Mark Newton, Internode engineer and superhero in the battle for a filter-free internet, has pointed out another fundamental flaw in the Australian classifications system: Rather than fixing an obviously broken setup, the ACMA would prefer to force Apple to remove the "Gift this movie" option from iTunes in Australia to deal with Internet classification.
It all started back in January, when Mark and EFA spokesman Geordie Guy noticed that movies that had been rated MA15+ and R18+ were available to rent and own on both BigPond movies and iTunes without restriction – in other words, any six-year-old kid could buy and watch Pulp Fiction online. In order to point out the flaws of the system, they lodged a complaint about the availabilities to the ACMA through the same channels you'd complain about graphic porn on a kids website.
After more than six months, Mark got a response about the two films he had lodged a complaint about: V for Vendetta and American Gangster. In Mark's own words on Whirlpool:
Seven months after lodging my complaint, after sourcing specialized legal advice on the applicability of the Restricted Access System Declaration 2007, ACMA responded to me a week ago to say that "V for Vendetta" and "American Gangster" are both prohibited content on the Internet in Australia.
That's right. Movies rated MA15+ that you can pick up at your local video store or JB Hi-Fi are considered Prohibited Content on the internet by the ACMA.
That's ridiculous, right? But wait. It gets better:
However: Their view is that it's only prohibited if it's given as a gift to a third party using the ITMS "Gift this Movie" menu item.
Sorry, ACMA, but what the f—k is that? How does that work? Aside from the fact that you can still use iTunes cards from overseas to use the "Gift this Movie" option from other iTunes Stores, why would the ability to buy an MA15+ film as a gift on iTunes make it illegal? Or why would it make it more illegal than just downloading the film yourself?
You seriously have to wonder why the ACMA seems to be run by baboons with a grudge against the internet. It's like they enjoy making Australia look like a backwater country to the rest of the developed world.
[Whirlpool – Thanks Matt!] Ed's note – Mark's Whirlpool post points towards a Stilgherrian penned post on Crikey breaking this story. But because of Crikey's paywall and my inability to access it, my post is based solely on Mark's Whirlpool post. If you have a Crikey account, you should probably check out their coverage of the situation as well.