The Film and Publications Amendment Bill is set to be finalised on 25 October, with Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications to decide if the bill should be approved.
Michalsons law firm, through its attorney Nicholas Hall, is a strong opponent of the bill – calling for it to be scrapped.
The firm said there are multiple problems with the bill, particularly its focus on pre-publication classification in the age of the Internet.
“The Act never anticipated the way we use the Internet today, particularly buying and playing videos, films, and games online,” said Michalsons.
The firm listed three main problems with the bill in its current form:
- User-generated content is included under the definition of “film”, meaning that Facebook or YouTube videos might need to be classified before they can be uploaded.
- The difference between commercial and private distribution is unclear, meaning that some private use could be seen as commercial, and require you to be registered as a distributor with the FPB.
- Live-streaming is not exempt from any of these requirements, meaning that live-streams can’t be classified, and are therefore illegal.
“The argument for pre-publication classification has always been around protecting children from harm.”
“But there is a very fine line between protection and censorship. Our own courts have said as much, ruling that pre-publication classification in the context of news print media is unconstitutional.”