‘The Art of Control’ by Juliet Jacques



From Pen Outwrite:

Tamara O’Hara woke at noon to see an envelope lodged in her letterbox, overshadowing the boots, corsets, whips and chains piled by the door to her studio flat after a video shoot.

16 April 2015

Dear sir/madam,

Re: (“the Service”)

As you may be aware, following amendments to the Communications Act 2003, UK providers of video on demand services operating on or after 1 December 2014 have been obliged to notify these services to us, The Authority for Television and Video On Demand Ltd (“ATVOD”).

ATVOD has received a complaint regarding the Service identified above, and we are writing to you as you appear to be the provider. This letter is to inform you that we are investigating the Service for potential breaches of ATVOD’s rules 1, 4 and 11, corresponding to the requirements of the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”) as below:

Rule 1: Requirement to notify an on-demand programme service (section 368BA of “the Act”)

Rule 4: Requirement to pay a fee (Section 368(E)(3)(ZA) of the Act)

Rule 11: Requirement to ensure that children will not normally see or hear material which might seriously impair their development (Section 368(E)(2) of the Act)

ATVOD has been designated by Ofcom [the Office of Communications] as the co-regulator for on demand programme services under the Communications Act 2003, as amended by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulation 2009 and the Audiovisual Media Regulations 2010.

She had been expecting something like this since the law had changed and she’d read about what could no longer be shown in online pornography: peeing and female ejaculation (if performed onto another person and/or consumed); fisting; full bondage with a gag; ‘age play’; sex at gunpoint (if ‘believable’); anything liable to cause more than ‘transient and trifling’ pain, e.g. spanking, caning or whipping; face-sitting (if performed by a woman on a man); trampling; verbal abuse; numerous other acts, some that she’d never tried (‘Power Tools’ sounded best left to the professionals), some that she and her queer friends enjoyed, all banned on the basis that they could harm viewers who copied them, or children who saw them.

She scanned the letter, wondering if her site fitted their definition of a UK-based On Demand Programming Service, or if she had ‘editorial responsibility’. She checked her phone: they had emailed a copy, so she forwarded it to a client who worked as a lawyer.

‘Rob – just got this from ATVOD. Do they expect normal people to be able to understand it?’

The reply came within five minutes.

‘They think you’re a TV on demand site providing things they want to ban. They’re asking you to prove you’re not – if you can’t then you’ll have to register – pay an annual fee for them to censor you. Good news though – they offer ‘concessionary rates for non-commercial and small scale providers’ below their usual flat fee. Nice of them, isn’t it?

Call if you want to chat x’

Tamara phoned Rob.

“How are we going to fight these fuckers, then?”

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