Tuesday, January 06, 2009

One Nation Under the Films Act




















Join the campaign to raise awareness about a law that criminalizes everyone in Singapore who has in his or her possession a copy of a film that has not been licensed by the authorities. And this includes video images stored in mobile phones.

The Films Act is an archaic piece of legislation written in 1981. We are calling for a repeal, or at the very least, a complete review of the statute.

Click here to join

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Sections of the Films Act you should know about

SECTION 12

Films made in Singapore to be deposited in approved warehouse
12. —(1) The owner of any film made in Singapore shall, within 7 days after the making of the film, deposit the film in a warehouse approved for this purpose by the Board.

(2) Any person who fails to deposit the film in accordance with subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.


SECTION 14

Submission of films for censorship
14. —(1) Every film in the possession of any person shall be submitted to the Board without any alteration or excision for the purpose of censorship at the owner’s risk and expense and at such time and place as the Board may appoint.

(2) During the course of censorship, the Board may in its discretion exclude any person from the place where the film is being exhibited.


SECTION 15

Prohibition and approval of films for exhibition
15. —(1) After the submission of a film for the purpose of censorship, the Board may —

(a) approve the film for exhibition without alteration or excision;

(b) prohibit the exhibition of the film; or

(c) approve the film for exhibition with such alterations or excisions as it may require.


SECTION 21

Penalty for possession, exhibition or distribution of uncensored films
21. —(1) Any person who —

(a) has in his possession;

(b) exhibits or distributes; or

(c) reproduces,

any film without a valid certificate, approving the exhibition of the film, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction —

(i) in respect of an offence under paragraph (a), to a fine of not less than $100 for each such film that he had in his possession (but not to exceed in the aggregate $20,000); and

(ii) in respect of an offence under paragraph (b) or (c), to a fine of not less than $500 for each such film he had exhibited, distributed or reproduced, as the case may be (but not to exceed in the aggregate $40,000) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
[10/98]


SECTION 22

Advertisement of films for exhibition prohibited unless approved by Board
22. —(1) No person shall advertise or cause to be advertised the exhibition or distribution of any film unless the advertisement has been approved by the Board.

(2) Any person who advertises or causes to be advertised any film where the advertisement in respect of the film has not been approved by the Board under subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.


SECTION 23

Search for unauthorised films and arrest of persons
23. —(1) Whenever a Deputy or an Assistant Commissioner of Police or an Assistant Superintendent of Police is satisfied upon written information and after any further inquiry which he may think necessary that any film —

(a) which has not been —

(i) deposited in an approved warehouse as required by section 12 or 13;

(ii) returned to the Board as required by section 14 (4); or

(iii) approved for exhibition under section 15 or 26 (4);

(b) in respect of which the certificate issued therefor has ceased to be valid under section 20; or

(c) which has been altered in any way after a certificate in respect of the film was issued,

has been or is being exhibited or kept in any place, he may issue a warrant directed to any police officer to enter and search that place and seize the film and to take into custody any person reasonably believed to be guilty of an offence by reason of failure to deposit or to return the film or by reason of such possession or exhibition.
[10/98]

(2) A Deputy or an Assistant Commissioner of Police or an Assistant Superintendent of Police may without warrant, with such assistance and by such force as is necessary, by night or by day, himself do what he may authorise any police officer to do under subsection (1) in either of the following cases:

(a) if he has personal knowledge of such facts as satisfy him that there are sufficient grounds for a search;

(b) if he receives information orally in such circumstances that the object of a search would in his opinion be defeated by the delay necessary for reducing the information to writing except that the name and address of the person giving the information is known to or ascertained by him before he acts upon the information.


SECTION 30

Possession of obscene films
30. —(1) Any person who has in his possession any obscene film shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than $500 for each such film he had in his possession (but not to exceed in the aggregate $20,000) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.


SECTION 33

Making, distribution and exhibition of party political films
33. Any person who —

(a) imports any party political film;

(b) makes or reproduces any party political film;

(c) distributes, or has in his possession for the purposes of distributing, to any other person any party political film; or

(d) exhibits, or has in his possession for the purposes of exhibiting, to any other person any party political film,

knowing or having reasonable cause to believe the film to be a party political film shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.


SECTION 34

Search and seizure of unlawful films
34. —(1) Any Deputy or Assistant Commissioner of Police, Assistant Superintendent of Police or any Censor, Deputy or Assistant Censor or Inspector of Films, if satisfied upon written information and after such further inquiry as he thinks necessary that any person has in his possession any obscene film or party political film, may without warrant, with such assistance and by such force as is necessary, by night or by day, enter and search any place where he has reason to believe the film is kept, seize the film and any equipment used in the exhibition, making or reproduction of the film and take into custody any person reasonably believed to be in possession thereof.


SECTION 35

Minister may prohibit possession or distribution of any film
35. —(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act if the Minister is of the opinion that the possession or distribution of any film would be contrary to the public interest, he may, in his discretion, by order published in the Gazette prohibit the possession or distribution of that film by any person.

(2) Any person who has in his possession or who distributes any film the possession or distribution of which has been prohibited under subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both, and the film shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of as the Minister thinks fit.


SECTION 40

Exemptions
40. —(1) This Act shall not apply to —

(a) any film sponsored by the Government;

(b) any film, not being an obscene film or a party political film or any feature, commercial, documentary or overseas television serial film, which is made by an individual and is not intended for distribution or public exhibition; and

(c) any film reproduced from local television programmes and is not intended for distribution or public exhibition.
[10/98]

(2) The Minister may, subject to such conditions as he thinks fit, exempt any person or class of persons or any film or class of films from all or any of the provisions of this Act.

(3) An exemption granted under this section may be withdrawn at any time.

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INTERPRETATIONS

"film" means —

(a) any cinematograph film;

(b) any video recording, including a video recording that is designed for use wholly or principally as a game;

(c) any other material record or thing on which is recorded or stored for immediate or future retrieval any information that, by the use of any computer or electronic device, is capable of being reproduced or displayed as wholly or partly visual moving pictures,

and includes any part of a film, and any copy or part of a copy of the whole or any part of a film;

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"obscene" , in relation to a film, means a film the effect of which or (where the film comprises 2 or more distinct parts or items) the effect of any one of its parts or items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave or corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to see or hear the film;

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"party political film" means a film —

(a) which is an advertisement made by or on behalf of any political party in Singapore or any body whose objects relate wholly or mainly to politics in Singapore, or any branch of such party or body; or

(b) which is made by any person and directed towards any political end in Singapore;

(2) For the purposes of this Act, a film is directed towards a political end in Singapore if the film —

(a) contains wholly or partly any matter which is intended or likely to affect voting in any election or national referendum in Singapore; or

(b) contains wholly or partly either partisan or biased references to or comments on any political matter, including but not limited to any of the following:

(i) an election or a national referendum in Singapore;

(ii) a candidate or group of candidates in an election;

(iii) an issue submitted or otherwise before electors in an election or a national referendum in Singapore;

(iv) the Government or a previous Government or the opposition to the Government or previous Government;

(v) a Member of Parliament;

(vi) a current policy of the Government or an issue of public controversy in Singapore; or

(vii) a political party in Singapore or any body whose objects relate wholly or mainly to politics in Singapore, or any branch of such party or body.
[10/98]

(3) For the avoidance of doubt, any film which is made solely for the purpose of —

(a) reporting of current events; or

(b) informing or educating persons on the procedures and polling times for any election or national referendum in Singapore,

is not a party political film.

1 comment:

gaik cheng khoo said...

hey Martyn,

Maybe what everyone should do is to bombard the ministry with every piece of their mundane home videos taken on their digital cameras, mobile phones, etc. and see how much they can cope with the deluge! I'm sure when they make it through the pile of junk that's collected outside the front of the building/warehouse and somehow make it into their office, they'll re-think the film act (sections 12,13, 14 in particular).