Archive for the ‘VRA Video Recordings Act’ Category

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ed vaizey Ed Vaizey, the Tory culture minister, has pledged to try and convince international partners to adopt the British idea of providing age ratings for music videos on the likes of YouTube.Currently videos from foreign, and in particular American companies, are unrated on Youtube.

Online music videos from the British arms of Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music are submitted for age BBFC ratings if they meet a long list of specifications under which they would qualify for a 12, 15 or 18 rating.

The current system means that while UK-made music videos which are only suitable for adults (of which there are hardly any) are captured by online parental filters, those produced in America are not.

Mr Vaizey revealed that the government will attempt to convince Britain’s global allies to adopt the ratings system when challenged in a parliamentary written question. Vaizey said:

We were pleased therefore to announce recently that the industry and the BBFC were putting their online music videos ratings scheme on a permanent footing and extending it to include videos produced in the UK by independent labels, as well as by major UK labels.

We welcome this voluntary action by industry and will now be looking at how the lessons learned in the UK could help international partners adopt a similar approach.

Government is committed to working with labels and platforms towards seeing age rating on all online music videos.

In fact there are hardly any music video that have been rated 18. More typically videos are rated 12 or 15 for strong language. And of course such language is notably difficult to encode into international standards.

Definitely a policy more about politicking than practicality.

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Pop Party 13 Various Pop Party 13 is a music video by Hannah Lux and Davis.
Starring Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. BBFC link UK: Passed PG for mild sex references after 12:59s of BBFC advised category cuts for:

  • 2014 Universal Music TV CD/DVD Combo at UK Amazon released on 27th October 2014

TheBBFC commented:

  • Distributor chose to remove stronger sexual content within music videos and to remove a use of strong language for PG. An uncut 12 was available.

UK Censorship

This video may have the distinction of being the first victim of a new law removing an exemption from BBFC censorship for music videos. It was cut for category on the day that the new regulation came in, 1st October 2014. Presumably before the new law the CD/DVD would have been uncut and noted as Exempt from classification.

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bbfc cash logo Video Recordings Act extended to previously exempt works

The BBFC announced:

On 4 August 2014, the Video Recordings Act was amended to lower the threshold at which certain video content loses its exemption from classification. This amendment comes into effect on 1 October 2014.

From 1 October, documentaries, sports and music video works that can currently claim exemption will be required to seek a BBFC classification if they contain material which could be potentially harmful or otherwise unsuitable for children and, as with video games, works will have to be classified if they contain material which would be rated 12 and above.

See also BBFC Submission Guide covering fees and procedures [pdf]

The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014

See new law from legislation.gov.uk

A new law came into force today allowing use of copyright material for the purposes of parody:

Caricature, parody or pastiche

Fair dealing with a work for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche does not infringe copyright in the work.

So at least we can now generate parody BBFC symbols.

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Miley Cyrus Reinvention DVD

   currently exempt

Music videos released on DVD and Blu-ray that might contain content unsuitable for children will soon be required to be submitted to the BBFC for certification.

The new measures will be introduced from October 1 to cover Blu-ray, DVD and CD formats – but will not apply to online digital works.

If it is judged that content in a video would typically attract an age rating of 12, 15, 18 or R18, the BBFC will issue a certification. The turnaround for certification currently stands at up to seven days. Of course the DVD producer has to foot the expensive bills. There are also labelling requirements around the display of the rating on packaging and products.

Read more UK Government Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

maria millerTo: Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Dear Ms. Miller,
Please forgive this open letter; it’s an ungainly form of communication but I approached your department for an interview and didn’t hear back. So…

You might not realise it but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has undertaken a course of action that puts a number of small businesses at direct risk. Right now, Britain has some of the most exciting and inventive independent DVD labels in the world, companies doing everything from producing definitive editions of art-house classics to rescuing the forgotten treasures of British film.

The sheer quality of their work has made them indispensable to discerning viewers around the globe. Hell, if you want a recommendation, just ask the Prime Minister — those Borgen box-sets he’s so fond of are released by Arrow Films , one of our very best.

All that’s under threat because of new regulations from the DCMS.

Let me explain: as it stands, the Video Recordings Act 1984 exempts certain types of material — including documentary articles — from the scrutiny of the British Board of Film Classification (an organisation, it’s important to note, that charges heftily for its services).

Since most DVD extras — the featurettes, interviews and visual essays that so often supplement the main feature — are classed as ‘documentaries’, independent DVD labels can create high-quality special editions stuffed to the gunnels with extra material without incurring the prohibitive BBFC costs.

That’s all going to change. The VRA is being amended to remove certain of the existing exemptions. While some material will remain free from classification, the changes are profound enough to have independent DVD labels extremely worried.

You’re no doubt aware that all labels are facing huge problems from online piracy — if a film can be illegally grabbed for free, why buy it? Well, a lavish suite of DVD extras is a damn good incentive to slap down the cash. But additional BBFC costs will place a huge strain on already tight budgets: this means fewer extras will be produced. Inevitably, some labels will go to the wall — as a direct result of Government legislation.

It’s important to note that these problems are unintentional: these changes are a response to parental pressure to do something about saucy music videos. Targeting physical media, though, seems a curiously toothless response in the age of YouTube: these changes look set to harm independent DVD labels and do nothing about the issue you’re ostensibly trying to address.

According to the documents that lay out these changes, they were the result of a detailed consultation. However, none of the labels I have spoken to were even aware of the changes until very recently. I must ask: did the DCMS consult with ANY independent labels about the changes?

Given the impact these changes will have on businesses, I hope you’ll reconsider the changes to the VRA, to prevent unintended damage. It also seems worth asking if you are prepared to meet representatives of the independent DVD labels and hear their concerns directly. Ask them nicely and they might even give you some of their discs. Then you can see for yourself just how good they are and why it would be such a loss if any went under. If you want any recommendations, I’m happy to oblige.

Yours etc.
James Oliver

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See article from moviemail.com

UK Government armsThese are good times for British film fans. The UK is lucky to have some of the best DVD labels in the world ( Arrow , the BFI , Masters of Cinema , Odeon , Second Run , Second Sight , Nucleus…) producing essential releases of that cater for every taste.But this golden age could be coming to an end, courtesy of some well-meaning government legislation. From May, the way home video material is classified is changing: material that is currently exempt from classification will have to be vetted by the BBFC.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) decided that the best way to stem the tide of tabloid claims of pop video filth is to tighten up BBFC ratings. And they came up with some new and expensive regulations.

The main change is that any documentary material that contains clips of things that might be considered unsuitable for children will no longer be exempt from classification. So any DVD extra (an interview, for example) that contains a clip from the main feature will have to be scrutinised again. A single use of the word ‘fuck’ is enough to put the work in 12 rated territory and hence need expensive vetting by the BBFC.

A 90 minute film on DVD/Blu-ray will set you back £ 615 plus VAT, according to the fee calculator on their website. No big deal to the major labels but potentially calamitous for the knife-edge economics of the independent sector. It was Marc Morris, of Nucleus Films who first sounded the alarm about these changes and he offers a case study of the impact they’ll have on industry.

The documentary Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide proved a big hit, but parts of the material, particularly the framing documentary were exempt from classification. Morris estimates it would cost between £ 6,000- £ 7000 more had the documentary been made after the new law comes in.

Alan Byron, MD of Odeon Entertainment notes:

The economics behind collector’s releases will now dictate that extra features are reduced and more vanilla editions will appear.

It goes without saying that all this was pushed through without consulting any of the labels it affects — and there’s been virtually no communication from either the DCMS or BBFC to explain that the changes were even happening

Francesco Simeoni of Arrow Films concurs:

The new legislation has serious implications for niche labels, says . Our audience is very much on an international level and so we must compete with territories that do not have to contend with such costs. Whether we choose to include content for our releases has a whole new set of financial considerations which means we are at a significant disadvantage to our competitors.

…Read the full article

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See consultation details from gov.uk
See draft bill [doc] from gov.uk

DCMS logoThe Department for Culture, Media and Sport has published a draft bill to remove the current blanket exemptions for music, sports, religious and educational videos.Videos that would be U or PG rated will continue to be exempt but videos that would be rated 12 or higher now need to be censored by the BBFC before they can be legally sold in the UK.

The mechanism to predict whether videos require censorship is provided by a long list of content that would likely trigger at least a 12 rating. If none of the triggers apply then the video need not be submitted.

The changes will be applied via a Statutory Instrument meaning that it will not be debated in parliament.

The DCMS has invited public comments on the draft which are to be sent to VRARegs@culture.gsi.gov.uk by 31 January 2014.

The  new regulation amends Section 2 subsections (2) and (3) of the Video Recordings Act 1984:

Subsection (2) of the current Video recordings Act reads

(2) A video work is not an exempted work for those purposes if, to any significant extent, it depicts–

  • (a) human sexual activity of acts of force or restraint associated with such activity;|
  • (b) mutilation or torture of, or other acts of gross violence towards, humans or animals;
  • (c) human genital organs or human urinary or excretory functions;
  • (d) techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences;

This will be replaced by

The Video Recordings Act 1984 (Exempted Video Works) Regulations 2014

(2) A video work is not an exempted work for those purposes if it does one or more of the following-

  • (a) it depicts or promotes violence or threats of violence;
  • (b) it depicts the immediate aftermath of violence on human or animal characters;
  • (c) it depicts an imitable dangerous activity without also depicting that the activity may endanger the welfare or health of a human or animal character;
  • (d) it promotes an imitable dangerous activity;
  • (e) it depicts or promotes activities involving illegal drugs or the misuse of drugs;
  • (f) it promotes the use of alcohol or tobacco;
  • (g) it depicts or promotes suicide or attempted suicide, or depicts the immediate aftermath of such an event;
  • (h) it depicts or promotes any act of scarification or mutilation of a person, or of self-harm, or depicts the immediate aftermath of such an act;
  • (i) it depicts techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences or, through its depiction of criminal activity, promotes the commission of offences;
  • (j) it includes words or images intended or likely to convey a sexual message (ignoring words or images depicting any mild sexual behaviour);
  • (k) it depicts human sexual activity (ignoring any depictions of mild sexual activity);
  • (l) it depicts or promotes acts of force or restraint associated with human sexual activity;
  • (m) it depicts human genital organs or human urinary or excretory functions (unless the depiction is for a medical, scientific or educational purpose);
  • (n) it includes swearing (ignoring any mild bad language); or
  • (o) it includes words or images that are intended or likely (to any extent) to cause offence, whether on the grounds of race, gender, disability, religion or belief or sexual orientation, or otherwise.

These Regulations do not apply in relation to any supply of a video work which was first placed on the market before […] 2014

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See press release from gov.uk

Ed VaizeyThe government announces that more DVDs are to carry an age rating, more is to be done on online age ratings and WiFi will be family friendly. placeholder

Age ratings will be given to a range of video content that is currently exempt – such as some music and sports DVDs – so that those unsuitable for younger children will have to carry a British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) age rating in future.

Video Recordings Act

The government is publishing the response to its recent consultation on the Video Recordings Act which addresses concerns about the exemptions from age rating that are currently given to a range of music, sports, religious and educational DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.

The Video Recordings Act will now be changed so that any of these products that are unsuitable for younger children will have to carry the familiar 12 , 15 and 18 BBFC age ratings in future. The changes are expected to come into force in 2014.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said:

Government realises that the world has moved on since these exemptions were written into the Video Recordings Act some 30 years ago.

The changes we’ve announced today will help ensure children are better protected, and that parents are provided with the information necessary for them to make informed choices about what their children view.

In order to help ensure parents can make more informed decisions about the material their children watch online, ministers are also calling on industry to develop solutions so that more online videos – particularly those that are likely to be sought out by children and young people – carry advice about their age suitability in future.

Read more BBFC News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Strangely no comment of the expensive fees involved and the impact it will have on many small market videos. Perhaps the government should pick up the tab so that they can be better places to make a judgement about the benefits of imposing yet more expense on British industry that’s already heading towards bankruptcy.

See  article from  guardian.co.uk

The Bitch Of Buchenwald DVD The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will this week close a three-month consultation that most observers believe will end a loophole which means DVDs with titles like The Bitch of Buchenwald and Britain’s Bloodiest Serial Killerscan claim exemption from BBFC censorship.

As things stand, most sport, documentary and music videos can claim an exemption from classification. The BBFC’s head of policy, David Austin said:

The great majority of exempt video works are fine. They are not going to harm anyone, but there are a significant number of titles that are potentially harmful to children.

We know from our postbag that parents are concerned about exempt videos. Usually they write and say, ‘Why did you give this video an E classification?’ The answer is we didn’t as it never came to us — it would not have gone to anyone.

The BBFC estimates that around 200 videos might be caught by a change in the law.

Austin showed the Guardian examples of videos that have claimed exemption but would have been classified. One of the more shocking is a documentary about the American heavy metal band Slipknot . It shows one fan who has carved the word Slipknot in to her forearm and another who has done the same in her belly, to which someone is seen pointing in admiration.

A music video by the Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth, which was rated X in Germany but is unrated in the UK, shows topless women being crucified with blood running down their breasts. A Robbie Williams video for the song Come Undone, contained on an exempt compilation, In and Out of Consciousness, shows drug taking and Williams cavorting in bed with two naked women.

Other potentially problematic DVDs include wildly violent cage fighting DVDs and ones that instruct in krav maga, the combat techniques developed by the Israeli army.

All the signs are that the government will change a law that was made in 1984, when no one could have foreseen a problem with music or instructional videos. The BBFC, together with other regulatory bodies, is calling for exceptions to the exemptions that would cover material that is violent, sexual, discriminatory, has repeated strong language or contains imitable behaviour such as drug use.

A DCMS spokesperson said: DCMS launched a consultation in May on the exemptions from age rating that currently apply to music, sports, religious and educational videos. The government will publish its response in the autumn.

Read more UK Government Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

See article from culture.gov.uk
See consultation paper [pdf] from dcms.gov.uk

DCMS logoAs announced in the Queen’s Speech, the Department for Culture, Media, Sport and Censorship is seeking views about the exemptions in the Video Recordings Act and about how advertisements shown in cinemas are censored.

Consultation Open date: 09 May 2012
Closing date: 01 August 2012

Please send your comments or if you have any queries about this consultation to:

AdsExempt@culture.gsi.gov.uk

or by post:

Advertising and Exemption Consultation Department for Culture,
Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH

Cinema Advertising Censorship

The government is asking whether the BBFC really needs to get involved in the censorship of cinema adverts. At the moment it is mandatory that the BBFC rate such advertising, but the Government is asking if the more general system of advert censorship provided by CAP and ASA is sufficient.

Option 0: No change

Under this option cinema advertisements would continue to be referred to the BBFC for age rating whilst also being subject to mandatory self-regulation overseen by the ASA.

This regime has been in place for a number of years and it could be considered that it should remain on the grounds that it appears to work effectively to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate content via cinema advertisements and consumers’ rights are properly observed. Some may feel also that the statutory backing is an essential element of the regime.

However, as set out earlier in the preceding paragraphs, others may consider that the age rating role provided by the BBFC in relation to cinema advertisements is already adequately covered by the self-regulatory approach of the industry and that it therefore represents an unnecessary burden on business.

Option 1: Remove the requirement for BBFC classification of cinema advertisements

This option would potentially remove the financial and administrative burdens on the cinema advertising industry of having to submit each advert to the BBFC for an age rating. Arguably, this would also make matters simpler for industry, reducing the additional time constraints resulting from both BBFC and CAA clearance.

The BBFC has indicated that the current average classification cost is around ฃ111 per ad classified. There is an additional administrative burden for industry attached to this process in supplying the BBFC with hard copies of the adverts requiring classification. The impact on the BBFC of removing the classification requirement would simply relate to their resourcing of this function.

However, could removing the requirement to age rate adverts shown in cinemas by the BBFC result in a reduction in consumer and child protection? The industry bodies and the CAA believe the existing advertising clearance system as set out in paragraphs 4.6 to 4.23, underpinned by the ASA’s non-broadcast advertising code (CAP Code), is robust enough to ensure there are no regulatory gaps, particularly in relation to child protection, and that suitable consumer safeguards will be maintained.

This option would also not place additional enforcement burdens on local authorities

On music censorship the government is nominally considering 4 options:

option 0: Leave the existing exemptions in place and untouched, on the basis that either the present arrangements do not give rise to concerns to an extent that would justify legislative change, or that removing exemptions would place unnecessary or disproportionate burdens on industry for limited benefit.

option 1: Remove the exemptions from age rating for music, sports, religious and educational video works. This requires primary legislation to achieve. Removing the exemption would mean that producers would have to submit all film material to the BBFC for classification before making them available for sale in the UK regardless of genre.

option 2: Lower the existing content thresholds for exemption so that more products are brought within scope of the age rating requirement (as we have done recently for video games). This can be achieved by secondary legislation.

option 3: Ask other parts of the video industry to introduce a self-regulatory parental advisory system for the currently exempt genres, similar to the BPI’s PAS labelling scheme for the music-themed products.

Option 2 is noted as the Government’s preference