What Censorship is Not – Part 1

Seized DVDs
Consumer Protection BC
Seized DVDs
Consumer Protection BC

Earlier this week, Consumer Protection BC (British Columbia) announced that it had seized 40,000 adult DVDs from a retailer. The DVDs will likely be destroyed. These are not necessarily banned films. The offence is that the films were unlicensed and unlabeled copies. All legitimate copies are labelled with a government sticker indicating review and approval. This is not a censorship issue – the same government department goes after travel agencies and payday loan companies when they don’t follow business laws in British Columbia.

So far it seems no-one is proclaiming this trade enforcement is censorship. This is a refreshing change from the infamous Glad Day Bookshops case in Ontario. Back in 2000, the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations seized 1 (one) adult video from a retailer, for the similar offence of selling a copy of a film that had not been reviewed and approved. The retailer lost in court, then won on appeal. New laws were introduced, but in the end the government requirement to review and approve all films remained.

We expect our government to protect us from lamps that catch fire, and films that are criminally obscene. True, not all counterfeit and/or unapproved lamps are fire hazards, and not all counterfeit and/or unapproved films are criminally obscene. However, retailers of any product, including films, need to respect the regulations that apply to their business.

By trc

Freelance writer, freelance editor, web consultant, and film studies scholar.

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