As more and more people in the UK started to rent and buy videos for home use, it was thought that some kind of act should be passed that protected the public’s intrest.
The video recordings act was brought in to prevent people from making videos of offensive nature (to some people) and then selling that footage to people who are deemed not suitable to see the footage (under aged) or people who are unaware of the nature of the video. In 1984 the act was passed through parliament and the BBFC (British Board Of Film Censorship) was designated to make sure that videos that are offered for sale or hire in the UK have the correct certificate. It was felt that videos needed to have a stricter rating system than cinema films as they could easily be obtained by under aged persons. The act does not really concentrate on the welfare of animals, but does stop films being made which depict scenes of cruelty, sexual (human/animal) intercourse/activities and mutilation. This act does work in relation with other acts that does protect animals, such as the Protection Of Animals Act 1911, Criminal Justice & Public Order and The Performing Animals (regulation) Act 1925.
The act affects anyone who wishes to sell or hire videos for home, public use. The act may also effects people who have unlicensed videos for home use (extreme cases)
The video recordings act states that:
1) Videos must be classified by designated authority (The president or vice president of the BBFC). That the certificate must reflect the video’s suitability for home use.
2) Videos Must Not Contain Graphic Footage of –
Explicit sexual acts between humans or human/animal.
Cruelty of animals (as stated in the Protection of Animals Act 1911).
Extreme violence to animals or people (particularly children and women).
Enjoyment from sexual assaults (human or animal).
Scenes that would cause great distress to Animals.
These are the main points that effect animals, the rest of the act talks about the classification of the videos and footage in relation to people.
3) That it is an offence to sell such videos to any one under the certificate age.
Videos are still allowed to show mild cruelty (depending in what context), for example when they hurl the cow out of the castle in Monty pythons quest for the Holy Grail (15 cert).
A Recent Amendment that affects the act
Criminal Justice ; Public Order Amendment to the Video Recordings Act 1994
This requires that the Board pays special regard to:
– harm to potential viewers (including potential underage viewers).
– Harm to society through viewer’s behaviour
– violent behaviour and incidents
– horrific behaviour or incidents
– human sexual activities If you sell or hire out pre-recorded video tapes then this Act applies to you.
Also the act was slightly changed in 1993 to make certain amendments under sections 1,2,3,4 and 5 that affect prosecutions.
The act states that it does not apply to material that:
Is designed to inform (cruelty connection), educate or instruct people.
Is concerned with sport (bull fighting), religion or music
This exemption is however forfeited if the work shows, gross scenes of the following:
– Human sexual activity or acts of forced sexual activity.
– Mutilation or torture of, or other gross violence towards, humans or animals.
– Techniques likely to be useful in the commission of offences.
”Exemption is also forfeit if a work is likely to encourage sexual activity or acts of force associated with it, violence, or the commission of criminal offences. In such cases the work must be classified by the BBFC before it can be legally distributed.”
As it has been stated before, the BBFC controls which films are released in the UK and what certificate they are given. However it is not the BBFC who is left to control the enforcing of the act but the local council fair trading standards officers. Due to the new 1993 amendments the time limit for prosecutions is 3 years, if the offender has not been prosecuted after 3 years no charges are enforced. Any person that is prosecuted for an offence under the act may have their sale of goods licence removed and face either a fine or a term in jail.
As it has clearly been seen the act really was made to prevent the public gaining the “wrong” type of viewing material. That they may go on and put into practice, such as the James Bulcher case were 2 boys apparently re-enacted a childsplay film on a younger boy. If the boys had never seen a film such as childsplay then they may have not performed such an act. It also may stop certain acts of cruelty on animals from being performed in this country, if someone made a film where animals were treated incorrectly then it would not be published, so there would be no point in making the film as they would lose money and could be held for charges under the animal protection act 1911. The act can also stop animals from getting to distressed, as the BBFC will not pass a film in which they think an animal has suffered great distress. An example of this is in the film No Fear, No Die (a French film) which has scenes of animal cruelty and cock fighting. No animals where actually harmed in the making of the film and the cock fighting scenes were fake (or the blades were at least). There are loopholes in the act such as computer games, a game called carmageddon in which you gain points by running over people and animals. This game did have a 15 certificate but the question still remains would it have been allowed to be released if it was a film?.