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31st March

 Updated: But Don't Bother Searching for 'Free Speech'...


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US court finds that search engines can impose political censorship if they want too
Link Here
baidu logo A U.S. judge has ruled that the Chinese search engine Baidu has the right to block pro-democracy works from its query results, dismissing a lawsuit that sought to punish the company for Internet censorship.

The lawsuit against Baidu, originally filed in 2011 by eight activists in New York, claimed that the Chinese search engine had violated U.S. laws on free speech. This was because Baidu had been censoring pro-democracy works on its search engine for not only its users in China, but also for those accessing the site from New York.

But U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ruled against the activists, and said requiring Baidu to include pro-democracy works in its search results would run afoul of the U.S.'s free speech laws.  In his ruling, Furman compared Baidu's blocking of pro-democracy works to a newspaper's right to exercise editorial control to publish what it wants. In Baidu's case, the company has created a search engine that favors certain political speech.

Update: Appeal

31st March 2013. See  article from

A group of activists are hoping to appeal a U.S. judge's ruling that treated the censorship on Chinese search engine Baidu as free speech.

In making the ruling, District Judge Jesse Furman equated the censorship to a newspaper exercising its editorial right to publish what it wants. But Stephen Preziosi, lawyer for the eight pro-democracy activists, said in an email Saturday that the comparison was wrong, and that the court had a fundamental misunderstanding of how search engines work.

The appeal is planned to be filed later this week, Preziosi wrote.


21st March

 Offsite Article: Less gore in store for Walking Dead reruns...

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Walking Dead Season 4US censorship discussions about airing the cable TV hit, Walking Dead, on broadcast TV

See article from


9th March

  But will the wording satand up to close examination?...


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Massachusetts state legislators pass law to ban 'upskirt' photography
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Massachusetts state seal Massachusetts lawmakers have approved a bill targeting those who take photographs of the sexual or other intimate parts of people in public. The bill makes such offences punishable by up to two-and-a-half years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

After the legislation's unanimous approval, state Senate President Therese Murray said:

Women and children should be able to go to public places without feeling that they are not protected by the law.

The bill states that anyone who photographs, videotapes or electronically surveils a person's sexual or intimate parts without consent should face a misdemeanor charge. The crime becomes a felony - punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine - if the accused secretly takes indecent photographs of anyone under the age of 18.

Governor Deval Patrick has already said he will sign the measure into law.

The bill was prompted by the case of Michael Robertson, who was arrested in August 2010 after police received complaints that he had used his mobile phone to take photos and videos up the skirts of female passengers on the Boston subway.


28th February

  Financial Games...


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America proposes to use the tax system to discriminate against violent computer game producers
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US Senate The US House Ways and Means Committee released details on in its long-awaited tax reform bill. It is a wide package of measures but includes a kick in the teeth for computer games producers.

The executive summary calls for an improved, permanent R&D tax credit, finally giving American manufacturers the certainty they need to compete against their foreign competition who have long had permanent R&D incentives.

But on page 24 of the same summary that the tax credit is specifically not available for violent video game makers, offering a provision for preventing makers of violent video games from qualifying for the R&D tax credit.

Speaker of the House John Boehner says it is unlikely that the bill will be taken up this legislative session.


4th January

 Offsite Article: Free speech after Duck Dynasty...

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Duck Dynasty Season Korie RobertsonA reality-TV controversy in the US shows that social intolerance can be just as bad as government censorship.

See article from

MPAA logo


Motion Picture Association of America

Films are rated for US theatrical showings and video formats by the MPAA.

The MPAA is a trade organisation, not a state censor. Ratings are voluntary and are not sanctioned by US law. Distributors can opt out of MPAA ratings and release the film MPAA Unrated.

The MPAA are also very active in actions against film piracy.

The MPAA established the modern ratings under the presidency of Jack Valenti

MPAA Presidents:
 - Jack Valenti 1966-2004
 - Dan Glickman 2004-2010
- Chris Dodd 2011-present

MPAA Ratings:

-  G: General Audiences: All ages admitted

- PG: Parental Guidance: Some material may not be suitable for children

- PG-13: Some material may  be inappropriate for children under 13

- R: Restricted: Under 17 requires  accompanying  parent or adult guardian
[in UK terms = 17A]

- NC-17:  No one 17 and under admitted
[in UK terms = 18]

- Unrated, not an MPAA rating but a distributor opt out

Previously there was an X rating which was replaced by the NC-17 in 1990. Distributors could also opt for this X rating without submitting the film for rating. This opt out was commonly used by porn distributors and the X rating became associated with porn. The replacement NC-17 is only available for films submitted to the MPAA.

The NC-17 is commercially unattractive as many theatres and a few retailers consider  themselves 'family friendly' and therefore refuse adults-only material.

MPAA's  film rating department is called Classification and Rating administration (CARA)

  MPAA Corporate

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ESRB logo


Entertainment Software Ratings Board

ESRB is a US trade organisation that assigns the age and content ratings displayed on all computer and video games, enforces marketing guidelines, and advises on online privacy issues.

ESRB Ratings:

- EARLY CHILDHOOD (EC) Content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.

- EVERYONE (E) Content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

- EVERYONE 10+ (E10+) Content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

- TEEN (T) Content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

- MATURE (M) Content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.  This category is particularly designed to ensure that the most adult possible can be sold at many supposedly 'family friendly' retailers who refuse to stock adults only titles

- ADULTS ONLY (AO) Content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.  Many US retailers refuse to carry AO titles

- RATING PENDING (RP) Titles have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game's release.)

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