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Censorship

Australia's Bizarre Classification System For Internet Censorship 208

Posted by timothy
from the in-loco-loco-loco-parentis dept.
stavros-59 writes "Australia's internet censorship watchdog, ACMA, uses an internet classification system originally intended for children's PC filters. ACMA has now made what must be the most amazing recent decisions of the whole bizarre censorship debate. The Register today has a story about ACMA's decision to force Apple to withdraw their ITMS gift feature from Australia on the basis that MA+ (over 15 and maybe sex) rated movies could not be given to children using the gift cards. The films are also banned on the internet but not at local video/DVD stores as detailed in this Whirlpool Forum post. At the same time, the photographic work of Robert Mapplethorpe (not for the fainthearted) has been classified as PG (Parental Guidance) by the Classification Board — which is not part of ACMA, but an agency under the Attorney General's Department."
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Australia's Bizarre Classification System For Internet Censorship

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  • great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:51AM (#29426457)

    Great, so now we have goatse links in the fucking articles themselves.

    • Re:great (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:53AM (#29426481)
      A NSFW tag would have been appreciated
      • Re:great (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:06AM (#29426629) Homepage Journal

        Don't be a dumbass. First, this is the Internet and there are unpleasant things here. Second, if your temperament or employer can't handle you looking at grownup stuff, then don't fucking click links labeled "not for the fainthearted". Take a little responsibility for yourself and quit blaming others when your common sense fails you.

        • Re:great (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:57AM (#29427319)

          First, this is the Internet and there are unpleasant things here.

          Granted, but you don't expect to see goatse-like images linked directly from an article on Slashdot. You wouldn't expect to turn on 60 Minutes and see hard-core pornography, would you?

          Second, if your temperament or employer can't handle you looking at grownup stuff, then don't fucking click links labeled "not for the fainthearted".

          Generally speaking the employer doesn't care what you look at; they are more concerned about another prude employee seeing you look at it and filing some kind of harassment suit against them. Given all the bullshit lawsuits that go on in this country, I can't say I blame them. Also, "not for the fainthearted" is not a strong enough disclaimer; it doesn't do a good enough job describing what the imagery is. "NSFW" is tried and true.

          • Re:great (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:02PM (#29427385) Homepage Journal

            Granted, but you don't expect to see goatse-like images linked directly from an article on Slashdot.

            That's exactly what I expect to find linked directly from an article on Slashdot. Why do you think no one reads the articles?

            Seriously, though, the subject at hand is the censorship of Robert Mapplethorpe. Were you expecting pink unicorns and daffodils? Well, the pink unicorns perhaps, but only in the context of gay S&M.

        • When it said "not for the fainthearted" I thought it might be "dark and disturbing" as some would put it. My heart has no problem with nudity, but my employers sure as hell will. Luckily nobody was around when I scrolled to the photo of a man holding his dick. Although it's been tagged NSFW already, I didn't get to the tags when I opened the link...it would have been nice to put NSFW in brackets directly after the link.
      • Re:great (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Obyron (615547) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:09AM (#29426675)
        The link was marked as not for the faint hearted. Would you have still complained if the image had been violent, or perhaps a tasteful photo of naked breasts? What exactly did you expect to see that's not for the faint-hearted, but is simultaneously sterile and inoffensive enough for the workplace? Perhaps your complaint has more to do with you personally disagreeing with the content of the work.
        • Re:great (Score:5, Informative)

          by clone53421 (1310749) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:20AM (#29426817) Journal

          Most workplaces would have no problem with a news article about a gruesome murder or mass killings in some foreign country. Most workplaces would have a problem with a tasteful photo of naked breasts.

          Regardless of whether you think that sort of standard is silly, it's the way things are. Violence is okay. Sex is not.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by SpockLogic (1256972)

            . Violence is okay. Sex is not.

            You must be american.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by the_womble (580291)

            Violent images do not get employers sued.

          • And it won't change, because of people like you. Don't you get that?

            I, for one, say: It's the way things are? Says who? And why should I care? I have my own set of values. Sex is the reason we exist. Violence is a reason some don't. Both is natural. But it's perverse, to prefer the latter. Are you perverse, Mr. Boss?

            Sure, this way is not for those with a weak reality and no spine. Luckily, not everyone is like that.
            (But I stopped to work for others two years ago, started to just do what I love, and attract

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dimeglio (456244)

          I defined/interpreted faint hearted as NSFW and didn't click the link. Common sense failed you otherwise. Thanks for letting me know it was goatse. Now I'll definitively, send the article to my Australian friends in the office. However, it will likely be filtered.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Alsee (515537)

            It wasn't actually goatse.

            There are three images. One, a pinky inserted partway into a penis. Second, Saint Thomas inserting his finger into spear-wound in Jesus's chest. Three, a halfway-to-the-elbow anal fisting. That final photo was pretty much as "tame tasteful and artistic" as an explicit fisting photo can reasonably be.

            By the way, there is a warning at the top of the page:
            *FOR CLASSROOM USE ONLY*

            -

      • A NSFW tag would have been appreciated

        Not safe for work? On the top of the page it says: "FOR CLASSROOM USE ONLY". Are you a teacher?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Eevee (535658)
        Why? If your management complains, point out that it's classified as PG (Parental Guidance) and thus must be safe for work. After all, who knows better, your boss or the Aussies?
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        A NSFW tag would have been appreciated

        NSFW. [slashdot.org] Happy now?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        New South F%&$^$ Walse has nothing to do with this It's a Federal thing.
  • by ZekoMal (1404259)
    'Cause when they first start doing it, it makes no damn sense at all. Give 'em another twenty years or so and all the little holes will be patched up and we'll all be criminals.
    • I think this is a great idea. In addition, since children and psychopaths can use money to purchase drugs, prostitutes and weapons, we should ban that too.
    • by moon3 (1530265)
      A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."
      -- John F. Kennedy


      "Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself."
      -- Potter Stewart
  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @10:54AM (#29426501) Homepage

    Unless you want to see artsy goatse.

  • Couldn't Apple just implement a method of checking the age of the purchaser for a given movie? Why would they have to disable the gifting feature?

    • by Verdatum (1257828)
      Apple does check the age, just not the way the aussie overlords want. They feel, "Damnit, Apple, 15 year olds should be able to watch V for Vendetta, so I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" So is it Apple's job to work out the rating system and age correlation for every country?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:05AM (#29426617)

    "Not for the fainthearted" doesn't quite cover that link as a warning. "(Warning: NSFW and Similar to Goatse)" would have prevented me from clicking and my retinas from being tainted with another tasteless image.

    • by OzPeter (195038)
      Given Maplethorpe's body of work, those images were on the tame end of what he did.
    • You don't seem to understand, Robert Mapplethorpe's work is not "similar to goatse" it is "high art". I haven't quite figured out how it is more "artistic" than goatse, although, I think it is because in addition to being sick and twisted it is specifically offensive to Christians. I'm not sure on the last, since I have never viewed any of Robert Mapplethorpe's work, but that appears to be the position taken by his champions the last time there was a controversy over tax dollars being used to fund a display
      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        It's "high art" because it's in black and white.

        Everybody knows that if you take a photo in black and white, it's artistic, be it a man shoving a finger into his penis, going elbow deep into a woman's ass, or what have you.

        Totally art.

        Excuse me, I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

    • by paimin (656338)
      He's only one of the most famous photographers in history. Jesus, if you haven't seen that image before, maybe it's time to move out of mom's basement and get an apartment. Or at least go visit an art museum once in a while.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        He's only one of the most famous photographers in history.

        He shouldn't be, I've seen a lot of amature stuff that is frankly, quite a bit better than his work.

        It's a sad state of society when what amounts to a fetish porno photographer is considered a top photographer.

        Why is his crap artistic? Because he shot in black and white? Seriously, there is a lot of stuff like his out there, and in color. Most people wouldn't consider it "high art". Is it the B&W that makes it art? If so, artsy people are idiots.

        • by paimin (656338)
          I'm not really interested in debating art here. Regardless of your personal feelings about it, it's a fact this his work is very well-known, and should be no cause for excitement on Slashdot.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            Meh, just because it is well known doesn't mean it is any good. You're arguing against personal feelings in an industry that is 100% subjective. Shit is shit, that some people are tittilated by shit isn't really any surprise, but it doesn't mean it's worth much. People buy what they want though, so more power to him.

            What is backwards is the fact that a rather benign picture of a pair of breasts will be banned, while a man shoving his fist up a woman's anus is a-ok.

            Do you see the disconnect there?

            • by paimin (656338)
              I never said anything about "good". And, FYI, Mapelthorpe is long dead, so he doesn't give a rats ass if people buy the photographs. Oh, and that's not a woman.
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          He shouldn't be, I've seen a lot of amature stuff that is frankly, quite a bit better than his work.

          "My kid could paint better than that!"

          You're showing a complete and utter lack of what art is. Like most who haven't studied it, you likely say "I don't know what art is, but I know what I like." I had an instructor once who was fond of saying "I don't know what I like, but I know what art is".

          I wrote a parody of art, art school, and the art world [kuro5hin.org] back in 1997 and posted it on my now defunct web site. I poste

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm glad we degraded into offensive talk. I would very much doubt much correlation between living in mom's basement to not having seen this image before. I would expect a much higher correlation between heterosexual, of an age range when public funding for displaying his works was not in the media, and/or outside the art community and having not seen this image before. No art museum I've been to has displayed work such as this. Having said that my interests are in tech/science/engineering (thus being on

  • I just want to point out that human history is full of ignorant politicians trying to ban or limit new technology for whatever reason (fear of what they don't understand, protecting business interests, maintain the status quo). But technology has always won in the end.

    One of my favorite examples is when the Church banned crossbows. How'd that work out for them?

    My point is that we should get upset with them, but we shouldn't overreact. Their stupidity will eventually be overturned.

  • Physical Media? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:10AM (#29426685)
    I don't know about Australia, but after the South Park movie, American cinemas (particularly the corp-owned multiplexes) started checking IDs for R-rated movies. Recently some retailers began following the ESRB ratings for games, but I have never seen a clerk at any store bat an eye over an R-rated (or Unrated) DVD sale to anyone regardless of age.

    I always assumed it was just a "gentleman's agreement" to avoid regulation on the film/game industry, but that there was no legal mandate to follow the ratings recommendations. Does anyone know in the US if there is a legal requirement (anywhere?) and likewise in Australia are there restrictions on buying physical DVDs based on their ratings?
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Generally, it is a "gentleman's agreement" in the US. Retailers and theaters will require ID, but that's not a legal requirement, it's just company policy. And, like you suggested, big box stores are usually pretty casual about it, and until recent video game stores were *really* casual about it-- but they've gotten some bad press since the last GTA and, strangely, Halo 2 (which isn't very violent, IMO), so that's changing quickly.

      The MPAA and ESRB ratings systems are both run by industry groups, with minim

      • ntil recent video game stores were *really* casual about it

        Well sure - tell mom that little timmy might not be old enough for the latest Silent Hill game and she'll get mad because you're slowing her down, then she'll come back the next day and get pissed that you sold it to her. You can't really win, so don't even try :)

  • Maplethorpe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:12AM (#29426705)

    Maplethorpe had an "interesting" career documenting the gay S&M culture of NYC, but as such he is a canonical 20th century photographer. Some of his pics can be very disturbing (ie genitalia mutilations) but he has also taken some fantastic classical nude images. But in a twist of reality he has also taken some of the most beautiful photos of flowers [mapplethorpe.org] that I have ever seen. Hopefully the flowers are not being censored.

    One ironic thing about Maplethorpe is that as a teen he struggled to win his fathers approval because of Maplethorpes artistic leanings and his struggle with his obvious gay sexuality. In order to "prove" himself to his father, Maplethrpe joined the most hardcore ROTC unit at his college and the irony was in the hazing routine - pure homoerotic S&M. So he seemed to be doomed! It all makes for his biography to be an interesting read

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Obyron (615547)

      One ironic thing about Maplethorpe

      One ironic thing about your post is that you know so much about Mapplethorpe, but cannot spell his name.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MikeRT (947531)

      Some of his pics can be very disturbing (ie genitalia mutilations) but he has also taken some fantastic classical nude images

      In the majority of human civilization, such pictures (the ones of mutilation) would not be regarded as artistic, but rather as obscene. In modern times, we've turned freedom of speech into a license to do wholesale degradation to beauty, truth, human sexuality, etc. to such a degree that even the most perverse things as tolerable.

      While I fear empowered censors more than the effe

      • Re:Maplethorpe (Score:5, Insightful)

        by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:55AM (#29427295)

        I'm not even 30 yet, and quite frankly I've grown sick of the self-assured, hipster posers who think this trash is edgy and avant-garde.

        I am not going to claim that all of Mapplethorpes work is art worthy as I don't know the full extent of his catalogue and you can like or dislike his work as you see fit. However in defense of Mapplethorpe he was documenting the world around him as it happened in a subculture that few people knew about at the time. So it is of historical significance in the very least.

        Images like this are not meant to make you feel good. They are meant to challenge you and make you confront your own feelings and beliefs. Would you say the same thing about documentary photos showing the atrocities of war? Or poverty or starvation? These are all subjects that other canonical photographers have sought out and created famous images from - Have you seen the classical figure of the napalmed girl running down the road in Vietnam? Or even the Farm Bureau pics of depression era USA?

        Art is not all about cute kittens and puppies and flowers

        • by R2.0 (532027)

          "Art is not all about cute kittens and puppies and flowers"

          Nor is all "free expression" art. If your description of Mapplethorpe's motives are correct, he was acting more as a journalist or historian. But it's considers art because...why? Because his title is "artist?" Because it's hung in a gallery instead of a history book? Or because art collectors pay $$$$ for something that an editor would pay $?

          I have no problem with people exercising their First Amendment rights to express themselves, even thing

      • by jbezorg (1263978)

        In modern times, we've turned freedom of speech into a license to do wholesale degradation to beauty, truth, human sexuality, etc. to such a degree that even the most perverse things as tolerable.

        So the torture, murder, suicide, fratricide & incest in Shakespeare's plays are not okay then?

      • In the majority of human civilization, such pictures (the ones of mutilation) would not be regarded as artistic, but rather as obscene. In modern times, we've turned freedom of speech into a license to do wholesale degradation to beauty, truth, human sexuality, etc. to such a degree that even the most perverse things as tolerable.

        While I fear empowered censors more than the effects of such "art," we should at least have the honesty to admit that such "art" expresses the worst of humanity. I'm not even 30 yet, and quite frankly I've grown sick of the self-assured, hipster posers who think this trash is edgy and avant-garde.

        Some of the art out there certainly does express the worst of humanity. This does not make it one bit less valid as art, though. There are many out there (myself included) who feel that to experience all that it is to be human you need to be aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly sectors of human society. Furthermore, you could not have missed the mark any further in stating that "obscene" work degrades the truth -- these things you consider to be obscene are part of the human experience and thus are in

      • by dissy (172727)

        In the majority of human civilization, such pictures (the ones of mutilation) would not be regarded as artistic, but rather as obscene. In modern times, we've turned freedom of speech into a license to do wholesale degradation to beauty, truth, human sexuality, etc. to such a degree that even the most perverse things as tolerable.

        So in your world, you would be OK with your government banning the practice of your wife and daughters getting their ears pierced?
        How bout the shaving public hair for sanitary reasons?

        It is the same body mutilation, degrading the natural body and truth.

        Sad, that.

      • by tmosley (996283)
        FYI, Victorian era prudishness didn't hold sway anywhere in the world prior to *GASP* the Victorian Era. For the vast majority of human history, sex has been public, and sexual "deviance" accepted wholeheartedly. The only possible exception is the followers of God, in their various forms, who didn't take kindly to any "deviance" from any "norm", including sexuality, so much so that they kill each other over minor differences in their books.
      • by Sique (173459)

        In the majority of human civilization, such pictures (the ones of mutilation) would not be regarded as artistic, but rather as obscene. In modern times, we've turned freedom of speech into a license to do wholesale degradation to beauty, truth, human sexuality, etc. to such a degree that even the most perverse things as tolerable.

        I take it you only know the Disney side of world heritage. You have never read the Bible (recommended: Judges 19 and Lamentations), you know nothing about the Aztec or the Greek creation myths (and by the way about most creation myths anyway, the norse or the slavic ones are no less violent), you've never seen a painting from Hieronymus Bosch, and you might never ever have read Grimm's fairy tales themselves ("Cat and Mouse in Partnership" anyone?). As a matter of fact: During most of the human civilisation

        • by Sique (173459)

          Some comments about Grimm's fairy tales:

          None of them starts with "Once upon a time", and only a single one, "The Peasant's Wise Daughter" ends at least in German with the german equivalent to "and they lived happily ever after" ("Und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, dann leben sie noch heute").

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        In the majority of human civilization, such pictures (the ones of mutilation) would not be regarded as artistic,

        Incorrect; you have obviously never studied art history, not even taken a single class. The ancient Greeks and Romans had art that would turn your stomach (if you had a weak one), and even religious art from the dark ages and later in churches showed brutally obscene images (in the giuse of what hell was like, of course).

      • In the majority of human civilization, such pictures (the ones of mutilation) would not be regarded as artistic, but rather as obscene. In modern times, we've turned freedom of speech into a license to do wholesale degradation to beauty, truth, human sexuality, etc. to such a degree that even the most perverse things as tolerable.

        While I fear empowered censors more than the effects of such "art," we should at least have the honesty to admit that such "art" expresses the worst of humanity. I'm not even 30

  • First, it shines a brighter-than-usual light upon the stupidity of "censorship watchdogs".

    Second, it antagonizes a company with a lot of money and a lot of public-relations skill. If you're in the censorship business, I'm happy to see you make large, powerful and articulate enemies.

  • No arguing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cbraescu1 (180267) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @01:07PM (#29428311) Homepage

    If one starts arguing about where the "good" limits of censorship should be then it basically agrees with censorship as a whole.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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