When is an act not an act?

In the USA, measures to outlaw sales of mature-rated games to minors have failed repeatedly on constitutional grounds (maybe someone needs to seek a constitutional amendment for that, rather than just wasting money on laws that will be overturned as unlawful).

Over in the UK, though, the Video Recordings Act(1984) restricts the sales of mature-rated videos and video games to minors. Except… whoops! It doesn’t!

Like in Australia, the UK’s classification system is mandatory, and the Act provides for a number of offenses related to bypassing the ratings system (selling, trading, or importing unrated content), storage of unrated materials, or the sale of unrated or mature-rated materials to minors.

Only, 25 years ago, the Act did not properly get enacted, due to the failure to follow-through on an EU reporting requirement, and thus carries no legal force.

Police and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs are to be told to stop bringing any prosecutions until the Government brings in emergency legislation to re-enact the 1984 Video Recordings Act. Until then people will be able to sell videos, including violent and pornographic ones, to under-18s without fear of prosecution. – Times Online

(Including video games)

Obviously, everyone’s scrambling to have the Act properly enacted now.

Also, since everyone thought the Act was properly enacted, legal advice suggests that no prosecution under the faulty legislation can be considered wrongful or overturned.

3 thoughts on “When is an act not an act?”

  1. Well, that’s the government (any government) for you.

    In the United States, the U.S. government wats to take full control of healthcare. And yet, the “Cash for Clunkers” program – where auto dealerships are reimbursed up to $4500 to discount fuel-efficient new cars for “old clunker” trade-ins – if failing miserably in that the program is now concluded and most dealerships are still waiting for dollar number one of their reimbursement.

    Personally, I vote for all governement to get out, and stay out – entirely – of my life. and I mean in every conceivable aspect.

  2. why video-games are grouped together with videos? and would this means Youtube would be illegal?

  3. It isn’t an uncommon thing to do. Australia has a very similar system, where video games, films and some printed materials are all rated under the same overall system.

    As for youtube, it depends on the wording. In Australia, the relevant act forbids the sale of unclassified material. Youtube clearly isn’t doing that. I’m not sure what wording the UK uses but it is likely similar.

Comments are closed.