Danny Yee >> Internet Censorship in Australia >> Music Censorship

Subject:      Banning things - Becomming a habit.
From:         GuyD@world.net (Guy Dunphy)
Date:         1996/08/12
Newsgroups:   aus.politics,aus.org.efa

Here's something from a friend without internet access:-

Content: Article from On The Street newspaper, June 17 1996, Sydney Australia
Subjects: Censorship, Freedom of Speech, Rise of the Fascist Thought Police.
By: Darryl Mason
Typed into ASCIIality by: predator
ARIA = Australian Recording Industry Association.
COP = Code Of Practice (how appropriate!)


                     WILL SEE RECORDS BANNED FROM SALE "

Records by bands such as Pantera, Insurge, Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, TISM and
Nine Inch Nails look set to be banned from sale in Australia - or
re-classified - if a new Code Of Practice for record retailers and record
labels currently proposed by ARIA is adopted.

The draft Code Of Practice for "Labelling Products With Explicit and Potentially
Offensive Lyrics" is an attempt by ARIA to introduce new classification guide
lines before State and Federal Governments step in and introduce their own,
which many industry sources believe they are now set to do.

The current classification sticker, to be found on new albums by Pantera and
Slayer, reads: "Parental Advisory, Explicit Lyrics".

This has been deemed unsatisfactory by ARIA.

The draft Code of Practice aims "to balance the interests of consumers,
artists and record companies" by ensuring customers find enough information
on the cover of a CD to determine wether they will be exposed to material
which may offend them."

If, having purchased a CD, the customer finds that the cover warning sticker
is insufficient, they may lodge a complaint with ARIA citing the product and
the store. If ARIA decides a record company, or record retailer, has failed
to co-operate with the new classification measures, the ARIA board will be
able to expel andy label or store whose behaviour they deem "repugnant".

Three new classifications have been proposed:
1) Records carrying explicit language must carry a sticker bearing the message:
  "WARNING: This album contains explicit language."

2) Records containing more impact-laden, explicit, and/or assaulting language,
   or ones which deal with issues which may offend some sections of the adult
   community must carry a sticker bearing the message:
   "WARNING 18+: This album contains explicit language and is not to be sold
   to minors under 18."

3) Records which exceed the upper parameters of the "18+" classification will
   be banned outright from sale.

{Get this!!}
The guide-lines state that these will be records that "contain lyrics with
no artistic or other value, which explicitly and gratuitously deal with and
promote child sexual abuse, bestiality, incest, and instructions in acts of
criminal violence."

Brad Sims, owner and operator of Parramatta independant record store The
Hammerhouse, believes the adoption of such a COP will mean stores like his,
which have a majority stock of metal and extreme music titles, (the most
obvious targets of the new classifications) will no longer be able to

"If I get a fine for selling a certain CD to an under-18", says Sims, "I will
not pay the fine. I will go to jail instead. I'll be the first person jailed
in Australia for selling a record."

Sims says that Customs agents already have a long list of rap, metal and
punk genre band names that they routinely seize, and that it is not an unusual
practice for Customs agents to walk into record stores and confiscate music
they deem to be unsuitable for sale.

"Under these guide-lines," says Sims, "it looks like we could be facing a big
fine for selling something, but we don't even know what it is. An indie record
store [like The Hammerhouse] can have its business destroyed, simply by
someone deciding they don't like your stuff, coming in and buying a record,
then complaining to ARIA about the record's content. What they are looking to
introduce could be very dangerous. All it takes is one person to go in and buy
a Cannibal Corpse album and then kick up a fuss."

Rob Walker, Executive Director of the Australian Music Retailers Association,
says that ARIA has been trying to stop the government from legislating the
classification issue.

"If the music industry volunteers to take on its own code of conduct regarding
lyrical content on the records they sell," says Walker, "then the government
won't need to step in. [In the past] there have been requests from the
Attorney General's office that there be a restricted category introduced for
certain records, whereas at the moment there is a sticker system to warn
buyers of explicit language. We maintain that our retailers are very
responsible alreasy in what they choose to sell to younger customers."


The Attorney General's office is also the source of the push to enforce
e-mail and file censorship responsibilities upon internet service providers.
Know thy enemy - tried to buy a Skrewdriver album lately? Looks to me like
the Prohibited Import Regulations are gonna swell another thousand pages or
Further stuff: the Office of Film and Literature Classification, who also
classify software and music to a lesser extent, have a home page at
http\\:www.oflc.gov.au    which has apparently an online search function
accessing the entire listing of banned books (for instance) back as far as
1971. Someone good to talk to is Jackie Rodwell, in the Policy dept. They
now act under the Commonwealth Classification act 1995 (meaning it has been
changed recently) and are a federal organisation which effectively commenced
in 1901. It may amuse you to know that someone who works there goes by the
surname "Smuts". :)

Note: August 8... I went into Soundgarden, Hurstville and was told that I
would no longer be able to order Cannibal Corpse's "Butchered Before Birth"
album. The guy behind the desk showed me the fax from Shock records... TERD!
Ok, so it has a song on it called Meat Hook Sodomy... I think if I want to
be exposed to this of my own will, I should be allowed.


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