The UK's new internet censorship rules banning much mainstream porn content don't always ban face-sitting, ATVOD said in a closed newsletter disseminated yesterday.
ATVOD, which censors video-on-demand in Britain, revealed draconian new rules
for the porn industry nearly three weeks ago. Under the new rules, introduced through the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014, content that would be cut by the BBFC is banned from UK VOD services.
Now as the BBFC cuts at least some content
from about 15% of all mainstream R18's then at least this percentage of mainstream porn videos are now illegal to include on UK websites. In addition websites will probably have to self censor another 15% just in case the material may cross undefined
Actually the BBFC cut 50% of R18s in the last calendar week for trivial and largely unpredictable reasons. This unpredictability could leave British webmasters with the only practical option to only include videos with an official BBFC
R18 rating and all the trivially prohibited bits obligingly cut out. (Which is probably one of the intentions of the new law). Of course the rub is then that there are relatively few official R18s. A British website offering a few hundred censored videos
would be competing with US websites offering a tens of thousands of uncensored videos.
UK media censor Ofcom has issued a revised designation allowing ATVOD the powers it needs to enforce the new rules.
Yesterday, in its newsletter, ATVOD
clarified some details of what it will be focusing on while enforcing the new censorship rules:
Contrary to some press reports, the new regulations do not ban outright activities such as 'face-sitting' or 'spanking.
... HOWEVER ... they do mean that pornographic material which focuses on the restriction of blood or oxygen to the brain (which is potentially fatal) or on the infliction of lasting physical harm is now prohibited on U.K.
VOD services, as are pornographic scenarios featuring simulated incest [currently a very popular genre], rape or role playing as a child.
The new discriminatory rules also forbid U.K.-based online adult operators
from distributing content that includes acts of female ejaculation, fisting and other types kinky content.
In the newsletter, ATVOD also hinted what might be next for foreign porn sites that allow access in the U.S.: A licensing regime. ATVOD said
that it has worked with the U.K. payments industry --- including Visa Europe, MasterCard, PayPal, UK Cards Association, British Bankers' Association and Payments Council --- to design a process which would enable payments to be prevented from the U.K. to
foreign porn services that allow children to access hardcore pornography.
Preventing payments from U.K. customers would disrupt the existing business model which is based on providing some content free of charge in
order to attract visitors who are then encouraged to purchase premium subscription services. It would provide an incentive for foreign porn websites to introduce age-verification mechanisms in order to restart the flow of funds from the U.K.
The payments industry has made clear that in order to put such a process into place there would need to be greater clarity that foreign websites which allow children in the U.K. to view hardcore porn are acting in breach of U.K. law.
Representatives of the payments industry proposed that a licensing regime for foreign porn websites --- similar to that recently introduced for foreign gambling websites --- would be the best way of achieving such clarity.
Comment: ATVOD Idiocy
22nd December 2014. Thanks to Alan
Does the arrogance of these scumbags know no bounds?
They are quite open about their wish to impose this age verification nonsense worldwide, and to do so specifically by targetting web sites which behave ethically by offering
free samples so that potential customers can assess whether or not they wish to purchase a membership. This is a disgrace. I hope that foreign jurisdictions will move robustly to disrupt ATVOD's idiotic control freakery.
again, we have the purported protection of children being used to treat everyone as a child. I can understand why opponents of this nonsense may wish to appear respectable by not directly confronting the notion that young people need to be
protected, but I wish that they would do so. I very much hope that young lads (and indeed lasses) in search of a bit of naughty material will be able to circumvent ATVOD and parental controls. How old were these clowns when they first encountered smut? I
was about fourteen. Are ATVOD staffers so congenitally thick that they only discovered porn at 40?
Over at Ofcom, the new boss is getting a salary for her censorious activities well in excess of the prime minister's headline pay,
and maybe even better than Cameron's package including the rent of Number 10 and Chequers. The lunatics really do seem to be in charge of the asylum.
Sex workers and campaigners have gathered in front of parliament to protest against changes to UK pornography regulations.
Protesters chanted: What do we want?
Face-sitting! When do we want it? Now! They say the list of banned activities includes face-sitting , and campaigners carried out a mass demonstration of this while singing the Monty Python song Sit On My Face.
Organiser Charlotte Rose called the restrictions
ludicrous and said they were a threat to freedom of expression.
These activities were added to this list without the public being made aware, Charlotte Rose said. They've done this without public knowledge and
without public consent.
There are activities on that list that may be deemed sexist, but it's not just about sexism, it's about censorship. What the government is doing is taking our personal liberties away without our
Mistress Absolute, a professional dominatrix and fetish promoter, said the law was restrictive:
I felt that this was the beginning of something to creep into my sexual freedom and sexual preferences.
Neil Rushton said:
They're very sexist laws. These are very geared towards women's enjoyment as opposed to men's.
Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, Jerry Barnett
from Sex and Censorship and Jane Fae from the Consenting Adult Action Network were among those making speeches at the protest. Fae called the changes heteronormative , and said:
What is being clamped down on is
any kind of online content made by adults who are consenting.
I organised today's mass face-sitting outside Parliament because I'm not willing to give up my sexual liberties
Draconian new pornography restrictions are an attack on our freedom, so it's time to sit down and be counted
I can hear the laughter now. A mass face-sitting outside Britain's parliament: are they serious?
The answer, for anyone who dares think otherwise is: absolutely. Yes. For the new anti-porn regulations censor people without consent. Nobody has the right to take away peoples personal liberties or personal choice.
If we don't speak out now, more and more amendments are going to be added to existing laws taking our personal rights away.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 (S.I., 2014, No. 2916), dated 4 November 2014, a copy of which was laid before this House on 6
November, be annulled.
Primary sponsor: Julian Huppert Sponsors: John Leech and Mike Hancock
Update: 2 more gallant liberals
12th December 2014.
Andrew George (St. Ives) and David
Ward (Bradford East) are Lib Dems who have joined the role call of honour.
Update: Julian Huppert gets a positive write up in the Daily Mail
Spanking and whipping should not be banned in British-made online porn videos, Lib Dem MPs have
demanded. Backbench MP Julian Huppert attacked rules revealed last week which ban a host of erotic acts considered harmful by ministers.
The new laws aim to bring video-on-demand online porn into line with videos
sold in licensed sex shops. It means around 10 acts - ranging from spanking to strangulation, aggressive whipping and being tied up -- are now banned from web porn sold in the UK.
Mr Huppert has tabled a Commons motion calling for
the new rules -- laid down in the Audiovisual Media Services Regulation 2014 -- to be annulled. He said:
The new rules mean that all video-on-demand services that originate from the UK can't show various acts, such as
It seems to me to be very odd to say that this - assuming it is consensual - is acceptable for somebody to do in their own home, for them to photograph it, film it, but not to look at it online if it comes from the UK.
To me the case for banning things should be driven by issues around consent, and around genuine risk, not about whether we happen to like things or not.
ATVOD recently published minutes from the September board meeting which predated the recent government censorship decree for internet porn.
The law was discussed at the meeting but this seems a little irrelevant after the law was published. Other
related issues that cropped up were:
Secret Censors Pact
The Board NOTED the progress being made with development of a MoU with Ofcom and BBFC. Once finalised the MoU would be published and made available
to Industry Forum members.
Move to censor the internet to the same level as TV
The Board AGREED that ATVOD should offer to provide Ofcom with the benefit of its expertise with regard to the
work Ofcom is undertaking on a common framework for media standards.
You can run but you cannot hide
The Industry Forum meeting had supported working party proposals for a process designed to
confirm whether an on demand service fell under UK jurisdiction. The Board DISCUSSED the details of the scheme. It was expected that the final scheme would be brought to the November Board meeting for approval.
Licence to kill the
The Board NOTED that there had been no recent communication from DCMS on proposals to consider the feasibility of a licensing scheme for foreign pornographic websites.
censorship rules to follow
The Board AGREED that finalisation of ATVOD's additional guidance for adult providers should be put on hold until the new AVMS Regulations was introduced.
with the devil
BBFC presentation on 18, R18 and unclassifiable material 8.1
Murray Perkins, BBFC, attended the meeting and gave a presentation which included examples of material classified
at 18, material classified at R18 and material which had been refused a classification.
A blog post from a UK fetish website provides an interesting but unverified snippet warning of future oppressive control freakery:
It seems the clips4sale saga has taken another twist as they have rapidly put in a solution
in place in almost blind panic after many months of pushing it under the bed.
UK customers no longer can use their debit cards to buy clips in c4s stores without registering with the UK government for permission. When I asked them
for details of whom to register with or provide a source for this information they well unable to provide further details.
As a UK customer you can buy clips either using a credit card or using the virtual currency "clip
cash" or one of these mythical government approved debit cards to buy clips directly.
Of course you still can't sell banned content through them from the UK.
British digital media producers are now subject to some of the most severe content restrictions in Europe. The regulations will shut down websites and criminalise producers of content that remains legal to produce throughout
the European Union. This will have a chilling effect on freedom of sexual expression in the UK. It also makes British media uncompetitive within the EU. This will lead to job cuts and lost revenue for the Treasury.
The government’s new porn laws are arbitrary and sexist
In a hopeless government attempt to control what Britons get off on, new rules regulating the UK
porn industry have come into force this week. The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 imposes restrictions on the content of pornography made and sold within the UK -- and it does so with a perplexing ignorance about the realities of modern
British porn producers and consumers will now be subject to some of the harshest restrictions anywhere in Europe, with speculation that this is only the beginning. Video-on-demand content produced or sold in the UK is
no longer permitted to show a vague and arbitrary list of explicit acts.
So what is the point of the new law, then? Are the government so naive as to think that forcing onerous new rules on
the rapidly dwindling number of British based porn sites will make any difference to teenagers accessing hardcore? It seems unlikely. But then, in reality, this was never really about preventing children from accessing adult material. Rather, this seems
the first step of a cunning plan. First of all, kill of the British industry by regulating it out of existence. Then, when there are rules in place about what is or isn't legal within the UK, it becomes easier to strangle access to foreign sites. ATVOD
are already pushing to stop card payments to foreign sites that don't follow their rules (i.e. all of them). The next step after that will be legally enforced blocks, similar to those imposed on file sharing sites.
Government cracks down on Fifty Shades of Grey style sex acts in online porn videos because it's harmful
The Daily Mail surprisingly hasn't supported the government censors. Its piece, borrowing heavily from a Guardian article, seemed to mock the arbitrary
moralistic R18 guidelines and gave space to the point that Women's Fifty Shades of Grey pleasures would take a knock by the new law. And the Daily Mail didn't even bother with any sound bites from the miserablists of Mediawatch-UK and the like. The piece
included the following comments:
Jerry Barnett, founder of anti-censorship campaign Sex And Censorship, told Vice News:
R18 is a strange thing. It's a set of weird and arbitrary censorship rules
decided between the BBFC, the police and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service). There appear to be no rational explanations for most of the R18 rules - they're simply a set of moral judgments designed by people who have struggled endlessly to stop the
British people from watching pornography.
Erotic film director Erika Lust told the Independent:
With this legislation, the UK is in danger of finding itself back in an age where
porn is simply the boring, unrealistic, male fantasy of bimbos eagerly pleasing men as if it is their duty, where women are submissive and lack ownership of their sexuality. Women in the industry will now fear the loss of their livelihoods as well as
their sexual independence.
Spanking and caning - just two of the sexual acts now banned in British porn films
Not a very convincing piece in the Telegraph but it did throw in the fact that the government know exactly how this will screw adult companies in Britain:
In its analysis of the new regulation, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport recognised that the new system might lead to some loss of British business. A report noted:
to R18 material may lead to businesses moving outside of UK's jurisdiction in order to avoid regulation. Nevertheless, there is public value in ensuring that there is consistency for regulation across platforms so that UK based VOD firms are compliant
with the UK's views on harmful content.
DCMS also noted that small businesses might be particularly hard hit by the new rules:
There are a number of small and medium sized firms
among the UK-based suppliers of R18 content which may be affected by this measure
View from America: United Kingdom Ramps Up War on Porn and Women's Sexuality
At first glance, the news out of the United Kingdom appears like something The Onion might concoct to lampoon the nation's recent devolution
into what everyone thought was a bygone sexual morality. But no; like a nightmare from which one cannot awaken, the government quietly enacted new regulations that went into effect Dec. 1, 2014 banning certain sex acts from being produced and sold in the
Even the Guardian's high priestesses of PC are unimpressed: I'm no fan of the porno-industrial complex but these new rules are unworkable
Increasingly, we see legislation made in some archaic vacuum where the internet does not exist. Furthermore, many of these
now-censored activities are to do with female pleasure and the activities of dominatrices. Why is it OK to show a male ejaculation but not a female one? What are the qualifications of those who cobble together these rules?
And the Guardian isn't impressed with the law from a science perspective
One of the more controversial things banned is female ejaculation. Female ejaculation is a weirdly controversial subject but
science doesn't deny that it's a real thing. Many have cited the ban on female ejaculation as a clear demonstration of the sexist nature of the new rules (especially as it's fine to show male ejaculate, and even people eating it). But the BBFC,
responsible for enforcing these rules, say the ban is a reflection of the fact that pornographers claim they're showing female ejaculation when they are in fact showing urination.
Showing urination in sex, water sports ,
has long been banned in British pornography. This appears to be a cultural consensus rather than a scientific one. Despite the myth that urine is sterile so good for cleaning wounds, this is not the case, so urinating on someone could lead to infection.
But then, this is true of any fluid produced by humans, many of which are expressed in pornography but not restricted in this manner.
And the Guardian isn't impressed with the law from a feminist perspective
The conformity that it's imposing is to the worst model of porn. It specifically targets and bans acts that are
associated with feminist and fetish porn. Pandora Blake, over welsh rarebit and eggs, was explaining to me the new porn laws. They aren't new, exactly -- it's just a new way of regulating online pornographers, via ATVOD (the Authority for Television
and Video on Demand) so that they have to comply with the rules for pornography on DVD.
The UK's sexist new pornography restrictions aren't just an act of state censorship, but could be the first step towards
something even worse
It's not just the depiction of certain sex acts which is under attack --- our freedom is too
As you might have already heard, an act of state censorship has been declared against British pornography in the guise of innocuous regulation. But what you might not know is that it has also marked the first stage in a campaign to
impose global trade sanctions. Strangely, this proposition has received less coverage.
The current discussion around these regulations has focused on the absurd restrictions which are being imposed on pornography. For example,
male ejaculation is acceptable to shoot; but its female equivalent is absolutely beyond the pale. Bang out of order. It might be urine. We're not sure. Probably best to ban it.
However, ignoring the inherent sexism of this
proposition, it is actually the framework in which these regulations have been allowed to emerge that is of greatest concern to all forms of freedom of expression.
Legislation that censors online
porn on UK websites will massively disadvantage the UK industry, according to a leading adult broadcaster.Chris Ratcliff of Portland TV said the industry was already disadvantaged compared to overseas competitors. The result, he predicted,
would be an exodus of companies out of the UK :
What it does is take out big swathes of material that, albeit on the fringes, are still very popular in this territory and globally.
challenge we face operating in the regulated UK sector is the complete lack of parity between us and the unregulated offshore sector, said Ratcliff, whose company operates Fantasy TV and many of the babe channels. Improved age verification tools, he
added, are a more effective means of protecting minors from inappropriate material than the tightening-up of regulation in respect to content strength - a move he said was a mistake.
of pornography on video-on-demand in the United Kingdom
This article demonstrates in detail how the British government, the Office of Communications and The Authority for Television on Demand have interpreted the requirement in the European Union's Audio Visual Media Services Directive that any material on
video-on-demand services which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors must be made available only in a way that ensures minors will not normally hear or see it. By EU standards, the approach adopted has been a strict
one, raising questions about whether the UK authorities have gone beyond the requirements of the Directive, and thus whether their policies need underpinning by new legislation at the national level. This in turn poses further questions about the
desirability of such legislation, its compatibility with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the advisability of driving abroad the providers of adult on-demand services, and the practicability of attempting to regulate
transnational media traffic in an increasingly online world where standards of acceptability vary widely from one country to another.
Sexist, archaic and damaging. This amendment to the communications act (2003) was rushed through parliament to take away the rights British people have on the internet.
Since 1/12/14, The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations
2014 requires that video-on-demand (VoD) online porn now adhere to the same guidelines laid out for DVD sex shop-type porn by the BBFC.
This includes the likes of: Spanking, Caning, Penetration by any object associated with
violence , Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual), Watersports, Female ejaculation, Facesitting, Fisting.
The regulations make NO distinction between consensual and non-consensual acts.
They treat female ejaculation as a myth (and more unsafe/disgusting than male ejaculation).
This is one further attempt to censor the internet, as with David Cameron's plan to force ISPs to filter pornography.
They will damage smaller, independent film makers and producers, where as huge
pornography companies will be left comparatively unscathed, causing a loss of british jobs as independent film makers are forced overseas.
Uneccesary censorship, patriarchal behaviour is all too often the path our government
takes. We have 50 shades of grey out in the CINEMA in february, yet we're not allowed to watch a real equivalent made by British people. The government have no right to dictate what a responsible adult does for work, or what they look at on the internet.
We call for a complete removal of this amendment, underhandedly rushed through parliament in only ONE MONTH, which is inherently sexist, insulting and damaging to many British people.
To: Sajid Javid MP - Minister for censorship culture
Reverse the recent ban on a variety of sexual acts being depicted in UK content. They breach the freedoms and civil rights of consenting adults who participate in the
sexual acts as listed below, and have duly signed their legal agreement to such participation of their own free will.
Why is this important?
Recently the government and the BBFC banned a list of sexual
acts, which mainly appear to take aim at female pleasure, from appearing in UK pornography. The government are arbitrarily deciding what is nice sex and what is not nice sex.
There are greater acts of violence in mainstream
movies, as indeed there are also acts of a sexual nature, and some of which are extreme. Are the government also intent on banning the multi-billion dollar Hollywood movie industry from showing such films to a British audience?
certainly don't recall being consulted about this back-door sexual repression policy by my MP! Yet it affects me, as it does every other adult, here in the UK.
We must NOT be denied the right to choose for ourselves with regard to
what do watch and what we do, and just because I happen to view a female ejaculate , for instance, what does it matter?
They banned: Spanking Caning Aggressive whipping Penetration by any object associated with violence
Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual) Urolagnia (known as water sports ) Female ejaculation Strangulation Facesitting Fisting
Responsible department: Department for Culture, Media and Sport
The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 came into force on December 1st, restricting UK production of online pornography which depicts spanking, caning,
facesitting, female ejaculation, fisting, bondage, and other acts legal to perform between consenting adults. We want this legislation repealed.
The list of banned activities is transparently sexist: depictions of irrumatio
(forceful fellatio) are explicitly permitted, but facesitting (even fully clothed) is banned. Similarly, male ejaculation on a partner is explicitly permitted, but female ejaculation on a partner is banned.
In addition, these
restrictions will cripple small independent UK businesses producing niche pornographic content, while favouring large companies producing mainstream content. They will also benefit foreign companies producing content which is now illegal to produce in
the UK, but still legal for UK customers to purchase and view online.
New statutory rules banning the most extreme content have come into force for UK video on demand services regulated by ATVOD.
Under the new rules -- introduced through the Audiovisual Media Service Regulations 2014 -- material which would be
refused a classification by the British Board of Film Classification ( BBFC ) will be prohibited on a UK video on demand service. This means that content which cannot lawfully be distributed on a DVD can no longer lawfully be distributed on a
video on demand service operated from the UK.
ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said:
Under the new rules, material which is banned from sale on a DVD in the UK will also be banned from UK video on demand services. This is
particularly likely to affect pornographic videos which feature violence, coercion or abusive scenarios such as incest. If you can't walk into a licensed sex shop and buy it, nor will you be able to view it at home on a video on demand service regulated
by ATVOD from today.
ATVOD will also continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based both inside and outside
the UK. We strongly support initiatives designed to improve the take up of parental control software.
ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said:
Almost 90% of British adults think it is important that
UK providers are required to take the steps set out in the ATVOD Rules and Guidance to ensure that under 18's can't see hardcore porn material. We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with those rules,
but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.
Our recent enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps
to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18's. Asking visitors to a website to click an 'I am 18' button or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient -- if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that
their customers are 18, just as they would in the 'offline' world.
Surely the British could commission an effective and economic age verification scheme for websites to use. All it would really take is to encode an over 18 flag in debit card transactions. But whilst there is no currently viable means of age
verification then it seems a bit unfair to persecute websites. I am sure website would be keen to use a viable scheme if one existed
ATVOD has published determinations that two further adult services, operating across 34 websites, had breached
rules requiring UK video on demand requiring onerous age verification before allowing access to hardcore porn.
The two online video on demand services, Candy Girl Productions and Scott XXX , were claimed to be in breach of a
statutory rule which requires that material which might seriously impair under 18's can only be made available if access is blocked to children. The Candy Girl Productions service operated across 33 linked websites.
The Scott XXX service broke the
rules in two ways. Firstly, it allowed any visitor free, unrestricted access to hardcore pornographic video promos/trailers or still images featuring real sex in explicit detail. Secondly, access to the full videos was open to any visitor who paid a fee.
with a debit card which can be used by under 18's, ATVOD held that the service had also failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the full videos.
The operator of Candy Girl Productions did not allow free access to explicit
images of real sex, but did allow any visitor who paid a fee access to videos containing such material. As the service accepted payment methods -- such as debit cards -- which can be used by under 18's, ATVOD held that the service had failed to put in
place effective access controls in relation to the full videos. The provider of Candy Girl Productions has lodged an appeal with Ofcom against a separate ruling, also published today, that the service falls within the scope of the statutory rules.
Of course one has to wonder if any under 18 has actually ever been found to have paid for porn with a debit card. Surely there's too much free stuff around for youngsters to risk parental scrutiny by using debit cards.
Update: Unbanned on appeal
3rd October 2016. From Xbiz
The operator of Candy Girl Productions, Laura Jenkins, won her appeal involving two online adult sites AllTeensWorld.co.uk and CandyGirlPass.com as well as 33 other affiliated adult subscription sites.
Ofcom reversed decisions made by previous
co-regulator ATVOD and decided the sites listed in the appeal cases were not on-demand video websites and subject to regulation, including requiring a system that verifies that the user is 18 or over at the point of registration. Each of the online adult
companies were subject to fines prior to the appeal cases.
Ofcom said in the rulings that it proposed to quash previous ATVOD determinations in the cases and replace it with the current determinations.
The UK government has just passed worrying new rules about requiring internet porn films to adhere with BBFC guidelines and for websites to impose impractical age verification requirements.
The internet video censor, ATVOD, is now consulting on a new
set of censorship rules to reflect the new law. However ATVOD has also dreamt up a few new censorship rules of its own, seemingly way beyond the law changes about hardcore porn videos.
ATVOD has defined a new rule 14 which lets the organisation
act as a new BBFC for internet video material not actually seen by the BBFC. This is not backed up by any change to law that I have spotted.
ATVOD has cut and pasted a whole load of BBFC statement about banning things for made up reasons such
moral harm. Now when these statements appear on the BBFC websites, then it is rhetoric to keep moralist campaigners and MPs happy. Knowing what the BBFC actually bans and censors, generally means that we trust the BBFC not to abuse the open censorship
However there is zero trust for ATVOD which seems to glory in its crucifixion of the adult internet industry with unnecessarily onerous age verification requirements.
Anyway ATVOD introduces the consultation as follows:
Consultation on Proposed New Rules and Guidance Proposal to adopt new Rules and Guidance in light of amendments made to the Communications Act 2003 by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 This consultation
opened on 1st December 2014 This consultation will close at 5pm on 2nd March 2015
This is a consultation by the Authority for Television On Demand ( ATVOD ), the body that Ofcom designated on 18 March 2010 as the
co-regulator for VOD editorial content. The purpose of this consultation is to consult on a proposal to adopt an amended Rules and Guidance document.
We expect to publish a statement on the Proposed Rules and Guidance in
And the new Rule 14 reads:
Rule 14: Harmful Material: Prohibited material
An on-demand programme service must not contain any prohibited material. Prohibited material
(a) a video work which the video works authority has determined for the purposes of the 1984 Act38 not to be suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it, or
whose nature is such that it is reasonable to expect that, if the material were contained in a video work submitted to the video works authority for a classification certificate, the video works authority would determine for those purposes that the video
work was not suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it.
In determining whether any material falls within (b), regard must be had to any guidelines issued by the video works authority as to its policy in relation to the issue of classification certificates.
Content whose broadcast complies with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, or that has been classified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in any category, including R18 , would not be considered prohibited
Video works which have been refused a classification by the BBFC, and material which if included in a video work would be refused a classification by the BBFC, is prohibited material and cannot be included on
an on demand programme service in any circumstances. All material on the service, including still images and other non-video content is subject to this requirement.
There is no requirement for material being provided on an
on demand programme service to be classified by the BBFC, but where material has not been classified, ATVOD is required to have regard to the BBFC Classification Guidelines when determining whether it is reasonable to expect that such material when
included in an on demand programme service is material which, if contained in a video work submitted to the BBFC, would be refused a classification.
The guidance below sets out the type of material which may be refused a
classification by the BBFC. For further information on the guidelines issued by the video work authority see the BBFC's website at http://www.bbfc.co.uk/what-classification/guidelines. Having regard to the current BBFC Classification Guidelines, the
following is a non-exhaustive list of the types of material which may constitute prohibited material:
Material in breach of the criminal law (including material judged to be obscene under the current interpretation39 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959) or that has been created through the commission of a criminal offence
Material which risks harm to individuals or, through their behaviour, to society. For example:
Material which may promote criminal activity
Portrayals of children in a sexualised or abusive context
Detailed portrayals of violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal drug
use, which may cause harm to public health or morals.
Material which makes sexual or sadistic violence look normal, appealing, or arousing
Graphic images of real injury, violence or death
presented in a salacious or sensationalist manner which risks harm by encouraging callous or sadistic attitudes
Material which reinforces the suggestion that victims enjoy sexual violence
which invites viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities
Material which is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example, it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any
mitigating factors) that it may pose a harm risk.
Material in pornographic works which:
Is likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity which may include adults role-playing as non-adults
Portrays sexual activity which involves real or apparent lack of consent. Any form of
physical restraint which prevents participants from indicating a withdrawal of consent
Involves the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some
allowance may be made for moderate, non-abusive consensual activity o Involves penetration by any object associated with violence or likely to cause physical harm
Involves sexual threats, humiliation or abuse which do not
form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game. Strong physical or verbal abuse, even if consensual, is unlikely to be acceptable
The European Audio Visual Media Services Directive provides a justification for censorship that was implemented in UK law in the Communications Act 2003:
If an on-demand programme service contains material which might
seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen, the material must be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it.
for the censorial government, there is no particular evidence that hardcore porn seriously impairs children. In fact all the kids are already watching porn and they don't seem to be ending up being seriously harmed, at least any more than
any other generation.
So the legal underpinning for ATVOD's onerous suffocating age verification rules for British adult websites seems somewhat shaky and open to challenge. Therefore the government are changing the law so as to explicitly make
age verification a requirement without having to rely on mythical serious harm. The government has introduced the following statutory instrument which means that it will not be debated in parliament, just nodded through.
The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014
These Regulations may be cited as the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014.
Laid before Parliament on 6th November 2014
Coming into force on 1st December 2014.
Amendment of section 368E of the 2003 Act (harmful material) .
In section 368E(4) of the 2003 Act (harmful material), for subsection (2) substitute:
(2) An on-demand programme service must not contain any prohibited material.
(3) Prohibited material means:
(a) a video work which the video works authority has determined for the purposes of the 1984 Act not to be suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it, or
material whose nature is such that it is reasonable to expect that, if the material were contained in a video work submitted to the video works authority for a classification certificate, the video works authority would determine for those purposes that
the video work was not suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it.
(4) An on-demand programme service must not contain any specially restricted material unless the material is made available in a manner which secures that persons under the age of 18 will not normally see
or hear it.
(5) Specially restricted material means:
(a) a video work in respect of which the video works authority has issued a R18classification certificate,
(b) material whose nature is such that it is reasonable to expect that, if the
material were contained in a video work submitted to the video works authority for a classification certificate, the video works authority would issue a R18classification certificate, or
(c) other material that might
seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of 18.
(6) In determining whether any material falls within subsection (3)(b) or (5)(b), regard must be had to any guidelines issued by the video works authority as to its policy in relation to the issue of classification certificates.
(7) In this section:
the 1984 Act means the Video Recordings Act 1984;
classification certificate has the same meaning as in the 1984 Act (see section 7 of that Act);
R18 classification certificate means a classification certificate containing the statement mentioned in section 7(2)(c) of the 1984 Act that no video recording containing the video work is to be supplied other than in a
licensed sex shop;
the video works authority [BBFC] means the person or persons designated under section 4(1)of the 1984 Act as the authority responsible for making arrangements in respect of video works other
than video games; video work has the same meaning as in the 1984 Act (see section 1(2) of that Act).
Amendment of section 368B of the 2003 Act (supply of information)
(d) OFCOM may supply information to the video works
authority, within the meaning of section 368E, for use by the video works authority in connection with functions of OFCOM as the appropriate regulatory authority;
(e) a designated body may supply information to the
video works authority, within the meaning of section 368E, for use by the video works authority in connection with functions of the designated body as the appropriate regulatory authority.
[This looks like a measure to stop the
BBFC effectively changing the law by changing its own guidelines. It looks like Ofcom and ATVOD will be able to step in should the BBFC change its rules].
BBFC R18 Guidelines
For reference the current
BBFC Guidelines for R18 takes the form of a list of material prohibited from R18:
The following is a list of prohibited material:
material which is in breach of the criminal law, including material judged to be obscene under the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act 1959
material (including dialogue)
likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity which may include adults role-playing as non-adults
the portrayal of sexual activity which involves real or apparent lack of consent. Any form of physical
restraint which prevents participants from indicating a withdrawal of consent
the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may
be made for moderate, non-abusive, consensual activity
penetration by any object associated with violence or likely to cause physical harm
sexual threats, humiliation or abuse
which do not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game.
Strong physical or verbal abuse, even if consensual, is unlikely to be acceptable
These Guidelines will be applied to the same standard regardless of sexual orientation of the activity portrayed
CPS Obscenity Guidelines
Of course the guidelines don't fully define what
is 'judged to be obscene under the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act 1959', but the CPS does offer some guidance. See charging
practice from cps.gov.uk :
It is impossible to define all types of activity which may be suitable for prosecution. The following is not an
exhaustive list but indicates the categories of material most commonly prosecuted:
sexual act with an animal
realistic portrayals of rape
sadomasochistic material which goes beyond trifling and transient infliction of injury
torture with instruments
bondage (especially where gags are used with no apparent means of withdrawing consent)
dismemberment or graphic mutilation
activities involving perversion or degradation (such as drinking urine, urination or vomiting on to the body, or excretion or use of excreta)
The Guidelines are still insufficient for VoD providers to judge the legality of their catalogue
The most immediate issue with the new law is how commonplace 'rough sex' will be treated. There are many films that suffer a
few cuts for hair pulling, gagging, retching, spitting etc. Will a film that would be R18 after a few cuts now become illegal? If so, there are thousands of them. It is not clear how these cuts correlate to the guidelines. The guidelines are clearly
produced for interpretation by the BBFC rather than the public and will effectively leave VoD service providers unable to judge the legality of films without a BBFC certificate. Perhaps that is the idea. But then again it will leave British websites with
a tiny fraction of the range of choice to that of foreign competitors.
Comment: Scrapping red tape
18th November 2014. From the Melon Farmers
Coincidently I got a circular emall from David Cameron yesterday claiming:
"we will carry on backing businesses by scrapping red tape, cutting
taxes - and continuing to invest in the infrastructure that is vital to create jobs and enable Britain to compete successfully in the global race".
Well if Cameron considers this new law as `backing businesses`
and `scrapping red tape` then Britain is doooomed.
The Adult Provider Network is a coalition of individuals and companies engaged in the provision of satellite and web-based adult media in the UK.
The podcast is from a session at the recent XBIZ EU conference where the topic of ATVOD censorship of the
British adult website trade was discussed.
Much of the debate was about the expense and viability of implementing age verification of British porn websites with some positive ideas for reasonably priced schemes.
However there were also some
reprehensible attitudes on show rather offsetting any sympathy for an industry being suffocated by the government.
One contributor was keen to get customer payment handed over first, and only then presenting the hurdle of age verification
before the customer can get what he/she has paid for. Given that a third of age verification checks fail for adults, over being unknown by credit checking agencies, or by not being on the electoral role, or not wanting to send personal ID data to porn
websites, then this seems a disgraceful way to run a business.
Another contributor joked (or maybe not) that his content was crap, and the site does better with customers not being able to see a sample. Where the censors effectively won't allow
samples, then customers will end up paying for crap.
If pressed, delegates like to argue that women are the power players in the porn industry, equivalent to football stars, well-paid and able to create global brands. But this cheerful characterisation is dismissed by Roz Hardie, chief executive of Object,
who points to one site, whose owner is at the conference, based on the theme of exploited African immigrant women. We don't believe those women are well-paid. Industry representatives try to present themselves as no more saucy than a Carry On film,
but it's a very superficial gloss. Some of these sites are very disturbing.
Everyone here is anxious to analyse the impact of new UK regulations that require owners of sites to conduct an age-verification check before allowing
browsers to access hardcore material. There is considerable bitterness from the audience, because this has been the death knell for the already struggling industry. Age verification costs the website provider around £1.50 a visit, and discourages a
large proportion of browsers. Since sites based outside the UK don't require it, people simply hop to another international site.
Gentleman's piece in the Guardian's interesting, if predictably a bit po-faced. Couldn't she have found some female pornographers to interview? (I understand that a while ago somebody from the Graun
interviewed Pandora Blake, but she mentioned on her blog several weeks later that nothing had appeared in the paper.) Gentleman also seems to take what the Object spokeswoman says as gospel. There does exist an exploitedafricanimmigrants.com website, but
Rabbit's porn reviews slates it for not living up to its title.
Also worth noting, perhaps, is that in the same newspaper, within a few pages of Gentleman's less than enthusiastic article about porn, there appears Pamela
Stephenson Connelly's sexual health column, with a letter from a bloke whose GF doesn't like giving him a blowjob, which might have appeared in Mayfair circa 1980, and an article about the photographer William Mortensen, some of whose work might fall
foul of the Dangerous Pictures Act. (But it's in black and white and very arty - so that's OK, then.)