All content likely to be RC

6.74 Another reason to classify media content is to determine whether something should be banned entirely—perhaps prohibited to sell or even possess; perhaps to be taken down from the internet; perhaps to be filtered or blocked from the internet.

6.75 It is currently illegal to sell, hire, exhibit and distribute content that has been classified RC or would, if it were classified, be classified RC.[66] In Western Australia, it is also illegal to possess or copy RC content and in prescribed areas of the Northern Territory it is illegal to possess or supply RC content.[67] The Australian Government has also announced a policy that would require internet service providers to block or filter certain content on an RC content list.[68]

6.76 This chapter does not review these laws that ban certain content, but if such laws remain, or are introduced, then relevant offences may turn in part on the classification of content. If someone is to be convicted of an offence for selling RC content, for example, it is important that the content be classified.[69] Accordingly, the ALRC proposes that the new Regulator must apply for the classification of media content that is likely to be RC before taking enforcement action in relation to that content.[70]

6.77 Content providers should also apply for the classification of any content they intend to publish that may be RC. Ideally, content providers should assess content before they publish it, but of course many provide such a large quantity of content that this is clearly impractical. These content providers should have mechanisms that allow users to flag content that may be R 18+, X 18+ or RC.

Proposal 6–5 The Classification of Media Content Act should provide that all media content that may be RC must be classified. This content must be classified by the Classification Board: see Proposal 7–1.

Proposal 6–6 The Classification of Media Content Act should provide that the Regulator or other law enforcement body must apply for the classification of media content that is likely to be RC before:

  1. charging a person with an offence under the new Act that relates to dealing with content that is likely to be RC;
  2. issuing a person a notice under the new Act requiring the person to stop distributing the content, for example by taking it down from the internet; or
  3. adding the content to the RC Content List (a list of content that the Australian Government proposes must be filtered by internet service providers).

[66] The scope of the RC category is discussed in Ch 10.

[67]Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1996 (WA) ss 62, 81, 89. Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth) ss 102, 103.

[68] See Chs 8, 10.

[69] In Ch 7, the ALRC proposes this classification decision should only be made by the Classification Board.

[70] The role of the Regulator is discussed in Ch 12.