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Old BaileyThankfully things have been improving of late in the sexually repressed UK. However as some of the laws retreat we are left with a bit of a hole where no one knows where they stand. I thought I would collate news, observations and suggestions in the hope that some of these debates can be cleared up in favour of the people rather than the vigilante

Legality of Group Sex (28th Dec 04)
United Nations View of UK Censorship Law (22nd Feb 02)
Who Can Watch an R18? (14th Jan 02)
Vigilante Blackmail (22nd Oct 01)
Web Broadcasts & the Video Recordings Act (8th Oct 01)
HM Thieves & Excise (follow up 4th Oct 01)
Legal to Import
Mail Order Porn (follow up 21st Dec03)
Warrant To Raid (follow up 25th Nov 01)
Second Hand Porn


Legality of Group Sex
Mark

 

The new Sexual Offences Act does not “finally put gay group sex on a par with straight group sex” as widely believed. Gay group sex is now legal. Heterosexual group sex is not.

Almost all herosexual group sex is a ‘brothel’ and therefore illegal under the Sexual Offences Act 1956. This is because judges have preposterously extended the definition of a brothel in various decisions. Under Winter v Woolfe 1931 two or more couples having illicit intercourse under one roof is a brothel whether or not the women are paid. Under Kelly v Purvis 1983 two women being ‘lewd’ with a man is a brothel even if no vaginal or oral sex takes place. Clearly these definitions criminalise most group sex and swinging encounters.

The House of Commons Research Paper (00/15 7/2/00) that accompanied the Sexual Offences Bill on its passage through Parliament confirmed “in some circumstances group sex acts between heterosexuals might involve the commission of an offence under section 33 of the 1956 Act of keeping or managing a brothel, as an element of reward is not necessarily required (Kelly v Purvis [1983] 1 All ER 525)”.

Swingers themselves are not actually prosecuted but group sex impressarios - swingers club owners and organisers - certainly are, as you reported in the case of the Garden of Eden in 1998. I don’t believe the owners of gay premises or gay event promoters have ever been prosecuted for running a brothel or living off immoral earnings as the owner of the Garden of Eden was, despite public and group sex being endemic in most gay establishments as everyone knows.

The fact is that in the UK it is legal to organise and provide premises for group sex between men but not between men and women. Not only is this an open and shut case of sex discrimination against women, it clearly violates Article 8 (privacy) and Article 14 (non-discrimination) of the UK’s obligations under the ECHR.

For chapter and verse on this see my report Related to Bigotry: The Repression of Swingers in Early C21st Britain at http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/socin/socin028.pdf

 

United Nations View of UK Censorship Law
The United Nations

 

Report by United Nations Commission on Human Rights

Fifty-sixth Session, 20 March to 28 April 2000

A slightly old report but it still relevent as there are many  things to change

On Obscenity Law:

Other types of legal restrictions are noted as including or arising from: defamation law, partly as a result of the strict application of a truth standard, with the onus on the defendant; restrictive and arbitrary application of obscenity laws; restrictive interpretations of obscenity by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and the Independent Television Commission (ITC).

The Special Rapporteur recommended, inter alia, that the government:

  • amend the obscenity law to include a concrete requirement of harm before material may be prohibited;

(We can now say that the BBFC have responded and now accept a more reasonable definition of obscenity. The ITC continue to abuse our human rights and disallow legal pornography without justification of harm).

On other censorship issues:

With regard to legal restrictions on freedom of expression, the report refers to concerns regarding the use of certain provisions of emergency legislation and of ordinary law which can impinge on the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

On the issue of restrictions directly related to the conflict in Northern Ireland, the Special Rapporteur noted that legal restriction in the United Kingdom reached its peak with the 1988 broadcasting ban. It was imposed under section 29 of the Broadcasting Act 1981 and under the charter of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and was directed at broadcast interviews with members or supporters of 11 organizations, including Sinn Fein. Thus, between 1988 and 1994, there was official censorship which also caused self-censorship among journalists and reduced knowledge and understanding of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

In addition, information indicated that emergency legislation was used to intimidate journalists. This was the case of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), introduced in 1974, which contains certain provisions that make it an offence not to pass information to the police about any future act of terrorism or about people involved in terrorism without a reasonable excuse. There were many allegations that PTA powers of arrest and detention were routinely used to harass and intimidate journalists rather than to prevent or investigate acts of terrorism. In fact, a very small percentage of those held under the Act were subsequently convicted of offences under the Act. The Special Rapporteur stated, however:

... that the situation in relation to reporting in Northern Ireland has improved markedly as a result of the peace process. The most obvious sign was the lifting of the broadcasting ban in 1994. The atmosphere in television has become freer and the use of intimidation by successive Governments to prevent the airing of views critical of British policy in Northern Ireland has stopped.

With regard to restrictions related to the confidentiality of sources, the Special Rapporteur stated that the protection of journalists confidential sources is indispensable for maintaining a free flow of information to journalists and therefore safeguarding the public's right to know. Section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 provides some protection to writers who do not wish to divulge confidential sources. This issue is also reflected in clause 6 of the Broadcasting Standards Commission Codes of Guidance. The Prevention of Terrorism Act, however, allows the police to seize any material which is likely to help a terrorist investigation. The Act also makes it an offence to make any disclosure which is likely to prejudice the police investigation. The Special Rapporteur was informed that, in practice, the courts have interpreted this provision in a restrictive sense, despite the judgement by the European Court of Human Rights in a 1996   case on protection of sources (Goodwin v. the United Kingdom).

The Special Rapporteur's attention was also drawn to the fact that the Official Secrets Act 1989 is used to stifle legitimate debate and to penalize writers and journalists who refuse to reveal their sources. Under the Act, serving or retired officials face criminal prosecution if they disclose without authority information relating to defence, international relations, security and intelligence, and crime. The Act does not provide for any form of public interest defence for unauthorized disclosure of information where the existence of crime, abuse of authority or other misconduct are revealed. It is also no defence that material is already in the public domain. The Act is based on a presumption of secrecy in favour of the government and does not allow for a defence of previous publication.

The Special Rapporteur recommended, inter alia, that the government:

  • with regard to emergency laws, repeal all provisions which are not in conformity with international treaties and standards, in particular such emergency laws as the Prevention of Terrorism Act which have a chilling effect on the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
  • ensure that any restrictions on the right to freedom of opinion and expression remain the exception, bearing in mind that such restrictions must be limited to those permissible under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Ensure that future legislation and its implementation are in compliance with article 19 and other relevant international standards;
  • review section 10 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 to make clear that mandatory source disclosure may be ordered only in the most pressing circumstances;
  • amend the Official Secrets Act so as to allow for penalties for disclosing information only where disclosure would pose a serious risk of substantial and immediate harm to a legitimate national security or public interest; allow defence if the information is already in the public sphere or if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the secrecy interest;
  • amend the defamation law to allow for a defence of reasonable publication in the public interest and abolish the offence of criminal libel;
  • ensure that the law and practice governing public demonstrations are in compliance with international standards; stop the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators, in particular the indiscriminate use of life-threatening plastic bullets;

 

Who can watch an R18
J Grey
This is an email I sent to the BBFC on Dec 12th 2001

DEAR SIR/MADAM:

COULD NOT SEE ANY OF THESE IN YOUR FAQ:

  1. IS IT LEGAL TO WATCH R18 AT HOME WITH A SECOND OR MORE PERSON ?
  2. CAN ONE SWOP LEGALLY PURCHASED R18'S AND WHAT IS THE POSITION OF SENDING THEM THROUGH THE POST BETWEEN FRIENDS.
  3. COULD YOU SHOW AN R18 ON A WIDE-SCREEN IN A PUB/STRIP-CLUB/SEX CLUB?
  4. IF A GROUP-GAY SEX VIDEO WAS SHOT IN SCOTLAND, WHERE GROUP GAY ANAL IS NO LONGER ILLEGAL (BUT STILL ILLEGAL IN ENGLAND) HOW WOULD YOU DEAL WITH IT UNDER R18 GUIDLINE OF "ANY MATERIAL WHICH IS IN BREACH OF THE CRIMINAL LAW" - WHOSE CRIMINAL LAW DO YOU MEAN? WOULD YOU ALLOW A SCOTTISH GAY VIDEO IN THE SAME SENSE AS YOU ALLOW ONE SHOT SAY IN HOLLAND?
  5. IF AN R18 IS MADE IN UK, WHAT IS THE POSITION OF THE MODEL AGENT WHO SUPPLIES THE MODEL AND TAKES A PERCENTAGE OF HER/HIS FEE - IS THE MODEL AGENT "LIVING OFF IMMORAL EARNINGS" I.E. PIMPING AND WOULD THAT THEN NOT BE COVERED "ANY MATERIAL WHICH IS IN BREACH OF THE CRIMINAL LAW" AND SO NOT BE CERTIFICATED? OR IS R18 PORN CONSIDERED NOT THE SAME AS PROSTITUTION BY THE POLICE?
  6. IF YOU RECEIVE MATERIAL YOU WON'T CERTIFY BUT WHICH IS NOT ILLEGAL PER SE, E.G. PISSING, DOES THIS MEAN IT IS, ON THE FACE OF IT "OBSCENE" AND WOULD YOU HAND IT OVER TO THE POLICE, SINCE IF YOU VIDEO SOMETHING YOU MUST BE "PUBLISHING" FOR THE PURPOSE OF THE OPA(1959) IN THE SENSE THAT BY SENDING IT TO THE BBFC YOU "POSSESS IT FOR GAIN", BECAUSE YOU WANTED THE BBFC TO CERTIFY SO YOU COULD SELL IT.

In addition I would also like to know about the age for viewing hardcore.

I)IN SPAIN IS "16 ANOS" II) NETHERLANDS - 16 TO BUY BUT YOU MUST PRODUCE ID AND THIS IS IN SEX-SHOPS WHERE SHITTING AND ANIMAL SEX IS COMPLETELY LEGAL, SO IT MAYBE THAT ANYONE CAN BUY NORMAL HARD-CORE WHICH IS OPENLY ON SALE IN ORDINARY SHOPS III) IN GERMANY AND AUSTRIA IS IS 18 FOR BUYING AND VIEWING. IV) DENMARK - 16 TO BUY

I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IN UK THERE IS NO LEGAL AGE FOR VIEWING - IF SOMETHING IS NOT LEGALLY OBSCENE THEN I ASSUME ANYONE CAN LOOK AT IT. IT IS NOT COMMONLY KNOWN BUT ANYONE CAN BUY SOFT-PORN FROM NEWSAGENT, ALTHOUGH THERE IS A VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT TO ONLY SELL IT TO 18+, AND OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE TO BE 18+ TO GO IN A LEGAL SEX-SHOP, BUT OF COURSE WHILST THERE IS A RESTRICTIVE LAW WITH R18, THERE IS NO SUCH LAW FOR MAGAZINES.

 

The Melon Farmers

 

Interesting questions but probably not best directed at the BBFC. Perhaps they would be better answered by the the Home Office.
BBFC
  1. Yes. It is legal to watch an 'R18' at home with other people.
  2. The BBFC is responsible for classifying submitted works. We are not responsible for the enforcement of the Video Recordings Act (which makes it clear what counts as a 'supply' for the purposes of the Act) or the operation of the Post Offices Act (which, you should note, makes it illegal to send 'indecent' - as well as obscene - articles through the post). You are advised to seek specific legal advice or to speak to the police or trading standards officers regarding this matter.
  3. In our view, the activity you propose would be caught by the Cinemas Act 1985 because the Model Rules of Management for Places of Public Entertainment define a 'film exhibition' as 'any exhibition of moving pictures which is produced otherwise than by the simultaneous reception and exhibition of programmes included in a programme service within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act'. You would therefore need a license from the local authority to operate under sex cinema club conditions.
  4. If a sex tape complies with all other requirements then we would not reject group gay sex material which had been filmed without breaking any law in the UK.
  5. This is not an issue for the BBFC. We suggest you speak to the police.
  6. Our guidelines are designed to prevent us from passing anything which is likely to be found 'obscene' in court, but our decision to reject material does necessarily mean it is obscene. That judgement is one for the police, the CPS and the courts to make. Submitting a work to the BBFC does not in fact legally comprise 'publication' of that work (it is worth noting that 'supplying' a video work to the BBFC for classification purposes is specifically listed as an 'exempt' supply under the terms of the VRA). We similarly doubt that a distributor's ultimate intention to release a work commercially could count as 'possessing an obscene article for gain' since the work in question will only actually be released 'for gain' in the form approved by the BBFC. An uncut version of a work cannot be 'possessed for gain' when submitted to the BBFC, since only the approved version (after BBFC cuts) will ultimately be released commercially.

We hope this clarifies matters.

 

Vigilante Blackmail
Daniel

 

Reading the emails from the Internet Vigilante, I believe they may qualify as blackmail, i.e.: telling someone do something (remove certain web content, etc.) or else we'll contact the police. I remember when I worked in a shop and we caught a customer on camera stealing items. We phoned the police and told them that when the individual came back we would ask the person to pay for the goods that they had stolen or we would call the police in. The police told us that if we did this we ourselves would be charged with blackmail!

I feel that this is essentially what the Internet Vigilante is doing. Might be worth informing the police about their activities.

 

IV
We read, with great interest, your reader Daniels' comments regarding 'blackmail'! His 'silly' situation involved money, not a reporting of a crime!

Would it be inappropriate for us to put to the vote...'should we ask law breakers befoe reporting' or 'should  we simply report them, without notification' to the old bill??...........

Regards
IV

 

Peter Ennis
Interesting to read Danial's comments about the Internet Vigilanties tactics resulting in Blackmail. I informed the Nottinghamshire constabulary when I received their last mail Ilegal Priorty Status Stage 2  Details of which you have posted on your website.

The police obviously dismissed any wrong doing on the part of the Vigilanties. Of course if you or I sent such a mail say to a cosmetics company protesting against the use of animals in the research of such products we would be arrested and charged with some form of offence.

Ironicly while the officer was visiting me investigating the mail sent by the Internet Vigilanties, in walks Trading Standards to seize my intire stock of R18 Videos and DVDs.

This Police Officer who was in my shop responding to a complaint raised by myself regarding the tactics and threats made by the Vigilanties and not connected with the city councils raid, upon the request of the senior Trading Standards officer willingly offered his services as an accomplice to the crime of theft when both the police officer and trading standards stole my intire stock of legaly classified videos and dvds.

As we have witnessed so many times in the past, it is the small minority of moral crusaders and nutters which the Government and it's puppet law enforement agencies seek to appease. So as a service provider and retailer of adult material I must endure the dilema of breaking the law to supply demand of a legal product which as been in the public domain for well over a year now, while having to concide defeat to threats of intimidation from wesals like the Internet Vigilanties.

One other final point of interest the IV nutters do not appear to have a problem with the propritors of StrawberryX while mercesly pursecuting the rest of the adult retail world on the net. I put this question to the IV NUTTERS, I like StrawberryX sell unclassified adult erotica from the states to UK customers as do a number of online retailers.

However were Xsensual are unique is that all our orders are dispatched from within the United States to the customer direct, this according to the Video Recordings Act 1984 is classed as an EXEMPT SUPPLY as the goods in question do not originate nor are supplied from within the UK, ( WE DO NOT IMPORT AND THEN REMAIL FROM WITHIN THE UK THIS CLEARLY IS BREAKING THE LAW ON THE SUPPLY OF UNCLASSIFIED WORKS WITHIN THE UNITED KINGDOM UNDER THE VCR ACT  ).

I would like to point out that I do not critisize the way StrawberryX operate but I would like to point out the facts to the Vigilanties that if  StrawberryX are ok to trade then why not the rest of us I really se no difference, at least those that sell material which falls within current UK laws on obscenity anyway.

It seems the readers of such sites as BBFC.org and Melon Farmers avoid us as a adult retailer like the plague because we charge more than our competitors after all our overheads are much higher, our customers may also be liable to pay V.A.T  on their orders although this is not written in stone as many do not. Yet as a retailer of unclassified adult erotica, are the only ones who operate within the law offering full UK consumer protection on orders under the sale of goods act ( if an item sold through us is seized at customs upon the receipt of proof we will refund in full to that customer so they cannot loose, of course this is unlikly as we only sell material which is safe to import under current UK import guidelines ).

Of course the added bonus of ordering through a UK based retailer like us is that you are protected by the laws of this land if you have a greivance about your purchase. Were if you have used a overseas retailer for your purchase you must rely on the Credit card company to honour any disbute with the retailer in question this is were our service is most attractive to personal importers.

Regards Peter Ennis (Propietor)
www.x-sensual.co.uk
sales@x-sensual.co.uk

 

Web Broadcasts & the Video Recordings Act
John

 

A little snippet which might be of interest. According to the e-mail from IV, britcams was in some way breaking the Video Recordings Act.

Upon inspection it would appear your webpage, is currently infringing upon the several aspects of video recordings act. It is assumed that yourself or your company are unaware of the current law within this country.

I just made an enquiry to the BBFC and part of their reply clearly states: As for the internet, material shown there is not covered by the VRA and falls outside the BBFC's remit.

So IV is talking complete bollocks. I have a suspicion that some law other than the OPA might cover web based video, but I'm not sure what it could be. Broadcasting standards?

 

IV

 

With regards to your article at the Melonfarmers webpages. Please investigate the whole picture, e.g. the entire website at Britcams!!!

We do not cover 'webbroadcasts' and won't until the Governments OFCOM dept come into force and we establish exactly what powers are available.

Our comments regarding the VRA, are attributed to this subpage at Britcam:-
http://www.britcams.com/system

Your time would much better be spent informing them that several of their videos seriously conflict with the obscene publications law as well as the unlicensed videoworks and mailorder aspect!!!

In short, they are facing a prison term for certain I suspect, we don't want that, but we don't see why should be the ones to inform them - I can confirm that this case has progressed to TS stage.

Regards
IV - Central

 

The Melon Farmers
I personally think that the enforcement of the mail order prohibition is illegal when considered in light of the European Convention of Human Rights. This states that the state is not allowed to censor unless it proves the harm that would otherwise result from the material. It is perfectly legal to import porn from foreign sites and to buy from sex shops. I cannot see any reason why it should not be bought by mail order from a UK source. Furthermore, I believe that it is a crime against humanity to unnecessarily deny adults their sexual pleasure.

The market for porn is based upon massive demand. There is no longer a prevailing will in society to prohibit porn so the only result of a prohibition on mail order is to drive the market to less controlled underground sources.

I would love to know what on earth you are trying to achieve by your campaign. I just cannot see it limiting the supply of porn in any practical way. You are haranguing decent British business people and driving the money either abroad or into the pockets of less desirable businesses. After all it was said that black market porn helped to fund the terrorists in Ireland.

As far as jailing people for selling perfectly legal material then I consider that if this were to happen then it is crap law and corrupt enforcement agencies that are at fault and they will deserve the contempt that they would surely receive. This would achieve nothing more than a further erosion of respect for our establishment. This helps no one.

The Melon Farmers

 

HM Thieves & Excise
Tony

 

We have an adult business here in Ireland. Maybe you can shed some light on the actions of UK customs. Recently we were importing 4000 adult videos and DVD's from Holland to Ireland. The courier company we used were a fairly big international company. The route from Holland took them through the UK, entering the UK at Felixstone in Kent. The drivers manifest was checked and found to have our videos/dvds clearly bound for Ireland. All were seized on the grounds that they were illegal to import into the UK. But as you can see they were not being imported into the UK, they were merely in transit. Did we break UK law?

The videos concerned are standard commercial hardcore and as such do not seem to contravene UK law anyway

 

Tony
A Previous Tale For Background

It is still illegal to
import porn in Ireland but they rarely find it to seize it.

Some time ago the Irish police seized around 1500 videos/dvd's from us as they were being imported because they believed that there was child
pornography amongst the adult stuff. When they arrested me with my pallet of 'child porn' as the papers reported, they found it was just your run of the mill adult videos. I asked the officer in charge how they could possible have come to the conclusion that I was importing child porn. He said that they had a tip off from UK customs (who in turn had a tip off from French customs) that the pallet contained child porn. They went through all 1500 videos and dvd's and found the 'offending video' it was a video called Dutch Teens, when viewed it was obvious the 'teens' were in their late twenties (as is the case in a lot of teen videos). Anyway to cut a long story short the Irish police were pissed off that the French had merely suggested that the video Dutch Teens should be 'looked at' and somewhere 'looked at' became lost in the translation to mean a whole pallet of child pornography was being imported. They returned everything with no charges.

 

Alan
Regarding goods in passage, it looks as if Customs can legitimately do this. A few years ago there was a case involving a diplomat who wished to move his large collection of pornography acquired in Japan (which was, in this case, paedophile stuff, but probably legal under Japan's rather bizarre censorhip laws) to his new posting in Spain. He shipped it via the UK and was duly nicked an imprisoned. The case was widely reported at the time.

 

Legal to Import
Chris Harrison

 

In the FAQ on the BBFC website it states:.

Can we bring back videos from abroad that are not currently classified?

Yes, but only if they are for your personal use, in which case HM Customs &   Excise may seize them if they are deemed unacceptable or until proof of usage   can be given. It would be illegal to bring unclassified works into the   country and then supply them to anyone else, i.e. sell, rent, loan etc, as   this would be a breach of the Video Recordings Act and make you liable to criminal prosecution. The maximum penalty for supplying an unclassified work  is an unlimited fine and 2 year imprisonment.


What exactly do HM Customs & Excise deem "unacceptable"? certain films I love are certainly not what I'd call socially acceptable films in this country (e.g. Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust)

Would it be possible for you [The BBFC] to supply me with a list of films that fall under the "unacceptable" catergory? Or at least to give me an accurate explanation of what unacceptable is? I don't want to go breaking the law unitentionally or have films taken away from me that I may bring back from abroad, so I would appreciate if you could give me some advice on this matter.

 

The BBFC
The first thing to say is that what is allowed for import is ultimately a matter for HM Customs and Excise to decide. The BBFC has no direct say in this area.

Generally, however, it is reasonable to assume that material that has been found Guilty in the UK under the Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964 would be unacceptable for import, since it is illegal to import 'obscene' material. This would include any titles on the 'video nasties' list against which there have been recent successful prosecutions. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, for example, has received a large number of convictions for obscenity in UK courts throughout the 1980s and 1990s and has never, so far as we are aware, been acquitted. Were you to import a copy of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST Customs would therefore be able to point to the film's legal record in the UK and seize it as already proven obscene. Indeed, we are aware of several cases where imports of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST have been seized and destroyed.

The BBFC does not have a list of 'unacceptable material' since what is acceptable in one context might be unacceptable in another (even the Obscene Publications Act allows for this in its defence of material as being in the 'public good'). Furthermore, we do not have a list of 'unacceptable' titles since no such list could ever be comprehensive. However, it is safe to assume that former video nasties (or other horror works of a comparably extreme nature) are likely to be seized by Customs unless they have been approved uncut by the BBFC.

We suggest you talk to Customs and Excise about this, although it is probably difficult for them to give you more than general guidance. It is,
of course, impossible to know whether a film is unacceptable without seeing it. However, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is a good example of a film that is very likely to be seized as unacceptable.

 

Shaun Hollingworth
Well, what was that I stated about freedom of expression (in the context of Human Rights) requiring  >>>clear<<< laws so the ordinary citizen knows what the law is ?

When the authorities *themselves* don't seem to know exactly what is and isn't off limits, I singularly fail to understand how the ordinary person can easily know that...

 

The BBFC
It is not fair to say that the authorities (by which we mean Customs in this case) do not know what is 'unacceptable' simply because they don't have a 'list' of problematic titles. Under the OPA each case has to be judged on its merits. The best that can be said is that a number of juries have found CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST 'obscene' within the meaning of the OPA - quite recently, too - and the film has been seized on several occasions by Customs and Excise.

If you have a problem with the OPA, the BBFC is not the correct body to speak to. You should speak to the Home Office. Similarly what Customs and Excise are seizing is not a matter for the BBFC. If CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is seized it is not because the BBFC have not approved it but because the work is believed to be an 'obscene' article, whose importation is prohibited under the Customs Consolidated Act.

 

Chris Harrison
I am what I would call fairly well educated when it comes to video nasties,  to a certain extent I know what is obscene and am aware of the titles I may  have problems with at customs. I also have access to the internet and  frequent Melon Farmers, and the BBFC site. Despite all this I still have  absolutely no idea what my rights are and what I can expect to happen if I  import certain titles. That is why I contacted the BBFC, to try and get some   answers.

If I still do not have a clue what is going on or how the law stands, how is  anyone else supposed to know? If it hadnt been for internet access I would of  never even known that I may get certain titles confiscated. Therefore I think  it is grossly unfair that we should be punished in any way for trying to  import titles. Apparently ignorance is not a worthy excuse as a defence, but  considering not even the BBFC know (and to a certain extent I doubt even  Customs & Excise know) the answers to these questions, how can we possibly  plead any other way?

What we need is a list of titles that may be confiscated at Customs, or a  list of particular things that may be deemed obscene. For the BFC to say that a list of this sort would be impossible to produce is nonsense. If a  list was produced that at least covered 50% of the titles that may get confiscated, this would be a pretty solid backbone for importers to work from. Even better would be a list of things that are obscene, this would remove the problem of the extensive number of versions of each particular film. I am nearly 100% sure Customs must have a list of obscene things, because without such a list the job of figuring out what to confiscate would be down to personal taste, and in no way can that be fair (or legal?) They need to make a list of some sort public. At least then we would be aware that we are taking a risk, instead of the situation at the moment where importing horror is not unlike a lottery where the rules change everyday.

 

Mail Order Porn
The Melon Farmers

 

European Human Rights legislation states that material can only be censored after justification of harm. As proof of harm from porn has proved elusive, then it seems to me that Video Recordings Act is illegal. The fact that it makes it a criminal offence to supply perfectly legal material merely because it hasn't been granted state approval is clearly in contradiction of the overriding European Law.

 

Shaun Hollingworth
Our rights to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 10, of the European Convention on Human Rights now part of UK law seems to be ignored with impunity... This implies a requirement that CENSORSHIP is kept to an absolute minimum, and only imposed where absolutely necessary.

As far as I am concerned the whole current censorship regime breaks the law.The law of Human Rights, specifically "Freedom Of Expression", where quite harmless and perfectly legal (to do) scenes are still cut, in consideration of another law (The Obscene Publications Act) which is a human rights violation because it specifically does not specify what depictions are harmful, why they are harmful, and there fore why they need to be cut (IE censored) at all. If the harm was so real and manifest (which we all know it isn't) , then the law could specify this, without ambiguity, so everyone knows where the lines MUST be drawn.

 

James Grey
I AM ALL ON YOUR SIDE  BUT TO REFER TO THE VCR(1984) BEING "ILLEGAL" IS WRONG AS THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTS MAKES IT QUITE CLEAR THAT THE INCORPORATION OF THE ECHR INTO DOMESTIC LAW DOESN'T NOT RENDER A LAW INVALID EVEN IF A COURT RULES IT BREACHES THE ECHR. THE GOVERNMENT DELIBERATELY LEFT OUT OF THE HRA THAT PART OF THE ECHR - "RECOURSE TO A NATIONAL COURT", WHICH WOULD HAVE ALLOWED JUDGES TO RULE A LAW, IF YOU LIKE "UNCONSTITUTIONAL".

OBVIOUSLY IF A COURT, AND THE GOVERNMENT. HAS INTIMATED THE APPEAL COURT AND CERTAINLY THE HOUSE OF LORDS, SAYS A LAW IS IN BREACH THEN THEY ARE MORALLY BOUND TO PUT THE ISSUE BEFORE PARLIAMENT AND SUPPORT THE COURTS, BUT PARLIAMENT. MAY REJECT THE CASE AND THEN YOU WOULD HAVE TO GO TO THE ECHR. BASICALLY IN MY OPINION THE HRA IS OVER-HYPED.

 

Tony
I own a full sex shop in Kidderminster called Taboo Adult Toys & Lingerie

Could you please tell me (if you know of couse) the guidelines for web sites selling R18 videos.

On Sat 18,8,01 l get an e.mail from a Helen Dobson, advising me that l was breaking the law as to the posting of R18 videos, as they can only be sold in  a licensed sex shop, she also sent that e.mail to West Mercia police, and my local trading standards office, by cc on the e.mail. She has asked the police to follow it up and to use the full arm of the law to stop us trading..  Now as far as l am concerned, the sale takes place when l put the credit card through my pdq machine, and at that point it will tell me that the c/c is authorised or not authorised, and of couse all this is done in a licensed sex shop.

The police came in the shop today, as part of license renewal, l asked them and as far as they were concerned IF it was passed by the bbfc the police have no problem.

 

A Reminder from Usenet
Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights

This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

 

 
It's all  a question of where the actual supply must take place - i.e. does posting an 'R18' to you constitute part of the supply (the Home Office view) or has the supply already taken place when the sex shop took your money (the view of Sheptonhurst, distributors for the Private Shops).

 

Warrant to Raid
Peter Ennis

 

X-Sensual was raided on 16th August by Nottingham Trading Sub Standards. This action was inspired by the East Midland Internet Vigilante. The raid netted 91 R18 videos, 20 R18 DVDs and 32 Private CD roms.

Trading Sub Standards did not produce a court warrant and Peter would like to know whether this is legal?

Peter has also been informed that Trading Sub Standards intend to prosecute.

 

Mark Jones
To answer peoples advice concerning whether the trading standards need a warrant to enter search and seize goods from premises, they don't need one..! They only need one if they are trying to do you under the obscene & sexual publications act. This was on the advice from my solicitor in nottingham.

 

Second Hand Porn
The Melon Farmers
Now that R18s have been in the public domain for quite a few months now I have started to receive a fair questions about their legality for trade. It is clear that in terms of commercial trade they can only be sold from licensed sex shops. However what is the situation if someone wants to swap or trade their videos with friends? What laws apply to trading via online auctions houses setc?

I rather suspect that such trade is still illegal on the grounds that I have noticed no relevent defences or exemptions in any of the laws that I have read.  However as adult videos become more accepted and commonplace it should be interesting to see if our authorities try to criminalise ordinary citizens doing what they believe they should be able to do with their own possessions.

If anyone knows how the law stands on this issue, let me know, thanks

 

Phil
Thanks to the Phil's follow up providing details of  section 12 of the Video Recordings Act

It appears that the Act exempts the supply chain, producers and distributors, from operating from licenced sex shops. In addition it is a defence from prosecution if one was led to believe that a shop was licenced.

The fundamental wording of the law suggest that it ws intended that all the restrictions refer to commercial trade. Personal swops etc were surely not considered trade. However our enforcement agencies tend to corrupt law to suit their own purposes and have even argued that giving away videos constitutes trade because one gets goodwill in return.

 

UK Censorship
Archive
 UK Censorship News Archive: 1998 1999
 UK Parliament Watch Archive: 1996 1997 1998 1999
 Opinion: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
 Legal Debate Mail order R18s, satellite proscription etc
 Proscription of Adult Satellite Channels Department for Culture, Media, Sport & Proscription
 Human Rights Abuse - Where Do You Draw The Line? by IanG
 Films On TV Red Triangle films on Channel 4 and the cutting of Thelma and Louise on the BBC
 BSC Guidelines Worthless guidelines on taste and decency from the defunct Broadcasting Standards Commission
 Obscene Interpretation of the Law A police raid on porn historian David Flint
 Obscenity Trials The only obscenity is British Justice
 The Black Market for Sex Videos The Pornographer's Best Friend
 Customs Guidelines & Seizures Up until 2000
 The People vs HM Customs Heroic battles against HM Customs
 Escalating Costs HMRC uses as much money as it takes to ensure decisions cannot be challenged in court (Oct 2000)
 Customs Poking Around in your Lap-top