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Legal Trouble For MMOs In Australia 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the under-scrutiny-down-under dept.
Zonk tips a story at Massively that has uncovered a potential legal controversy in Australia where some MMOs are concerned. Under Australian law, all games require a formal rating to be sold. Due to an oversight, many MMOs do not carry such a rating, yet they have been sold since release without anyone realizing the problem. "According to the Act, selling a single copy of an unclassified game attracts a penalty of AU$27,220.80 or two years. Selling unclassified games in commercial quantities (50 or more) can have a much steeper schedule of penalties, and additional penalties apply to advertising unclassified material, or simply omitting the correct ratings labels on the merchandise. ... publishers and distributors at some point misunderstood their obligations with respect to MMOG classifications in Australia, and operated under the belief that no such rating was required here." Reader Clomer points out that this has been brought to the attention of the Australian media, so hopefully the issue will be resolved soon.
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Legal Trouble For MMOs In Australia

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  • Re:Pisses me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wisty (1335733) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @08:14AM (#26723387)

    Yep, Australia is turning into a nanny state. I wonder how they will deal with MMORPGs though? Can't the publishers dynamically update quests and monsters? I can think of all sorts of ways this could be used to work around the ratings systems.

  • Re:Pisses me (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @08:23AM (#26723431)

    Huh?

    Guns are a different matter because they require skill to handle properly, and because they're dangerous if NOT handled properly. It's not a matter of restricting what you can do but rather a matter of protecting everyone else; whether you agree or not, similar things cannot be said about computer games.

    As for drugs, many people are of the opinion that there is indeed no justification for banning them. If somebody wants to ruin their own body, let them; personally, I couldn't care less about whether someone's drug of choice is alcohol, tobacco, Mary Jane or whatever. (And LSD is not even a drug in the usual sense of the word: it's psychoactive, and quite possibly dangerous, but not actually addictive.)

  • Re:Pisses me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @08:35AM (#26723469) Journal

    I mean, its not as if you need to have a license to drive or anything like that.

    So the suggestion is that there should be a licence to play games? What exactly would they test? Shows no increased sign of wanting to kill people after playing Doom for an hour? Unless that's your proposal then your counter to the OP makes no sense at all.

  • Re:Pisses me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @08:57AM (#26723575)

    The lawn darts were a bit extreme but I have to agree.
    There seems to be more and more of an obsession with stopping kids from hurting themselves in any way at all.
    I hate to imagine how dull my childhood would be if I had it over now, when did letting kids climb trees go out of fashion?
    When did playing with candels and matches(where it wouldn't burn down the house) become a sin?
    I went through scouts and now help out the local group occasionally and it's as if most of the kids these days reach the age of 12 without ever touching a box of matches or climbing a tree.

  • Re:Pisses me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @08:59AM (#26723597) Homepage
    Why not just say that anything NOT rated has a de-facto rating of "adults only" or something like that? That way, unrated MMO's really would be rated. Everyone's happy. Except Aussies who lose liberty every year.
  • by X0563511 (793323) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:04AM (#26723625) Homepage Journal

    This is America. Kids can't look at boobs, but you can legally own and operate [cracked.com] flamethrowers, build and use garage guns, and fire an M134 minigun.

    We make a lot of sense here, don't we?

  • Re:Pisses me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:01AM (#26724059) Journal

    There is a difference between not rating because no suitable rating exists, and not rating because the objective is to ban it.

    Conflating the two is neither valid, nor productive.

    When the same group (government in this case) gets to create the ratings AND rate the games AND make the laws, that's clearly false. If no suitable rating exists, it is entirely in their power to create one. If they do not do not create a rating appropriate for "games where you impale babies on spikes," Occam's Razor says it's because they don't want to rate it == they want it illegal.

    I'm hoping they do create a rating for MMOs though... the Aussie guild in my alliance is a good bunch of guys.

  • Re:Pisses me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @11:35AM (#26725397) Journal

    Can't be apathy. If that were the case, unrated games wouldn't be illegal for sale because they wouldn't care.

    Incompetence I'll grant as a possibility, but, George W Bush notwithstanding, mouth-breathers with room-temperature IQs tend to have trouble getting into high office. The level of incompetence would have to be staggering even by US Government standards[0], so that's not a particularly simple explanation.

    Pandering to special interests == they want it banned because they were bribed by those who want it banned. Doesn't mean they care about the game content at all, but they were paid to have their desires coincide with the interests in question. So that example coincides with what I said.

    Thus, my statement holds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @12:04PM (#26725929)

    Well while we're at it, the idea that Australia is full of convicts is another misconception. Most convicts got on the boat back home after they'd served their time. It was the free settlers who stayed around and built this nation. Nowadays only around 2% of Australians are descended from convicts.

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