Moderator: Content Admins
Rogue wrote:Hopefully this means we'll see a consistent policy of providing attribution when not only quoting others, but also writing articles based on the work of others
Import Mortal Kombat and you could get burnt, but how badly?
You have to wonder what Customs wants Australians to think about the penalties for importing a banned video game.
The Australian branch of Gamespot had a word with a Customs spokesperson this week regarding the recently-banned Mortal Kombat. It seems that the Classification Board let Customs know about its popularity and the likelihood that our borders will be inundated with imported copies of the eagerly awaited game.
The spokesperson quoted a rather terrifying figure to Gamespot: those importing a refused classification game could face a fine of up to $110,000. That is one big fine, and the fear of being slapped with such an over-the-top penalty is likely to discourage many Australian gamers from taking a risk and importing it.
I was suspicious, though. $110,000 is a staggeringly large fine, and it seemed totally out of character considering the historical behaviour of Customs in this regard. In the past, when intercepting any unclassified or RC material imported for personal consumption (with the exception of prohibited content such as child pornography) Customs’s usual reaction was to confiscate it. That was it; no fine, usually not even notification that the confiscation had occurred. Where on earth did the huge fine come from, then?
Following the lead of a couple of commenters on several video game forums, I had a dig through the legislation. The Customs spokesperson who spoke to Gamespot quoted Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956, so I had a look. It certainly lists RC games as a prohibited import under the term “objectionable material”, but no penalties are specified.
I decided to have a look at the Customs website and consult the list of customs notices, which are notifications of changes to the regulations. Only two refer to objectionable materials; the first details changes to the definition of child pornography, and the other refers to the importation of commercial quantities of objectionable material.
The latter notice included a familiar figure. One could indeed be fined $110,000 for importing Mortal Kombat or any other RC game, but only for importing 25 or more copies, or for importing any number of copies for commercial purposes. Importing a single copy for personal use was not mentioned.
The 2008/09 Annual Report contains the following comment: “We detect and assess a substantial quantity of objectionable material each year. Serious offences, such as child pornography, are referred for prosecution.” One example of a “serious offence” was a man who attempted to import almost 250 DVDs of objectionable pornography; he was fined $19,200.
So what is the maximum penalty for importing a single copy of a banned game so you can play it in the privacy of your own home? I searched for hours through reams of legislation, and I simply don’t know. I have heard of many instances in the past of games being confiscated by Customs, but never of any fines being issued as a result, and I see no credible evidence that this practice has changed.
The fine quoted to Gamespot seems to be a blatant case of fear mongering, using ambiguous wording to frighten Australian gamers into compliance.
That said, if you buy RC games from overseas you do so at your own risk. Customs will certainly be on high alert for Mortal Kombat in particular, and will probably be more likely than usual to spot other prohibited games coming in. Just because I cannot find any specific details about penalties does mean there are none.
It does seem depressing that this has been turned into a big issue for Customs, distracting them from genuinely important tasks. Considering these are the people responsible for preventing drugs, child pornography, and illegal weapons from entering Australia, it seems awfully trivial to tell them that a violent video game has been made such a high priority.
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest