US Censorship News

 2009: Jan-March

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23rd May   

Update: Dangerous Outcome...


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Victim of the US Dangerous Drawing Act pleads guilty
Link Here  full story: Dangerous Anime in the US...Japanese anime open to prosecution
Anime girl of indeterminent age

How the fuck are we expected
to know how old she is?

Anime collector Christopher Handley was busted in May of 2006, when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) intercepted a package addressed to Handley coming into the United States from Japan. The package contained several anime items, which the feds say contained visual representations of the sexual abuse of children, specifically Japanese manga drawings of minor females being sexually abused by adult males and animals.

ICE used the material as the basis to obtain a search warrant of Handley's residence, and there, postal inspectors found and seized what a Justice Department press release termed additional obscene drawings of the sexual abuse of children, some of which were contained in a type of homo-erotic anime known as yaoi.

Based on evidence seized, Handley was indicted by a federal grand jury in May, 2007, under Sec. 1466A on the U.S. Criminal Code, Obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children.

The law, whose genesis is in the PROTECT Act, was enacted in the wake of Free Speech Coalition's win in the U.S. Supreme Court against certain sections of the Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) which had criminalized images that appeared to be, or that were advertised, promoted, presented, described, or distributed in such a manner that conveys the impression, of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Congress' anger at this ruling led directly to Sec. 1466A, which makes a criminal out of any person who knowingly produces, distributes, receives, or possesses with intent to distribute, a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting, that depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene, as well as any person who knowingly possesses such a depiction, even though no actual minors are involved.

Part of the problem faced by the defense was that the anime style of drawing made it difficult to argue that much of the material in question didn't actually depict minors.

There is explicit sex in yaoi comics, acknowledged Eric Chase, of the United Defense Group, which was handling Handley's defense. And the men are drawn in a very androgynous style, which has the effect of making them look really young. There's a real taboo in Japan about showing pubic hair, so they're all drawn without it, which also makes them look young. So what concerned the authorities were the depictions of children in explicit sexual situations that they believed to be obscene. But there are no actual children. It was all very crude images from a comic book.

Failing to prove that the depictions were of adults, and lacking sufficient funds for a proper defense Handley decided to plead guilty to possessing obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children and mailing obscene material. He also agreed to forfeit all of his seized property to the government.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein said. Because the set of facts specific to this case were so unique, we hope that its importance as precedent will be minimal. However, we must also continue to be prepared for the possibility that other cases could arise in the future as a result.

Adult retailers who carry manga may now want to examine their stock more carefully in light of Handley's prosecution, since mere possession of similar material is considered to be a felony.

 

12th May   

Flash of Inspiration...


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Disney's Flash Mountain censors made redundant
Link Here

Flash Mountain ride A recent round of staff reductions at Disneyland could result in the return of a bit of fun and public nudity at the Disney theme park.

Way back in 1997, a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times chronicled a scintillating phenomenon involving the theme park’s Splash Mountain log ride: Photos of women flashing their breasts at an automatic camera that snapped souvenir photographs during the final 50-foot drop were flashing their way around cyberspace, earning the ride the nickname Flash Mountain.

At the time, Disneyland officials blamed a rogue employee for leaking the obscene pictures of topless women onto the Web and instituted tighter photo censorsing procedures to prevent further breaches.

Over the ensuing decade, objectionable pictures of breast-baring women were washed away by Splash Mountain photo editors before they were projected on preview screens at the end of the ride, according to David Koenig, author of More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland.

Now in May 2009, the Splash Mountain photo editor positions will be eliminated as part of cost-cutting measures at Disneyland, according to MiceAge columnist Al Lutz.

Admittedly the numbers of young ladies (term used loosely in this case) who lift their tops for the cameras for their shot at Flash Mountain infamy has lessened over the years, wrote Lutz, who reports that the photo editing positions were eliminated months ago at the Splash Mountain ride in Florida.

Disneyland officials confirmed that Splash Mountain photo screeners would be redeployed to other positions as of May 3. A Disneyland spokesperson said: Ride photos will continue to be monitored by cast members at the point of sale. In addition, the current screening system will remain intact to provide the option for management to initiate image monitoring if necessary.

 

31st March   

Age Discrimination...


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Massachusetts to legislate to ban 'oldie' porn
Link Here

Massachusetts state sealAdult industry businessman and performer Dave Cummings has blasted a bill wending its way through the Massachusetts Legislature that would place a ban on producing and distributing porn involving anyone age 60 or over or anyone who has physical or mental impairment.

In my 69-year-old opinion, sex between consenting adults, or with oneself, is a God-given gift to mankind that is natural, normal, and healthy, Cummings told XBIZ: And by healthy, I mean not only sexually, but also emotionally and physically — sex provides focus, stress relief, increased productivity and a myriad of other beneficial effects for normal humans.

Cummings went on to say that pornography is legal; obscenity is not and questioned the legality of the proposal: I wonder if prohibiting my right to work based upon age/occupation is constitutional. Is Massachusetts also restricting employment to church ministers, physicians, legislators, politicians, volunteers and public safety folks who are over 60?

The piece of legislation is House Bill 1688. Regional District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, who helped craft the legislation, said that the intention with the bill is to protect our two most vulnerable populations.

But Boston-based attorney Harvey Silverglate said the proposal amounts to blatant censorship.

 

31st March   

Update: Bruno Buggered...

Too much gay sex for the US film censor
Link Here  full story: Bruno...Supporting the hype for Bruno

Bruno publicity stillThe MPAA has slapped a dreaded NC-17 rating on Universal Pictures' comedy Bruno.

The ratings board objected to a number of sexual sequences in the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy set to open on July 10, in which he plays a gay Austrian fashionista.

The studio is hoping to land an R rating for the film and is making the necessary cuts before resubmitting the film to the MPAA. The deleted sequences will likely be saved for the DVD release.

 

29th March   

Update: Colorado Blame Game...

Police come up with video games as being behind a Colorado shooting spree killer
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV game A Colorado police officer has suggested that a troubled 22-year old man who went on a random shooting spree last October may have been influenced by violent video games.

The Denver Post reports that the police investigator made the comment in regard to Stefan Martin-Urban, who killed two people and wounded two others before turning his gun on himself:

He was said to be an obsessive player of video games. Those games, authorities said are the closest police and FBI investigators can come to an explanation for Martin-Urban's actions that killed two and injured two.

Sergeant Clayton said: In the last year, he had no friends. No boyfriend. No girlfriend. No pets. He was consumed with the video games. He spent an enormous amount of time playing them, .

Martin-Urban lived mostly in isolation... after enrolling in a state college... He stopped going to classes within two weeks. His father had committed suicide in Alaska four days before the previous Christmas. His favorite videos included a prophecy that a 2,000- mile-long spaceship containing cosmic beings was going to appear in the Earth's atmosphere three days after the shooting.

 

29th March   

Offsite: Searching for Responsibility...

Italian trial to test Google's responsibilities over YouTube content
Link Here  full story: Google on Trial...Google sued for YouTube bullying video

Google logoTBack in 2006, a group of four Turin youths insulted and physically abused a young classmate with Down syndrome so severely that the terrified boy soiled his pants. One of the four filmed 191 seconds of the unsettling episode and uploaded it to Google Video, where it remained for about two months before the company finally pulled it.

Now, two and a half years later, a judge working from a dusty and worn Fascist-era courtroom in Milan will help decide whether companies like Google Video should be responsible for the content they host. At stake could be the way business on the Internet evolves over the coming years.

A hearing on Wednesday confirmed that Italy is a legitimate venue for the trial, and a further hearing is scheduled for next month.

See article from reuters.com

 

29th March   

Update: The Nub of the Issue...

US protests ask for smoking scenes to be R rated
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

He's just Not That Into You Smoking in a film? Rate it R, so that no children are exposed to it. That idea, at least, is what anti-smoking advocates were promoting at a rally in Downtown Indianapolis.

About 30 teens donned masks and hoisted signs outside a movie theater at Circle Centre mall to protest smoking images in G, PG and PG-13 movies.

Those are ratings that say to us as parents, this is appropriate for young people, said Karla Sneegas, executive director of Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation. But we know it's not acceptable to have smoking images in movies that we think are appropriate for younger age groups.

The effort by Indiana's VOICE, a youth-led movement protesting the tobacco industry's influence on minors, was one of a series of anti-smoking demonstrations around the country.

The issue made headlines recently when the American Medical Association Alliance announced its intention to lodge a complaint with Warner Brothers over images of specific cigarette brands in the PG-13 comedy He's Just Not That Into You.

Two years ago, the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the six largest movie studios, added smoking as a factor to consider in rating movies and added disclaimers about the presence of smoking in films alongside notes on sexual content or violence.

Last July, the studios also began including anti-smoking public service announcements on millions of youth-rated DVDs that include scenes with tobacco use.

 

26th March   

Update: Unintended Consequences...

Utah governor vetoes law aimed at enforcing age restrictions on games
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Utah state sealUtah Governor, Jon Huntsman, has vetoed HB 353, the video game/movie bill passed overwhelmingly by the Utah House and Senate.

Saintless has Gov. Huntsman's explanation of his veto:

After careful consideration and study, I have decided to veto HB 353...

While protecting children from inappropriate materials is a laudable goal, the language of this bill is so broad that it likely will be struck down by the courts as an unconstitutional violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause and/or the First Amendment.

The industries most affected by this new requirement indicated that rather than risk being held liable under this bill, they would likely choose to no longer issue age appropriate labels on goods and services.

Therefore, the unintended consequence of the bill would be that parents and children would have no labels to guide them in determining the age appropriateness of the goods or service, thereby increasing children's potential exposure to something they or their parents would have otherwise determined was inappropriate under the voluntary labeling system now being recognized and embraced by a significant majority of vendors.

 

26th March   

Carrey Rubbers Up...

Supporting the hype for I Love You Phillip Morris
Link Here

I Love You Phillip Morris book Jim Carrey black comedy I Love You Phillip Morris may not get a US cinema release because it contains an explicit gay sex scene.

Despite securing distribution deals in the UK and Europe, US firms are uneasy with a love scene between Carrey and Ewan McGregor's character Phillip Morris, reports The Times.

The depiction of the sexual activity was far more than I've ever seen in a mainstream film with a mainstream celebrity, said Lewis Tice, director of publicity and marketing for TLA Releasing: There's a graphic sex scene in the first 10 minutes that I was surprised to see.

Filmmakers are re-cutting the movie for US distribution companies in an attempt to secure a theatrical release. If no agreement is reached, the movie will go straight to DVD.

Mostly straight, multiplex-going audiences don't want to see a romantic comedy in which two dudes get it on; unless it is meant as a joke, commented Scott Stiffler, author of Why Hollywood Avoids Gay Movies.

 

16th March   

Book Burners...

USA consigns pre-1985 children's books to the incinerator
Link Here

Farenheit 451 book It's hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children's products, the federal government has now advised that children's books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute.

Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.

The problem is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), passed by Congress last summer after the panic over lead paint on toys from China. Among its other provisions, CPSIA imposed tough new limits on lead in any products intended for use by children aged 12 or under, and made those limits retroactive: that is, goods manufactured before the law passed cannot be sold on the used market (even in garage sales or on eBay) if they don't conform. The law has hit thrift stores particularly hard, since many children's products have long included lead-containing (if harmless) components: zippers, snaps, and clasps on garments and backpacks; skateboards, bicycles, and countless other products containing metal alloy; rhinestones and beads in decorations; and so forth.

Not until 1985 did it become unlawful to use lead pigments in the inks, dyes, and paints used in children's books. Before then—and perhaps particularly in the great age of children's-book illustration that lasted through the early twentieth century—the use of such pigments was not uncommon, and testing can still detect lead residues in books today. This doesn't mean that the books pose any hazard to children. While lead poisoning from other sources, such as paint in old houses, remains a serious public health problem in some communities, no one seems to have been able to produce a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations—not surprisingly, since unlike poorly maintained wall paint, book pigments do not tend to flake off in large lead-laden chips for toddlers to put into their mouths.

At any rate, CPSIA's major provisions went into effect on February 10. The day before, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published guidelines telling thrift stores, as well as other resellers and distributors of used goods, what they could safely keep selling and what they should consider rejecting or subjecting to (expensive) lead testing. Confirming earlier reports, the document advised that only “ordinary” children's books (that is, made entirely of paper, with no toylike plastic or metal elements) printed after 1985 could be placed in the safe category. Older books were pointedly left off the safe list; the commission did allow an exception for vintage collectibles whose age, price, or rarity suggested that they would most likely be used by adult collectors, rather than given to children.

Since the law became effective the very next day, there was no time to waste in putting this advice into practice. A commenter at Etsy, the large handicrafts and vintage-goods site, observed how things worked at one store:

I just came back from my local thrift store with tears in my eyes! I watched as boxes and boxes of children's books were thrown into the garbage! Today was the deadline and I just can't believe it! Every book they had on the shelves prior to 1985 was destroyed! I managed to grab a 1967 edition of The Outsiders from the top of the box, but so many!

Whatever the future of new media may hold, ours will be a poorer world if we begin to lose (or “sequester” from children) the millions of books published before our own era. They serve as a path into history, literature, and imagination for kids everywhere. They link the generations by enabling parents to pass on the stories and discoveries in which they delighted as children. Their illustrations open up worlds far removed from what kids are likely to see on the video or TV screen. Could we really be on the verge of losing all of this? And if this is what government protection of our kids means, shouldn't we be thinking instead about protecting our kids from the government?

 

14th March   

Update: A New Angle...

Utah passes bill targeting the selling of mature games to youngsters
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

Utah state sealA fair few US states have tried to laws to prohibit computer games sellers from retailing Mature rated games to under 17 year olds. Such laws have been found to be unconstitutional.

But Utah have come up with a new angle. They are targeting shops that advertise themselves as family friendly etc. (And American stores do like to emphasise this). If the shops then go on to sell Mature games to youngsters then law HB353 enables parents to sue such shops for false advertising of their family friendly credentials.

Following a lively debate, the Utah State Senate have now passed HB 353 by an overwhelming 25-4 margin.

 

13th March   

Sleazier than RapeLay...

Supporting the hype for the remake of Last House on the Left
Link Here

Last House on the Left 2009 Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times was well impressed:

I guess I owe the makers of RapeLay , the vile Japanese rape-simulator video game, an apology, at least for headlining my last post Sleazier Than Any Hollywood Horror Film?

If I'd only seen the new remake of The Last House on the Left , I'd have known that no one can top Hollywood when it comes to sleaziness, especially in this new film, which critics are saying is loaded with graphic violence and a prolonged, truly terrifying rape scene.

As any horror fancier would know, the movie is a remake of the 1972 Wes Craven-directed semi-classic, which featured a repugnant Charles Manson-style gang of thugs who raped and tortured two girls to death, prompting their parents to stalk and kill them in equally violent fashion.

So now we have, in true creatively bankrupt Hollywood fashion, a remake of a remake, the only difference being that the remake is even more graphic and disturbing than the previous film. The film's rape scene has already aroused widespread critical outrage, even from critics who have offered some begrudging admiration for other segments of the film. In his review, the Orlando Sentinel's Roger Moore calls the film torture porn at its most torturous, bemoaning the film's graphic rape scene and images of shocking sadism and cruelty.

ReelView's James Berardinelli's review calls the rape one of the most upsetting rape scenes committed to film, while the Arizona Republic's Bill Goodykoontz's review describes it as truly disturbing. Roger Ebert, the dean of American critics who was actually around to review the first Craven film 35-plus years ago, bluntly called the new film's rape scene appalling. Ebert lamented: So now my job as a film critic involves grading rape scenes.

BBFC Pass remake of Last House on the Left 18 Uncut

See article from bbfc.co.uk

The BBFC are a little bit more downbeat on the subject of the rape scene and explain their 18 uncut cinema certificate:

BBFC logoThe Last House on the Left is a modern remake of a 1972 horror feature about a gang of violent criminals who assault a teenage girl then unwittingly find themselves seeking refuge at her parents' home. The film was classified ‘18' for strong bloody violence and strong sexual violence.

The film contains many scenes of strong bloody violence, many of which breach the BBFC Guidelines at ‘15' which state that ‘violence may be strong but may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury' and that ‘the strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable'. In the assault on the teenage girls, which includes a graphic stabbing and shooting, and in the scenes where the parents get their revenge, there is extended focus on the actual process of the infliction of wounds and the resultant blood loss. These scenes include a bullet being shot through a woman's eye, a man's arm being caught in a waste disposal unit and a man's head exploding after being put in a microwave.

The film also contains a mounting sense of sexual threat as the criminal gang take the two teenage girls into the wood; a threat which culminates with the rape of one of the girls. This extended scene went beyond the ‘discreet and brief' depiction of sexual assault that is allowed by the BBFC Guidelines at ‘15'. However, the focus on the girl's anguish and the lack of sexualised nudity or graphic sexual detail means that the scene did not ‘eroticise or endorse sexual assault' and therefore did not require intervention beyond the ‘18' category.

There is also one use of very strong language and multiple uses of strong language in the film alongside some strong verbal sex references and scenes in which the teenage characters smoke cannabis.

 

13th March   

Endowed with Nonsense...

HBO apologise for any offence caused by depiction of an endowment ceremony
Link Here

Big Love Season 3 DVD HBO, the network behind television polygamy drama Big Love , apologized on Tuesday for any offense to Mormons in a depiction of a sacred ritual but made clear it would air the controversial episode as planned.

The HBO network's program about a non-Mormon polygamous family has stirred up a hornet's nest of complaints over an episode to be broadcast on Sunday showing its version of an endowment ceremony within a Mormon temple.

It is thought to be the first time the ritual, in which participants move to a higher level of understanding of their religion, will be shown on TV.

News of the episode prompted calls and e-mails for cancellation or an HBO boycott by angry members of the Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

The Church itself has not officially called for a boycott.

HBO said the writers had gone to great lengths to be respectful and accurate in the ceremony's portrayal.

Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church, but to those who may be offended, we offer our sincere apology, the network said in a statement.

This is a very sacred event in the lives of LDS church members. To have it splashed all over television for entertainment purposes (and ultimately for monetary gain) is just offensive, wrote a poster called 'nanberg' on HBO's official Big Love message board on Tuesday.

 

12th March   

Update: A Black Day...

Extreme Associates trial called off after guilty pleas
Link Here  full story: Extreme Appeal...Rob Black on obscenity charges

Extreme AppealIn the longest running obscenity case in American history, Extreme Associate owners Rob Black and Lizzy Borden have each entered guilty pleas to one count of conspiracy to distribute obscene material. Trial had been scheduled to begin with jury selection on Monday.

The plea capped a legal battle, begun in 2003 with a 10-count indictment, that had promised to deal with cutting edge free speech issues.

In fact, just three videos were indicted - Forced Entry and Cocktails 2 , both directed by Borden, and Extreme Teen 24 , credited to Stanley Ferrara but reportedly the work of several directors - as well as six video clips.

But as noted in AVN's recent editorial , defense of obscenity requires huge amounts of cash, and with Extreme Associates long closed, and Black and Borden reportedly employed only sporadically - and with an almost universal lack of support from the adult industry - it was too much to expect that attorneys H. Louis Sirkin and Jennifer Kinsley would be willing to handle the projected two-week trial (and its subsequent appeals) on a pro bono basis.

Estimates of the possible sentences that could be imposed under the plea have ranged from as little as 10 months in prison for each individual defendant to as much as five years, and a possible fine of $250,000 for each individual and the corporation. The couple will be sentenced on July 1.

 

12th March   

Update: Small Ads Wind Down at Craigslist...

Craigslist say that erotic services ads have reduced by 90-95%
Link Here

Craigslist logoCraigslist has released statistics it touted as evidence of its 'success' in reducing the volume of erotic services ads appearing on the Web classified site in an apparent response to a federal lawsuit that accuses the site of facilitating prostitution.

The number of ads for such services is down 90-95% during the past 12 months on Craigslist sites that serve five major U.S. cities, according to information posted on a company blog. The site credited the spectacular reduction on its joint effort with 40 attorneys general which included the introduction of new measures that require posters to the erotic section to furnish a working phone number and credit card:

Beyond the enormous reduction in ad volume, the ads that remain on the site are much improved in their compliance with our Terms of Use and local laws, in part due to screening measures developed in collaboration with the Attorneys General and law enforcement.

Finally, net revenue is accumulating from the fees now required of those posting under "erotic services," 100% of which is earmarked for donation to worthy charities, and we will soon be in position to begin distributing these funds.

The blog posting is an apparent response to a federal lawsuit filed against Craigslist by the sheriff of Illinois' Cook County, alleging that the Web's largest classifieds publication is facilitating prostitution. Sheriff Tom Dart asked the court to force Craigslist to remove the Web publication's erotic section and for $100,000 in compensation for the man-hours the county has had to pay police to investigate alleged criminal services being advertised on the site.

 

9th March   

Offsite: Liable to Debate...

The future of online obscenity and social networks
Link Here

ars technica logoIs it time to revisit and tweak a critical portion of the Communications Decency Act (CDA)?

Adam Thierer, Director of the Progress and Freedom Foundation's Center for Digital Media Freedom, and John Palfrey, Harvard law professor and Vice Dean, debate whether ISPs and social networking sites should be more liable for the things their users post.

...Read full article

 

6th March   

Blurred Thinking...

Californian legislator proposes that Google Earth should be blurred
Link Here

Google EarthA California state legislator has submitted a bill that would limit the amount of detail allowed in images available from applications such as Google Maps and Google Earth, contending that terrorists are using such online tools to plot attacks.

Assemblyman Joel Anderson submitted Bill AB 255 to the California legislature on Feb. 11. The bill, which is waiting to go to committee, would not allow online mapping tools from companies such as Google to provide aerial or satellite images of schools, places of worship, government buildings and medical facilities unless they have been blurred.

Anderson told Computerworld that he is looking to limit the amount of detail that Internet users can see: We heard from terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks last year that they used Google Maps to select their targets and get knowledge about their targets. Hamas has said they were using Google Maps to target children's schools. What my bill does is limit the level of detail [in Google Earth]. It doesn't stop people from getting directions. We don't need to help bad people map their next target. What is the purpose of showing air ducts and elevator shafts? It does no good.

If passed, this bill would only affect California, but Anderson said he's confident that other states, as well as federal lawmakers, will introduce similar bills.

 

6th March   

Update: Small Ads Wind Up the Small Minded...

Chicago sheriff files lawsuit against Craigslist
Link Here

Craigslist logoChicago's sheriff has filed a lawsuit against Craigslist, saying the site may be the No. 1 source of prostitution in the United States and is straining his department's ability to enforce the law.

The suit claims that changes Craigslist enacted in November to its erotic services section have done little to curb prostitution, sex trafficking and child pimping on the site. It seeks a court order requiring the site to close the section and to pay the costs the department incurs in cracking down on hookers and Johns who use the it.

The sheriff conducts stings through Craigslist regularly, the complaint, filed Federal Court in Chicago said. However, the deluge of erotic services postings taxes its resources. The sheer number of daily postings has made it impossible to stymie Craigslist generated prostitution.

Under the new requirements announced in November, erotic services advertisers must first register with the site using a computerized telephone verification routine and pay a $5 fee (most ads are free). The site promises to turn over telephone and credit card information to law enforcement agencies with a valid court order.

The lawsuit contended. Pimps and prostitutes continue to post more than 300 posts per day to Chicago's erotic services section: While defendant does not profit from erotic services per se, erotic services is the catalyst behind Craigslist being the ninth most popular website in the country. Erotic services enables defendant to charge fees of up to $75 per post for job openings due to the significant web traffic garnered by erotic services."

 

5th March   

The Evil that Iowa Legislators Do...

Very high probability that parents will be labelled as child abusers
Link Here

Iowa state sealA bill under consideration by Iowa lawmakers proposes that parents face punishment if their children are allowed access to pornographic content.

Under the bill, House 443, and its companion bill, Senate File 271, parents whose children view adult content would be guilty of child abuse and earn placement on the state child abuse registry.

Since its initial proposition last week, House 443 has been a subject of controversy.

Supporters of the bill are saying that several existing bills of a similar nature contain loopholes exempting parents from accountability in obscenity distribution, and that child abuse has a direct relationship to pornography.

This legislation isn't the icing on the cake. It's the cake, said Kathy Lowenberg, director of counseling for Growth and Healing in Iowa City: We have to have it.

The bill's critics claim that the bill is broad to the point that even a child who sneaks a peek at a Playboy magazine could push parents into legal turmoil, according to the Des Moines Register.

This would have the state intervening in families every time a parent drops their guard, said Randall Wilson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa: You have adolescent hormones raging here, you have curiosity and I think, truth be told, you would find that a whole lot of kids would qualify as children in need of assistance who belong to perfectly normal families.

Critics have also raised the issue of the bill's stance on children viewing pornography inadvertently or without their parents' knowledge. It is reported that the bill does not answer these and other questions.

We need to do a lot more discussion, said Sen. Becky Schmitz, and be a little more specific about what we mean and the ramifications of it.

 

28th February   

Update: Unfair Fairness Doctrine Dies...

Long live the new unfair fairness doctrine
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Fairness...Demands that radio and TV should be fair to all views

US SenateThe U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to pass a ban on the so-called Fairness Doctrine. The archaic doctrine would force radio stations to offer opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

Senator Jim Demint sponsored the ban on the Fairness Doctrine, which the Senate passed 87-11.

The Senate almost immediately also passed what could amount to a stealth fairness doctrine in the form of regulations on media ownership. All 57 Democrats voted in favor of the amendment.

The new censorship threat was written by Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, The purpose is To encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership, and to ensure that the public airwaves are used in the public interest.

Senate Democrats insist on keeping the idea of reviving the Fairness Doctrine alive, against the wishes of a majority of Americans, said Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for the nutters of Focus on the Family Action.

 

26th February   

Comment: Real Nasty Guy...

Max Hardcore as shown in Channel 4 documentary
Link Here  full story: Max Hardcore on Trial...Max Hardcore on trial for obscenity

Max Hardcore Extreme 12 DVD Can I just start by saying I am on the whole in agreement with you and your anti-censorship stance.

The one thing I do take issue with is your articles defending Max Hardcore as much as I enjoy porn etc.. he crosses the line of what is acceptable and is a very sinister character. I am very broadminded and all for as long as consenting adults etc.

The reason I take exception to Max Hardcore is I saw a documentary on Channel 4 about an English girl who travelled to the US to try make it in porn films. She met various porn producers and had some trials with them which were quite run of the mill adult affairs but the exception was Max Harcore. At first he came across quite friendly but the difference with him was come his trial he had the girl dress very child like and forced his penis down her throat literally choking her and making her vomit and she naturally became very upset, crying and had to stop. His reaction was utter fury and threatening and he had a couple of menacing nasty bouncer types there as well and the Channel 4 crew had to intervene as they feared for the girl's safety.

As I have said I am all for consenting adult porn etc.. but to me Hardcore crosses the line even for me.. wanting the women in his videos to appear in children's clothes suggest to me paedophile inclinations which I would hope you would absolutely condemn and to me he crosses and pushes the consent barrier and really does exploit women for money. I was overjoyed to see he has gone to jail as after seeing him and his attitude in the Channel 4 documentary that is where he belongs and I vowed never to buy anything associated with him!

Update: Appeal arguments refuted

3rd April 2009. See article from business.avn.com

Attorneys for Paul Little, better known in the adult industry as "Max Hardcore," H. Louis Sirkin and Jennifer Kinsley, filed their appeal of Little's conviction last June on ten counts of interstate transportation of obscene material and posting obscene materials on the Web on January 21 - and now, just over two months later, the Justice Department has responded, attempting to refute the perceived factual and legal errors identified in the appellant's brief.

Update: Appeal lost

6th February 2010. See article from xbiz.com

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed Max Hardcore's convictions but remanded sentencing over punitive fines, which it said the lower court assessed in error.

 

26th February   

Updated: Presidential Monkey Business...

New York Post under fire for Obama chimp cartoon
Link Here

Chimp shooting cartoonAt first glance, the main editorial cartoon in today's New York Post seemed like just another lurid reference to the story that the tabloid had been covering with breathless abandon for two days running - the shooting by Connecticut police on Monday of a pet chimpanzee that viciously attacked his owner's friend.

But the caption cast the cartoon in a more sinister light. They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill, it read, prompting accusations that the Post was peddling a longstanding racist slur by portraying president Barack Obama as an ape.

george Bush or chimp

  How come nobody defended me
when I was shown to be a chimp?

In a statement issued today, Al Sharpton, the Baptist minister and civil rights activist, called the cartoon troubling at best, given the historic racist attacks [on] African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.

David Paterson, the governor of New York state, told a local television station that it was very important for the New York Post to explain what the cartoon was intended to portray.

In response, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Col Allen, noted Sharpton's love of media attention. The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.

Update: Shut the Post Down

20th February 2009. See article from timesonline.co.uk

Protesters gathered outside the New York Post's Manhattan office last night chanting shut the Post down after they claimed a cartoon in the tabloid compared President Obama to a chimpanzee.

Civil rights leaders and politicians responded furiously claiming it echoed racist stereotypes. The Reverend Al Sharpton, an prominent civil rights leader, called the cartoon troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.

Members of the public also reacted angrily against the Post. Its phones rang all day with upset readers and protesters, picketing the tabloid's offices, demanded an apology and a boycott.

How could the Post let this cartoon pass as satire? said Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists: To compare the nation's first African-American commander-in-chief to a dead chimpanzee is nothing short of racist drivel.

State Senator Eric Adams called it a throwback to the days when black men were lynched.

Update: Apologies

21st February 2009. Based on article from independent.co.uk

The New York Post has now apologised for a cartoon said to compare President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police.

The tabloid's statement came after two days of protests by civil rights campaigners and others - but the paper said it would not apologise to its long-time detractors, who it accused of exploiting the image for revenge.

Some of the cartoon's critics said they were not satisfied with the qualified apology and threatened to continue protesting outside the paper's offices today.

The newspaper posted an editorial on its website saying the cartoon was meant to mock the government's economic stimulus bill, but to those who were offended by the image, we apologise.

The piece was posted hours after 200 people chanting Boycott the Post! Shut it down! marched in front of the paper's office, saying the cartoon echoed racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys.

Update: Afraid to call a spade a spade

26th February 2009. See article from news.aol.com

Last week's firestorm over an editorial cartoon at the New York Post is still burning it's way through the media and the blogosphere, and in the wake of Eric Holder's declaration that Americans (read: white Americans) are cowards and James Clyburn's claim that rejection of stimulus funds is motivated by racism, the reactions are naturally mixed and sometimes contentious. Reverend Al Sharpton, for example, is demanding investigations and protests. MSNBC is having shouting matches. Some cartoonists are simply preparing to self-censor and nevertheless suffer unintended consequences. The controversy is not soon to die down.

In light of the cartoon war, the Associated Press ran a story Saturday examining the overall shift to caution by that normally incautious breed of political commentator, the editorial cartoonist.

Because Barack Obama is black, to summarize the article, political cartoonists now operate under the duress of fear. In America, there is no worse stigma than that of being called racist , especially in the age of Obama. The armies of political correctness and so-called progressivism feel free to act more boldly, now that a man who owes his political career to the forces of the far left holds the highest office in the world.

 

25th February   

Update: Dark Days After Hours...

Nutter prosecutor wins his case to ban adult films from Staunton
Link Here

After Hours signThe ongoing case between the nutter Staunton prosecutor Raymond Robertson and Rick E. Krial, owner of After Hours Video, which led to convictions on obscenity counts last August, could be nearing its end.

Krial has confirmed that he has agreed not to appeal his obscenity convictions and in return will not be prosecuted on felony charges. Krial also has agreed not to reopen After Hours, which has been temporarily closed since the trial ended.

If the store stayed open, they were going to come at me with all the charges they could, Krial said.

The trial centered around standard adult videos purchased at After Hours Video by undercover agents in October 2007. Krial and his company were found guilty and store manager Tinsley Embrey was acquitted of two charges by the jury.

Two months after the verdicts were handed down, the defense team — which included 1st amendment lawyers Paul Cambria and Louis Sirkin — filed motions to have the convictions set aside, citing numerous improper statements that were aimed at inflaming the passions and prejudices of jurors.

Krial has now said that the fight is over: Nobody needs this kind of aggravatio n.

Krial said other businesses in the city were selling adult videos at the time he applied for and was granted his business license, and the charges against him were a surprise: I didn't expect it because it was already being sold in Staunton. Krial also runs 11 adult enterprises in Maryland and Virginia.

Robertson is a long time nutter and opponent of adult material. In August 2007 when Robertson heard of Krial's intentions to open the store vowed he was not going to allow dissemination of pornographic material in Staunton. In November 2007, Krial and his company were indicted by a special grand jury on 16 felonies and eight misdemeanors.

Update: End of a Repressive Court Case

7th April 2009. See article from xbiz.com

The court order ending the city's prosecution of Rick Krial and the now-defunct After Hours Video store has been signed.

Krial and his company, LSP of Virginia LLC, were found guilty on two misdemeanor obscenity charges by a seven-person jury following a week-long obscenity trial in August, setting the stage for possible future felony convictions. Krial and the company were fined $2,500 and ordered to pay $160 in court costs.

According to the court order, Staunton prosecutor Raymond Robertson will not pursue 16 felony charges against Krial and the company, and in return Krial has agreed to drop a motion to set aside the verdicts and will not appeal the convictions.

Krial also agreed not to reopen After Hours Video or any other adult video store in Staunton.

 

25th February   

Update: Censorship by Burdensome Admin...

Record keeping 2257 law upheld in Appeals Court
Link Here  full story: 2257 Record Keeping...US adut industry onerous requirements

US Dept of JusticeThe United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld the 2257 federal record-keeping law in the long-contested Connections case.

Writing for the majority, Circuit Judge Sutton addressed what he sees as the critical question in this issue: Under what circumstances is it appropriate to invalidate a law in all of its applications when its invalidity can be shown [or assumed] in just some of its applications?

Sutton went on to discuss the hypothetical middle-aged couple shooting their own erotica — a practice used as an example of the burdensome requirements of the statute. Over twenty years and numerous administrations, the statute has never been enforced in this setting, and the attorney general has publicly taken the position that he will not enforce the statute in this setting, Sutton wrote.

Opposing the ruling was Circuit Judge Helene N. White, who in writing a dissenting opinion stated her belief that under intermediate scrutiny the identification/record-keeping requirements of 2257 impose an unconstitutional burden on plaintiffs' First Amendment rights.

As for the future of the statute it really comes down to whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case, attorney Larry Walters told XBIZ: But that is much less likely to happen since the circuit court upheld the law, rather than overturned it.

The upholding of 2257 presents a possible immediate threat to the industry as well:

Webmasters [and others] should be much more concerned about possible inspections and prosecutions, Walters said: Now that the law has been upheld, 2257 inspections could resume at any time.

 

22nd February   

Update: Record Review...

Arguing that Obama should reject last minute revision to 2257 record keeping requirements
Link Here  full story: 2257 Record Keeping...US adut industry onerous requirements

FBI logoAddressing fellow members of the Free Speech Coalition, attorney Jeffrey Douglas said the FBI won't show up anytime soon to inspect the records of adult producers under the revised 2257 regulations.

Douglas' remarks followed in the wake of events which have left the latest changes to 2257 in limbo, leading to questions about the future of the record-keeping laws under President Obama.

The final revisions to 18 U.S.C. §2257 officially took effect Jan. 20, the same day Obama was sworn into office.

Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel announced on the same day that all regulatory changes not yet in effect from the final days of the Bush regime would be suspended, pending review by the new administration.

After inspecting more than two dozen adult companies in an 18-month period, the Justice Department has yet to bring a single 2257-based criminal case against a mainstream" adult producer.

And the question remains: Will President Obama's administration continue to pursue an even more overcomplicated version of this law?

 

21st February   

Update: Game Over...

California attempt to restrict violent computer games declared unconstitutional
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

California state sealA California federal appeals court has ruled that a state law criminalizing the sale of violent video games to children is a violation of the right to free speech.

The law was first penned by Democrat senator Leland Yee and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005. But shortly thereafter, it was soon blocked by a federal judge, and it never took affect.

It sought to prohibit the sale or rental of video games depicting serious injury to humans in a manner especially heinous, cruel or depraved.

Any game judged patently offensive to children based on the prevailing standards in the community sold in California would require a 2- by 2-inch solid white '18' displayed on the front of the case. Store owners caught selling violent games to underage tykes would face a fine up to $1,000.

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco today upheld the lower court's decision declaring the ban unconstitutional.

In a 3-0 ruling, Judge Consuelo Callahan said California could only justify the ban if the state could not only prove violent video games caused actual psychological harm, but that the best way to prevent it was through criminalization. The court also shot down the act's labeling provision because it doesn't require the disclosure of purely factual information but compels carrying the legislature's controversial opinion.

 

21st February   

Update: The Free Speech Protection Act...

Protects US writers from claimant friendly UK libel laws
Link Here  full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

I US SenateA US bill aimed at protecting American journalists, writers and publishers from libel tourism cases brought against them in foreign courts has been introduced into the United States Senate.

The Free Speech Protection Act is being sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The bill is aimed at protecting journalists and publishers from libel suits in foreign courts which do not have the same protections for free speech as the US constitution. The measure would give federal courts the power to bar the enforcement of foreign libel judgments if the material at issue would not constitute libel under US law.

It is also aimed at actively deterring libel tourism cases brought in foreign courts by permitting American defendants to counter-sue under certain circumstances.

Companion legislation is expected to be introduced into the House of Representatives.

Specter said: Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of expression of ideas, opinions, and research, and freedom of exchange of information are all essential to the functioning of a democracy, and the fight against terrorism.

There is a real danger that American writers and researchers will be afraid to address the crucial subject of terror funding and other important matters without these protections.


The UK has become a popular venue for libel tourism defamation cases. Claimants from around the world have sought to take advantage of what are seen as England's claimant-friendly defamation law. English law, unlike that in the US, does not require a claimant to prove falsity or actual malice.

 

19th February   

Update: Bad Apple Spoils South Park...

Apple ban South Park app from iPhone
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

South Park DVD Apple has blocked the creators of South Park from selling an iPhone app.

According to a BoingBoing post, friends at South Park said that We first announced our iPhone App back in October, after we submitted the Application to Apple for approval. After a couple of attempts to get the application approved, we are sad to say that our app has been rejected.

The reason? The content was potentially offensive!

 

13th February   

Update: Unsoiled Internet Feed...

Virgin America will provide uncensored internet access
Link Here  full story: Inflight Internet Access...Airlines consider internet access on planes
Richard Branson

  We would have used filters but they
blocked our own website

Virgin America will offer unrestricted wireless Internet access on flights from Boston to California starting tomorrow.

Although Delta, United, and American Airlines also offer wireless service on select flights, all of them have taken measures to block adult content. According to a report in the Boston Herald, Virgin has no plans to filter out porn sites.

We don't believe that Wi-Fi accessibility will significantly change the current formula, as there is nothing stopping guests now from downloading the content onto a laptop for a flight, airline spokeswoman Abby Lunardini told the Herald.

Virgin assumes adult passengers will not view pornographic content on a laptop while seated next to children. The airline doesn't censor content offered on seatback screens, although parental control is available.

Most guests view being on a flight akin to being in any other public place and moderate their behavior accordingly, Lunardini said.

Passengers may use the service with any Wi-Fi-enabled device once the plane has reached 10,000 feet, at a cost of $12.95 per flight.

 

7th February   

Updated: Super Bowl Bollox...

Comcast mortified by racy Super Bowl interruption
Link Here

Super Bowl hijack Comcast is examining whether a malicious attack is behind the interruption of the company's Super Bowl coverage Sunday by a pornographic film clip in some areas of Tucson. The interruption, which lasted less than 30 seconds, affected customers watching the company's standard definition coverage but not high-definition customers, a Comcast spokeswoman said.

Comcast has contacted the FCC as well as local authorities to investigate the matter. But an initial review showed that the company's technical systems functioned properly at the time of the incident, suggesting someone deliberately seeking to interrupt the broadcast rather than a technical glitch.

We are mortified by the incident and we apologize to our customers, the Comcast spokeswoman said. The company will likely issue credits to customers who were affected, though the amount remains to be determined.

The incident sparked a flurry of angry phone calls and emails.

Update: Super Censor

7th February 2009. Based on article from broadcastingcable.com

FCC logoReports of a possible FCC investigation into cable's version of anatomical parts-waving have been more about grabbing headlines than dealing in the realities of media content. An FCC spokesman confirms the FCC has received complaints about the 10 seconds worth of cable porn that slipped into a Comcast cablecast of the SuperBowl in Tucson.

He had no comment on the likelihood that it would trigger the next step of contacting the parties, but the likelihood is slim to none.

The standard for broadcasting is indecency, where similar displays of the male anatomy have drawn FCC censure.

But for cable the standard is obscenity, a threshold that is far higher as the perusal of any hotel adult video menu or magazine newstand will attest. For instance, the material that bled through to the Super Bowl was apparently from a PPV channel that regularly runs on the cable system.

To be obscene, something has to be prurient, completely devoid of social, scientific, educational or political value and violate community standards. Most graphic sexual content has not been found to violate that standard and is permissible speech on cable and other pay media. [interesting that there is no mention of customer expectation].

 

6th February   

US Censor Cuts...

MPAA suffers a round of staff layoffs
Link Here

MPAA logoMany of the major film studios have gone through a painful round of layoffs and now the US film censor is cutting staff, too.

The Motion Picture Association of America has gone through a significant round of layoffs, according to a studio source. The source said the layoffs were well over 10% and more reductions are expected.

As well as film censorship MPAA fight copyright infringement on behalf of the six largest film studios. How the cutbacks will affect the group's antipiracy efforts is unclear.

The ailing economy is hurting Hollywood and staff cutbacks have occurred at Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney, as well as others.

 

5th February   

No Space on MySpace...

MySpace ejects 90,000 users listed as 'sex offenders'
Link Here

MySpace logoMySpace says about 90,000 sex offenders have been identified and removed from its huge social networking website.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said that the new figure was 40,000 more than MySpace officials acknowledged last year.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has led efforts to make social networking websites drop such users. He said These convicted, registered sex offenders creating profiles under their own names unmasks MySpace's monstrously inadequate countermeasures. MySpace must purge these dangerous offenders now, and rid them for good.

Facebook Inc, which was sent a similar subpoena, has not yet responded, Blumenthal said.

 

5th February   

Offsite: Crime Solutions are in our Own Hands...

In defence of Internet pornography
Link Here

graphSex crimes among Summit County juveniles are at their lowest rate since record-keeping began in 1989. Officials are baffled as to why.

Well, I can tell them why, and I can tell them in just one word: porn.

Never has pornography been more readily available. The hardest of hard-core smut can be seen every day by anybody with a computer and an Internet connection.

Isn't porn supposed to lead to more sexual abuse of girls and women? Well, that was the theory, voiced constantly and vehemently for decades. But statistics show precisely the opposite.

During the 15-year period ending in 2008, the rate of forcible rape dropped a staggering 30 percent nationwide.

In 1992 — the Dark Ages of the Internet — about 43 people were raped among every 100,000 Americans, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report. Since then, the rate has dropped to 30 per 100,000.

With rare exceptions — so rare that they make front-page news — males are the sexual predators, not females. Males are much more easily stimulated visually. And if they can see virtually anything they want at any time, for free, without even leaving their house, maybe that's not such a bad thing — at least in terms of crime prevention.

To be sure, rape is a crime of violence. But it's also a crime of lust. And if somebody who is twisted enough to contemplate rape is now taking matters into his own hands, so to speak, perhaps his blinding drive for immediate gratification is safely eliminated.

...Read full article

 

2nd February   

Art Speaks and Censors Hear...

US art exhibition forced to close by protests against Vietnamese communist flag
Link Here

F.O.B. II: Art Speaks posterA photograph depicting a Vietnamese woman wearing a shirt with a communist flag led to the exhibit's closure.

More than 30 years after the Vietnamese-American community had been established, the freedom of expression that so many refugees yearned for is denied to them by, unfortunately, members of their own community who shut down a communicative art exhibit in Orange County, California.

The F.O.B. II: Art Speaks exhibit recently put on by the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association was forced to close down early. Presenting more than 50 works of Vietnamese artists from the United States and Vietnam while celebrating the many artistic voices of the Vietnamese-American community, the exhibit ignited and outraged responses by the most vocal faction because it displayed a particular photograph by Brian Doan. Its subject matter? A young Vietnamese woman standing beside a bust of Ho Chi Minh and wearing a shirt representative of the flag of communist Vietnam.

The photograph and a few other works were immediately construed as pro-communist and evocative of painful memories. Consequently, the entire exhibit was condemned, protested and shut down. Santa Ana, California city officials claimed that the organizers lacked the business license to present a gallery, but the hundreds of Vietnamese-American protesters demonstrating outside the building were clearly pressuring city officials, building owners and exhibit organizers alike.

 

31st January   

Update: Cartoon Persecutors...

US trial of Dangerous Cartoons starts 2nd February
Link Here  full story: Dangerous Anime in the US...Japanese anime open to prosecution

Comic book legal defence fund Iowa man, Christopher Handley, faces a possible 20 year prison sentence when he goes to trial this week over his possession of supposedly obscene manga. Handley had received a package of manga that he’d ordered from Japan in May 2006. The Postal Inspector intercepted the package and deemed its contents to be objectionable.

Without knowing that his package had been searched, Handley was followed home by the police. He was then arrested and the authorities confiscated seven home computers, over 1,200 volumes of manga, hundreds of DVDs, VHS tapes, and laserdiscs. He’s been charged with violation of the Protection Act, which prohibits the possession of sexually obscene material, including material that depicts sexual acts with minors.

This story has also sent shivers down the spines of comic book publishers like Dark Horse, who is one of the top distributors of licensed manga in the United States. They may now be more hesitant to bring other foreign comics to North America for fear of being charged with illegal distribution themselves. Dark Horse’s manga editor, Carl Horn, recently discussed his views, emphasizing that if Christopher Handley loses this case, then we as a people will no longer hold the right to make decisions on quality for ourselves; someone else will make them for us.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an organization founded on protecting those in need against censorship, has signed on to provide Handley with legal support. Famed writer Neil Gaiman has also spoken out publicly in defense of Handley, as well as anyone else whose First Amendment rights are in danger.

The CBLDF recently offered prints signed by Time and Mad magazine artist, Peter Kuper in order to raise funds for the case, which begins February 2.

 

30th January   

Update: Persecuting Kids...

Lower penalties proposed for youngsters sexting
Link Here  full story: Sexting...Persecuting youngsters for their own pictures

Utah state sealA bill that would base the criminal penalty for distributing pornography on the age of the offender passed in Utah's House.

Under HB14, a 16- or 17-year-old could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and a person younger than 16 with a Class B misdemeanor for distributing pornography or other material harmful to a minor. Subsequent offenses would be a third-degree felony.

The bill also makes it a third-degree felony for anyone over 18 to solicit a minor to distribute pornography.

If we could get these young people into court, they could be counseled and assisted, but many parents think the current penalties are too severe and are not reporting them, said Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful.

The bill moves to the Senate for further debate.

 

29th January   

Who Are You Doing After the Game?...

The traditional sport of advert banning for the Super Bowl
Link Here

Thinking about cheating on your husband or wife? A new company wants to help you out: AshleyMadison.com, a matchmaking service for people in the market for extramarital affairs.

But you won't be seeing ads for it at the Super Bowl, as AshleyMadison.com ads were reportedly banned from the Official NFL Super Bowl Game Program, according to reports that were confirmed by AshleyMadison.com.

I find the rejection to be ridiculous given that a huge percentage of the NFL's marketing content is for products like alcohol, which they sell in their stadiums, promote on their air and have in the game program. That's a product that literally kills tens of thousands of people each year, said Noel Biderman, President of AshleyMadison.com.

We don't intend to let this pass. The NFL fan base is our core audience and we will find a way to let them know about the existence of this service and let them decide if it’s something for them, he added.

 

28th January   

Update: Licking Pumpkin...

PETA generate some PR for getting Veggie Love advert rejected
Link Here  full story: Peta...Animal activists challenging the media

Veggie Love ad You may not agree with all the tactics of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), but you gotta appreciate their online marketing.

The organization said it created the sexy Veggie Love ad to run during this weekend’s Super Bowl, only to have it rejected by NBC.

Obviously, the ad wasn’t really meant to air on TV, so it’s hoping for viral life online.

According to the PETA blog, the reasons NBC gave for not carrying the ad are more amusing than the ad itself, with the network requesting that shots of licking pumpkin and rubbing asparagus on breast be removed before NBC would reconsider.

Similar stunts have been pulled in the past, so will this combination of sex and censorship deliver a hit?

 

28th January   

Update: Which Community?...

Gearing up for the Extreme Associates obscenity trial
Link Here  full story: Extreme Appeal...Rob Black on obscenity charges

Extreme AppealA federal court case in Pennsylvania will determine whether a California company violated obscenity laws when it distributed pornography in the Keystone State.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sunday that in the case of United States vs. Extreme Associates begins March 16.

The owners of Extreme Associates, which makes pornography featuring scenes of rape, torture, murder and defecation, are accused of sending their products to Pennsylvania, violating local standards of decency.

The newspaper reported that jurors in the case will have to decide whether the materials are patently offensive and whether the materials they have any serious artistic, literary, social or political value.

The questions have to be viewed through the lens of contemporary community standards, the newspaper said, noting that when the U.S. Supreme Court established current obscenity law in its 1973 decision in Miller vs. California, it did not go about defining those standards.

H. Louis Sirkin, an obscenity lawyer who represents the defendants, says the standards of cyberspace rather than community standards of western Pennsylvania should be used to gauge his clients' conduct.

 

24th January   

Update: Little Appeal...

Max Hardcore files appeal against obscenity conviction
Link Here  full story: Max Hardcore on Trial...Max Hardcore on trial for obscenity

Max Hardcore Extreme 12 DVD As Max Hardcore prepares to begin serving his 46-month sentence for supposed obscenity crimes, his attorneys have filed an appeal to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeal.

Hardcore attorneys point to a dozen issues of contention, including whether community standards should be applied to online material and whether a defendant’s sentence can be enhanced for sadomasochism when the evidence is that the acts were not painful.

The attorneys also want the 11th Circuit to weigh whether federal obscenity laws are unconstitutional when it comes to criminalizing the sale of adult material for private viewing, as well as whether  the government can prosecute an online adult company when it didn’t have proof that defendants knew their site was hosted in the district of prosecution.

They also claim that the Miller test requirement that material be taken as a “whole” is impossible in the context of the Internet.

Attorney Jeffrey Douglas, who represented Hardcore at U.S. District Court in Tampa, said at the time that it was a “sad day for America” when he was convicted.

 

22nd January   

Update: COPA Cops It...

US Supreme Court kills COPA law which tried to restrict free speech in the name of child protection
Link Here

US Dept of JusticeThe US Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that a law designed to shield children from pornography on the Internet violated the constitutional right to free speech.

The move by the highest court, which let the ruling stand without comment, would appear to mean the end of the road for the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which was passed by Congress in 1998 but never enforced.

Rights groups welcomed the Supreme Court decision not to hear the Bush administration's appeal of the ban on COPA, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) describing it as a clear victory for free speech.

The court's decision not to review COPA for a third time affirms what we have been saying all along -- the government has no right to censor protected speech on the Internet, and it cannot reduce adults to hearing and seeing only speech that the government considers suitable for children, added ACLU legal director Steven Shapiro.

 

20th January   

Updated: If You Seek Amy...

Britney Spears asks to be fucked by radio censors
Link Here  full story: If You Seek Amy...Britney Spears winds up the nutters

Circus CD Britney Spears forthcoming single could be banned by some US radio stations over fears that listeners might mishear the song's lyrics.

Programmers are concerned about the meaning behind the song, If You Seek Amy, which when sung by Spears sounds like F U C K me.

Spears' song could technically avoid censorship because it doesn't contain offensive language.

Patti Marshall, program director at Cincinnati's Q102, told MTV: It's OK to put in on an album, have fun with it, but we're publicly owned, you know? We have a responsibility to the public ... you put this ... out and act like we're all fuddy-duddies, like we're trying to make moral judgements. It's not about us. It's about the mom in the minivan with her 8-year-old.

In the song, Spears sings the line: All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if you seek Amy, which sounds like: All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to F U C K me.

Another programmer told the broadcaster that it would have to run the song past a legal team before it could be aired.

Update: If You See Amy

20th January 2008. See article from earsucker.com

Britney Spears has reportedly been forced to re-record her song, If You Seek Amy due to the threat of radio stations worrying about that mom in the minivan with her eight-year-old . Good grief, will this ever end?

She is editing the track, which includes the lyrics, All of the boys and all the girls are beggin’ to If You Seek Amy, to If You See Amy.

The uncensored version is going to do well in the dance clubs, though.

 

18th January   

Groomed by Hype...

US State Attorneys find that concerns about solicitation of children are exaggerated
Link Here

Enhancing Child Safety The Internet may not be such a dangerous place for children after all.

A task force created by 49 state attorneys general to look into the problem of sexual solicitation of children online has concluded that there really is not a significant problem.

The findings ran counter to popular perceptions of online dangers as reinforced by depictions in the news media.

The panel, the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, was charged with examining the extent of the threats children face on social networks like MySpace and Facebook, amid widespread fears that adults were using these popular Web sites to deceive and prey on children. But the report concluded that the problem of bullying among children, both online and offline, poses a far more serious challenge than the sexual solicitation of minors by adults.

This shows that social networks are not these horribly bad neighborhoods on the Internet, said John Cardillo, chief executive of Sentinel Tech Holding: Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons.

The report was the result of a year of meetings between dozens of academics, experts in childhood safety and executives of 30 companies, including Yahoo, AOL, MySpace and Facebook.

The task force, led by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, looked at scientific data on online sexual predators and found that children and teenagers were unlikely to be propositioned by adults online. In the cases that do exist, the report said, teenagers are typically willing participants and are already at risk because of poor home environments, substance abuse or other problems.

Not everyone was happy with the conclusions. Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general, who has forcefully pursued the issue and helped to create the task force, said he disagreed with the report. Blumenthal said it downplayed the predator threat, relied on outdated research and failed to provide a specific plan for improving the safety of social networking.

Among the systems the technology board looked at included age verification technologies that try to authenticate the identities and ages of children and prevent adults from contacting them. But the board concluded that such systems do not appear to offer substantial help in protecting minors from sexual solicitation.

One problem is that it is difficult to verify the ages and identities of children because they do not have driver’s licenses or insurance.

 

18th January   

Update: Apple's New Book Burning Application...

Book censored to appease Apple's censor
Link Here  full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

Knife Music book An e-book submitted to Apple's App Store has been approved after the author removed language that apparently offended Apple.

CNET's David Carnoy wrote a book called Knife Music last year, and attempted to submit it to the App Store as an e-book. Apple rejected his application for containing "objectionable content," which appeared to be a couple of uses of 'fuck'

But Carnoy decided to remove that type of language from the book, which he said didn't amount to all that many words in the first place. Upon resubmitting the application, it was approved, and can now be found on the App Store.

I decided to censor because it wasn't that big a deal. I changed it very little. It's more important to have people check the book out--along with the whole concept of ebooks on the iPhone. It's kind of virgin territory now, but it's going to be really big soon, Carnoy said in an e-mail.

 

16th January   

Goddam Nutters...

US state senator proposes bill to outlaw all public and published profanity
Link Here

South CarolinaSouth Carolina State Senator Robert Ford has introduced a bill that, essentially, seeks to outlaw profanity.

S.56 would prohibit the public utterance or publication of printed material containing profanity. It would also make it illegal to exhibit or otherwise make available material containing words, language, or actions of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent nature.

Games, movies, books, websites, magazines, music and cable TV, of course, would also be threatened.

The proposal would make the dissemination of such profanity a felony, punishable by five years in jail or a $5,000 fine. Or both.

 

12th January   

Delicious Journeys...

Supporting the hype for Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America
Link Here  full story: Bruno...Supporting the hype for Bruno

Bruno publicity stillSacha Baron Cohen has failed to impress US test audiences with his new film, tentatively titled Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America For The Purpose Of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable In The Presence Of A Gay Foreigner In A Mesh T-Shirt - with many taking offence at the character called Jesus who wears a crown of thorns and a loincloth like the Christian

A source said: Sacha has really gone for the shock tactics this time. The characters were created deliberately to wind certain sections of society up and Jesus is one of them. It won't be the first time Sacha has landed himself in hot water. Religion isn't always the best place to poke fun.

 

7th January   

Offsite: Art and Politics as Usual...

Giant Stalin poster censored from New York college building
Link Here

Stalin on the Cooper UnionIn the light of what happened to my project at Cooper Union [last month, the museum removed a giant banner with a reproduction of a Picasso drawing of Joseph Stalin, after protests from the Ukrainian church opposite], it is a bit ironic that the show was announced under the headline, Art and politics as usual .

...

When you do projects in a public space you are asking for trouble, both as an artist and as an institution, and one has to be prepared for attacks. No one had foreseen the Ukrainian reaction, or the already existing conflict between Cooper Union and the Ukrainian community. But any kind of public art has the ability to offend someone, even if it is not so intended. Any image or presentation that is ambiguous is likely to be read as offensive by someone. Therefore, when you make art in a public space the question is not how to avoid offending people, but how to deal with these reactions. Cooper Union decided that the best way was to take down the banner, and to try to silence the reactions with a statement that was so well balanced that it worked more as a cover-up than a starting-point for a discussion.

The intended provocation of the banners lies not primarily in the fact that I show an enlarged portrait of Stalin, but in the combination of one of the most famous artists from the 20th century, Pablo Picasso, and one of the most infamous dictators of the same period, Joseph Stalin. Normally these two short and powerful men would not figure in the same story, or in the same presentation of history. But here they are together, linked by a charcoal drawing.

...Read full article

 

6th January   

Age Old Wisdom...

Court judgement sensibly clears website of blame for lax age verification
Link Here

SexSearch.com logoAnother case where someone tried to blame a website for the actions of its users.

In this case, a guy used the website SexSearch.com to find a date for sex. The woman he met claimed in her profile that she was 18 years old. In reality, she was apparently only 14 and the guy was eventually brought up on statutory rape charges. In turn, he sued SexSearch, claiming that the site had a responsibility to verify the ages of its users something he failed to do himself.

After a district court ruling tossed out the lawsuit, an appeals court has also tossed out the lawsuit, noting that none of the various 14 claims the guy brought against the site seemed to hold up under scrutiny.

Basically, as the judge in the district court noted: Plaintiff clearly had the ability to confirm Jane Roe’s age when he met with her in person, before they had sex, yet failed to do so. Thus, it's pretty difficult for him to then claim that it was the website's responsibility to accurately verify the age of participants.

 

4th January   

Offsite: Faceless Censors...

A bit too in your Facebook
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

On the Saturday after Christmas the entrance to the headquarters in Palo Alto, California, of Facebook, the social networking site that has 140m users worldwide, was the venue for a supersized nativity scene as breastfeeding mothers gathered in protest. The so-called nurse-in was held in support of another young mother, Kelli Roman, whose profile picture had been removed by the Facebook moderator because it showed her suckling her baby.

Facebook’s spokesman, Barry Schnitt, says the censorship of Roman’s breastfeeding photo is part of its antinudity policy. He said: Breastfeeding is a natural and beautiful act and we’re very glad to know that it is so important to some mothers to share this experience with others on Facebook. We take no action on the vast majority of breastfeeding photos because they follow the site’s terms of use. Photos containing a fully exposed breast do violate those terms and may be removed. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children over the age of 13 who use the site. The photos we act on are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain.

Facebook also bans pictures showing nipple, areola or gluteal cleft (bum cleavage, as was). Of course, this policy has originated in the United States, where the flash of Janet Jackson’s nipple at the 2004 Super Bowl caused a national furore. Any child in Britain can get all the areolas he or she wants in the nation’s most popular daily newspaper.

I wonder how many people in Facebook HQ sit on the working committee on nipple exposure. When exactly does a natural and beautiful act become something that endangers the moral wellbeing of 13-year-olds?

...Read full article

I don't normally sign petitions, but in this case...

See article from guardian.co.uk by Victoria Coren

More than 100,000 people have now signed an online petition, protesting against the Facebook ban on photographs of women breast-feeding.

Clicking join this group on a Facebook petition page is too easy to carry any weight. People do it for fun, or to pass the time, or by mistake. Large numbers don't make the issue important or newsworthy. One hundred thousand people have clicked to register their disapproval of the breast-feeding photo ban, but 300,000 have clicked I want my 90's Nickelodeon back.

The breast-feeding petitioners are obviously right, though. What an exasperating, stupid, misguided ban. It comes under the general rule of no fully exposed breasts . Presumably, the person responsible is one of those who can't look at a nipple, even when it's waiting to feed a baby, without giggling, pointing and making honking noises.

Whoever ruled that a feeding breast would violate the rules on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material needs, rather than banning them, to look at as many as possible, until he morphs gradually back from Sid James into someone who recognises an innocent, sexless human function that a proud mother might like to record in her online baby album.

 

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