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25-year Old Loophole In UK Video Law Makes Age Restriction Worthless

For 25 long years, a legal cock up hidden in the Video Recordings Act, introduced by the Thatcherite government, laid undiscovered and could come back and bite current law makers hard.

For more than two decades, the respective governments forgot to inform the European Commission about the 1984 VRA and because of this, age classifications on violent or sexually-explicit video games or DVDs, can be over-ruled in this country.

The government has acknowledged the problem and promised that a new law will be pushed soon, although that might take a bit of time. MPs are currently enjoying a 12 weeks summer recess after a few exhausting months under the limelight.

The Culture Media and Sport Minister Barbara Follett has already contacted the various industry firms telling them that "unfortunately, the discovery of this omission means that, a quarter of a century later, the VRA is no longer enforceable against individuals in United Kingdom courts."

She also added that whoever has been previously convicted under the act cannot appeal their case. The BBC reports that dozens of prosecutions have already been dropped as prosecutors find themselves in a legal conundrum and a potentially embarrassing quagmire.

Now retailers are expected to voluntarily adhere to the law and there are chances that whoever gets refused a violent video game or an 18-rated DVD could potentially sue the seller.

Furthermore, some unscrupulous retailers could sell violent and pornographic videos to children under the age of 18 knowing they can't be prosecuted.

Our Comments

Let's hope that such a loophole is not present in the laws that govern alcohol consumption and age restriction; that could pave the way to a slew of convictions to be overturned and open a Pandora box for the government.

Related Links

Video blunder lets porn be sold legally to kids (opens in new tab)

(Reuters)

Banned games can be sold in UK due to legal loophole (opens in new tab)

(Gamezine)

Loophole puts 18-rated DVD law into question (opens in new tab)

(Techtadar)

Legal blunder allows retailers to sell adult games to children (opens in new tab)

(Gamesindustry)

Legal loophole leaves DVD laws ineffective (opens in new tab)

(In the news)

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.