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2009: April-June

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26th June   

Update: Internet Villain...

Simply-Adult
30,000+ items in stock
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Simply Adult  

Conroy to censor Australian internet so that it is suitable for 15 year olds
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship
Stephen Conroy

  Internet Villain

The Australian Federal Government has now set its sights on gamers, promising to use its internet censorship regime to block websites hosting and selling video games that are not suitable for 15 year olds.

Separately, the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has been nominated by the British ISP industry for its annual internet villain award, competing alongside the European Parliament and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Australia is the only developed country without an R18+ classification for games, meaning any titles that do not meet the MA15+ standard - such as those with excessive violence or sexual content - are simply banned from sale by the Classification Board, unless they are modified to remove the offending content.

So far, this has only applied to local bricks-and-mortar stores selling physical copies of games, but a spokesman for Senator Conroy confirmed that under the filtering plan, it will be extended to downloadable games, flash-based web games and sites which sell physical copies of games that do not meet the MA15+ standard.

This means that even Australians who are aged above 15 and want to obtain the adult-level games online will be unable to do so. It will undoubtedly raise the ire of gamers, the average age of which is 30 in Australia, according to research commissioned by the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia.

Colin Jacobs, spokesman for the online users' lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said the Government clearly went far beyond any mandate it had from the public to help parents deal with cyber-safety. He said Australians would soon learn this the hard way when they find web pages mysteriously blocked: This is confirmation that the scope of the mandatory censorship scheme will keep on creeping . Far from being the ultimate weapon against child abuse, it now will officially censor content deemed too controversial for a 15-year-old. In a free country like ours, do we really need the government to step in and save us from racy web games?

Senator Conroy's spokesman said the filter would cover computer games such as web-based flash games and downloadable games, if a complaint is received and the content is determined by ACMA to be Refused Classification. All games that exceed MA15+ are deemed to be RC.

The filtering could also block the importation of physical copies of computer games sold over the internet which have been classified RC , the spokesman said.

Update: Second Life Banned

27th June 2009. See article from inquisitr.com

Commentators are pointing out that enormously popular online game Second Life has an adults only section so will be blocked according to the Australian government policy confirmed above.

 

26th June   

Nutter Tripe...


An adult boutique offering high end luxury products

Cloud Climax.co.uk
 

Whinging at Australia's film certificates
Link Here  full story: Land of the Lost...Land of the Lost controversy in Australasia

Land of the Lost film poster Some Australians aren't laughing about Will Ferrell's latest movie Land of the Lost , the most complained-about film this year.

The Classification Board has received 19 complaints about Land of the Lost in the two weeks since its release.

Objectors argued that its sexual references and coarse language made its PG (parental guidance) rating inappropriate.

Herald Sun critic Leigh Paatsch pre-empted such concerns in his review of the film: Parents should ignore the inaccurate PG rating Australian censors have given Land of the Lost. This tripe will just rot the minds of children.

Also clocking up 19 complaints this year was the graphic novel adaptation Watchmen , released in March with an MA15+ rating. Some viewers objected to its violence, nudity and a particularly violent sex scene.

Another R18+ horror film, Seed , which went straight to DVD, received complaints about its graphic opening scene, which featured actual footage of animals being skinned alive. The footage was supplied by the animal rights activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Heist film The Bank Job , which starred British tough guy Jason Statham, received seven complaints about sex scenes and nudity. It was rated MA15+ and carried the advice that it contained strong coarse language and sexual references.

 

26th June   

Update: Australians Treated Like Children...

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Australia delays public consultation about allowing ad adult games rating
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ banned The release date of a government discussion paper on an R18+ rating for games looks to have been delayed.

The Attorney General's department promised this year to release the paper to collate public opinion on the need for a R18+ classification for video games.

But now a spokesman for the AG office said the release of the paper will be delayed along with its slated July 31 closure date after a cabinet reshuffle saw Brendan O'Conner replace former Minster of Home Affairs Bob Debus who introduced the paper early this year.

The paper is under consideration by government... clearly it will most likely be extended past the [July 31] closure date, he said.

Media advisers, who are also reshuffling, will next week provide Computerworld with further details on the progress of the paper and planned release date. Responsibility for the discussion paper will remain with O'Conner.

IEAA CEO Ron Curry said he feared the ministerial reshuffle may have killed the consultation paper after the government had not responded to repeated requests to move forward the classification debate: We are not sure what [O'Conner's] position is on the issue... We have lobbied the government for five years, and quite extensively this year.. where do you go? .

 

25th June   

Comment: Tabloid Nastiness...

Popular website raided by police
Link Here

Abby Winters logo Police have raided a major Melbourne porn business. Detectives raided five premises as part of Operation Refuge, seizing computers containing footage of women allegedly performing hardcore, which is ludicrously illegal to produce in Victoria.

Police raided the Fitzroy head office of G Media - which provides material for the well known abbywinters.com website - and arrested its director, Garion Hall.

It is believed Hall denies any wrongdoing.

Yesterday's raids came after the Herald Sun snitched to police with a dossier of information about the allegedly illegal porn G Media, and companies associated with it.

G Media is believed to receive about $30 a month from 30,000 subscribers to its website, which contains more than 370,000 explicit images and almost 4000 sex videos.

The company specialises in filming female teenage students and backpackers in Melbourne and has explicit photographs and videos of almost 1200 young women on its website, many listed as being aged 18 and 19.

Police have seen a copy of a driver's licence of one G Media nude model, allegedly showing she was 17 when photographed. It is not known if Hall knew of her age.

Hall was later released, but possibly faces charges of making objectionable films for gain, which carries a maximum jail term of two years. Each of G Media's 30 employees could also be charged with the same offence.

Yarra CIU Sen-Det Steven Boskovski said police were likely to make more arrests.

We're still identifying the hierarchy involved, he said. We're very satisfied with the content we've secured.

Garion Hall Statement

Based on article from somebodythinkofthechildren.com

The director of G Media, Garion Hall, has issued a statement about a police raid on his company this week.

Hall said yesterday morning (Monday 15 June, 2009) Victoria Police acted on a warrant to search the premises of the adult web business AbbyWinters.com. The raid was instigated by a tabloid journalist from the Herald Sun. The journalist has written about AbbyWinters.com in the past, trying to encourage authorities to act.

Hall said no charges have been laid by the police and that no hardware was seized. Police were supplied with copies of all information that they requested and they (the police) were polite and amiable.

He appreciates the support of Eros, staff, website members and models, and is hopeful of a successful outcome.

Eros Executive Officer, Fiona Patten, told me that Eros fully supports their long term member and their right to provide non-violent erotica.

Comment: Police Wanking Over Abby Winters Raid

25th June 2009. Thanks to Alan

I particularly liked the quote from the plod:

"We're still identifying the hierarchy involved," he said. "We're very satisfied with the content we've secured."

Glad to know the coppers enjoyed their J Arthur over the material they'd grabbed.

Note by the way that the Abby Winters site contains only nude, girl/girl and masturbation material. To my, non-antipodean eyes, the site looks like mildly transgressive erotica - with such stuff as groups of girls exercising nude. The only mildly disturbing, if not entirely unexpected, feature is that "Abby Winters", a supposed Aussie Suze Randall, doesn't really exist. The site owner is a bloke.

Update: Nothing Illegal Found

10th November 2009. See article from refused-classification.com

Banned Porn Round Up November 7, 2009

In June 2009 the Victorian police raided offices Abby Winters following a story written by a Herald Sun journalist. The Richmond branch of the Victorian police submitted 8 DVDs to the Classification Board. In July all were passed with X18+ (Explicit Sex) ratings, and none were Refused Classification.

Twenty-seven titles were then submitted by the Yarra branch of the Victorian police. In October all were passed with X18+ (Explicit Sex) ratings. Thirty-five titles in all, and not a single RC rating.

A total waste of police time and resources!

 

14th June   

Glum Australia...

Rounding up the whingers about the sexy models of American Apparel shops
Link Here

liz, American Apparel employee A popular clothes retailer using sexy images of young women - many of them company staff -goes too far, say Australian killjoys.

Liz, described as an American Apparel Melbourne retail employee , lies on her back on a rumpled bed, wearing a red leotard. With her come-hither looks, arched back and, in another photograph, an exposed breast, Liz assumes various sexy poses in pictures posted on the multinational retailer's website .

American Apparel manufactures colourful clothing — mainly cotton basics such as T-shirts, singlets and socks.

It goes without saying that most of the images of women on that website are overtly sexualised and some of them you would have to call pornographic. It's another example of the normalisation of pornography in popular culture, said Katrina George, a spokeswoman for Women's Forum Australia. Male models on the website, she points out, are not bending over or opening their legs in the name of selling socks.

Ms George said that young staff might feel pressured to appear in the company's advertising campaigns: If that particular culture exists in that workplace, then you have to wonder if there are pressures on the staff to then participate in that kind of really highly sexualised modelling. But a company spokeswoman said staff and fans volunteered for the modelling work. We also sometimes scout them, she said.

The company is renowned for using staff in its advertising campaigns, which are often shot by its controversial Los Angeles-based founder, Dov Charney. Prospective sales staff, who are asked to submit up to three photographs of themselves as part of the job application process, appear to be chosen for their looks.

Professor Clive Hamilton, the former chief of the Australia Institute, which issued a 2006 report on the uses of sexualised images of children in advertising, called on the Advertising Standards Bureau to have a close look at the American Apparel advertisements. It was a clear example of why Australia needed tougher advertising standards, he said.

At the same time, Charney has been applauded for his anti-sweatshop policy. He pays workers in his Los Angeles factory well above minimum wages and staff are entitled to subsidised health insurance, free English lessons, free parking and subsidised meals.

The head of Victoria's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Dr Helen Szoke, said she was concerned about American Apparel's strategy of asking prospective sales staff to submit several photographs of themselves when they applied for a job, but conceded it was not illegal: But we would be really concerned if they were going to be used to exclude people simply on the basis of physical appearance.

 

9th June   

Updated: Chaser's War...

Australian TV show offends over sick children skit
Link Here

Chaser's War on Everything A controversial skit on dying children will be edited out of an episode of the Australian TV show, The Chaser's War on Everything.

The skit about the Make a Realistic Wish Foundation , which aired last night on the ABC TV show, ended with actor Chris Taylor saying there was no point in making expensive wishes come true as they're going to die anyway.

It was a take-off of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and has prompted some complaints from 'angry' viewers.

In a statement released this morning, ABC TV director Kim Dalton and Chaser executive producer Julian Morrow said the skit would be removed from a repeat episode of the show to screen on ABC2, as well as online.

They said the skit was not intended to hurt those who had been affected by the terminal illness of a child: We acknowledge the distress this segment has caused and we apologise to anyone we have upset.

Make-a-Wish Foundation chief executive Sandy Brattstrom said the skit misrepresented the motives of children and families who applied for wishes. The implication in the skit that sick children were materialistic and requested unrealistic wishes was offensive to those who have applied or intend to apply for wishes .

Update: Chased Off Air

6th June 2009. Based on article from news.com.au

The Chaser's War On Everything has been sin-binned by the ABC and removed from air for two weeks following the controversy surrounding its comedy skit about dying children.

ABC managing director Mark Scott made the decision in the supposed wake of the community backlash from the sketch, Making A Realistic Wish Foundation, which aired on Wednesday night.

We have decided that this is the most appropriate course of action, Scott said: It gives the ABC an opportunity to complete a review of editorial approval processes. It also gives The Chaser a chance to regroup and review their material. In making the wrong judgment call we have let down our audience and the wider community.

The Daily Telegraph understands that Chaser comedian Chris Taylor has received a number of death threats since the skit aired.

Update: Chased Off Air

9th June 2009. Based on article from abc.net.au

Facebook logo An man is planning to protest outside an ABC building if the decision to ban The Chaser's War on Everything is not reversed.

Last night Keiran Adair started the Facebook group Don't Censor The Chasers War On Everything! and he already has 256 members - the number increasing every minute.

Adair says the ABC's move to censor the material sets a dangerous precedent: Obviously there were people who were offended by the skit and that's their right and I'm not saying that they shouldn't be. But I'm saying that censorship should never be used in response to that. There's the threat that if they can pull even one episode due to a group being offended by it, then they will be forced to pull more episodes in the future because other groups are offended.

In his Facebook group, Mr Adair urges members to take action by lodging a complaint with the ABC, sending fan mail to the Chaser and joining the protest.

 

6th June   

Updated: Chaser's War...

Australian TV show offends over sick children skit
Link Here

Chaser's War on Everything A controversial skit on dying children will be edited out of an episode of the Australian TV show, The Chaser's War on Everything.

The skit about the Make a Realistic Wish Foundation , which aired last night on the ABC TV show, ended with actor Chris Taylor saying there was no point in making expensive wishes come true as they're going to die anyway.

It was a take-off of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and has prompted some complaints from 'angry' viewers.

In a statement released this morning, ABC TV director Kim Dalton and Chaser executive producer Julian Morrow said the skit would be removed from a repeat episode of the show to screen on ABC2, as well as online.

They said the skit was not intended to hurt those who had been affected by the terminal illness of a child: We acknowledge the distress this segment has caused and we apologise to anyone we have upset.

Make-a-Wish Foundation chief executive Sandy Brattstrom said the skit misrepresented the motives of children and families who applied for wishes. The implication in the skit that sick children were materialistic and requested unrealistic wishes was offensive to those who have applied or intend to apply for wishes .

Update: Chased Off Air

6th June 2009. Based on article from news.com.au

The Chaser's War On Everything has been sin-binned by the ABC and removed from air for two weeks following the controversy surrounding its comedy skit about dying children.

ABC managing director Mark Scott made the decision in the supposed wake of the community backlash from the sketch, Making A Realistic Wish Foundation, which aired on Wednesday night.

We have decided that this is the most appropriate course of action, Scott said: It gives the ABC an opportunity to complete a review of editorial approval processes. It also gives The Chaser a chance to regroup and review their material. In making the wrong judgment call we have let down our audience and the wider community.

The Daily Telegraph understands that Chaser comedian Chris Taylor has received a number of death threats since the skit aired.

 

3rd June   

Update: Classified as Acceptable...

Conroy finally decides to allow adults to watch internet porn if they want to
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship
Stephen Conroy

  Ok Ok,
You can  watch porn
if you want to

After being as indecisive as a teenage girl choosing what to wear on prom night, Senator Conroy has settled on what classification category will be banned by under the mandatory filter (the one you can't opt out of). According to IT News, Conroy's office stated that mandatory ISP-level filtering will only apply to RC [banned: Refused Classification] content drawn from complaints made to the ACMA.

In particular this means that adult consensual hardcore porn [rated X18+] will be available to Australian adults who opt out of the family filter.

 

28th May   

Update: Nutters Whinge at Unwanted Conroy...

Whinging about backtracking from a mandatory ban on adult internet porn
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Australian Chrsitian Lobby The Australian Christian Lobby has accused the Federal Government of breaking its election promise to censor the internet after the policy was softened in the face of relentless criticism.

The lobby's managing director, Jim Wallace, wants the Government to introduce legislation forcing internet providers to block hardcore porn (X18+) on a mandatory basis, in addition to illegal content. Australians would then have to opt in to receive legal softcore (R18+) adult material.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has long said his policy would introduce compulsory ISP-level filters of the Australian Communications and Media Authority's blacklist of prohibited websites.

But he has since backtracked, saying the mandatory filters would only block content that has been refused classification (RC) - a subset of the ACMA blacklist - amid widespread concerns that ACMA's list contains a slew of R18+ and X18+ sites, such as regular gay and straight pornography and other legal content.

"That doesn't meet the election promise as far as we're concerned at all," Wallace said in a phone interview: The promise was clearly about providing a safer internet environment for children and to do that you need to mandatorily block in the first instance pornography and R18+, and then provide an opt-in system for those adults who want to access it.

 

28th May   

Mean Minded Police...

Australia police seize 2,500 consensual adult hardcore DVDs
Link Here

Australia: New South Wales flag Police have seized more than 2,500 porn DVDs after searching stores on the New South Wales central coast.

The DVDs were found in stores at North Wyong and Tumbi Umbi.

Police say the films were either unclassified or they were rated X18+ which means they are not allowed to be sold in New South Wales.

Investigations are continuing and police say the DVDs will be taken to the Australian censors office.

 

27th May   

Stripped Bare...

Australia's censorship system shamed by ban on innocuous strip poker game
Link Here

Sexy Poker Australia's games censors have banned Sexy Poker , an upcoming WiiWare game developed by Gameloft.

Sexy Poker pits a player against six different female opponents who wear stereotypical costumes, such as nurses' outfits, sports uniforms, police clothing, and business wear. According to the Board, the game was refused classification because nudity was used as an incentive--in this case, winning a game of poker.

In the Board’s view Sexy Poker offers depictions of nudity as an incentive or reward to interactive game play. In the Board’s view, the general rule in the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games prohibiting depictions of nudity as an incentive or reward, applies to the game play described above, as the player is shown increasingly detailed amounts of nudity following successful game-play, a statement said.

In the view of the Board, the impact of the game exceeds strong as except in material restricted to adults, nudity and sexual activity must not be related to incentives or rewards. As such the game cannot be accommodated in a MA15+ classification. Because there is no R18+ rating for games in Australia it has to be banned from sale.

 

27th May   

Update: The Great Unwanted...

Conroy rephrases his mandatory filter as a voluntary filter all ISPs agree to.
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

Stephen Conroy IThe Rudd Government has indicated that it may back away from its mandatory internet filtering plan.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told a Senate estimates committee that the filtering scheme could be implemented by a voluntary industry code.

Senator Conroy’s statement is a departure from the internet filtering policy Labor took into the October 2007 election to make it mandatory for ISPs to block offensive and illegal content.

Responding to questions from shadow communications minister Nick Minchin on how the government may go about imposing the internet filtering scheme, Senator Conroy said that legislation may not be required and ISPs may adopt an industry consensus to block restricted content on a voluntary basis.

Mandatory ISP filtering would conceivably involve legislation … voluntary is available currently to ISPs, Senator Conroy said: One option is potentially legislation. One other option is that it could be (on a) voluntary basis that they (ISPs) could voluntarily agree to introduce it.”

In response Senator Minchin said he had never heard of a voluntary mandatory system.

Senator Conroy responded with: well they could agree to all introduce it.

 

26th May   

Update: Under Cover Cops...

Nutter senator whinges hardcore for sale in unrestricted shops
Link Here  full story: Magazine Censorship in Australia...Barely Legal winds up Australia'n nutters

Category 2 label Australia's Federal police should be given powers to raid milk bars, service stations and corner stores in search of illegal porn, a Senate committee had been told by a nutter senator.

State police clearly were not enforcing laws dealing with pornographic magazines sold openly in many shops, Family First senator Steve Fielding said.

The Australian parliament could pass a federal law imposing penalties on those selling this sort of material. Attorney-General's department secretary Roger Wilkins said the measure could be possible, although there may be constitutional constraints. Tougher penalties had been raised in commonwealth-state consultations but the big issue was enforcement and that could require an expansion in AFP numbers.

Classification Review Board director Donald McDonald confirmed existing laws were being flouted. Some material had never been classified while other hardcore material was being sold in a sealed plastic bag through unrestricted premises. Yes the law is being broken, not infrequently, McDonald told the committee.

 

26th May   

Update: Untrusted Censors...

Most of the Australian internet block list is legal adult hardcore
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

ACMA logo In response to Senate questions, ACMA admitted this evening that their current blacklist contains only 32% child abuse material.

During a Senate Standing Legislation Committee for Environment, Communications & the Arts, they revealed that the list contains 51% refused classification material (which includes child abuse material), meaning the other 49% is rated X18+ or less.

Given these numbers, 68% of the current list is almost definitely legal content.

Senator Conroy stated that the Government is also considering the possibility of greater transparency, but it cannot publish the list. He said this could include regular panel reviews or a review of all URLs by the Australian Classification Board.

 

25th May   

Update: Censors are Pissed at Pass-Out...

Pass-Out drinking game sealed and restricted to over 18s
Link Here

Pass-Out game Steve Irons is a Not so Liberal MP who lost two sisters through the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. He mentioned them as reasons why he was seeking a ban on a board game that he says encourages dangerous drinking.

Irons told Parliament he couldn't understand why a board game called Pass-Out is sold here without any classification.

And so he got Pass-Out submitted to the censors.

Category 1 label The result is that it was rated as category 1 meaning that it is banned from sale in Queensland and Aboriginal areas of Northern Territories. It can be sold to over 18s in any shops in the rest of the country as long as it is sealed and labelled as category 1.

 

23rd May   

Update: Less Deathly...

Australia unbans an edited version of NecroVisioN game
Link Here  full story: NecroVision...Australia bans computer game NecroVision

NecroVisioN PC game The Australian 'Classification' Board has passed an edited version of NecroVisioN with an M rating, making it not recommended for gamers under 15 years of age (but no legal restrictions on this), with the consumer advice: Violence and coarse language.

In the Board’s view the original version of Necrovision contained depictions of violence that exceeded a strong playing impact and as such the computer game could not be accommodated at the MA 15+ classification and must be banned.

The Board now finds that the modified version of the game contains violence that is moderate in playing impact and justified by context.

 

22nd May   

Update: Continued Discrimination...

Discriminatory laws against porn to be reviewed
Link Here

Australia: Northen Territories flag Australia is reviewing its discriminatory laws targeted against aboriginal communities. Proposals are designed to bring aspects of the intervention in line with racial discrimination laws.

The federal and Northern Territory racial discrimination acts were suspended by the Howard government in 2007 to make way for elements of the intervention, but the Rudd Government has committed to reinstating them this year. Human rights groups, indigenous activists and elements of the Labor Party had agitated for the change.

The Government released a discussion paper yesterday outlining the changes it would consider to controversial measures such as compulsory welfare quarantining, alcohol and pornography bans and compulsory leases over townships.

Pornography bans would be continued where a resident of a community requested them. But they could be relaxed if the minister was satisfied there was no evidence of sexual abuse occurring in the past 12 months, or of children being exposed to pornography.

 

20th May   

Update: Democrats Unblocked...

Australian party sets up site to debate internet filtering
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

No Internet Censorship logo The Australian Democrats Party have launched a new site: www.nointernetcensorship.com to mobilise supporters opposed to the government’s proposed internet censorship scheme and invite them to suggest and discuss what the policy should be.

No shadowy government-run blacklist of sites will protect our children, said Julia Melland, Australian Democrats National President. It’s a waste of resources and it’s not going to prevent children being exposed to the vast majority of material parents would want to block.

The Australian Democrats list the secrecy and lack of transparency, as well as the excessive cost, among its list of reasons for opposing the government’s approach to cyber safety.

The Australian Democrats are working on developing a sound, sensible cyber safety policy that provides parents real tools and resources to protect their children, and at the same time protects the freedoms of other Australians, Melland said.

 

18th May   

Banned Searches...

Australian film censors improve search facilities for their database
Link Here

Australian Film Classification Board The website for the Australian Classification Board has been updated with a more comprehensive search capability .

For example, using the the classification database search engine, visitor’s are able to display a list of banned films, books, magazines, publications and games dating back to 1972 with a few clicks.

The list also reveals the titles of content sent to the board for review by ACMA and Australian law enforcement agencies.

somebodythinkofthechildren.com suggest a few searches for banned material:

 

14th May   

Update: Toben Denied His Liberty...

Holocaust denier sentence to jail in Australia
Link Here  full story: European Arrest Warrants...Arrested in Britain for non-crimes

Eyewitness Auschwitz book An Australian who has denied the Holocaust occurred was sentenced to three months in prison today for defying an order to stop publishing anti-Semitic material on his website.

Fredrick Toben remained free after the sentencing, however, because the judge gave him two weeks to lodge an appeal.

Justice Bruce Lander of the Federal Court found Toben guilty of 24 counts of contempt of a 2002 court ruling that barred him from publishing anti-Semitic material on the website of his organisation, the Adelaide Institute.

The material found to be in breach of the order included suggestions the Holocaust did not happen, that questioned whether there were gas chambers at the Auschwitz death camp, and that challenged the intelligence of Jews who questioned Holocaust deniers' beliefs.

Toben said the ruling was a defeat for free speech: I am quite prepared to sacrifice my physical comforts for the sake of free expression.

 

6th May   

Update: Creeping Censorship...

Australia's internet censor blocks links to abortion politics page
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship

ACMA logo Australia's internet censor, ACMA, has issued Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA)’s webhost a Link Deletion Notice because of an article EFA published on their own website containing a link to an anti-abortion webpage declared prohibited content by the media regulator in January this year.

EFA writes:

To be clear, EFA published only a link to a page that is hosted overseas and is on ACMA’s prohibited list. Viewing the potentially R-rated page itself is not in any way illegal, and no system is yet in place to enforce the blocking of such web pages. One may well wonder why a link to a legally viewable page should draw the threat of legal sanction while the content itself remains visible. Because the link was on a web page hosted in Australia, the hosting provider - not EFA ourselves, who have more control over the content - falls under Australian legal jurisdiction and could be so served. What this accomplishes is uncertain.

EFA has complied with the notice and have removed the link to AbortionTV in this post. They add:

This is a textbook case that demonstrates that there is no sharp dividing line between “political” speech and other content. At the edges of public policy are issues which will inflame passions and lead to images, video and words that are offensive to many people. Trying to stamp these out, especially on the Internet, not only diminishes our democracy but is pointless and paternalistic to boot.

Update: Appeal Turned Down

21st May 2010. See  article from  techdirt.com

EFA helped its ISP, Sublime, challenge the deletion notice on two counts: (1) that it was a violation of the supposed freedom of political communication, especially since it was a discussion about the political effects of censorship policy, and (2) that officials should have sent the notice to EFA directly, rather than its ISP (in fact, EFA had asked for a notice to be sent directly to it, rather than Sublime, so that it could take on the case directly... and officials refused).

Unfortunately, the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) rejected both challenges, twisting itself into a bit of pretzel logic to explain why this wasn't a violation of freedom for political communication. Basically, the tribunal claimed that EFA could have hidden the link behind a special restricted access system that would block that content for those under 18 (in theory, of course, but not in practice). And, since you have to be 18 to vote, the tribunal reasoned, if such a age verification wall had been in place, the content would not have been blocked from those of voting age... and thus there was no violation of political communication. Yes, that's quite twisted logic, but if you're defending internet censorship, sooner or later your logic is going to get twisted into knots...

 

5th May   

Culturally Correct...

Australia reveals its collection of erotica in its cultural archive
Link Here

National Film & Sound Archive logo Australian taxpayers are the unwitting owners of one of the nation's largest collections of pornography.

A freedom-of-information application to Canberra's National Film and Sound Archive has revealed the extent of the Federal Government's erotica collection including some hardcore.

The archive is charged with collecting a comprehensive compendium of Australian film and audiovisual works and, for some time, government archivists have included porn on their list of must-have works.

True Blue , Manly Beach , Down Under and Taken Down Under are just some of the films on the list. Also included are Outback Stripper, Sydney Boys Go Off and Aussie Rules.

The archive's senior curator of moving image, Graham Shirley, is unsure how the agency began collecting porn. He said it probably happened over many years. But he made no apology for the collection, arguing porn was a legitimate part of Australian cultural history and should be preserved. Shirley said several of the films were made more than 80 years ago. One silent film, Girls Do You Think It's Big Enough , was made in 1929.

Many of the films were donated by Australian porn producers, and some were handed over anonymously. All of the 108 works on the erotica list — except one — were obtained at no cost.

 

1st May   

Offsite: Censors Offline...

Selling online games without classification: Will enforcement agencies continue to turn a blind eye?
Link Here

World of Warcraft pre paid card Game distributors, retailers and advertisers may be at risk of prosecution and heavy fines for selling popular online games such as World of Warcraft , Warhammer Online and Age of Conan without classification.

The gaming industry has long assumed that online multiplayer games like these are "unclassifiable" due to the inherent unpredictability of online play, and therefore do not require classification. This assumption has led to countless copies of online multiplayer games being sold without classification over the years, despite legislation which prohibits the sale, demonstration and advertising of unclassified games. The assumption is said to be based on an understanding between the industry and the Classification Board, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that distributors who have applied for classification of this type of game have been told by the Board that it wasn't required.

But this longstanding assumption may be under threat. When media reports shed light on the disconnect between the legislation and the industry's practices, representatives of the Commonwealth and New South Wales Attorneys-General firmly rejected the view that online multiplayer games were exempt from classification. A spokesman for the NSW Police Minister also weighed in with an invitation to the public to contact local police if they saw retailers selling games illegally.

...Read full article

 

26th April   

Update: Incestuous Book Banners...

Australia's book censors ban library incest books
Link Here

Australian Film Classification Board The Film Classification Board has banned the two books that caught press attention for their incest storylines and availability in public libraries:

  • Bet and Zak by Charles Kevin (2006 Anthos Publishing)
  • Sibling Love by Charles Kevin (2007 Anthos Publishing)

Sibling Love is a series of vignettes concerning sex between brother-sister. Whilst Bet and Zak describes sex between mother and son.

Charles Kevin, an 82 year old author had sent 530 copies of the books to libraries around Australia.

 

18th April   

Update: Delaying Games...

Commonwealth Minister of Home Affairs takes over R18+ for games consultation
Link Here  full story: R18+ for Games in Australia...Pondering an adult R18+ rating for video games

R18+ banned The much-anticipated discussion paper on the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia will be released to the public by the office of the Commonwealth Minister of Home Affairs, Bob Debus, after censorship ministers stood divided over its contents at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) meeting in Canberra.

It is expected that the discussion paper will propose changes to Australia's current classification guidelines and will include relevant research and literature on the classification of video games. No specified timeline has yet been given for its release.
The paper will ask Australians to voice their opinions on whether the country should have an R18+ classification for video games. Once the consultation period expires, it will be up to the censorship ministers to decide whether or not to introduce the R18+ classification. Once again, their decision must be unanimous before any changes to Australia's current classification system can be made.

The main opponent of an R18+ for games is South Australian attorney general Michael Atkinson. He acknowledges the fact that Australia's current classification system may lead to the incorrect classification of some video games, but attributes this to a misapplication of the federal government's classification guidelines by the Classification Board of Australia: I don't doubt gamers when they say that some games that are classified MA15+ in Australia should have been classified R18+; that is a possibility in my experience. I am critical of the OFLC [the Classification Board of Australia]. I believe it bends over backwards for the industry rather than the public interest.

 

16th April   

Demon Infested Censors...

Australian bans NecroVisioN, the first games ban of 2009
Link Here  full story: NecroVision...Australia bans computer game NecroVision

NecroVisioN PC game The computer game NecroVisioN is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The title, which takes gamers all the way from World War I battlefields into a demon-infested underworld, is officially the first game to be banned in Australia in 2009 due to in-game depictions of violence that exceed a strong playing impact.

When the player shoots an enemy combatant, a large volume of blood spray results and the enemy may be dismembered or decapitated. Injury detail is high with pieces of flesh seen flying from bodies when shot or a high level of wound detail visible on bodies. Post mortem damage occurs when bodies are shot resulting in blood spray, dismemberment and decapitation.

This level of blood and injury detail occurs frequently and throughout the game and in the Board’s view, exceeds a strong playing impact and therefore cannot be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification and so must be banned in the absence of an R18+ certificate.

NecroVisioN is rated as 18+ by PEGI for European distribution.

 

8th April   

Disco Stick Sends TV Censors GaGa...

Australian TV censors have fun with Lady Gaga pop video
Link Here

Lady Gaga CD Australian TV censors have banned Lady Gaga's video for Love Game for frequent verbal and visual sexual references.

The song, at No.18 in Australia this week, repeats the sexual euphemism: I wanna take a ride on your disco stick multiple times.

Channel 10's in-house censors have given Love Game an M rating; clips must be rated either G or PG to appear on Video Hits.

Ten's censors objected to the lyrics heavy touching' , I'm educated in sex ' and I want it bad' as well as Gaga's sexual postures in her dance moves, a near-naked outfit and her male dancer's fetish-like costumes'.

It's not just the lyrics and the visuals, if you were to judge it just upon either of those it might not be so bad,' Fletcher said: It's the cumulative impact of all those things together. We have been advised it would be very difficult to edit it down to PG, so we have made the call not to play it.

 

4th April   

Update: Prejudicial Comments...

Conroy described as the worst Communications Minister ever
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship
Stephen Conroy

  Contemptible

Stephen Conroy's watch as Communications Minister seems to be going from bad to worse after publicly making comments that could land him legal hot water. The comments at a public telecoms conference about a high profile court case involving ISP iiNet have been deemed by a number of sources as inappropriate, defamatory and potentially prejudicial to the case.

iiNet, Australia's third largest ISP, is doing battle in the Federal Court of NSW with a consortium of movie studios and a TV network that have accused it of allowing its network to be used to illegally download copyright entertainment.

The public slanging between the Communications Minister and iiNet is hard to find a precedent for in the ICT industry. The CEO of iiNet, Michael Malone, has told iTWire and a number of other media sources quite openly that he believes Senator Conroy is the worst Communications Minister ever and described him as incompetent.

Senator Conroy stunned the bemused audience at a telecoms conference this week by making sarcastic and denigrating remarks about the iiNet defence strategy for its court case.

He described iiNet's claim that it didn't know what material its customers were downloading as stunning and he likened iiNet's defence strategy to a Yes Minister episode.

Both remarks made by a Federal Government Minister about an ongoing court case have raised the ire of not only iiNet but members of the legal community as well as the opposition. It has been suggested that iiNet could have a case for pursuing Senator Conroy for defamation but even worse for the Minister there is a possibility his remarks could be deemed as contempt of court.

 

1st April   

Update: Owning up to Crap Censorship...

Conroy seems to back off from banning adult consensual hardcore
Link Here  full story: Website Blocking in Australia...Stephen Conroy's attempt at internet censorship
Stephen Conroy

  Sorry for the crap
censorship so far!

Australia's internet censorship Minister, Stephen Conroy, has begun distancing himself from his controversial internet censorship policy in what one internet industry engineer has dubbed the great walkback of 2009.

Last night he said the mandatory filters would be restricted to content that has been "refused classification" (RC).

When the ACMA blacklist was leaked last month, it caused great controversy, partly because it included a slew of R18+ and X18+ sites, including regular gay and straight pornography and other legal content.

But on SBS' Insight program last night, Conroy said it's mandatory refused classification, and then parents - if the trial says that it is possible to go down this path ... have the option to block other material.

This about-turn has done little to assuage the concerns of online rights groups, the Federal Opposition and the internet industry, as the RC category includes not just child pornography but anti-abortion sites, fetish sites and sites containing pro-euthanasia material such as The Peaceful Pill Handbook by Dr Philip Nitschke.

Sites added to the blacklist in error were also classified as RC, such as one containing PG-rated photographs by Bill Henson. And the websites of several Australian businesses - such as those of a Queensland dentist - were classified RC and blacklisted after they were hacked by, as Senator Conroy described, the Russian mob. They were on the blacklist even though they changed hosting providers and cleaned up their sites several years ago.

Senator Conroy conceded many of the decisions regarding what sites appeared on the blacklist were made by faceless bureaucrats . He said he was working to build in further safeguards , but would not abolish the policy because some sites were found to be put on the blacklist in error.

Others sites confirmed by ACMA as being included on the blacklist include a YouTube clip showing an excerpt from a horror movie and an astrology website.

ACMA said the horror movie clip was added because it is classified as R18+ but not subject to a restricted access system that prevents access by children.

At the time of investigation, access to the YouTube content required only a declaration of an age of 18 years or older which was not verified by evidence of proof of age, ACMA spokesman Donald Robertson said.

On the astrology website, ACMA said it was blacklisted because, at the time it was being investigated, it had been defaced with an image which depicted an adult female posed naked and implicitly defecating on herself. This image has since been removed and ACMA said it was in the process of removing the astrology site from the blacklist.

ACMA conceded innocent sites could be blacklisted if they are defaced with content not usually associated with the site. Robertson acknowledged this material was often only visible for a short period before being removed by the site owner.

 

1st April   

Update: Cut and Spin...

6 second lesbian kiss cut from Home and Away
Link Here

Hone and Away logo Channel Seven has claimed that a lesbian kiss on the soap Home & Away has not been censored, despite reports to the contrary.

The drama had received complaints from Christian groups and seen Australian ratings drop as a result of its lesbian storyline.

Policewoman Charlie Buckton, played by actress Esther Anderson is depicted falling in love with Joey Collins, played by Kate Bell.

Speaking to Australian news provider Same Same, Bevan Lee, head of creative drama and development at Channel Seven, said an artistic decision had been made to show the kiss as warm and intimate, rather than "lusty" as this was felt to be more natural to the story line.

He explained: The kiss, as played, was two part. A very gentle, loving, sensual, tender kiss from which the two women pull back and then there’s another, more lusty follow up.

There was a lot of discussion, artistic and not censorish, about where to finish the scene. We finally settled on the conclusion of the warmer, intimate kiss and not the more lusty follow through because we felt it was more in keeping with Charlie getting there by degrees rather than one kiss making her comfortable straight away with the full on pash.

I think the version that airs is much truer to the tone of the build up to the moment over the last few weeks. The decision taken was artistic and had nothing to do with running from the conservative right. This work was done before the article about the lesbian story and conservative reaction to it even broke.


He added that he was saddened as a gay writer that the storyline had been reduced to a facile argument about six seconds of missing screen time.

Update: Kiss Off

2nd April 2009. See article from advocate.com

Just before Home and Away aired on Tuesday, about 20 people gathered in Melbourne for a mass "kiss-off" to protest the prospect of censorship.

Australian Film Classification Board

Australia

The Film Classification Board

The Australian state censor has responsibility for cinema, home video, video games, books and magazines.

Appeals about censorship decisions are heard by the Classification Review Board.

Film & Game Classifications

- G: (General Exhibition) These films and computer games are for general viewing.

- PG: (Parental Guidance) Contains material which some children find confusing or upsetting, and may require the guidance of parents or guardians. It is not recommended for viewing or playing by persons under 15 without guidance from parents or guardians.

- M:  (Recommended for mature audiences) Contains material that is not recommended for persons under 15 years of age.

- MA15+ (Mature Accompanied) The content is considered unsuitable for exhibition by persons under the age of 15. Persons under this age may only legally purchase or exhibit MA15+ rated content under the supervision of an adult guardian.

- R18+ (Restricted) People under 18 may not buy, rent or exhibit these films

- X18+ (Restricted) People under 18 may not buy, rent or exhibit these films. This rating applies to real sex content only

- RC (Refused Classification)Banned

Note that there is no R18+ X18+ available for games so adult games often end up getting banned much to the annoyance of gamers.

Note also that films classified as X18+ (Restricted) are banned from sale or rent in most of Australia. They can only be sold from Northern Territory and ACT (Canberra). Mail order and imports are allowed though and possession of X18+ material is legal

Publication Classifications

 - Unrestricted

- Unrestricted Mature: Not recommended for readers under 15.

- Restricted Category 1: Not available to persons under 18 years. Softcore

- Restricted Category 2 : Not available to persons under 18 years. Only to be sold in adults only shops: Hardcore

- RC: Refused Classification. Banned

Only publications that would be restricted 1 & 2 need to be submitted for censorship. There is also a scheme that magazines only need to be submitted once. Subsequent issues inherit the same rating. However later issues can be 'called in' for reassessment if anything crops up to alert the censors of changes.

Websites:
Classification Board

Melon Farmers Pages:
Australia News