ATVOD debate Urinals

6 September 2013

Note – a lot of the boring legal boilerplate has been left out as life is too short. It is mostly identical to Atvod’s Determination which is linked elsewhere. But the interesting bits, like Atvod’s opinion of Duchamp’s Urinal, are retained here.

Note also that as similar FemDom websites comprise the majority of ATVOD’s current investigations, some poor sod has to conduct similar close scrutiny of at least a hundred websites.

PRELIMINARY VIEW OF ATVOD THAT THE PROVIDER OF THE ON DEMAND PROGRAMME SERVICE “THE URBAN CHICK SUPREMACY CELL” IS IN BREACH OF ATVOD’S RULES 1 AND 4 AND THEREBY HAS CONTRAVENED SECTION 368A (REQUIREMENT TO NOTIFY AN ON-DEMAND PROGRAMME SERVICE) AND SECTION 368D(3)(ZA) (REQUIREMENT TO PAY A FEE) OF THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT 2003

ATVOD wrote to you on 5 June 2013 informing you of the complaint and of the statutory obligation of providers of ODPS to notify ATVOD, setting out the statutory criteria which define an ODPS, and advising you to refer to ATVOD’s ‘Guidance on who needs to notify’ which is available on our website (www.atvod.co.uk) and to seek legal advice if appropriate.

You responded by email on 5 July 2013, as summarised below:

The Service does not appeal to a significant proportion of the public (you requested clarification of ATVOD’s approach on this point)

The Service is primarily an art project

By virtue of both of these points the Service is not in competition with broadcast television services.

Investigation

The Service

The service comprised:

(a) the whole of the website at the following domain:

http://uc-sc-femdom.com/

and (b) the material provided via the following ‘Clips4sale’ studio/store:

http://clips4sale.com/studio/50745

The service offered subscription access to a range of adult fetish videos. The ATVOD executive found on 19-20 August 2013 that entering the URL http://uc-sc-femdom.com/ into a browser took them to the homepage of the service. An image of a female wearing a mask and holding a gun were displayed on the page with a disclaimer ‘This is the hard edge of femdom, male scum’. On the right of this page were a list of features which members could access and the fee required to join the site, below this there was a link to the ‘Clips4Sale’ version of the service. A subscription to the site could be purchased which afforded access to this site only. Once ATVOD had logged onto the site, ATVOD was taken to a member’s area, where ATVOD could choose from a selection of videos which focused on male humiliation techniques and strong fetish material. Text was present accompanying each video which outlined the content of the video.

Clicking on the ‘clips4sale’ link took ATVOD to another version of the service which was available on the ‘Clips4Sale’ platform. This version of the service could also be accessed by entering the URL http://clips4sale.com/studio/50745 into a browser. The homepage of the service contained an image at the top of the page, with text written in black and red ‘welcome to the members’ area, male scum, below are the latest updates’. This was followed by further text; ‘we upload new femdom agitprop clips every Friday. You will surrender!’ Below this were text boxes which described the ordering process and refund policy. A search facility was available for users to search for videos which could be purchased as individual clips. The clips4sale store contained 4 pages of video material. Scrolling down the page allowed ATVOD to view the videos available for purchase including the length and price of the videos.

The videos available on the service are comparable in both form and content to broadcast television programmes, notably in this case programmes shown on broadcast adult channels.

Typical examples included the following:

Red Hoodie Chick (www. clips4sale.com/studio/50745)

The duration of this video is 11 minutes and 54 seconds. The video portrayed a female applying lipstick and removing parts of her clothing to change into another set of clothing. The female placed a red ‘hoodie’ on herself with a mask covering her face. The video opened with red text which was displayed across the screen ’The Urban Chick Supremacy Cell No Mistress Red Hoodie Chick Transformation.’ A caption with an image of a female holding a gun was displayed on the screen at the end of the video.

Anal Occupation-Anal Hook (www.uc-sc.com)

The duration of this video was 10 minutes and 23 seconds. The video portrayed a male whose arms and hand were tied, a female then placed an anal hook with a ball attached to it into his anus. Another female is seen sitting on a chair near the male and is occasionally seen pointing the gun in his direction. The video opened with red text which was displayed across the screen ‘Anal Occupation Anal Hook’. The text www.uc-sc.com appeared in the bottom left hand corner throughout the video. ’ A caption with an image of a female holding a gun was displayed on the screen at the end of the video.

As outlined above, it is ATVOD’s view both that the videos available on the Service are ‘TV-like’ and that they are the Service’s principal purpose. We have below addressed these points in relation to your email of 5 July – please see point (d) below for a fuller response on your point regarding impact on the general public.

To look at the service as a whole, and its purpose, we understand that the intention may be that the Service is primarily an art project. We would suggest that this is not inconsistent with its principal purpose as a website being the provision of television-like content. You refer to Duchamp’s “Urinal”, for instance, but if that urinal had been used as a urinal, this may have affected perception of its ‘purpose’. It is also possible that a website made available on the open internet does not perform the same role or have the same purpose as a website displayed in a public gallery (as you say this website has been).

In this case, regardless of the intention behind the website, it does from the user’s perspective contain many of the trappings of more “mainstream” femdom sites: there is a standard listing of fetish categories such as ‘bondage’, ‘strapon’, ‘humiliation’ and ‘watersports’. ATVOD acknowledges that the service also includes features such as blogs and still images. However, the non-audio visual elements of the service appear to be ancillary to the provision of the programmes available. The content also features on its own Clips4Sale Studio, a standard outlet for pornography; the site advertises reviews with the line ‘what the top porn sites and blogs say about UC-SC’, and features links to adult sites such as ‘Lady Sonia’ and ‘The British Institution’.

The service is made available on the open internet. Anyone with access to the internet / and who obtains the necessary subscription can view the programmes. In your email of 5 July you suggest that the Service could not ‘have a clear impact on a significant proportion of the general public’ as required by the AVMS Directive. You ask ATVOD for a quantified yardstick for distinguishing services which could or could not have this impact. It is ATVOD’s understanding, as it seems to be yours, that this part of the Directive serves to elucidate the sense in which a service might be in competition with television broadcasting. Television broadcasting covers a wide range of services, from small non-mainstream services aimed at a particular community (minority sports and hobbies, for example, or certain political or religious broadcasts). ATVOD therefore does not accept that a service cannot be in competition with broadcast television based simply on the limited number of people who have viewed it. A relatively small audience may nevertheless be considered to constitute a not insignificant proportion of the general public, especially where issues of harm and protection of children are engaged. It is also the case that, in common with small non-mainstream television broadcast services, the Service is capable of being accessed by a much larger audience than may choose to access it at the current time.

As the provider of the service you have 10 days in which to make written representations for ATVOD to take into account before it proceeds to a final determination.

and accompanying this there was a second PV

PRELIMINARY VIEW OF ATVOD THAT THE PROVIDER OF THE ON DEMAND PROGRAMME SERVICE “THE URBAN CHICK SUPREMACY CELL” WAS IN BREACH OF ATVOD’S RULE 11 AND THEREBY CONTRAVENED SECTION 368E (2) OF THE COMMUNICATIONS ACT 2003 (“THE ACT”)

In view of the fact that ATVOD considers that the Service is an ODPS and is therefore covered by the ATVOD Rules & Guidance1, the ATVOD Executive considered that the Service raised issues under Rule 11. ATVOD’s Guidance on this rule describes material likely to fall within its scope, and the types of access control required to protect under-eighteens from exposure to such content.

Preliminary view

ATVOD has therefore taken the preliminary view that on 19-20 August 2013 Itziar Urrutia was committing a breach of Rule 11 (Harmful Material: Protection of the Under-18’s) in relation to the Service The Urban Chick Supremacy Cell.

Rule 11 requires that ‘R18’ equivalent material should only be made available in ODPS in a manner which secures that persons under the age of eighteen will not normally see or hear it.

ATVOD’s detailed rationalisation did not change much between the PV and the Determination

i. The Service has breached Rule 11 in relation to paid access to ‘R18’ equivalent material. The service provider has breached Rule 11 in failing to have in place an effective CAC System which verified that the user was aged eighteen or over at the point of registration or access by the mandatory use of technical tools for age verification. Specifically, the “paywall” which can be constructed to prevent under-eighteens accessing potentially harmful material, could be easily circumvented by minors and could therefore not be regarded as being effective in securing that such persons will not normally see or hear the relevant material, which included still images and video content.

This breach constitutes an infringement of the statutory requirement set out in section 368E (2) of the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”) which states that “If an on-demand programme service contains material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen, the material must be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it.”.

In accordance with ATVOD’s published procedures, as the provider of the Service you have 10 working days in which to make written representations for ATVOD to take into account before it proceeds to a final determination.