Melon Farmers Original Version

US Censorship News

2011: Oct-Dec

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10th December   

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

US blogger doesn't qualify for shield law legal defence designed to protect journalists and their sources
Link Here

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

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

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

The judge wrote:

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


6th December   

Update: Korean Copyright War...

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

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

Since Korean websites are becoming likely targets for the operations launched by US authorities, the well-known banner that declares a site illegal, alerting its visitors that it has been shut down by law enforcement agencies, now has a Korean translation of the warning.,,,,,,, ,, and were domains that offered download links to the latest movies in return for a small fee.

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

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


5th December   

Update: Block on Blocking...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


3rd December

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

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

See article from


30th November   

Updated: The App Rating Game...

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

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

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

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

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

Update: ESRB Ratings to be used for Apps

30th November 2011. See  article from

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

In a press release, CTIA stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

ECRB ratings for video games are:

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


30th November   

Update: Happy 30th Anniversary at Last...

Producer credit restored to 30th Anniversary Edition of Halloween II
Link Here
Halloween II is a 1981 US horror film by Rick Rosenthal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Halloween II Blu-ray Owner,

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

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




18th November   

Boxed in by Censors...

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

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

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

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


18th November   

The World has a Seizure...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


11th November   

Update: Shame about American Prudery...

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

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

Fithian said about Shame:

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

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

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

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

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

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


11th November   

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

Catholics whinge at Brooklyn Museum art exhibit
Link Here

Brooklyn Museum, New York
18th November 2011 to 12th February 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


3rd November   

Update: Seven Years On...

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

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

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

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

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

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


28th October   

Updated: Google Transparency Report...

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Update: Occupying the High Ground

28th October 2011. From , thanks to Nick

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

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

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


27th October   


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

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

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

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

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

The Fox studio co-president Steve Gilula said:

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


26th October   

Holy Terror...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


17th October   

Town Hall Tits...

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

An art exhibit has been banned from Manchester Town Hall in Connecticut

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

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

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

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

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


15th October   

Update: Dangerous Link...

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

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

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

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

Judges are due to sentence Gordon on 9 November.

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


10th October

 Offsite: The 99 Censors...

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

See article from


4th October   

Comic Defense...

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

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

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

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

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


2nd October   

The Good Rating...

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

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

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

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

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