Thursday, 19 March 2015

Off-Topic: Internet Censorship

One thing that always makes my blood boil is Internet censorship, however well intended it might sometimes be. Yesterday I read that the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found the above displayed page on American Apparel's web site offensive. (Image removed -- please read addendum below). The ASA accused American Apparel of publishing a photo of an under-age girl in a sexual pose. American Apparel replied that the model, Kacy Anne Hill, is 20 years old, but the ASA wasn't satisfied. They stated that the model looks like she's under 16, which is all that matters. The precise wording of the ASA's decision is:

We considered the model had a youthful appearance and that some consumers were likely to regard her as being younger than 16 years of age. The model was shown looking back at the camera over her shoulder with her buttocks visible. We considered that readers were likely to interpret the model's expression and pose as being sexual in nature. In conjunction with the youthful appearance of the model, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.

This is amazing, utterly amazing. The ASA has acted incorrectly in so many different ways.

  • The model in the picture is being punished because she is fortunate enough to look younger than she is. She is not under-age according to UK law.
  • The model is not naked. She is clothed with a garment such as might be seen on any English beach.
  • The ASA has overstepped its authority by making American Apparel remove the image not just from the UK web site, but from all their web sites, including the American and Australian web sites.

This is the image of Kacy Anne Hill which the ASA found so offensive. I was fast enough to save it before it was removed from the American Apparel web site. I've shrunk the picture to make it fit on my page, but if you click on it you will see the full size image that I downloaded.

Interestingly, the ASA didn't complain about other images of Kacy Anne Hill used on the web site. I just spent an hour clicking through the site and found more than 30 other photos of her that seem equally provocative. Here are just two examples.

All three photos seem equally sexual to me, but am I the right person to judge? I don't have a twisted mind like the ASA employees. I don't look at a picture of an adult woman and immediately start fantasising about young girls. Maybe the ASA just hasn't noticed the other pictures yet, and they'll be removed from the web site by tomorrow.

A positive thing about the whole issue is that it's a source of publicity for the model concerned. People had never heard of Kacy Anne Hill, but now she's well known as the beautiful model who looks like she's under 16. Supposedly under 16, that is, but whether or not it's true it's the way she'll be known. I'm glad I managed to save and re-publish the photo of her before it was removed from the site. Please share it. For Kacy's sake.

Addendum on Monday, 23rd March, 2015

It's only four days since I made this post, and I've discovered that all the photos of Kacy Anne Hill wearing a thong have now been removed from the American Apparel site. I'm considering posting them all on my blog as a gallery. If I do this it will be my stand against Internet censorship.

Addendum on Tuesday, 24th March, 2015

I have now published a gallery of Kacy Anne Hill's thong photos. This is the link. This is my stand against Internet censorship, but I have also done this for Kacy herself, to promote her on the Internet.

Addendum on Sunday, 23rd August, 2015

Yesterday I discovered by accident that a copyright complaint was sent to Google on July 22nd, 2015. The reason for the complaint was the title image of this post. The copyright complaint named not only the image itself, but the blog post that contained it. A second complaint about the same image and the same post was sent on July 29th. This annoyed me greatly. I have a legal disclaimer at the bottom of every page on my blog, which I shall quote here:

The purpose of using the images above is to advertise the products that I review and assist in their sale. I assume that the copyright holders will agree with the use for this purpose, but if the copyright holder of any image disagrees with its use please leave a comment below the post and I shall replace it.

That's clear enough, isn't it? I have offered my cooperation in dealing with any disputed material. But instead of dealing with this in a friendly manner, by leaving a comment on my blog, the law company Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson and Binder (SMGSB) has made a complaint about my blog behind my back directly to Google.

The disputed image (which I have already removed) was a screenshot of a page on American Apparel's web site with a link to the page itself where the item could be bought. When I checked yesterday the link was broken, because the item is no longer on sale. This means that my use of the image no longer "assists in a sale", so I have replaced it. I hope that this is the end of the matter.

If any representatives of SMGSB read this, I hope they will deal with any complaints against my blog more politely in future.

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