This could get very ugly indeed

OFLCApparently the Chief censor has their knickers in a twist over Orcon and Slingshot’s Global mode options and is considering a range of charges according to reports.

New Zealand’s chief censor is considering bringing charges against Slingshot and Orcon, which both give customers access to websites with movies that could be either unclassified or banned in this country.

Global Mode gives Slingshot and Orcon customers access to overseas movie and television websites, like Netflix, that are normally blocked to people in this country because of copyright arrangements.

There is therefore the potential for New Zealanders to watch films on these sites that are unclassified in this country or banned.

This only proves how outdated the law must be and how little the Chief Censor understands how the internet works.

By definition, the Act, which covers all video content in the form of computer files, requires all said content to be classified. Any film, or video recording:

must not be supplied to the public or offered for supply to the public unless—

(a) a label has been issued in respect of that film; and

(b) the requirements of this Act and of any regulations made under this Act with respect to the display of that label are complied with.

If we take the Netflix example, the question that must be answered is, who is providing access to the content? Is it Netflix, or is it the ISP?

The next obvious question is what about YouTube? Who provides that content? Is it the ISP, YouTube or the individual uploader? With the massive amount of content that is provided on a daily basis, is the Chief Censor enforcing their archaic Act on that content or have they been ignoring their responsibilities up until now? Has the horse already bolted?

If we were to apply the Act, then all content, before it was made available in New Zealand should be classified. That’s just not going to happen. While distributors have a responsibility to have content classified, who is the distributor of the internet? Is it ISP’s? Is it the Southern Cross Cable? Is it Chorus?

It sounds like a litigation mine field to me.

Further more, if the Chief Censor thinks they can bring charges in this scenario then I’d suggest they are equally liable for a private prosecution for failing to adhere to their responsibilities under the Act.

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About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
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