1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

paranoia! customs problems........how legal?

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by desade, Sep 25, 2000.

  1. desade

    desade
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Am I the only person worried about possible customs hassles through importing DVD?

    Lately, I have heard some real horror stories concerning raids on private addresses after Customs 'officers' decided certain films were 'obscene'. I am talking about films like 'Re-animator' and 'Deadbeat at Dawn'. Once inside your property, These upstanding citizens can basically confiscate what they like and your chances of getting it back are zilch.
    Basically, it seems that if the film you have ordered differs from the BBFC version, you could, in theory, be raided and there's nothing you can do about it. Even if you bought the items over the counter in this country, you can still be charged with importing. So ordering a copy of Eraser over the Internet, for example, could, (again, in theory) lead to a full scale raid on your property.

    Has anyone else heard these sorts of stories? Am I just paranoid? I have been buying region 1 for over 2 years now don't like to think of stopping, but the powers that be can't be happy with the situation now, where hundreds of people seem to be importing and a few high profile convictions would be just the sort of thing to put a stop to it...

    Then again, with a nice liberal man like Jack Straw in control, I don't suppose theres anything to worry about...
     
  2. Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Monsieur desade, you're being overly paranoid.



    ------------------
    Gary

    A Phased Plasma Rifle In A 40 Watt Range®

    My DVDs: www.aphasedplasmarifleina40wattrange.com

    [This message may have been edited by Jack Straw, MP]
     
  3. Jonesy

    Jonesy
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    No, desade, you are most definitely *not* being paranoid. It is quite true that HMC&E can raid your home if you import a title that they consider to be "obscene". And once inside your home they have wide-ranging powers to seize anything nearby that they think you have also imported "illegally". Say bye-bye to your DVD collection.

    However, you'd probably be safe if you got your R1's through a UK company like Play. I'd guess that it would then be the company's responsibility to check that the titles are legal. I'm amazed that Play can get away with some of their titles.

    So, be very wary when attempting to import horror or porn DVDs. At the very least they could be destroyed (magistrates almost always rubber-stamp decisions by Customs). At worst, they could batter your door down at 6am. The new BBFC guidelines for 18-rated films may not be adhered to by Customs.

    Si.

    [This message has been edited by Jonesy (edited 26-09-2000).]
     
  4. PoochJD

    PoochJD
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2000
    Messages:
    10,992
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Location:
    Norwich
    Ratings:
    +1,862
    Well,

    Personally, I think that the chances of your average John or Jane Doe being raided by HMC&E is pretty unlikely, unless you are importing porn or have already caught the attention of HMC&E in some other way.

    It is common knowledge that it is TOTALLY LEGAL to IMPORT material from other countries on video or DVD for YOUR OWN PERSONAL USE!

    Whilst there has been stories in the press and in books on film censorship, regarding heavy-handed HMC&E raids, HMC&E would have to really justify themselves for raiding your property in the first place, and you could probably sue them for wrongful arrest and/or persecution (or something similar) if you wished through the courts, and unless HMC&E could state categorically that you had been doing something illegal, then the jury would have to find in your favour!

    Like many other DVD owners, I have imported various horror titles that are POTENTIALLY upsetting or that would not get past the BBFC, however, as it is for my own use, and I never lend my discs out, nor do I copy and sell said titles on to other people, then any intervention by HMC&E would need to have a bloody good reason!

    Oh, yes, and I'm also a film studies student at university, so I would easily be able to prove that these DVD's are for my research, which some of them have been.

    In anything like this, you pay's your money and takes your chance. If you don't want to risk being caught out by Customs, then simply don't order any non-BBFC approved title!

    Pooch.
     
  5. desade

    desade
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    oh dear, pooch....
    "common knowledge"...."personal use", nice buzzwords, but NOT facts....never tested in any court, you see...I have researched this, given my profession (lawyer). Fact is, the law is a very gray area in this subject. For example, a lot depends on which port your title arrives through on whether it is judged obscene or not.

    I do not think that importing stuff for "research" would break any ice with either customs, Magistrates or your average Daily Mail reader.

    I find it a little insulting to those that have been prosecuted that you think that 'the average Joe' has little to fear... remember, everyone thinks it cannot happen to them and everyone has pet defences that they believe they would use in such circumstance. If it were that simple, we would have nothing to fear....remember, the law is an ass.
     
  6. Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    I'm fighting a court case at the moment (Scotland -Sheriff Court, Civil) trying to get back 5 DVDs (In The Realm Of The Senses, I Spit On You Grave, New York Ripper, Maniac and Tenebre) that were seized. 10 were originally seized and I appealed and got 5 back.

    My case for getting back my discs is stronger than ever since the relaxing of the BBFC guidlines plus more importantly, Customs allowing porn that's not certificated by the BBFC into the UK ie part of Customs' case against me is that I should not be importing goods into the UK that are not already available for sale.

    Customs will no doubt seize 'obscene' material for a long time to come because it's the individual Officer who decides initially.



    ------------------
    Gary

    A Phased Plasma Rifle In A 40 Watt Range®

    My DVDs: www.aphasedplasmarifleina40wattrange.com

    [This message may have been edited by Jack Straw, MP]
     
  7. General Skanky

    General Skanky
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2000
    Messages:
    4,206
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    71
    Ratings:
    +44
    It's enough to enduce real stress. I absolutely hate and detest the fact that another individual can stand in judgement over what I can and can't watch. Ok, some things (a great deal of common sense applied) are a lot OTT, but on the whole, imported DVD's are only films. What hope is there for the person importing films, against an organization geared up to fight you on this very thing?
    The law needs a big kick up the arse to make it see that most people are not as described in the media; God fearing, morale defending, never-shall-a-foul-word-be-uttered type of do-as-you-are-told citizen!
    If I had a disc confiscated for any reason, it would be enough to send me into a rage!
    There, enough said. Power to the people brother. [​IMG]


    ------------------
    Douch!!......Wot's da madder, da CIA got you pushing too many penzils?
     
  8. PoochJD

    PoochJD
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2000
    Messages:
    10,992
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Location:
    Norwich
    Ratings:
    +1,862
    Desade,

    As a lawyer, you obviously will know a lot more on this, than myself. I appreciate that we both have differing opinions, and you are right in saying that the law is an ass!

    However, this whole HMC&E raids and confiscation of obscene material boils down to either:

    1) You don't import ANY title - full stop, not even R1 Disney titles! That way, you'll never got into any trouble with HMC&E!

    Or

    2) Until a case goes to court, here in the UK, then we all take the risk of *possibly* receiving that unwanted knock on the door, every single time we import a DVD, no matter how innocuous it may be.

    However, the biggest problem is not if or when someone gets that "knock on the door", but that if it does happen, the BBFC and HMC&E refuse to agree on what is or is not obscene. Again, like you said, the area is grey!

    To be honest, even if a case does set a precedent one way or the other, HMC&E will still continue to be a law-unto-themselves!

    I guess this takes us back to where I started my post: do you import stuff and take the risk of having a visit, or do you simply play safe and only purchase BBFC-approved Region 2 discs?

    Are there really any other available options open to us, short of relocating to the US or another part of Europe, and away from the UK?!

    Pooch.

    P.S. Just so that everyone knows, I may well use "university research" as a defence, but I couldn't give a **** if the Daily Mail liked it or not. Ultimately, no matter how good a case may be for allowing someone to keep "obscene" material or not, ten judges judging the same case, would all give a different decision! Basically, unless you don't import any title, you're screwed!
     
  9. Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    PoochJD Wrote:
    "As a lawyer, you obviously will know a lot more on this"

    Not necessarily true. He may be a lawyer that deals in food law -or something!

    "1) You don't import ANY title - full stop, not even R1 Disney titles! That way, you'll never got into any trouble with HMC&E!

    Nonsense. HMCE have (and continue to) seize videos that have certificates in the UK. This refers to videos that also have BBFC certificates literally on the packaging.

    "the BBFC and HMC&E refuse to agree on what is or is not obscene."

    Good gawd man. Who wants these people to agree? One's a Quango and the other is a "law-unto-themselves". I don't want them even speaking to each other. That's not their job. They also 'agreed' their guidelines (with the Home Office and the 'police') together a few weeks back in a meeting at the Home Office. They do this to save themselves from embarassment in the courts, it's got nothing to do with censorship etc.

    "Are there really any other available options open to us, short of relocating to the US or another part of Europe, and away from the UK?!"

    There's just as much censorship in the US (more probably) and videos are censored throughout Europe too (for violence usually).

    Things are getting better in this country -albeit slowly. The Convention on European Rights is helping no doubt.



    ------------------
    Gary

    A Phased Plasma Rifle In A 40 Watt Range®

    My DVDs: www.aphasedplasmarifleina40wattrange.com

    [This message may have been edited by Jack Straw, MP]
     

Share This Page

Loading...