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Censorship Compliance


Service Overview

One of our roles is to make sure that New Zealand's censorship legislation is enforced, and so help protect people from material that is injurious to the public good.

New Zealand's censorship regime is governed by the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. The Act was recently amended by the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Amendment Act 2005.

This Act makes it an offence to possess or trade in "objectionable" publications. Individuals convicted of knowingly trading in objectionable material can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. Convictions for knowingly possessing objectionable material can result in a fine up to $50,000 or a five year term of imprisonment.

How to make a complaint or express your concern
If you are concerned that something you have seen may be objectionable under the definitions of the Act please fill in our online Content Complaint Form (link below):
If you are concerned that something you have seen should be classified, then you should contact:
Research Publications
Copyright Law and Piracy
Copyright Law is the responsibility of the Ministry of Economic Development. The law is clear about what can and can't be copied, but many people are not familiar with the rules. Link here to an article which answers some common questions about copying CDs and console games: Copyright Law (link kindly supplied by Consumer Online. See our disclaimer)

Who's who in Censorship

Department of Internal Affairs

We are responsible for enforcing the provisions of the
Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.
Our Censorship Compliance Unit:
  • helps to ensure that publications considered to be objectionable are not made available to members of the public
  • helps to ensure that the decisions of the Office of Film and Literature Classification are adhered to by the film and video industry, magazine distributors, and shops
  • investigates complaints.
Inspectors of Publications can prosecute people for offences which relate to the labelling of publications and their display, and the manufacture, supply, distribution, advertising and exhibition of objectionable or restricted publications.

Under delegation from the Secretary for Internal Affairs, the Department's Inspectors of Publications may submit unclassified publications to the Office of Film and Literature Classification, when they have cause to believe it may be objectionable in terms of the Act, or needs to be restricted in some way.

If a publication has been submitted to the Classification Office the owner has the right to make submissions on the classification of the publication.

The following poster was produced by the Department of Internal Affairs in December 2003 to make it easier for movie theatres to deal with teenagers being refused entry to movies:


Censorship Compliance poster featuring age restriction labels R13, R15, R16 & R18, with the words: The law does not permit us to allow underage patrons to attend restricted movies - This is enforced by the Department of Internal Affairs





New Zealand Police
The NZ Police may be called on to enforce the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act. All police are Inspectors of Publications.
http://www.police.govt.nz

New Zealand Customs Service
Customs is the first line of defence against objectionable publications entering New Zealand. http://www.customs.govt.nz

The Film and Video Labelling Body
Unlabelled films and videos first pass though the hands of the Labelling Body. Made up of industry and community representatives the Labelling Body is guided by the classifications given elsewhere in the world. Under the regulations, Australian classifications are used as a guide, with some lesser use made of British classifications. Those films and videos which the Labelling Body believes warrant a restricted classification (the most common restrictions are R16 and R18) are passed on to the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification
The Office of Film and Literature Classification classifies films, videos, and publications. This may include cutting films and videos. If you have a query about a classification or wish to make a submission to the Office of Film and Literature Classification you should write to:

Office of Film and Literature Classification
PO Box 1999
Wellington
http://www.censorship.govt.nz


Film and Literature Board of Review
If the person who originally submitted the film, video or publication for classification disagrees with the classification, then he or she can appeal to the Film and Literature Board of Review. Similarly any member of the public who disagrees with a classification can ask the Secretary for Internal Affairs for leave to submit the publication to the Film and Literature Board of Review for re-examination. Link here to more information about the decisions of the
Film and Literature Board of Review.

Ministry of Justice
The Ministry of Justice administers the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 while the Department of Internal Affairs enforces it. The Ministry also provides strategic and policy advice across the justice sector. http://www.justice.govt.nz/

Protecting Our Innocence: New Zealand's National Plan of Action Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, published by the Ministry of Justice (February 2002).
http://www.justice.govt.nz/pubs/reports/2002/protect-innocence/index.html
This is a comprehensive examination of the four main activities that exploit children for their commercial value: child prostitution, child pornography, child sex tourism and child trafficking for sexual purposes. It also details some of the laws, social policies, administrative measures and programmes which have been developed to respond to child abuse and exploitation in general.

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Last updated: 28/02/2006