Posts Tagged ‘BBFC’

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Brotherhood of Blades Blu-ray Brotherhood of Blades (Xiu chun dao) is a 2014 China action film by Yang Lu.
Starring Chen Chang, Shih-Chieh Chin and Dong-xue Li. BBFC link IMDb UK: Passed 15 for strong bloody violence after 5s of BBFC compulsory cuts for:

  • 2017 Second Sight Films (RB) Blu-ray at UK Amazon released on 10th April 2017
  • 2017 Second Sight Films R2 DVD at UK Amazon released on 10th April 2017

The BBFC commented:

  • Compulsory cut required to remove a scene of animal cruelty (a horse being tripped) in accordance with BBFC Guidelines and policy.

Promotional Material

Described as one of the best martial arts films of the last 30 years (Blood Brothers). Brotherhood of Blades tells an epic tale of power struggles, betrayal and conspiracies during the final years of the Ming Dynasty. When three elite Assassins are tasked by the Emperor to eliminate a powerful enemy and his loyal followers, they find themselves pulled into in a treacherous conspiracy which can only lead to a bloody battle for the Empire.

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Poster Fifty Shades Darker 2017 James Foley Fifty Shades Darker is a 2017 USA erotic romance by James Foley.
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan and Bella Heathcote. BBFC link IMDb

While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her.

The BBFC has just passed the cinema release as 18 uncut for strong sex. The BBFC adds in its Insight advice:

There is strong sex and nudity, along with the portrayal of erotic role play based on domination, submission and sado-masochistic practices. There are also strong verbal references to sexual activity.

As with the original film, the UK age rating is the most restrictive in the western world:

  • Australia: MA 15+ for strong sex scenes
  • Canada: 18A (British Columbia)
  • Germany: 16
  • Netherlands: 16
  • New Zealand: R18
  • Portugal: M/16
  • USA: R for strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity, and language

However the distributors will be fretting that the film doesn’t seem to be getting banned around the rest of the world. All other countries reported so far are going for uncut 18 to 21 ratings.

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Poster Embrace 2016 Taryn BrumfittEmbrace is a 2016 Australia / Canada / Dominican Republic / Germany / USA / UK feminist documentary by Taryn Brumfitt.
Starring Renee Airya, Jade Beall and Taryn Brumfitt. BBFC link IMDb

When Body Image Activist Taryn Brumfitt posted an unconventional before-and-after photo in 2013 it was seen by more than 100 million people worldwide and sparked an international media frenzy. EMBRACE follows Taryn’s crusade as she explores the global issue of body loathing, inspiring us to change the way we feel about ourselves and think about our bodies.

The BBFC rating for Embrace has been changed. The film has now been passed 12A for infrequent strong language, nudity, brief surgical detail after 9s of BBFC category cuts for 2017 cinema release.

The BBFC commented:

  • Company chose to reduce the number of uses of strong language (by bleeping spoken uses and blurring written uses) in order to obtain a 12A classification. An uncut 15 classification was available.

The BBFC Insight reveals a few more details about the content after cuts:

Infrequent strong language (‘fuck’) is seen on a website page. There is also milder bad language, including uses of shit , arse and God , and some bleeped and visually obscured additional uses of stronger language.

There is brief sexualised nudity, including a shot of pole dancing. Several scenes feature non sexual nudity, including female genital nudity.

Images of cosmetic surgery feature brief sight of scalpels cutting into flesh and brief bloody detail during Botox injections.

The BBFC originally passed the film 15 uncut for strong language, nudity, brief surgical detail for cinema release. A few days later the consumer advice was changed to remove the reference to nudity and surgical images. The original advice was restored after the rating was reduced to 12A.

Never cut by Australian and New Zealand censors but the film made the news after the director successfully appealed against an Australian MA 15+ rating and won an M rating instead. In New Zealand the film censor exceptionally overruled the Australian decision.

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urban dictionary logoThe mobile phone companies use an algorithmic approach to the blocking of websites for mobile device users who are under 18 or else adults who have not got themselves verified as adults.The BBFC acts to decide appeals against the phone company decisions. Note that the only options available to the BBFC are for websites to made available to all or else restricted to verified adults.

The BBFC commendably publish these appeal decisions.

From the latest batch of two appeals in the preceding 3 months, the BBFC have considered

Urban Dictionary

The Urban Dictionary provides factual definitions of slang terms which often involves string language and sex references. For Example:

Censorshit

the idea that censorship is bullshit….nothing needs to be censored…..if you don’t want to watch swearing, violence, or sexual content, DON’T WATCH IT! simple as that…..nobody is making you watch it…..they have disclaimers for a reason….and if you don’t want your kids watching that shit, tell your kids what they can and cannot watch…..and if they don’t listen to you then you are a bad parent for not teaching your kids to do what you say.

every time i watch tv there’s nothing but censorshit everywhere.

that movie sucked because of the censorshit.

The BBFC advised that the website should be blocked to under 18s, explaining:

We noted that it was an online dictionary of slang words and phrases. While a broad range of terms were explained (with definitions from a broad range of contributors), we found that very strong language and sex references were present in a significant minority of these explanations. Sex references included crude descriptions of activities including masturbation, oral sex, and urination and defecation during sex. In addition, there were references to rape and paedophilia, and definitions of discriminatory terms, which were delivered in an irreverent tone intended to shock or amuse. Given the crude and potentially offensive nature of this content, and the lackof context that accompanied it, we did not consider the website suitable for people under the age of 18.

It seems bizarre that teenagers should be blocked from a dictionary explaining their own terms, but there you go, that’s censorshit for you.

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Poster Embrace 2016 Taryn BrumfittEmbrace is a 2016 Australia / Canada / Dominican Republic / Germany / USA / UK documentary by Taryn Brumfitt.
Starring Renee Airya, Jade Beall and Taryn Brumfitt. BBFC link IMDb

When Body Image Activist Taryn Brumfitt posted an unconventional before-and-after photo in 2013 it was seen by more than 100 million people worldwide and sparked an international media frenzy. EMBRACE follows Taryn’s crusade as she explores the global issue of body loathing, inspiring us to change the way we feel about ourselves and think about our bodies.

A few days ago the BBFC entry for the film read:

UK: Passed 15 uncut for strong language, nudity, brief surgical detail for:

  • 2016 cinema release

The entry has now been updated to:

UK: Passed 15 uncut for strong language for:

  • 2016 cinema release

There is no mention of cuts and the running times remains the same. The nudity and surgical detail could have been pixellated out. But it seems more likely that feminists have dreamt up a new rule of political correctness that nudity does not count in the context of a feminist film.

Perhaps the BBFC advice should read, strong language, positive body image, negative surgical body image augmentation

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house of lords red logoThe Lords had their first debate on the Digital Economy Bill which includes laws to require age verification as well as extension of out dated police and BBFC censorship rules to the internet.Lords inevitable queued up to support the age verification requirements. However a couple of the lords made cautionary remarks about the privacy issues of websites being able to build up dangerous database of personal ID information of porn users.

A couple of lords also spoke our against the BBFC/police/government censorship prohibitions being included in the bill. It was noted that these rules are outdated, disproportionate and perhaps requires further debate in another bill.

As an example of these points, the Earl of Erroll (cross bencher) said:

My Lords, I welcome the Bill because it has some very useful stuff in it — but, like everything else, it might benefit from some tweaking. Many other speakers mentioned the tweaks that need to be made, and if that happens I think that we may end up with quite a good Bill.

I will concentrate on age verification because I have been working on this issue with a group for about a year and three-quarters. We spotted that its profile was going to be raised because so many people were worried about it. We were the first group to bring together the people who run adult content websites — porn websites — with those who want to protect children. The interesting thing to come out quite quickly from the meetings was that, believe it or not, the people who run porn sites are not interested in corrupting children because they want to make money. What they want are adult, middle-aged people, with credit cards from whom they can extract money, preferably on a subscription basis or whatever. The stuff that children are getting access to is what are called teaser adverts. They are designed to draw people in to the harder stuff inside, you might say. The providers would be delighted to offer age verification right up front so long as all the others have to comply as well — otherwise they will get all the traffic. Children use up bandwidth. It costs the providers money and wastes their time, so they are very happy to go along with it. They will even help police it, for the simple reason that it will block the opposition. It is one of the few times I approve of the larger companies getting a competitive advantage in helping to police the smaller sites that try not to comply.

One of the things that became apparent early on was that we will not be able to do anything about foreign sites. They will not answer mail or do anything, so blocking is probably the only thing that will work. We are delighted that the Government has gone for that at this stage. Things need to get blocked fast or sites will get around it. So it is a case of block first, appeal later, and we will need a simple appeals system. I am sure that the BBFC will do a fine job, but we need something just in case.

Another thing that came back from the ISPs is that they want more clarity about what should be blocked, how it will be done and what they will have to do. There also needs to be indemnity. When the ISPs block something for intellectual property and copyright reasons, they are indemnified. They would need to have it for this as well, or there will be a great deal of reluctance, which will cause problems.

The next thing that came up was censorship. The whole point of this is we want to enforce online what is already illegal offline. We are not trying to increase censorship or censor new material. If it illegal offline, it should be illegal online and we should be able to do something about it. This is about children viewing adult material and pornography online. I am afraid this is where I slightly disagree with the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron. We should decide what should be blocked elsewhere; we should not use the Bill to block other content that adults probably should not be watching either. It is a separate issue. The Bill is about protecting children. The challenge is that the Obscene Publications Act has some definitions and there is ATVOD stuff as well. They are supposed to be involved with time. CPS guidelines are out of step with current case law as a result of one of the quite recent cases — so there is a bit of a mess that needs clearing up. This is not the Bill to do it. We probably need to address it quite soon and keep the pressure on; that is the next step. But this Bill is about keeping children away from such material.

The noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, made a very good point about social platforms. They are commercial. There are loopholes that will get exploited. It is probably unrealistic to block the whole of Twitter — it would make us look like idiots. On the other hand, there are other things we can do. This brings me to the point that other noble Lords made about ancillary service complaints. If we start to make the payment service providers comply and help, they will make it less easy for those sites to make money. They will not be able to do certain things. I do not know what enforcement is possible. All these sites have to sign up to terms and conditions. Big retail websites such as Amazon sell films that would certainly come under this category. They should put an age check in front of the webpage. It is not difficult to do; they could easily comply.

We will probably need an enforcer as well. The BBFC is happy to be a regulator, and I think it is also happy to inform ISPs which sites should be blocked, but other enforcement stuff might need to be done. There is provision for it in the Bill. The Government may need to start looking for an enforcer.

Another point that has come up is about anonymity and privacy, which is paramount. Imagine the fallout if some hacker found a list of senior politicians who had had to go through an age-verification process on one of these websites, which would mean they had accessed them. They could bring down the Government or the Opposition overnight. Noble Lords could all go to the MindGeek website and look at the statistics, where there is a breakdown of which age groups and genders are accessing these websites. I have not dared to do so because it will show I have been to that website, which I am sure would show up somewhere on one of these investigatory powers web searches and could be dangerous.

One of the things the Digital Policy Alliance, which I chair, has done is sponsor a public available specification, which the BSI is behind as well. There is a lot privacy-enforcing stuff in that. It is not totally obvious; it is not finished yet, and it is being highlighted a bit more. One thing we came up with is that websites should not store the identity of the people whom they age-check. In fact, in most cases, they will bounce straight off the website and be sent to someone called an attribute provider, who will check the age. They will probably know who the person is, but they will send back to the website only an encrypted token which says, We’ve checked this person that you sent to us. Store this token. This person is over 18 — or under 18, or whatever age they have asked to be confirmed. On their side, they will just keep a record of the token but will not say to which website they have issued it — they will not store that, either. The link is the token, so if a regulator or social service had to track it down, they could physically take the token from the porn site to where it came from, the attribute provider, and say, Can you check this person’s really over 18, because we think someone breached the security? What went wrong with your procedures? They can then reverse it and find out who the person was — but they could still perhaps not be told by the regulator which site it was. So there should be a security cut-out in there. A lot of work went into this because we all knew the danger.

This is where I agree entirely with the Open Rights Group, which thinks that such a measure should be mandated. Although the publicly available specification, which is almost like a British standard, says that privacy should be mandated under general data protection regulation out of Europe, which we all subscribe to, I am not sure that that is enough. It is a guideline at the end of the day and it depends on how much emphasis the BBFC decides to put on it. I am not sure that we should not just put something in the Bill to mandate that a website cannot keep a person’s identity. If the person after they have proved that they are 18 then decides to subscribe to the website freely and to give it credit card details and stuff like that, that is a different problem — I am not worried about that. That is something else. That should be kept extremely securely and I personally would not give my ID to such a site — but at the age verification end, it must be private.

There are some other funny things behind the scenes that I have been briefed on, such as the EU VAT reporting requirements under the VAT Mini One Stop Shop, which requires sites to keep some information which might make a person identifiable. That could apply if someone was using one of the attribute providers that uses a credit card to provide that check or if the website itself was doing that. There may be some things that people will have to be careful of. There are some perfectly good age-checking providers out there who can do it without you having to give your details. So it is a good idea; I think that it will help. Let us then worry about the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, made so well about what goes where.

The universal service obligation should be territorial; it has to cover the country and not just everyone’s homes. With the internet of things coming along — which I am also involved in because I am chair of the Hypercat Alliance, which is about resource discovery over the internet of things — one of the big problems is that we are going to need it everywhere: to do traffic monitoring, people flows and all the useful things we need. We cannot have little not-spots, or the Government will not be able to get the information on which to run all sorts of helpful control systems. The noble Lord, Lord Gordon of Strathblane, referred to mast sharing. The problem with it is that they then do not put masts in the not-spots; they just keep the money and work off just one mast — you still get the not-spots. If someone shares a mast, they should be forced a mast somewhere else, which they then share as well.

On broadband take-up, people say, Oh, well, people aren’t asking for it . It is chicken and egg: until it is there, you do not know what it is good for. Once it is there and suddenly it is all useful, the applications will flow. We have to look to the future; we have to have some vision. Let us get chicken or the egg out there and the chicken will follow — I cannot remember which way round it is.

I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, that the problem with Openreach is that it will always be controlled by its holding company, which takes the investment, redirects it and decides where the money goes. That is the challenge with having it overseeing.

I do not want waste much time, because I know that it is getting late-ish. On jobs, a huge number of jobs were created in earlier days in installing and maintaining internet of things sensors all over the place — that will change. On the gigabit stuff, it will save travel, energy and all sorts of things — we might even do remote-control hip operations, so you send the device and the surgeon then does it remotely, once we get super-duper superfast broadband.

I want to say one thing about IP. The Open Rights Group raised having thresholds of seriousness. It is quite important that we do not start prosecuting people on charges with 10-year sentences for trivial things. But it is also sad how interesting documentaries can disappear terribly quickly. The catch-up services cover only a month or so and if you are interested, it is quite nice being able to find these things out there on the internet a year or two later. There should somehow be a publicly available archive for all the people who produce interesting documentaries. I do not know whether they should make a small charge for it, but it should be out there.

The Open Rights Group also highlighted the bulk sharing of data. Some of the stuff will be very useful — the briefing on free school meals is interesting — but if you are the only person who really knows what might be leaked, it is very dangerous. If someone were to beat you up, an ordinary register could leak your address across without realising that at that point you are about to go into witness protection. There can be lots of problems with bulk data sharing, so be careful; that is why the insurance database was killed off a few years ago. Apart from that, I thank your Lordships for listening and say that, in general, this is a good effort.?

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bannedThe BBFC currently cuts about 15% of all R18 porn films on their way to totally ordinary mainstream porn shops. These are not niche or speciality films, they are totally middle of the road porn, which represents the sort of content on all the world’s major porn sites. Most of the cuts are ludicrous but Murray Perkins, a senior examiner of the BBFC, points out that they are all considered either be to be harmful, or else are still prohibited by the police or the government for reasons that have long since past their sell by date.So about a sixth of all the world’s adult films are therefore considered prohibited by the British authorities, and so any website containing such films will have to be banned as there is to practical way to cut out the bits that wind up censors, police or government. And this mainstream but prohibited content appears on just about  all the world’s major porn sites, free or paid.

The main prohibitions that will cause a website to be blocked (even before considering whether they will set up strict age verification) are such mainstream content as female ejaculation, urine play, gagging during blow jobs, rough sex, incest story lines (which is a major genre of porn at the moment), use of the word ‘teen’ and verbal references to under 18’s.

Murray Perkins has picked up the job of explaining this catch all ban. He explains it well,  but he tries to throw readers off track by citing examples of prohibitions being justifiable because the apply to violent porn whilst not mentioning that they apply equally well to trivia such as female squirting.

Perkins writes in the Huffington Post:

BBFC logoRecent media reports highlighting what content will be defined as prohibited material under the terms of the Digital Economy Bill could have given an inaccurate impression of the serious nature of the harmful material that the BBFC generally refuses to classify. The BBFC works only to the BBFC Classification Guidelines and UK law, with guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and enforcement bodies, and not to any other lists.

The Digital Economy Bill aims to reduce the risk of children and young people accessing, or stumbling across, pornographic content online. It proposes that the BBFC check whether

(i) robust age verification is in place on websites containing pornographic content and

(ii) whether the website or app contains pornographic content that is prohibited.

An amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, passed in the House of Commons, would also permit the BBFC to ask Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block pornographic websites that refuse to offer effective age verification or contain prohibited material such as sexually violent pornography.

In making any assessment of content, the BBFC will apply the standards used to classify pornography that is distributed offline. Under the Video Recordings Act 1984 the BBFC is obliged to consider harm when classifying any content including 18 and R18 rated sex works. Examples of material that the BBFC refuses to classify include pornographic works that: depict and encourage rape, including gang rape; depict non-consensual violent abuse against women; promote an interest in incestuous behaviour; and promote an interest in sex with children. [Perkins misleadingly neglects to include, squirting, gagging, and urine play in his examples here]. The Digital Economy Bill defines this type of unclassifiable material as prohibited .-

Under its letters of designation the BBFC may not classify anything that may breach criminal law, including the Obscene Publications Act (OPA) as currently interpreted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS provides guidance on acts which are most commonly prosecuted under the OPA. The BBFC is required to follow this guidance when classifying content offline and will be required to do the same under the Digital Economy Bill. In 2015, 12% of all cuts made to pornographic works classified by the BBFC were compulsory cuts under the OPA. The majority of these cuts were to scenes involving urolagnia which is in breach of CPS guidance and could be subject to prosecution.