The adult website HardGlam (at www.hardglam.com and others) has been fined £1500 for transgression of ATVOD's internet censorship rules:
Rule 1: A person must not provide an on-demand programme service unless, before beginning to provide it, that person has given notification to the appropriate regulatory authority of the person's intention to provide that service. A notification
must be sent to the appropriate regulatory authority in such manner as the authority may require and must contain all such information as the authority may require.
Rule 4: The provider of an On-Demand Programme Service must pay to the appropriate regulatory authority such fee as that authority may require under section 368NA of the Act.
Rule 11: If an on-demand programme service contains material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen, the material must be made available in a manner which secures that such
persons will not normally see or hear it.
The usual complaints about not registering for censorship, allowing hardcore material available without the onerous age verification requirements and not being responsive to the censors finger clicking.
Perhaps more interesting is how Ofcom relates to dealing with an adult industry minnow. Ofcom noted:
The Service Provider submitted written representations to Ofcom on 13 November 2014. The Service Provider also attended an oral hearing on 2 December 2014, supported by two family members.
Firstly, the Service Provider apologised for previous lack of engagement with ATVOD and Ofcom. He explained he had not intended to delay or impede the regulatory process and that there were a number of exceptional personal circumstances which had
led to him (in his words) putting his, head in the sand . He noted that he was not well connected in the adult or video on demand industries and had run a business focusing on niche fetishes (principally women smoking) for nine years
without realising compliance with ATVOD rules was required. When ATVOD contacted him, he had not known where to turn for advice and, having previously fallen victim to scams, had erroneously believed registration with ATVOD was either a scam or
at least not a legal requirement. He said that Ofcom's involvement had alerted him to the seriousness of the situation and, following receipt of documents from Ofcom on 26 October 2014, he had taken steps to disable the websites under referral
pending the outcome of Ofcom's sanctions process. Ofcom had noted this on 18 November, and also noted that the services remained unavailable as at the date of the oral hearing.
Secondly, the Service Provider noted that his was a very small business and provided turnover details which were not available to Ofcom at the time of its Preliminary View. The Service Provider said that he had struggled to make a profit with his
original company, J&L Visuals Limited, and had liquidated that company in October 2010. He said that with so much content available free over the internet, subscription based providers were now struggling to cover costs. After seeking
alternative employment, the Service Provider explained he had returned to the internet business, as sole trader under the HardGlam name. The Service Provider said that he did not have full accounts for the relevant period but he provided
information about his very modest sales during the period from 26 April to 13 November 2014 and on his monthly running costs. The Service Provider said the assumptions in Ofcom's Preliminary View massively overstated the size of his
business and expressed concerns about his ability to continue the business were a fine over four figures to be imposed.
Thirdly, the Service Provider noted the impact of the steps taken by Ofcom and of his own failure to engage earlier with the process on himself and his business. He said that since Ofcom had taken action in relation to the Service, his main
payment provider had suspended payment provision in relation to the Service and he had not been able to receive any income or publish new content, leaving him with the costs for the premises he used for filming but no income to cover those costs.
He indicated that he had to borrow money to cover these costs..
Sex workers and campaigners have gathered in front of parliament to protest against changes to UK pornography regulations.
Protesters chanted: What do we want? Face-sitting! When do we want it? Now! They say the list of banned activities includes face-sitting , and campaigners carried out a mass demonstration of this while singing the Monty Python song
Sit On My Face.
Organiser Charlotte Rose called the restrictions ludicrous and said they were a threat to freedom of expression.
These activities were added to this list without the public being made aware, Charlotte Rose said. They've done this without public knowledge and without public consent.
There are activities on that list that may be deemed sexist, but it's not just about sexism, it's about censorship. What the government is doing is taking our personal liberties away without our permissions.
Mistress Absolute, a professional dominatrix and fetish promoter, said the law was restrictive:
I felt that this was the beginning of something to creep into my sexual freedom and sexual preferences.
Neil Rushton said:
They're very sexist laws. These are very geared towards women's enjoyment as opposed to men's.
Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, Jerry Barnett from Sex and Censorship and Jane Fae from the Consenting Adult Action Network were among those making speeches at the protest. Fae called the changes heteronormative , and said:
What is being clamped down on is any kind of online content made by adults who are consenting.
I organised today's mass face-sitting outside Parliament because I'm not willing to give up my sexual liberties
Draconian new pornography restrictions are an attack on our freedom, so it's time to sit down and be counted
I can hear the laughter now. A mass face-sitting outside Britain's parliament: are they serious?
The answer, for anyone who dares think otherwise is: absolutely. Yes. For the new anti-porn regulations censor people without consent. Nobody has the right to take away peoples personal liberties or personal choice.
If we don't speak out now, more and more amendments are going to be added to existing laws taking our personal rights away.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 (S.I., 2014, No. 2916), dated 4 November 2014, a copy of which was laid before this House on 6 November, be annulled.
Primary sponsor: Julian Huppert
Sponsors: John Leech and Mike Hancock
Update: 2 more gallant liberals
12th December 2014.
Andrew George (St. Ives) and David Ward (Bradford East) are Lib Dems who have joined the role call of honour.
Update: Julian Huppert gets a positive write up in the Daily Mail
Spanking and whipping should not be banned in British-made online porn videos, Lib Dem MPs have demanded. Backbench MP Julian Huppert attacked rules revealed last week which ban a host of erotic acts considered harmful by ministers.
The new laws aim to bring video-on-demand online porn into line with videos sold in licensed sex shops. It means around 10 acts - ranging from spanking to strangulation, aggressive whipping and being tied up -- are now banned from web
porn sold in the UK.
Mr Huppert has tabled a Commons motion calling for the new rules -- laid down in the Audiovisual Media Services Regulation 2014 -- to be annulled. He said:
The new rules mean that all video-on-demand services that originate from the UK can't show various acts, such as spanking.
It seems to me to be very odd to say that this - assuming it is consensual - is acceptable for somebody to do in their own home, for them to photograph it, film it, but not to look at it online if it comes from the UK.
To me the case for banning things should be driven by issues around consent, and around genuine risk, not about whether we happen to like things or not.
ATVOD recently published minutes from the September board meeting which predated the recent government censorship decree for internet porn.
The law was discussed at the meeting but this seems a little irrelevant after the law was published. Other related issues that cropped up were:
Secret Censors Pact
The Board NOTED the progress being made with development of a MoU with Ofcom and BBFC. Once finalised the MoU would be published and made available to Industry Forum members.
Move to censor the internet to the same level as TV
The Board AGREED that ATVOD should offer to provide Ofcom with the benefit of its expertise with regard to the work Ofcom is undertaking on a common framework for media standards.
You can run but you cannot hide
The Industry Forum meeting had supported working party proposals for a process designed to confirm whether an on demand service fell under UK jurisdiction. The Board DISCUSSED the details of the scheme. It was expected that the final scheme
would be brought to the November Board meeting for approval.
Licence to kill the adult trade
The Board NOTED that there had been no recent communication from DCMS on proposals to consider the feasibility of a licensing scheme for foreign pornographic websites.
More censorship rules to follow
The Board AGREED that finalisation of ATVOD's additional guidance for adult providers should be put on hold until the new AVMS Regulations was introduced.
In league with the devil
BBFC presentation on 18, R18 and unclassifiable material 8.1
Murray Perkins, BBFC, attended the meeting and gave a presentation which included examples of material classified at 18, material classified at R18 and material which had been refused a classification.
A blog post from a UK fetish website provides an interesting but unverified snippet warning of future oppressive control freakery:
It seems the clips4sale saga has taken another twist as they have rapidly put in a solution in place in almost blind panic after many months of pushing it under the bed.
UK customers no longer can use their debit cards to buy clips in c4s stores without registering with the UK government for permission. When I asked them for details of whom to register with or provide a source for this information they well
unable to provide further details.
As a UK customer you can buy clips either using a credit card or using the virtual currency "clip cash" or one of these mythical government approved debit cards to buy clips directly.
Of course you still can't sell banned content through them from the UK.
On 1 December, the Communications Act 2003 was amended. The regulation of R18 pornographic content available on-demand in the UK will henceforth be subject to the same standards as those applied to pornography on DVD by the British Board of
Film Classification, where I am a senior examiner. The amendment applies to those works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation, with the R18 category being a special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit
works of consenting sex, or strong fetish material involving adults.
While some non-pornographic films may contain material which raises issues comparable with those which might be found in sex works, and which may also be subject to cuts -- such as scenes of sexual violence -- there is no direct crossover between
the standards for sex works and those applied to non-pornographic films.
Underpinning the BBFC guidelines is a specific requirement for the Video Recordings Act to have special regard to any harm that may be caused to potential viewers, or, through their behaviour, to society. This means that, before classifying a
work, the BBFC may cut certain acts in pornographic works where imitation or the influencing of attitudes is a particular concern. Breath restriction is one such example. It would be wrong to assume that the BBFC consequently cuts all sight of
people sitting across other people's faces. But the BBFC will cut sight of clear and deliberate restriction of a person's ability to breathe during sexual play. Breath restriction for the purposes of sexual enjoyment can result in death. Given
such a clear and well-documented risk of harm, passing such breath play in a sex work would be contrary to the BBFC's designated responsibility.
The BBFC also intervenes where material risks prosecution under UK law. This includes prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act 1959. Indeed, the BBFC's designation under the Video Recordings Act requires that it does not pass any content in
breach of UK law. We regularly consult both the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan police to understand and keep up to date with the types of content which are subject to prosecution and conviction. Consequently, we may not classify
any material which may be subject to prosecution. Among other activities, this includes any repeated focus on urination during sex and urination over any other person, including any act which cannot be distinguished from urination on the basis of
the onscreen evidence alone.
It has recently been suggested that the introduction of the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations will lead to several acts now being banned from UK on-demand services, including spanking and verbal abuse. Much of this information is inaccurate,
some of it is wrong. In judging material which may or may not be allowed under BBFC Guidelines, it is often unhelpful to speak hypothetically and in generalisations when specifics of context and potential harm in a given situation are among the
considerations which really matter. The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations will ensure that UK on-demand content is consistent with legally available pornography off-line, benefiting from the application of UK law and the expert legal and
medical advice which informs BBFC decisions.
Comment: 10 questions for the BBFC about R18 porn rules
That so many people are appalled by these rules seems to have rather shaken the BBFC. After all, they pride themselves on their feminist credentials, and consider many of the acts and images they forbid as acts of sexual violence, mostly
against women. To be told that they are being sexist and patriarchal by banning spanking movies must genuinely baffle them.
It has been suggested in the past that the BBFC simply ask the public on these topics [obscenity rules]. After all, if the test of obscenity is what a majority of people consider to be obscene, then this is one area where opinion polling
could be helpful. What is interesting about the culture at the BBFC is that when such suggestions have been made, the BBFC has reacted with superior amusement -- incredulity even.
What do you mean? Actually ask the public what they think on a matter where the public are the final arbiter.? What an extraordinary idea!
New statutory rules banning the most extreme content have come into force for UK video on demand services regulated by ATVOD.
Under the new rules -- introduced through the Audiovisual Media Service Regulations 2014 -- material which would be refused a classification by the British Board of Film Classification ( BBFC ) will be prohibited on a UK video on demand
service. This means that content which cannot lawfully be distributed on a DVD can no longer lawfully be distributed on a video on demand service operated from the UK.
ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said:
Under the new rules, material which is banned from sale on a DVD in the UK will also be banned from UK video on demand services. This is particularly likely to affect pornographic videos which feature violence, coercion or abusive scenarios such
as incest. If you can't walk into a licensed sex shop and buy it, nor will you be able to view it at home on a video on demand service regulated by ATVOD from today.
ATVOD will also continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based both inside and outside the UK. We strongly support
initiatives designed to improve the take up of parental control software.
ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said:
Almost 90% of British adults think it is important that UK providers are required to take the steps set out in the ATVOD Rules and Guidance to ensure that under 18's can't see hardcore porn material. We have made good progress in ensuring that
UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with those rules, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.
Our recent enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18's. Asking visitors to a website to click an 'I am
18' button or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient -- if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are 18, just as they would in the 'offline' world.
Surely the British could commission an effective and economic age verification scheme for websites to use. All it would really take is to encode an over 18 flag in debit card transactions. But whilst there is no currently viable means of age
verification then it seems a bit unfair to persecute websites. I am sure website would be keen to use a viable scheme if one existed
ATVOD has published determinations that two further adult services, operating across 34 websites, had breached rules requiring UK video on demand requiring onerous age verification before allowing access to hardcore porn.
The two online video on demand services, Candy Girl Productions and Scott XXX , were claimed to be in breach of a statutory rule which requires that material which might seriously impair under 18's can only be made available if
access is blocked to children. The Candy Girl Productions service operated across 33 linked websites.
The Scott XXX service broke the rules in two ways. Firstly, it allowed any visitor free, unrestricted access to hardcore pornographic video promos/trailers or still images featuring real sex in explicit detail. Secondly, access to the full videos
was open to any visitor who paid a fee. with a debit card which can be used by under 18's, ATVOD held that the service had also failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the full videos.
The operator of Candy Girl Productions did not allow free access to explicit images of real sex, but did allow any visitor who paid a fee access to videos containing such material. As the service accepted payment methods -- such as debit cards --
which can be used by under 18's, ATVOD held that the service had failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the full videos. The provider of Candy Girl Productions has lodged an appeal with Ofcom against a separate ruling,
also published today, that the service falls within the scope of the statutory rules.
Of course one has to wonder if any under 18 has actually ever been found to have paid for porn with a debit card. Surely there's too much free stuff around for youngsters to risk parental scrutiny by using debit cards.
Update: Unbanned on appeal
3rd October 2016. From Xbiz
The operator of Candy Girl Productions, Laura Jenkins, won her appeal involving two online adult sites AllTeensWorld.co.uk and CandyGirlPass.com as well as 33 other affiliated adult subscription sites.
Ofcom reversed decisions made by previous co-regulator ATVOD and decided the sites listed in the appeal cases were not on-demand video websites and subject to regulation, including requiring a system that verifies that the user is 18 or over at
the point of registration. Each of the online adult companies were subject to fines prior to the appeal cases.
Ofcom said in the rulings that it proposed to quash previous ATVOD determinations in the cases and replace it with the current determinations.
The UK government has just passed worrying new rules about requiring internet porn films to adhere with BBFC guidelines and for websites to impose impractical age verification requirements.
The internet video censor, ATVOD, is now consulting on a new set of censorship rules to reflect the new law. However ATVOD has also dreamt up a few new censorship rules of its own, seemingly way beyond the law changes about hardcore porn videos.
ATVOD has defined a new rule 14 which lets the organisation act as a new BBFC for internet video material not actually seen by the BBFC. This is not backed up by any change to law that I have spotted.
ATVOD has cut and pasted a whole load of BBFC statement about banning things for made up reasons such moral harm. Now when these statements appear on the BBFC websites, then it is rhetoric to keep moralist campaigners and MPs happy. Knowing what
the BBFC actually bans and censors, generally means that we trust the BBFC not to abuse the open censorship enabling rules.
However there is zero trust for ATVOD which seems to glory in its crucifixion of the adult internet industry with unnecessarily onerous age verification requirements.
Anyway ATVOD introduces the consultation as follows:
Consultation on Proposed New Rules and Guidance Proposal to adopt new Rules and Guidance in light of amendments made to the Communications Act 2003 by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 This consultation opened on 1st December 2014
This consultation will close at 5pm on 2nd March 2015
This is a consultation by the Authority for Television On Demand ( ATVOD ), the body that Ofcom designated on 18 March 2010 as the co-regulator for VOD editorial content. The purpose of this consultation is to consult on a proposal to
adopt an amended Rules and Guidance document.
We expect to publish a statement on the Proposed Rules and Guidance in spring 2015.
And the new Rule 14 reads:
Rule 14: Harmful Material: Prohibited material
An on-demand programme service must not contain any prohibited material. Prohibited material means
(a) a video work which the video works authority has determined for the purposes of the 1984 Act38 not to be suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it, or
(b) material whose nature is such that it is reasonable to expect that, if the material were contained in a video work submitted to the video works authority for a classification certificate, the video works authority would determine for those
purposes that the video work was not suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it.
In determining whether any material falls within (b), regard must be had to any guidelines issued by the video works authority as to its policy in relation to the issue of classification certificates.
Content whose broadcast complies with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, or that has been classified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in any category, including R18 , would not be considered prohibited material .
Video works which have been refused a classification by the BBFC, and material which if included in a video work would be refused a classification by the BBFC, is prohibited material and cannot be included on an on demand programme
service in any circumstances. All material on the service, including still images and other non-video content is subject to this requirement.
There is no requirement for material being provided on an on demand programme service to be classified by the BBFC, but where material has not been classified, ATVOD is required to have regard to the BBFC Classification Guidelines when
determining whether it is reasonable to expect that such material when included in an on demand programme service is material which, if contained in a video work submitted to the BBFC, would be refused a classification.
The guidance below sets out the type of material which may be refused a classification by the BBFC. For further information on the guidelines issued by the video work authority see the BBFC's website at
http://www.bbfc.co.uk/what-classification/guidelines. Having regard to the current BBFC Classification Guidelines, the following is a non-exhaustive list of the types of material which may constitute prohibited material:
Material in breach of the criminal law (including material judged to be obscene under the current interpretation39 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959) or that has been created through the commission of a criminal offence
Material which risks harm to individuals or, through their behaviour, to society. For example:
Material which may promote criminal activity
Portrayals of children in a sexualised or abusive context
Detailed portrayals of violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal drug use, which may cause harm to public health or morals.
Material which makes sexual or sadistic violence look normal, appealing, or arousing
Graphic images of real injury, violence or death presented in a salacious or sensationalist manner which risks harm by encouraging callous or sadistic attitudes
Material which reinforces the suggestion that victims enjoy sexual violence
Material which invites viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities
Material which is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example, it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any mitigating factors) that it may pose a harm risk.
Material in pornographic works which:
Is likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity which may include adults role-playing as non-adults
Portrays sexual activity which involves real or apparent lack of consent. Any form of physical restraint which prevents participants from indicating a withdrawal of consent
Involves the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may be made for moderate, non-abusive consensual activity o Involves penetration by any object
associated with violence or likely to cause physical harm
Involves sexual threats, humiliation or abuse which do not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game. Strong physical or verbal abuse, even if consensual, is unlikely to be acceptable
The European Audio Visual Media Services Directive provides a justification for censorship that was implemented in UK law in the Communications Act 2003:
If an on-demand programme service contains material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen, the material must be made available in a manner which secures
that such persons will not normally see or hear it.
Unfortunately for the censorial government, there is no particular evidence that hardcore porn seriously impairs children. In fact all the kids are already watching porn and they don't seem to be ending up being seriously harmed, at
least any more than any other generation.
So the legal underpinning for ATVOD's onerous suffocating age verification rules for British adult websites seems somewhat shaky and open to challenge. Therefore the government are changing the law so as to explicitly make age verification a
requirement without having to rely on mythical serious harm. The government has introduced the following statutory instrument which means that it will not be debated in parliament, just nodded through.
The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014
These Regulations may be cited as the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014.
Laid before Parliament on 6th November 2014
Coming into force on 1st December 2014.
Amendment of section 368E of the 2003 Act (harmful material) .
In section 368E(4) of the 2003 Act (harmful material), for subsection (2) substitute:
(2) An on-demand programme service must not contain any prohibited material.
(3) Prohibited material means:
(a) a video work which the video works authority has determined for the purposes of the 1984 Act not to be suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it, or
(b) material whose nature is such that it is reasonable to expect that, if the material were contained in a video work submitted to the video works authority for a classification certificate, the video works authority
would determine for those purposes that the video work was not suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it.
(4) An on-demand programme service must not contain any specially restricted material unless the material is made available in a manner which secures that persons under the age of 18 will not normally see or hear it.
(5) Specially restricted material means:
(a) a video work in respect of which the video works authority has issued a R18classification certificate,
(b) material whose nature is such that it is reasonable to expect that, if the material were contained in a video work submitted to the video works authority for a classification certificate, the video works authority
would issue a R18classification certificate, or
(c) other material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of 18.
(6) In determining whether any material falls within subsection (3)(b) or (5)(b), regard must be had to any guidelines issued by the video works authority as to its policy in relation to the issue of classification
(7) In this section:
the 1984 Act means the Video Recordings Act 1984;
classification certificate has the same meaning as in the 1984 Act (see section 7 of that Act);
R18 classification certificate means a classification certificate containing the statement mentioned in section 7(2)(c) of the 1984 Act that no video recording containing the video work is to be supplied other
than in a licensed sex shop;
the video works authority [BBFC] means the person or persons designated under section 4(1)of the 1984 Act as the authority responsible for making arrangements in respect of video works other than video games; video work
has the same meaning as in the 1984 Act (see section 1(2) of that Act).
Amendment of section 368B of the 2003 Act (supply of information)
(d) OFCOM may supply information to the video works authority, within the meaning of section 368E, for use by the video works authority in connection with functions of OFCOM as the appropriate regulatory authority;
(e) a designated body may supply information to the video works authority, within the meaning of section 368E, for use by the video works authority in connection with functions of the designated body as the appropriate
[This looks like a measure to stop the BBFC effectively changing the law by changing its own guidelines. It looks like Ofcom and ATVOD will be able to step in should the BBFC change its rules].
BBFC R18 Guidelines
For reference the current
BBFC Guidelines for R18 takes the form of a list of material prohibited from R18:
The following is a list of prohibited material:
material which is in breach of the criminal law, including material judged to be obscene under the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act 1959
material (including dialogue) likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity which may include adults role-playing as non-adults
the portrayal of sexual activity which involves real or apparent lack of consent. Any form of physical restraint which prevents participants from indicating a withdrawal of consent
the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may be made for moderate, non-abusive, consensual activity
penetration by any object associated with violence or likely to cause physical harm
sexual threats, humiliation or abuse which do not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game.
Strong physical or verbal abuse, even if consensual, is unlikely to be acceptable
These Guidelines will be applied to the same standard regardless of sexual orientation of the activity portrayed
CPS Obscenity Guidelines
Of course the guidelines don't fully define what is 'judged to be obscene under the current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act 1959', but the CPS does offer some guidance. See
charging practice from
It is impossible to define all types of activity which may be suitable for prosecution. The following is not an exhaustive list but indicates the categories of material most commonly prosecuted:
sexual act with an animal
realistic portrayals of rape
sadomasochistic material which goes beyond trifling and transient infliction of injury
torture with instruments
bondage (especially where gags are used with no apparent means of withdrawing consent)
dismemberment or graphic mutilation
activities involving perversion or degradation (such as drinking urine, urination or vomiting on to the body, or excretion or use of excreta)
The Guidelines are still insufficient for VoD providers to judge the legality of their catalogue
The most immediate issue with the new law is how commonplace 'rough sex' will be treated. There are many films that suffer a few cuts for hair pulling, gagging, retching, spitting etc. Will a film that would be R18 after a few cuts now become
illegal? If so, there are thousands of them. It is not clear how these cuts correlate to the guidelines. The guidelines are clearly produced for interpretation by the BBFC rather than the public and will effectively leave VoD service providers
unable to judge the legality of films without a BBFC certificate. Perhaps that is the idea. But then again it will leave British websites with a tiny fraction of the range of choice to that of foreign competitors.
Comment: Scrapping red tape
18th November 2014. From the Melon Farmers
Coincidently I got a circular emall from David Cameron yesterday claiming:
"we will carry on backing businesses by scrapping red tape, cutting taxes - and continuing to invest in the infrastructure that is vital to create jobs and enable Britain to compete successfully in the global race".
Well if Cameron considers this new law as `backing businesses` and `scrapping red tape` then Britain is doooomed.
The Adult Provider Network is a coalition of individuals and companies engaged in the provision of satellite and web-based adult media in the UK.
The podcast is from a session at the recent XBIZ EU conference where the topic of ATVOD censorship of the British adult website trade was discussed.
Much of the debate was about the expense and viability of implementing age verification of British porn websites with some positive ideas for reasonably priced schemes.
However there were also some reprehensible attitudes on show rather offsetting any sympathy for an industry being suffocated by the government.
One contributor was keen to get customer payment handed over first, and only then presenting the hurdle of age verification before the customer can get what he/she has paid for. Given that a third of age verification checks fail for adults, over
being unknown by credit checking agencies, or by not being on the electoral role, or not wanting to send personal ID data to porn websites, then this seems a disgraceful way to run a business.
Another contributor joked (or maybe not) that his content was crap, and the site does better with customers not being able to see a sample. Where the censors effectively won't allow samples, then customers will end up paying for crap.
Television X parent Portland TV has announced a deal with London-based identity specialist, Veridu, in the run-up to Friday's XBIZ EU debate on the viability of online age verification (AV).
The UK's video on demand censor, ATVOD, requires that hardcore VOD content be placed behind an onerous access control gateway, and that technical tools are used to verify that customers are over 18 years of age.
Unfortunately the state is doing nothing to help set up a viable and trusted verification scheme, leaving porn sites in an impossible situation. In an environment where phishing and identity theft is all too common, users simply won't trust porn
sites with dangerous personal information.
According to Portland TV's Managing Director, Chris Ratcliff, the company has wrestled with age verification since bringing its web operations onshore in 2011. An initial move to credit card-only transactions resulted in revenues taking a severe
hit given the large majority of U.K. customers for whom debit cards are the preferred payment route. Debit cards are considered unacceptable to ATVOD as as a few are held by under 18s.
Portland was quick to introduce to a belt and braces approach to age verification by running checks against independent data sources via a third party identity provider, Intelligent ID. However this hasn't proved very successful, as
I'd like to thank Intelligent ID for getting us started, but the market's shifted [and] ultimately I needed a broader range of datasets to verify against. Veridu has been particularly enterprising in this respect. They offer the traditional
checks against the U.K. electoral role, a number of credit reference agencies and passport and driving license data.
The next step is to commission an independent audit of the accuracy of Veridu's ability to age verify using social sign-on. If we can crack this, it will further reduce costs and ease the whole on-boarding process by removing the need for
customers to share sensitive personal data when they sign up. Let's face it, the last thing you want to hand over to your favorite porn site is your passport or driving license.
It seems that the idea of social media age verification is that the system would take a look at your Facebook profile say and if all your friends are school pupils then it will refuse age verification. It would be tough to fabricate a
significantly populated social network so this may make sense, but it sounds a little bit iffy when trying to verify people say around their 18th birthday, no doubt the pedants in the likes of ATVOD and Ofcom, who have to answer to the Daily
Mail, don't really want to get involved in accepting a grey area around one's 18th birthday.
Portland and Veridu are at least working on a database of people who have been verified so that websites can check prospective customers against the database of people already verified, which would then obviate the need for further demands for
passport scans etc.
Surely it would better for everybody involved, even ATVOD and Ofcom to seek out a practical solution as it would encourage UK companies implementing checks rather than encouraging foreign companies that don't.
Another interesting solution being considered is to verify age by using a mobile phone in the sign up process and simply checking that the mobile phone has been enabled for adult content. Customers generally trust telecoms companies with their
credit cards so this sounds far more viable solution than porn websites asking for ID details themselves.
Portland TV is working with Telecom 2 to integrate its mobile age verification solution, Verime, which checks the AV status of a user's mobile SIM by polling the mobile network operator to verify if the handset has been enabled for adult
Age Verification: The Pros & Cons will take place on Friday, September 26 at 1 p.m. as part of XBIZ EU at the London Hilton Metropole. Speakers include representatives of Portland TV, Veridu, Telecom 2, Intelligent ID, the Association
of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) and .XXX. The session will be chaired by Jerry Barnett of Sex & Censorship.
The first scraps of information about the government's upcoming internet censorship laws have been reported in the Sunday Times.
The Government seems to be drafting a law to apply the BBFC/Crown Prosecution Service censorship R18 rules to Bristish adult websites.
The Sunday Times writes:
FILMS that glamorise sexual violence and abuse are to be banned from British-based websites as the government prepares to impose the same standards on the internet as on cinemas and shops selling DVDs.
Under legislation due later this autumn, British services will be prohibited from showing material that would be refused an age rating by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
However it is yet clear how this can be implemented, as some of the BBFC prohibited content is very vague as what is to be banned with such material as squirting, breath constriction and narrative allusions to under 18s sex. Is a couple of
seconds of cuts enough to make a film totally illegal to show on a British website? It seems so, the article notes:
Currently films with scenes removed by the BBFC for consumption in cinemas or on DVD can be shown online in their original form without penalty.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Video on Demand censor, Peter Johnson said there would be significant fines for websites breaching the new rules that will be imposed by Ofcom. Adding that if necessary services would be removed.
ATVOD has published determinations that two further adult services, operating across 74 websites, has breached its rules requiring UK video on demand providers to implement onerous and impractical age verification rules.
Videos featuring explicit images of real sex could be accessed by children on the internet services, in breach of ATVOD's rules.
The two online video on demand services were Extreme Movie Pass and UK Sirens .
The services each broke the rules in two ways. Firstly, they allowed any visitor free, unrestricted access to hardcore pornographic video promos/trailers or still images featuring real sex in explicit detail. Secondly, access to the full videos
was open to any visitor who paid a fee. As the services accepted the most popular payment methods, such as debit cards, which can be used by a few under 18's, ATVOD held that each service had also failed to put in place effective access controls
in relation to the full videos.
The operator of Extreme Movie Pass, the service spanning 73 websites, failed to become fully compliant in accordance with a timetable set by ATVOD. The service provider has therefore been referred to Ofcom for consideration of a sanction, a
procedure which can lead to operators being fined or having their right to provide a service suspended.
But thankfully there is enough porn on the internet to last several lifetimes. It's just a shame that British companies are made to suffer to no effect on children's access to porn. Perhaps ATVOD could do something a bit more positive and ask
banks to provide an over 18 check to debit card transactions.
A few months ago announcements of a hardcore Dr Who parody caught the imagination of internet news sites. Well it has now been released.
It features some tacky props, particularly the tardis, but also features some rather comely actresses sort of resembling Amy Pond and River. And of course the Doctor, a sex lord battling the cybersemen.
Urban Chick Supremacy Cell (UCSC) is a BDSM themed website structured as a WordPress blog. It features blog articles many with either short hardcore videos and/or photosets. The videos are generally short averaging about 7 minutes. The site
is commercial but at a low scale. Ofcom notes that UCSC has only 58 customers and generated a total revenue of $2,193 since mid-2011.
In January this year ATVOD claimed that the website was a Video on Demand website subject to its expensive and onerous censorship regime. But UCSC took advice from the campaign group Backlash and their friendly specialist lawyer and decided to
appeal against the ATVOD determination.
TV censor Ofcom heard the appeal and decided that indeed UCSC did not fit the legal definition of service liable to ATVOD censorship and so overturned ATVOD's determination.
The determination of whether a website is liable to ATVOD censorship is based on vague and poorly worded European legislation which basically requires basic TV censorship rules to be applied to websites that compete with traditional highly
censored linear TV.
The determination is both complex and vague but the key points in Ofcom's decision seem to be as follows.
The AVMS Directive is a European Directive amongst the purposes of which is to provide a measure of fair competition across Member States between those providing:
a. traditional (linear) television broadcasting services; and
b. on-demand services that are essentially the same, or sufficiently similar, and which compete for viewers and advertisers.
The key phrases from law is that a service is an on-demand programme service (ODPS) which is then liable to ATVOD censorship if:
Its principal purpose is the provision of programmes the form and content of which are comparable to the form and content of programmes normally included in television programme services.
Ofcom also note explanatory notes in the European directive named recitals. Recital 24 of the Directive which states that:
It is characteristic of on-demand audiovisual media services that they are 'television-like', i.e. that they compete for the same audience as television broadcasts, and the nature and the means of access to the service would lead the user
reasonably to expect regulatory protection within the scope of this Directive.
Ofcom also noted references to competition in Recitals 21 and 24 and in particular, that regulation should not cover services:
Which are primarily non-economic and are not in competition with television broadcasting, such as... services consisting of the provision or distribution of audiovisual content generated by private users for the purposes of sharing and exchange
within communities of interest. And that, It is characteristic of on-demand audiovisual media services that they... compete for the same audience as television broadcasts.
UCSC appealed that the content provided by the service was not comparable to the form and content of programmes normally included in television content. In support of this the Appellant said that the average duration of the 91 videos available
on the site was seven minutes and 53 seconds.
The Appellant also referred to factors proposed in Ofcom's 2012 Essential Research Report for indicating whether an on-demand service is considered by its audience to be a reasonable substitute for linear TV. The Appellant gave the example of
six factors (duration of content, look and feel of the service, who controls what is watched, effort expended to access the service, perceived quality of content and where the content originated) which it said indicated that UCSC was not a
reasonable substitute for linear TV.
The Appellant also argued that, due to UCSC's limited customer base and turnover (58 paid customers and a turnover of $2,193 in approximately two years), the website could not be considered to be in competition with linear TV.
Ofcom agreed with ATVOD in that many aspects of the website did in fact fit the definition of an ODPS service liable to ATVOD censorship but also found a few aspects that did not fit the definition, and overall decided that the website did not
fully meet the definition of an ODPS.
The issues in favour of UCSC not being an ODPS were:
That videos on the website were not of professional production values and many were presented just as clips:
There were no production credits of the type that were on the Playboy service (i.e. listing key production talent). Whilst not determinative, this can be a feature of material more likely to be viewed as comparable to programmes available on
The majority of the videos were not self-contained, nor episodes from wider series, but took the form of individual acts edited from longer single fetish sessions.
Ofcom noted various elements of the videos which were indicative that they had been made with a limited production budget. For example, the majority of videos available on the UCSC service were filmed in one location and many appeared
unscripted and lacked any narrative conceit. In addition, audio had not been recorded using professional equipment, there was no music to accompany the scenes, the videos did not appear professionally lit and the content appeared to have been
filmed using basic, consumer-grade cameras. The production values of the material presented on the UCSC Service were accordingly not closely comparable to professional content broadcast on linear services.
Ofcom also noted that the website was laid out as blog of posts in chronological order. There was no particular website navigation to pick out particular videos of interest:
Ofcom noted that the Service had been constructed using a blogging template and therefore could only be navigated in a traditional web-like manner. This rudimentary, non-TV like navigation was demonstrated by the members' homepage,
which consisted of 20 chronologically presented posts, each with an attached photo gallery or individually embedded video. Consequently, Ofcom considered that a user viewing material on the UCSC Service would be unlikely to consider themselves
to be watching a programme service competing with linear television programme services.
Ofcom concluded that UCSC was not an ODPS:
Ofcom considers that the form and content of audiovisual media material on the Service, provision of which is its principal purpose, is not comparable to the form and content of linear television programme services. The Service was not,
therefore, an ODPS within the meaning if the Act.
The moral of the story seems to be that low production value videos, without a particular narrative structure, presented in a blog are not likely to be TV-like and be considered a competing option to traditional linear TV.
ATVOD responded to the Ofcom decision in a press release (along with a second case that went in ATVOD's favour)
Assessment of how tv-like an on-line adult services is lies at the heart of a second ruling published by Ofcom. Ofcom upheld an appeal by the provider of the website Urban Chick Supremacy Cell - which included audiovisual
content featuring bondage, domination and sado-masochism - against an ATVOD determination in January 2014 that it was an on-demand programme service and therefore subject to regulation by ATVOD.
Ofcom concluded that the form and content of audiovisual media material on the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell site was not comparable to the form and content of linear television programme services. Therefore, the website did not meet the
statutory definition of an On-Demand programme service and was outside of the remit of the statutory rules.
Commenting on the decision, ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said :
The two appeal decisions demonstrate that there is sometimes a fine line separating adult services which are subject to the statutory rules from those which are not. UK services which feature the most extreme material are not subject to the
video on demand regulations -- which protect children from material which might cause them serious harm - unless they are considered 'tv-like'. Websites operated from outside the UK are also not subject to the ATVOD Rules.
ATVOD will continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based both inside and outside the UK. We strongly support
initiatives designed to improve the take up of parental control software and have worked with the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the drafting of legislation which will prohibit on UK based, tv-like VOD services any material which
would not be classified for sale on a DVD.
ATVOD has published brief minutes from its May 2014 board meeting. This includes a short report on what the government is up to in its plans to censor adult porn on the internet in the name of child protection.
ATVOD board meeting minutes report:
Public policy on R18 and unclassified material
An updating report was tabled and the Board DISCUSSED the issue at length.
The Board NOTED the current position on the initiative to reduce children's access to pornography online, with:
the introduction of legislation for UK based services to keep adult material out of reach of children;
the EU Commission encouraged to tighten up the AVMS Directive to have age verification measures for European based adult services; and
consideration of legislation which would enable the payments industry to prevent payments to services outside Europe which allowed under 18s to view R18 equivalent material.
Recommendations for further actions had been presented to DCMS and ATVOD had had received undertakings from the Creative Industries Minister immediately prior to the publication of the ATVOD research report For Adults Only? . Since
publication of ATVOD's research, DCMS had followed up on the undertakings given. In particular, the draft Statutory Instrument relating to UK based services had been developed and it was hoped that it would be in force by the end of 2014. It
would put beyond doubt that R18 material can only be provided on an ODPS if persons under 18 will not usually see or access it.
As the Statutory Instrument would define material according to standards set by the BBFC, it was anticipated that Ofcom, BBFC and ATVOD would agree a Memorandum of Understanding. Any additional activity for ATVOD as a result of these changes
will be reflected in revisions to ATVOD's Rules and Guidance, which will require consultation.
The position on overseas providers based outside the EU had been discussed at a meeting between ATVOD, DCMS, Home Office, Ministry Of Justice, Crown Prosecution Service and the payments industry. As a result of that meeting, DCMS had agreed to
consider the feasibility of introducing a licensing regime for foreign pornographic websites (similar to that being introduced for foreign gambling websites). A timetable had not been provided.
The Board AGREED that ATVOD should offer assistance to DCMS in its efforts.
The Board NOTED that the proposal had been taken up by a number of high profile third parties and that the Opposition had tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill which would establish a licensing regime for foreign porn
Note that the licensing provisions in Lords amendment of Criminal Justice and Courts Bill were in fact withdrawn but it is interesting to note the devious plan being hatched by the government.
It sounds ludicrous to expect foreign companies to submit to UK licensing when it would be very unlikely that the provisions could be enforced by prosecutions launched from Britain. However this is clearly not the point of the licensing. It is so
that unlicensed foreign companies can deemed to be nominally breaking UK law (even if this can't be enforced) so as to give the banks and payment services a legal excuse to deny payment services for at least the UK portion of the website's trade.
The Authority for Television On Demand, co-regulator of editorial content in UK video on demand services, has published its annual report detailing steps taken by ATVOD in the year to 31 March 2014 to protect children from hardcore porn on
regulated video on demand ( VOD ) services.
This included action against a service run by JP Media which resulted in the first ever use of powers to suspend the right to provide a VOD service. The porn video site operated by JP Media had failed to ensure that under 18s could not access
hardcore porn content on the UK operated websites. The JP Media service was among 16 services, operating across 20 websites - found to be in breach of the statutory rules in 2013-14 because they featured hardcore porn material which could be
accessed by under 18's.
Of the 16 services, 14 acted to make changes to bring the service into compliance or closed. The remaining two were transferred to the control of a company based in The Netherlands. Although regulated under the same EU Directive, the Dutch
regulatory authority does not share ATVOD's view that hardcore pornography might seriously impair under 18s and so on-demand services provided from that jurisdiction are not required to have in place the sort of age verification and access
control systems required by ATVOD in the UK.
ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said :
We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with rules designed to protect children from harmful content, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.
Our enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18's. Asking visitors to a website to click an 'I am 18'
button or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient, if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are 18, just as they would in the 'offline' world.
[However the ATVOD mandated child protection measures as so onerous that it is almost impossible for businesses to survive after implementing them. An interesting statistic in the report rather illustrates this. In a survey of internet access
ATVOD found that only 1 of 1266 adult sites visited by members of a 45,000 strong survey was a British site working within ATVOD censorship rules].
ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said:
ATVOD will continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based outside the UK . We strongly support initiatives designed to
improve the take up of parental control software and have worked with the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the drafting of legislation which will prohibit on UK based VOD services any material which would not be classified for sale on a
In addition to the 16 breaches relating to the provision of hardcore pornography, the authority also details in its Annual Report a further 56 breaches of the statutory rules, giving a total of 72 breaches during 2013-14, an increase of 200% on
the previous year.
Another interesting statistic that ATVOD failed to mention was that ATVOD spent £510,900 in the report period so each of the 72 breaches of the code cost on average, £7095 to process.
Surely this money would be better spent commissioning a practical national ID scheme administered by trusted parties rather than handing over highly personal ID date to dodgy porn sites with easy potential for identity theft. This would then
allow British websites to compete whilst children would be better protected by a scheme that was acceptable and practical for everybody.
Comment: ATVOD latest idiocy
19th July 2014. Thanks to Alan
The mind boggles!
Where do they find fuckwits like Pete Johnson? How much do they pay him?
I haven't the foggiest idea where they get evidence for this crackpot notion that porn is somehow harmful to people aged less than 18. Bloody hell, more than half a century ago I was able to enjoy a quiet J Arthur over Pamela Green and
June Palmer, in mags readily obtained by the lads at my boys' grammar school. It doesn't seem to have wrecked my life. I picked up a few degrees and spent my working life in adequately paid white-collar jobs. Strength to the elbow (and wrist) of
today's teenage lads if they defy this clown and get their fix of porn.
Melon Farmers: The Annual Report reveals that ATVOD paid £105,060 to Pete Johnson in salary, and a further £18,911 in pension contributions.
An identity authentication company is suggesting the UK online pornography industry adopt its technology when regulation is inevitably brought in.
Peer-to-peer sites already use Veridu's technology to rate people as trustworthy or not. It works by asking an individual to setup a profile using social media logins, in much the same way an app would ask you to sign up with your Twitter or
Facebook details. The more logins the individual provides to Veridu, the richer and more reliable its verification will be. The system will then ask if you recognise friends in your social network, look for friendship links mirrored across
multiple social networks including LinkedIn, and compare age groups in your network. For the new age verification model, it could also include Paypal details (more helpful if the user has signed up with a credit card) and other details from
Veridu promises it is not storing the data it analyses, nor using it for any purpose other than to deliver a token at the end of the process that the user can then take away and show to adult content sites -- all it will say is whether that
person has been verified as over 18, and how robust that conclusion is on a specific scale.
ATVOD publishes determinations that 6 adult video on demand services operating across 29 websites had breached onerous censorship rules applying to UK video on demand providers.
According to ATVOD, hardcore porn ranging from explicit real sex to BDSM could be accessed by children on the internet services.
The six online video on demand services - Bra Busters of Britain, Hardglam, Madame Caramel, Miss Jessica Wood, One Stop Porno Shop and Speedy Bee were held to be in breach of a statutory rule which requires that material which might
seriously impair under 18's can only be made available to fee paying adults with credit cards (not the more commonly held debit cards).
The services each broke the statutory rules in two ways. Firstly, they allowed any visitor free, unrestricted access to hardcore pornographic or bondage, domination and sado-masochism (BDSM) video promos/trailers or still images featuring real
sex in explicit detail or strong BDSM activity. Secondly, access to the full videos was open to any visitor who paid a fee. As the services accepted payment methods such as debit cards which theoretically can be used by under 18's, ATVOD
ruled that each service had also failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the full videos.
ATVOD have never presented any evidence suggesting the unlikely occurrence of children actually paying for porn with a debit card.
Four services, Hardglam, Madame Caramel, One Stop Porno Shop and Speedy Bee, which failed to make their services fully compliant in accordance with a timetable set by ATVOD have been referred to Ofcom for consideration of a sanction. Under this
sanctions procedure, operators who fail to comply may be fined - Playboy TV was fined £100,000 for similar breaches in 2013 - or have their right to provide a service suspended, as happened in relation to the service Jessica Pressley last
Given that most websites which allow UK children to access hardcore pornography operate from outside the UK and therefore fall outside ATVOD's remit, then it seems highly unlikely that ATVOD's commercially unviable rules have done anything to
prevent under 18's watching porn.
ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said:
ATVOD has no power to require services based outside the UK to protect children from hardcore pornography. We will continue to work with policy makers and other stakeholders to investigate ways in which UK children might be better protected from
porn websites operating from other countries, which may be unregulated.
Such websites often offer free content as a shop window to attract subscription payments. Over the past year, ATVOD has worked with the UK payments industry -- including MasterCard, Visa Europe, PayPal, UK Cards Association, the Payments
Council and the British Bankers' Association -- to design a process which would enable payments to be prevented to foreign services which allow children to view hardcore pornography.
The payments industry has now made clear that to put such a process into place there would need to be clarity that foreign websites which allow children to view hardcore porn are acting in breach of UK law. The payments industry has therefore
proposed a licensing scheme -- similar to that being introduced for foreign gambling websites -- as the best way of providing the necessary clarity. ATVOD and representatives of the UK payments industry discussed the initiative with the
Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) earlier this month and DCMS is currently considering the feasibility of the licensing proposal. An Opposition amendment which would introduce such a licensing regime has been tabled to the Criminal
Justice and Courts Bill, currently at Report stage.
US morality campaigners, Morality in Media (Mim), have had a pop at Verizon over a video on demand system that offers hardcore programming.
Verizon have a fibre optic service called FiOS which bundles TV and internet access. It offers a wide range of films available on demand.
Morality In Media have noticed that a few titles that reference incest and teens, but of course are just playing acting, and feature only adults with proof of age documents strictly maintained on record.
MiM noted titles like I Banged My Stepdad, Mom, Daughter and Me , and Pigtail Teens Pounded that are featured on FiOS. Patrick A. Trueman, Morality in Media's president, wrote in a letter to Verizon:
Verizon should not be profiting from child sex fantasy videos. In fact Verizon should not profit from pornography at alld. America's children and families are suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography and since Verizon became a leading porn
distributor, it is responsible for much of that harm.
In a letter to MIM, Verizon's Associate Director for Advertising and Content Standards John P. Artney defended the company's choice to provide the content, noting that consumers today have extraordinary choice in and control over the content
available to them across these networks:
The explosion in choice is a tremendous benefit to consumers, but not all consumers want to have access to all content for themselves and their families all of the time. Not all content is desirable to or appropriate for all consumers, however,
and Verizon is proud to provide our customers with myriad tools to control the types of content that they and their families have access to through our service.
Trueman was unsurprisingly unimpressed by Verizon's reply and responded:
Verizon needs to show some corporate responsibility. America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography and that harm falls particularly hard on children, he told FOX411. We are coordinating with the members of our coalition, numbering 146
groups across the U. S., to alert the public to Verizon's pornography distribution. We have notified the board of Verizon through letters of our position on Verizon's distribution of pornography. We will publish responses from the board and will
continue to press and shame the board if no action is taken.
Film preservationist Joe Rubin, who runs Vinegar Syndrome, an exploitation film focused distribution company , is busy preparing for the launch of Skinaflix.com, which he calls a Netflix for sex films.
The new project is a natural evolution for the aficionado of classic porn. According to Minneapolis City Pages:
At Vinegar Syndrome, a separate DVD/Blu-Ray--centric home video company, Rubin restores and sells vintage grindhouse titles like Vampire Hookers , The Phantom Gunslinger , and The Vixens of Kung Fu . A serious film buff, Rubin knows the work of
smut kings like Russ Meyer and Wakefield Poole front-to-back.
An obvious labor of love, Skinaflix.com is also an attempt to further monetize the work being done at Vinegar Syndrome. Rubin told City Pages:
We're not relying on DVD/Blu as a long-term thing. That's also why we're developing our own streaming site, specifically for X-rated, soft and hard, feature films produced between the '60s, and '80s. It's called Skinaflix. Think of it as Netflix
for sex films, but curated for cinephiles.
The planned launch for Skinaflix.com is sometime in 2014.
Nafforf Atvod is a loose alliance of individuals opposed to the introduction of government regulation of the internet in the United Kingdom.
Many people are probably unaware of an insidious threat to freedom of speech on the internet posed by a quango called Atvod (the Authority for TeleVision On Demand). Most people have probably never heard of Atvod. But this quango has been given
powers by another Government quango, Ofcom, to issue licences without which citizens in the UK are prohibited from making websites that consist of videos. Anyone making such a website must pay Atvod a licence fee, must allow the content to be
regulated, and may be required to verify the identity of every visitor to the website. Anyone failing to register and pay Atvod faces the possibility of a fine of up to £250,000 or greater. Anyone who ignores the directions of this
organisation commits a criminal offence, may be punished, and can be banned indefinitely from ever posting a video image on the internet again. Even if videos are merely posted to a video sharing site, even if the site is hosted in another
country, Atvod has still threatened individuals with draconian sanctions.
The idea that in a democracy we could be required to get a license before posting a video to the internet seems incredible, but this is happening now. The price of liberty is eternal vigilence. Unless Atvod is opposed, and made to respect our
right to freedom to express ideas and exchange information, there will be no end to censorship of the internet.
Nafforf Atvod has been formed with the intention of opposing this threat to freedom of expression by challenging the legality of the actions of Atvod and Ofcom. Nafforf Atvod proposes to do this by writing to Ofcom to demand that it reins in
Atvod. If necessary Nafforf Atvod will apply to the Court for permission to seek judicial review on behalf of its supporters.
That is why we need your support. Your support is the legitimacy to oppose Atvod. The more supporters we have, the greater the legitimacy of a claim to represent a broad spectrum of internet users. Please follow us on twitter, @NafforfAtvod, or
e-mail us at
firstname.lastname@example.org with the word support in the title.
Draft letter before action
Below is the text of a draft of a letter before action that it is proposed to send to Ofcom. Under Court rules Ofcom is obliged to reply within 14 days stating whether or not it concedes the case in whole or in part. The core of the claim
is that for technical reasons Ofcom/ATVOD had no lawful power to make rules requiring age verification. Neither is the requirement to pay ATVOD fees lawful. Therefore Ofcom acted unlawfully in issuing a direction that a website called Jessica
Pressley should be shut down following findings that it had not notified , paid a fee and instituted age verification checks. This action is being pursued to protect a matter of principle, on the basis that everyone has a right to be
able to receive information and ideas from any source without interference from a public authority. It isn't being pursued on behalf of the Jessica Pressley website, or any other private interest. Jessica Pressley has had no
involvement with the bringing of this case.
Because the statutory requirements are unambiguous, Ofcom has (hopefully) very little room to make a defence. It is hoped therefore that Ofcom will concede the issue and reign in ATVOD without the matter needing to go to Court. But if it is
necessary to apply for judicial review we are quietly confident (albeit in advance of a response from Ofcom) that we would succeed.