For the Children!

 

He looked down on the steps they were climbing. They were something of a novelty; each one was built out of large stone letters. The one he was stepping on to, for example, read: I meant it for the best.

The next one was: I thought you’d like it.

Eric was standing on: For the sake of the children.

“Weird, isn’t it?” he said. “Why do it like this?”

“I think they’re meant to be good intentions,” said Rincewind. This was a road to hell, and demons were, after all, traditionalists.

Eric. By Terry Pratchett.

 

One of the most insidious excuses for putting out draconian, poorly thought out legislation is Child protection. It’s a catch all excuse the morally bankrupt and the terminally stupid use to justify whatever idiocy their coming out with next, so perfect for politicians.

 

Take this recent example….

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-video-recordings-act-1984-exempted-video-works-regulations-2014

 

The department for Culture, media and sports has decided, in its campaign against ‘the sexualisation of childhood’  to draft new regulations that bring titles previously exempt from BBFC classification, such as documentaries, music videos, sports, religious and educational DVD’s under the boards scrutiny. The Intention of the law is to target raunchy concert DVD’s from artists like Rhianna and Mylie Cyrus which might encourage the sexualisation of children.

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A noble intention perhaps, but then the road to hell is paved with such intentions.

 

Firstly, this legislation will do very little to solve the problem. The people who drafted this seem unaware that this thing called THE INTERNET has happened. This bill affects physical media only as what’s on YOUTUBE does not fall under the BBFC’s remit. A lot of todays ‘youth’ stream or download their media, so slapping age certifications onto DVD’s and Blu-rays simply means that the kiddies won’t be able to walk into HMV with their pocket money and buy the latest Mylie concert video. This does not stop parents walking in and buying it for their kids however. Nor does it stop them buying it off an on-line site like EBAY, AMAZON or PLAY.  So long as they know mummy or daddy’s account details and can navigate the site of course. However, streaming the concert on a tablet or mobile phone or downloading from a torrent site is incredibly difficult to regulate and this is where a lot of kids go to access their media.

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Secondly, it’s such a broad and poorly defined bill that it’s going to impact an area of British industry that is actually becoming somewhat successful. DVD and Blu-ray releases in Britain from cult labels like Arrow, Second Sight, Eureaka! Are for the first time in a long while actually selling. Previously a lot of collectors would import their discs, not paying any Tax not supporting British businesses attempting to make money. The imports were usually better quality, boasting bonus features and first rate transfers. Now thanks to a lot of hard work, time and effort UK releases are actually seen as worth buying. Fans like me are no longer looking to countries like America for our purchases, and while this may not represent a huge tax revenue for the country it’s an example of a British industry that is becoming a success story.

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More than anyone it’s these independent labels who will suffer at the hands of this bill. The bonus material included on these discs will need to be classified, even when they’re on a DVD or Blu-Ray that is already classified as 18.  BBFC   certification of a film costs a lot of money. Your average film can cost around £600 – £700 to get classified and this is a legal requirement that has been in place since the Thatcher government nearly destroyed the industry back in the eighties during the ‘video nasty’ panic. Classifying all the bonus material could double or even triple the cost of releasing a film in the UK. It’s an expense the American home video industry does not incur. This could make British collectors releases rise in price and lose out to imports, worse it could mean we revert back to film only releases and British titles back to being considered something of a Joke.  These smaller businesses simply cannot afford this added expense.

 

This bill does NOTHING to protect children.  Just like the draconian legislation that came through in the eighties (from a political party that claimed to support the notion of small government no less) this seems like nothing more than token politics to try and persuade the electorate that the Government is actually doing something. Like many poorly thought through pieces of legislation that have been drafted previously there will most likely be unintended victims of this governments good intentions.

 

  

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