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Office of Film and Literature Classification
Agency overview
Formed 1994
Superseding agency Attorney-General's Department
Jurisdiction Commonwealth of Australia
Minister responsible Robert McClelland, Attorney-General
Parent agency Attorney-General's Department
Child agencies Classification Board
Classification Review Board
Website
http://www.classification.gov.au

The Office of Film and Literature Classification is a statutory censorship and classification body overseen by the Australian Government which included: the Classification Board which classified films, video games and publications for exhibition, sale or hire in Australia; the Classification Review Board which reviewed previously classified films, computer games and publications on appeal; and administrative staff who provided day to day support for the two Boards under the control of the Director of the Classification Board.

In February 2006 Attorney-General Philip Ruddock announced that the policy and administrative functions of the OFLC would become part of the Attorney-General’s Department, and, while the Classification Board and Classification Review Board would continue to make classification decisions, they would be serviced by a secretariat from the Attorney-General’s Department.

Contents

Organizations

The Classification Board and the Classification Review Board are statutory bodies established by the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth). This Act also provides a basis for the National Classification Code which guides their decision making. As the State and Territory governments retain responsibility for enforcing censorship and could withdraw from or ignore the national classification scheme if they so wished, any changes to the national classification scheme must be agreed to by all the State and Territory Censorship Ministers (usually Attorneys-General). Despite this South Australia still maintains a separate Classification Council which can override national classification decisions in that state.

The Classification and Review Boards do not censor material by ordering cuts or changes. However, they are able to effectively censor media by refusing classification and making the media illegal for hire, exhibition and importation to Australia.

Members

The current members of the Classification Board:

  • Donald McDonald (director)
  • Olya Booyar (deputy director)
  • Jeremy Fenton (senior classifier)
  • Alexandra Greene
  • Rodney Smith
  • Georgina Dridan
  • Joseph Mlikota
  • Rosalea Oberdorf
  • Greg Scott
  • Amanda Apel
  • Conrad Del Villar
  • Zahid Gamieldien
  • Moya Glasson
  • Sheridan Traise

The current members of the Classification Review Board:

  • Victoria Rubensohn (convenor)
  • Trevor Griffin (deputy convenor)
  • Ann Stark
  • Brook Hely
  • Irina Kolodizner

Controversy

When compared to most of the world, Australia has one of the most lenient ratings for film, though there have been rare times where certain films are banned or create controversy. Ken Park, a film depicting teenage sexuality, was refused classification in 2002. In the same year, Baise-moi was similarly initially rated R18+ (making Australia one of the few countries to provide the film uncut) though Phil Ruddock used his power to appeal and get the movie refused classification. Salo was rebanned in 2008 when its publisher tried to resubmit it for a rating,. In 2005, the R rating of Mysterious Skin was challenged by the Australian Family Association they requested a review of its classification, seeking to have the film outlawed due to its depiction of pedophilia. They suggested that the film could be used by pedophiles for sexual gratification or to help them groom children for sexual abuse.[1] The six-member Classification Review Board voted four-to-two in favour of maintaining an R18+ rating. Additionally 9 Songs was initially given an X rating which would have prevented the film being shown theatrically and restricted sale of the film to the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. The OFLC Review Board later passed the film with an R rating, although the South Australian Classification Council raised the rating back to X in South Australia exclusively. It should also be noted that the appeals rating board found that he film contained fetishes which meant it could not be allowed under guidelines within the X rating which it was appealing which meant it could not stay as an X rating. They said that they allowed the R rating under artistic merit.

Since 1994, the OFLC has taken a strict stance on erotic Japanese animation, censoring anime submitted by Siren Visual Entertainment, Island Records and Kiseki Films. The most controversial anime to be censored in Australia was Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend and was the first animated film to be censored in the country, making news headlines nationwide with many other films and OVAs in the series to be censored.[citation needed] The OFLC has also made a controversial decision to make the rating of The Castle of Cagliostro PG, when it was released in 1996 by Manga Entertainment. The film was reclassified M when resubmitted by Madman Entertainment.

Critics were concerned the appointment of Donald McDonald as Director in 2007 facilitated the Government's ability to control or restrict material, in particular that which incites or instructs terrorism.[2]

Classification of video games

Despite a line in the National Classification Code stating that "adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want", the adult R18+ classification does not currently exist for video games. [3]

The OFLC took a strict stance with video games. Video game classification in Australia is the most strict in the Western world as far as video games with an adult's rating (R18+) are concerned. Currently only Michael Atkinson, South Australian Attorney-General, opposes the introduction of the R18 classification; he also blocked the release of a public paper that canvasses the opinion of the Australian public on whether or not an R18 classification should be introduced. Studies done by Bond University indicate that a majority of people whom they interviewed want an R18 rating to be introduced and many psychologists back this study and condemn the position of Michael Atkinson. In a recent 6 page response to a letter he received regarding R18+ classification, Atkinson stated that "this issue has little traction with my constituents who are more concerned with real-life issues than home entertainment in imaginary worlds".[4]

Electronic Frontiers Australia is running a campaign to have the R18+ classification for games introduced in Australia.[5]

Though Australia has no R rating for video games, there are many examples of games getting much more lenient ratings than in other countries. Such games would include Halo 3 which got an M (BBFC:15, ESRB: M(17), New Zealand (R16)), The Witcher which got an MA15+(18 from PEGI, BBFC, cut for ESRB for a M(17)), Dead Rising a MA15+ (18 from BBFC and PEGI, Z from CERO), Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 getting a PG (17 from ESRB and CERO), Zone of the Enders (and its first sequel) getting a G(8+),(R16 in New Zealand, M(17+) from ESRB, 15 from BBFC and 16+ from PEGI) and Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened getting a PG (16+ from PEGI and M(17) from ESRB.)

Though sometimes lenient, the OFLC also sometimes makes decisions that conflict with the ratings of other games. However, the OFLC does not allow comparison with other films or videogames.[citation needed]

On Monday 14 December 2009, the Australian Government released the long awaited R18+ discussion paper.

Because of Left 4 Dead 2's ban in Australia, some anti-OFLC videos have been uploaded to the internet, with some holding petitions for people to sign to protest the government in the lack of an R18+ rating, with many users agreeing to the cause of a protest.

Film and video game classifications

Advisory

The classifications below are advisory in nature—they do not impose any legal restrictions on access or distribution of material.

OFLC small E.svg Exempt for classification.png

E (Exempt from Classification) - These films may be sold without a specific classification. The assessment of exemption may be made by the distributor or exhibitor (self-assessed) without needing to submit the product for certifying by the Classification Board. Only very specific types of material (including educational material and straight records of artistic performances) can be exempted from classification, and the material cannot contain anything that might lead to an M rating or higher [1] Self-assessed exempt films cannot use the official marking, although it is advised that films and computer games that are exempt display “This film/computer game is exempt from classification”.

OFLC small G.svg OFLC large G.svg

G (General) — These films and computer games are for general viewing. However, G does not necessarily designate a children’s film or game as many of these productions contain content that would be of no interest to children.

The content is very mild in impact.

OFLC small PG.svg OFLC large PG.svg

PG (Parental guidance recommended) — These films and computer games contain material that may confuse or upset younger viewers. Before the 2005 coloured rating scheme was brought in, the original description was "Parental Guidance is recommended for those under 15." This description may be found on older DVDs and video tapes.

The content is mild in impact.

OFLC small M.svg OFLC large M.svg

M (Recommended for mature audiences) — These films and computer games contain material that requires a mature perspective, but is still not enough to be deemed too strong for younger viewers. This classification was formerly known as M15+, but was changed to simply M to distinguish it from the higher (and restricted) rating of MA15+. The description originally had "Recommended for Mature audiences 15 years and over", though like the above PG rating, the description dropped the 15. This description may be still founded on older DVDs and video tapes. This is the highest unrestricted rating. Nowadays most of the M rated films are usually based on the American PG-13 rating and their low end R-rated movies.

The content is moderate in impact.

Restricted

By contrast, the classifications below are legally restricted—i.e., it is illegal to sell or exhibit materials so classified to a person younger than the respective age limit.

OFLC small MA15+.svg OFLC large MA15+.svg

MA15+ (Mature Accompanied) - The content is considered unsuitable for exhibition by persons under the age of 15. Persons under 15 may only legally purchase or exhibit MA15+ rated content under the supervision of an adult guardian. This is a legally restricted category.

OFLC small E.svg, OFLC small G.svg, OFLC small PG.svg, OFLC small M.svg and OFLC small MA15+.svg are the current game ratings. Games cannot be given the adult ratings OFLC small R18+.svg or OFLC small X18+.svg, instead they will be Refused Classification (Banned) and cannot be sold. Refused Classification games may be edited and resubmitted by their developers to garner an MA15+ classification. People under 15 are not permitted to purchase or rent films or video games classified MA15+ unless they are accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

The content is strong in impact.

OFLC small R18+.svg OFLC large R18+.svg

R18+ (Restricted) - People under 18 may not buy, rent or exhibit these films.

The content is high in impact.

OFLC small X18+.svg OFLC large X18+.svg

X18+ (Restricted) - People under 18 may not buy, rent or exhibit these films.

This rating applies to sexual content. However, when originally introduced in 1984, the X18+ rating was intended to allow adults to view, at home, any film that could not be shown in cinemas. Violence was allowed in X18+ films, and only the most extreme content was disallowed. The unforeseen change in policy has caused some films with both sexual and violent content (that would in the past be given the X18+ rating) to be forced into the R18+ rating.

Films rated X18+ are currently legally available for purchase in only the ACT and the Northern Territory. However these films may be legally purchased from interstate via mail-order. Enforcement is relaxed and most adult shops carry extensive stock of X18+ material (although it is still technically illegal for adult shops in the states to sell the material).

RC (Refused Classification)

Films which are very high in impact and/or contain any type of violence in conjunction with real sexual intercourse are rated Refused Classification by the OFLC. Films which may be Refused Classification include content that:

  • Depict, express or otherwise deals with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.
  • Depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult a minor who is, or who appears to be, under 16 (whether or not engaged in sexual activity).
  • Promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence.

Classification is mandatory, and films that are rated Refused Classification by the OFLC are banned for sale, hire or public exhibition, carrying a maximum fine of $275,000 and/or 10 years jail. It is legal to possess Refused Classification material, unless it has been rated Refused Classification due to illegal content (e.g. child pornography). It is illegal for residents of Western Australia to possess Refused Classification Video Games ever since the Liberal Party came into power in WA in 2008, where the breach of this law incurs either a hefty fine or imprisonment.

Previous video game ratings

These ratings are still shown on some older video games that are still on sale in Australia:

OFLC Rating: G G – General : The G classification is for a general audience.
OFLC Rating: G8+ G8+ – General for children over 8 years of age: Material classified G8+ may contain material which some children find confusing or upsetting, and may require the guidance of parents or guardians. It is not recommended for viewing by people under 8 without guidance from parents or guardians. This rating has since been changed to PG.
OFLC Rating: M15+ M – Mature: Despite the title, material classified M15+ is not recommended for people under 15 years of age. Nonetheless, there are still no legal restrictions on access. This rating has since been changed to M to prevent confusion with the stronger MA15+ classification.
OFLC Rating: MA15+ (Mature Restricted) MA15+ – Mature Audiences (Restricted): Material classified MA15+ is considered unsuitable for people under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category. People under the age of 15 are not allowed to purchase or hire unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

Any video game that did NOT fall into one of these categories was rated Refused Classification (Banned).

Literature ratings

Unrestricted – Unrestricted

Unrestricted Mature – Unrestricted – Mature- Not recommended for readers under 15.

Restricted Category 1 – Restricted Category 1 – Not available to persons under 18 years.

Restricted Category 2 – Restricted Category 2 – Pornographic in nature; restricted as above.

Literature only needs to be classified if it contains anything that might lead to a Category 1 classification or higher. Any classified literature that does NOT fall into any of the above categories is rated Refused Classification (Banned). It is uncommon for these ratings to appear on books.

See also

Footnotes

External links


Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

For the New Zealand version of the OFLC, see Office of Film and Literature Classification (New Zealand).

The Office of Film and Literature Classification is a statutory classification body which provides day to day administrative support for the Classification Board which classified films, video games and publications in Australia, and the Classification Review Board which reviews films, computer games and publications when a valid application has been made.

The Classification Board and the Classification Review Board are established by the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth). This Act also contains the National Classification Code.

Film and Video Game Ratings

In 2005, the Movie Ratings system was made colour-coded and the ratings system presentation was brought up to date, following changes in the code. However, the previous monochrome classification symbols can still be seen on DVD and video packaging released before the change.

"E" rating for films E (Exempt from Classification) - These films are granted permission to be sold without a proper rating depending on the content of the film. This rating is usually given to documentaries, news and current affairs and exercise shows. Currently there is no predetermined marking for exempt films and computer games [1], although it is advised that films and computer games that are exempt may display “This film /computer game is exempt from classification”.

The content varies depending on the show / film. Any film or computer game which is to be rated E must not exceed the PG rating.

"G" rating used for video games G (General) – These films and computer games are for general viewing. However, G does not conclusively mean a children’s film or game because many of these productions contain content that would be of no interest to children.

The content is very mild in impact.

"PG" rating used for video games PG (Parental Guidance) – These films and computer games contain material that may confuse or upset young children. This was formally G8+.

The content is mild in impact.

"M" rating used for video games M (Mature) – These films and computer games contain material that requires a mature perspective. This was formally M15+.

The content is moderate in impact.

Note that the classifications above this point are advisory in nature only -- they are not legally binding. By contrast, the classifications below are legally restricted -- i.e., it is illegal to sell or exhibit materials so classified to a person younger than the respective age limit.
"MA15+" rating used for video games MA15+ (Mature Accompanied & Restricted) – People under 15 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian for the duration of the film - parental permission to see an MA15+ film is not sufficient.

People under 15 are not permitted to hire or buy films or computer games classified MA15+.

The content is strong in impact.

Note: Video games which exceed the impact of what the MA15+ rating allows are refused classification (RC). Games refused classification can be censored and resubmitted by their developers to gain an MA15+ rating.
R18+ (Small) R18+ (Restricted) – People under 18 cannot see these films or buy or rent them.

The content is high in impact.

X18+ (Small) X18+ (Pornographic) – People under 18 cannot see, buy or rent these videos and DVDs.

The content is sexually explicit/pornographic in content.

Films rated X18+ are currently only legally available for purchase in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.

Refused Classification (RC) Films which are more violent and/or sexually explicit than what the R18+ or X18+ ratings allow are Refused Classification by the OFLC. The reasons why a film may be refused classification include:
  • Depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.
  • Depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult a minor who is, or who appears to be, under 16 (whether or not engaged in sexual activity).
  • Promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence.

Film classification is mandatory, and movies that are refused classification by the OFLC are banned for sale, hire, public exhibition or importation into Australia. It is legal to possess a copy for private exhibition, but if the film contains illegal content (eg. child pornography) then it is also illegal to possess

Previous Video Game Ratings

These ratings are still shown on some older video games that are still on sale in Australia

OFLC Rating: G (General) GGeneral : The G classification is for a general audience.
OFLC Rating: G8+ (General 8+) G8+General for children over 8 years of age: Material classified G8+ may contain material which some children find confusing or upsetting, and may require the guidance of parents or guardians. It is not recommended for viewing by persons under 8 without guidance from parents or guardians. This rating has been retired to PG.
OFLC Rating: M15+ (Mature) M15+Mature: Material classified M15+ is not recommended for persons under 15 years of age. However, there are no legal restrictions on access. This rating has been retired to M.
OFLC Rating: MA15+ (Mature Restricted) MA15+Mature Restricted: Material classified MA15+ is considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category. If your children are under 15 they cannot buy or hire an MA15+ computer game unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

External links


Gaming

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

OFLC logo

The Office of Film and Literature Classification is a statutory censorship and classification body which provides day to day administrative support for the Classification Board which classified films, video games and publications in Australia, and the Classification Review Board which reviews films, computer games and publications when a valid application has been made.

Contents

Organisation

In February 2006 Attorney-General Philip Ruddock announced that the policy and administrative functions of the OFLC would become part of the Attorney-General’s Department, and, while the Classification Board and Classification Review Board would continue to make classification decisions, they would be serviced by a secretariat from the Attorney-General’s Department.

Members

Donald McDonald has been named as the new director but yet to be appointed by the Attorney-General’s Department. Critics are concerned the appointment facilitates the Government's ability to control or restrict material, in particular that which incites or instructs terrorism.[1]

The current members of the Classification Board:

  • Olya Booyar (deputy director)
  • Wendy Banfield (senior classifier)
  • Marie-Louise Carroll (senior classifier)
  • Jeremy Fenton
  • Alexandra Greene
  • Robert Sanderson
  • Rodney Smith
  • Lynn Townsend

The current members of the Classification Review Board:

  • Maureen Shelley (convenor)
  • Trevor Griffin (deputy convenor)
  • Rob Shilkin
  • Kathryn Smith
  • Gillian Groom
  • Anthony Hetrih

Classification of Video Games

Despite a line in the National Classification Code stating that "adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want", the adult R18+ classification does not currently exist for video games.

The OFLC takes a strict stance with video games and video game classification in Australia is the most strict in the Western World in terms of not having an adult's rating (R18+) with some Attorneys-General having conservative views on the matter. Though Australia has no R rating, there are many examples of games getting much lenient ratings than other countries. Such games would include Halo 3 which got an M (BBFC:15, ESRB: M(17),New Zealand (R16)), The Witcher which got an MA15+(18 from PEGI,BBFC, cut for ESRB for a M(17)), Dead Rising a MA15+(18 from BBFC and PEGI, Z from CERO) and Dead or Alive: xtreme 2 getting a PG (17 from ESRB and CERO).

Currently only Michael Atkinson, South Australian Attorney-General opposes the R18 classification introduction and is also blocking the release of a public paper that canvasses the opinion of the Australian public on whether or not an R18 classification should be introduced. Studies done by Bond University indicate that a majority of people whom they interviewed want an R18 rating to be introduced and many Psychologists back this study and condemn Michael Atkinson.

Ratings given

Advisory

The classifications below are advisory in nature--they are not legally binding.

E (Exempt from Classification) - These films are granted permission to be sold without a specific classification. This classification is usually granted to (and not limited to) educational content such as documentaries, concerts, fitness programmes, educational software, live TV and non-violent sporting events. Currently there is no predetermined marking for exempt films and computer games [1], although it is advised that films and computer games that are exempt display “This film/computer game is exempt from classification”.

The content varies depending on the show / film. Any film or computer game which is to be rated E must not exceed the PG rating.

G (General) - These films and computer games are for general viewing. However, G does not necessarily designate a children’s film or game as many of these productions contain content that would be of no interest to children.

The content is minimal in impact.

PG (Parental guidance recommended) - These films and computer games contain material that may confuse or upset younger viewers.

The content is mild in impact on children.

M (Recommended for mature audiences) - These films and computer games contain material that requires a mature perspective, but is still not enough to be deemed too extreme for younger players. This classification was formerly known as M15+, but was changed to simply M to distinguish it from the higher (and restricted) rating of MA15+. This is the highest unrestricted rating.

The content is moderate in impact.

Restricted

By contrast, the classification below is legally restricted--i.e., it is illegal to sell or exhibit materials so classified to a person younger than the respective age limit.

MA15+ (Restricted) - The content is considered unsuitable for exhibition by persons under the age of 15. Persons under 15 may only legally purchase or exhibit MA15+ rated content under the supervision of an adult guardian. This is a legally restricted category.

Refused Classification

There are five classification categories for video games: E, G, PG, M, MA15+. Video games which exceed the impact of what the MA15+ rating allows are rated Refused Classification, or banned. Refused Classification games may be edited and resubmitted by their developers to garner an MA15+ classification. People under 15 are not permitted to purchase or rent films or video games classified MA15+ unless they are accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

References

  1. Censure as PM's pal turns censor

External links

  • Classification Board and Classification Review Board


Game Rating
Americas
ESRB (United States/Canada)
Europe
PEGI (most of Europe) • BBFC (UK) • ELSPA (UK, retired) • USK (Germany) • VET (Finland)
Asia
CERO (Japan, console) • EOCS (Japan, PC)
Australia/New Zealand
OFLC (Australia)OFLC (New Zealand)
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This article uses material from the "Office of Film and Literature Classification (Australia)" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

The Office of Film and Literature Classification is a censorship and classification group that rates video games, movies, and publications.








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