken steps to verify the story and that as a result of his honesty, his expertise, his research and his thorough evaluation of a mass of material, the book qualified as responsible journalism.

 

9th October

  

Anarchy in UK Justice

   

Terrorist charges for possessing The Anarchist Cookbook

Anacrchists Cookbook coverA British teenager who is accused of possessing material for terrorist purposes has appeared in court.

The 17-year-old was given bail after a hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

It is alleged he had a copy of the Anarchists' Cookbook, containing instructions on how to make home-made explosives. This book is a well known cult book that has been around for ages and is currently available on both UK and US versions of Amazon

His next court hearing has been set for 25 October.

The teenager faces two charges under the Terrorism Act 2000. The first charge relates to the possession of material for terrorist purposes in October last year. The second relates to the collection or possession of information useful in the preparation of an act of terrorism.

 

26th September

   Arty Witch-Hunt...

 


Baltic GalleryPolice seize art from gallery over concerns of the depiction of children

From the Telegraph

A photograph by a controversial American artist which is part of Sir Elton John's private collection has been seized by police from a gallery on suspicion it may have breached child pornography laws.

The image, which featured two young girls one of whom was sitting down with her legs wide apart, was taken by the renowned photographer Nan Goldin.

The shot, from the artist's Thanksgiving series, was to be exhibited at the Baltic Modern Art gallery, Tyneside, this week along with some of her other work. But the day before it was due to be viewed by the public, police came and removed the image over fears that it might be breaking the law.

It is thought that one of the assistant directors at the centre called in the authorities after a private view as he was concerned that the picture could be offensive.

The picture is now being examined by lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service.

Thanksgiving is described by the Baltic as an installation of photographs which documents Goldin's life from 1973 to 1999 - "a micro-retrospective of her career."


26th September

   Update: Lack of Integrity...

 


Baltic GalleryHaving lost a photo to police seizure, art exhibition is closed

From Yahoo News
See also Comment is Free in the Guardian by Libby Brooks

The Baltic Modern Art gallery has closed the Thanksgiving exhibition at the request of Elton John, who owns the collection.

After the removal of one image from the series it was no longer possible for BALTIC to exhibit the collection of works as the artist intended, the gallery said in a statement: Therefore BALTIC is sympathetic to Sir Elton John's request and supportive of the decision.

Police confirmed they were looking at the picture to assess whether an offense had been committed, but have refused further comment.

Elton John, who purchased the Thanksgiving installation in 1999, said last week that the picture, Klara and Edda Belly-Dancing, had been exhibited across Europe and the United States without any objections of which he was aware.


27th October

 Update: 

Klara Cleared...

   

Klara and Edda Belly-Dancing 1998 not indecent

Baltic GalleryA photograph belonging to Sir Elton John that was seized from a British gallery as part of a child pornography investigation is not indecent, the Crown Prosecution Service have said.

Northumbria Police removed Klara and Edda Belly-Dancing 1998 from the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, last month after a complaint by a gallery employee.

The image of two young girls, one skimpily dressed and the other naked, was part of the installation Thanksgiving by the American photographer, Nan Goldin. The collection of 149 photographs was purchased by Sir Elton in 1999 after it went on show at the White Cube gallery in London in 1999.

The CPS decided in 2001 that the image was not indecent. Kerrie Bell, head of the CPS Northumbria South Unit, said: To prove that the photograph is indecent we must be satisfied that contemporary standards of propriety are so different now to what they were in 2001, that it is more likely than not that a court will conclude that the photograph is indecent. I am not satisfied that is the case.

 

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