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Monday, 22 July 2013

David Cameron and The Daily Mail Say Yes To Censorship Of The Internet! Why Current Government Thinking Is So Utterly Backwards!

N.B. This article has been revised, in the form of additional content, since it was originally posted. See foot of page, for information.

Dear, oh dear, what is happening!

David Cameron and The Daily Mail are at it again: crafting legislation that takes a sledgehammer to a walnut, and they end-up sending us backwards in time, to the supposed "good ole days of yore", whilst simultaneously failing to do the very job they're trying to do!

You see, this weekend just gone, our beloved PM has decided that everything the Daily Mail has been banging-on about for the past umpteen weeks, namely that Child Porn is one-hundred-per-cent online, and can be easily accessed by a simple five-second Google search, has now prompted him to demand that ALL UK Internet users now have to "opt-in" for any adult/restricted content, by contacting their Internet Service Provider (ISP). See  here  for the details.

Come the end of this year, anyone signing-up to an ISP, will only get a censored, restricted version of the Internet piped into their homes. If the user wants unrestricted access, they will have to ask to have the ban lifted. Current users of the Internet, may find next year, that their provider suddenly restricts what they can currently access, and you will have to telephone them up, and ask for the ban to be lifted.

In other words, because of this continued assumption that we need to continually "think about the kids", liberal-minded adults who just want to not have their Internet access pre-vetted, pre-filtered, and pre-approved by our Government, are now going to have to demand unrestricted access, which will probably mean that someone, somewhere will create a long, detailed list of those of us who choose to "opt-in".

Now, there are plenty of times I can think of, where an adult needs unrestricted access to the Internet, and I'm not talking about needing access to pornography. Journalists for example. University researchers and graduates. People who work for abuse charities may need unrestricted access also. Law-makers need unrestricted access. Freedom-fighters and whistleblowers may also need it, so that they can leak stories for the public interest, such as certain big-name organisations that don't pay their fair share of tax, or governments breaching data protection laws to spy on their citizens. And it's not as if these people need unrestricted access, so they can watch any kind of porn. Sometimes, we need unrestricted access to do our jobs.

Under the proposed laws, even this very blog of mine, could be considered "un-family friendly" and be restricted, because I talk about adult themes and subjects that are not intended for under-18's to read. This is how draconian and backwards this law will be. It won't actually stop the material it's supposed to stop, but it will stop the innocuous material that isn't actually a problem. Hence, the articles on Child Pornography I've written for my blog, may become "blacklisted", because it contains the key words "child porn" or "rape" and the like. It's totally farcical!

David Cameron was shown on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, saying: 
I'm not making this speech because I want to moralise or scaremonger, but because I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come. This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence... I mean let’s be fair to the companies. There are some good things that they’re doing... But there is this problem, yes, that some people are putting simply appalling terms into the Internet in order to find illegal images of child abuse. And, remember, every one of these pictures is a crime scene and they’re getting results. I think it’s wrong that they should get results and we need to have very, very strong conversations with those companies about saying no, you shouldn’t provide results for some terms that are so depraved and disgusting, I can’t even say them on your show.
Umm, so no scaremongering there then? No, not at all.

And no panicking or frightening parents into thinking that little  Johnny or Jenny might be viewing hardcore pornography everytime they log-on to the Internet?! No, never!

And, no rhetoric when you say...
And if we don’t get what we need we’ll have to look at legislation.
... so that  if the ISP's don't do as he wants them too, he'll force legislation through Parliament, to coerce them into doing his bidding.

As Charlie Brown would say: "Good Grief!" I am sick to death of everything been rendered family-friendly-safe, "in case a child sees it"! How many times do we have to say this? Not everything in life is suitable, nor aimed at, minors! And parents, why do we have to keep doing your job for you?! You choose to have a child. You choose to decide to bring a new life into this world. So why are the rest of us having to do your parenting job, just because something I might see that is suitable for me, may also be accidentally seen by your child, but my freedom has to be curtailed to protect your child's?!

Parents: please, do your bloody job! Don't expect the rest of us to have to do it for you! I am really fed-up of parents expecting everyone else to protect their kids for them. No! I'm taking a stand against this! Not because I want to be rude, or insensitive, or even a "woolly-minded liberal"! No! I want to demand that parents are accountable for their choices. If you have a child, it is up to you to do the hard work and censor your TV programming, censor your own Internet services, and censor your own  entertainment choices, rather than expecting everyone else in society to do it for you.

I don't have kids. I don't particularly like kids. They're noisy, smelly, loud and irritating. I have the right to go into a store, purchase an 18-certificated horror film, and then take that film home, and be able to watch it in the privacy of my own home, as the director intended me to see it. I should not have had to have it pre-vetted, because little Johnny or Jenny might accidentally stumble upon it, because you left your copy of the same film in the DVD player at home, and your kids got curious, hit the Play button, and then got upset at a scene of gory violence... Unless, the film contained material that breaches the law. But that's a different argument for another day!

The same with pornography. Yes, there is some pornography out there online, that is deeply sickening. However, to be fair, most of the porn online, is something you have to actively search for. It doesn't just pop-up on your BT Yahoo homepage, out-of-the-blue. You need to actively go out looking for it, either by searching for it online, or by visiting certain websites.

That's not to say that places like Vimeo, You Tube and the like couldn't do more. They absolutely could. The number of times I've seen material on their sites, that shouldn't be available without some kind of age-verification system behind it to access it, is way too frequent. But, it is also down to parents to make sure that their kids don't get given unrestricted access to sites like Vimeo and You Tube, because they may well come across material that isn't aimed at or suitable for them. If you want your kids to access video clips on You Tube, then do the search for them. Watch the video clip before they do, and if you are worried they may accidentally (or on purpose) click on something that you don't want them to see, then download the video clip to your hard-drive, so it can be viewed on its own, away from the website's other content. There are add-on apps to most Web Browsers that will let you do this. There will be step-by-step tutorials you can view if you spend just a couple of minutes Googling how to do so.

I wrote a piece a few weeks back, about this issue - see  here  - but at that point in time, the idea that our Government was going to censor adult content, and force everyone to "opt-in" was only an idea being thrown around. Now, it seems, it's actually going to happen.

Someone by the name of Mertyl wrote the following, on The Guardian website, in the Comments section of a story about this very issue - see here. I've shortened the comment, but you can click on the link to see the full-length version: Mertyl said: 
The news is that Cameron is going to push search sites to ban child porn searches, no one can argue against that, can they?
I am, and can, because you're talking about something you know absolutely nothing about, and expecting the government to pass legislation based upon your complete ignorance and prejudice on the topic. Because do you really, really think anyone but the most mentally subnormal enters "Child Pornography" as a Google search?
Now I've download lots and lots of porn... And in all that time, I've run into just one definite child pornography video by mistake... I reported that one to the Police.... but not before I'd done a Google search for a strange term that was in the file title, and looked at first like a username, in case I could gather a bit more information to identify the user to the Police before it vanished off the Internet. And I discovered that it was a known codeword paedophiles used to flag up genuine child videos.
I could give it, but in doing so I'd flag everyone here under child protection laws; Let's just say it was something like "Kipper77", a tag without obvious meaning but very close to what we'd expect as a username. Of course, where the law would already have failed is that this was 3-5 years ago, and the code words have been changed multiple times since then anyway. You'd have to be in the criminal community to know what the recent ones were, and the only reason I ran into the video was that it was part of the extremely old and largely abandoned eMule system, which requires you to have the identified file on your machine, rather than using anonymous hashtags like Pirate Bay and torrent programs today.
Here's an idea; let's say I'm a genuine paedophile. Let's call the crime "Cameron" from now on. Add "DCam" to your videos as a flag it's genuine. And "BonkIfYouHonk" as one too... Childish? You're dealing with people with a criminal attraction to children. Do you think they won't act that way? Actually, they won't because the real stupidity is still with the proponents of these laws; if they did that, the abuse videos actually would appear everywhere pretty quickly... and they don't want the State to notice. So the codewords will remain obscure. Google certainly won't know them until 2-3 years after enough genuine police work in infiltrating these communities has been done, and they've prosecuted some of the criminals and thus revealed as public evidence the knowledge of those codes, and thus allowing Google to actively filter it.... Because if Google does know, and you enter "BonkIfYouHonk", and get no search words (or an obvious redirect) then, long before you can ever arrest someone for child abuse, child abusers would be warned the State knows the codes and they'd change them again.
But here's the real fun part; "BonkIfYouHonk" clearly knows nothing of technology. Let's say I'm not a child abuser, but I am exceptionally malicious. I start using it as a tag just to ensure at least one video ends up on your computer, because you want to see what all these videos under your name are about. And then you see it, and despite being a reactionary old fart, I assume you at least aren't a child molester. So you delete it as soon as you see it.
Except the file is, and will remain on your computer for years to come.
Deleting a file doesn't physically remove it from the hard disc surface. If it did, the lifetime of the drive would be massively smaller as you'd be writing to the disc over and over again. What it actually does is simply mark the sectors of the drive it was written to as usable again. But until more data writes over it, it just sits there exactly as it was before. So you've opened a "BonkIfYouHonk" file? It's still there, in full or in recoverable segments. Now I call in the Police and say I have a suspicion you've been looking at Child Pornography. And it's genuinely still on your machine... You want to claim it's an accident. Except... now the court can pull out the fact that you've done an awful lot of Googling for "BonkIfYouHonk". And now we have a pattern of interest we can prove...Far fetched? Maybe. But it depends on what the term the child abusers settle on next is where the actual damage falls.
Let's say it's "Kipper77" again. Now anyone born in 1977 with an interest in Kippers is at risk. And the only thing keeping them safe is that they don't even accidentally run into anything that's illegal. Which, with unthinking reactionaries like the current Government and BIYH, is becoming an increasingly larger set of illegal things.
What Mertyl describes, is perfectly plausible. Child porn is never, ever named as "child porn". In fact, I would argue, that no child pornographer, nor child abuser, is going to name any file containing such material with a title that gives anyone except the intended recipient any info as to what the file is about. That's the whole point. You're not going to have files called "Jimmy being abused, aged 6 months" or "Karla-The-Kiddy-Fiddler". The files are going to be called things like "Cribbage 621" or "Ghostly-Apparitions: Volume 9", or some other equally innocuous title. The only people who might then get caught-out by the Child Exploitation And Online Protection (CEOP) Centre's systems, are people who may be into the card game Cribbage, or who collect video clips that feature ghostly apparitions. The paedophiles, on the other hand, will not be worrying, and will continue to trade in their disgusting and grossly offensive material, without a care in the world.

And that's a best-case scenario.

The worst case, as I mentioned in my previous article, is that I suspect most paedophiles trade child porn away from the mainstream Internet. So, not via e-mails. Not via websites. And certainly not via five-second Google searches, but via FTTP sites, via images and video clips deeply embedded as secret files within innocuous images and video clips of cartoons or music tracks. Even by the postal system, on CD-Rom's and memory sticks sent to PO Boxes across the country, or left in dead-letter-drops, taped to the undersides of public tables in parks, where only the intended recipient will know where to get them. Okay, that last part may not be wholly true, but you get my drift.

There are thousands of ways that child pornography can be passed between abusers and peddlers, that won't attract the attention of Government agencies like the FBI, or Interpol, etc. It's way too easy to just assume that censoring all of the Internet, and forcing sensible, decent, law-abiding adults who just want to occasionally watch a bit of legal, consensual pornography featuring, legal, consenting adults doing vaguely kinky things to each other, is going to help stop paedophilia and child abuse.

It won't!

What's more annoying, is that the United Kingdom is now wanting to become more and more like Iran, China and Korea: a society that its government wants to control via restricting access to certain types of media. As anyone who has lived or worked in those countries know only too well, any form of censorship is easily bypassed, given enough time and tenacity from the public. China can ban Facebook, but in its place, the citizens use  RenRen  or  Sina Weibo  to defy the government. Home-grown journalists in Iran frequently create their own videos and blog-entries which they upload, showing the rest of the world what life is really like under the Taliban, which often puts their life and the lives of their family under direct threat from assassination. You can't stop people from trying to get material out there, to the rest of the world, if they are determined enough to do so. Just ask Julian Assange or Edward Snowden.

So why should we expect censorship of the Internet, will stop child pornography? Shouldn't our government be focusing on giving more money to agencies like the CEOP, so they can fight their war on child porn and child exploitation properly, rather than doing as we are doing, and rationing cash to charities and other such organisations, under the auspices of "austerity measures"?

The fact remains that what Cameron is doing, will not stop child pornography. All it will do, is piss off sensible, literate, intelligent and law-abiding adults from doing what they have been doing, whilst allowing child porn peddlers to continue to do what they want unfettered! And it certainly won't stop the likes of the Daily Mail from continuing to run outrageously suggestive and sexist articles like  this one  or  this one  or  this one  or  this one  or even  this one.

Hypocrisy? From the likes of the Daily Mail?! Never!

Considering 99.9 per cent of everything in the Daily Mail can be had from their site for free, I'm surprised their sales haven't plummeted. Let's hope that once the "opt-in" ban comes in, sites like get added to the "unsuitable for kids" list, and the DM finds they get a fraction of the traffic. Maybe then, they will learn that if you restrict access to the Net on spurious grounds, that it may have a negative effect on your own site! If it's good for the goose, it's good for the gander!

ADDENDUM - 27th July 2013:  This rather brilliant parody image was posted on the MelonFarmers website...

Paul Dacre's puppet, David Cameron

It's DAILY MAIL editor Paul Dacre with his hand up current Prime Minister of Great Britain's arse! I think it speaks volumes! And Jan Moir, one of the Daily Mail's waste-of-space writers has written another piece, asking why is everyone sneering at Cameron's plans to block pornography... The fact she even has to ask this question, demonstrates why she (and the Daily Mail) really don't have a damn clue about this subject, in any way, shape or form. Have fun reading her complaint  here  as it's highly amusing - for all the wrong reasons!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

We Want More Violence! The BBFC Annual Report 2012

Hi All,

Nope, that title isn't a spelling error. The latest BBFC Annual Report, came out last week, and it covers films and DVD's released in 2012. You can download the PDF version, legally and for free, from this link  here  and you can also download the last 10 years worth of Reports from this link  here.  All make excellent reading, and certainly give credence to the fact that the BBFC is now the most accountable and public classification body in the World! Whether you agree with censorship or not, in any form, at least the BBFC give you their reasons for it. Not something that can be said for many other censorship bodies around the globe.

So, what is in the 2012 Report, and why am I writing about it on my blog? Well, as many of you may know, the BBFC often sees films in an unfinished form, with the director, producer and/or studio seeking a particular certificate - usually a 12A rating for the UK. The 12A is the most financially viable rating, as it allows all ages to see the film, providing under-12's are accompanied by a parent. As such, just like the PG-13 in the USA, or the M in Australia, this is the rating that is the one that will make your film reach the widest possible audience, and make you the most money at the Box Office! So, most studios demand their films reach the 12A, PG-13, or M audience wherever possible.

Which is fair enough.

However, as you will see from this year's Report, cinemagoers don't like this for several understandable reasons. Firstly, it should be made clear that more often than not, the BBFC do NOT cut the films for a 12A rating. More often than not, the studios are told "You can have an uncut 15, or you can cut this, this and this, and you'll get the 12A rating you wanted". In almost every single case, the studios opt to cut the material, to render the film family-friendly, not the BBFC!

Sadly, whilst in the past, the BBFC have been praised for this, a backlash seems to be growing, and most fans are now writing in and demanding films to remain uncut but with the same 12A certificate. Last year's commercially successful adaptation of Suzanne Collins' trilogy THE HUNGER GAMES was given an uncut 15 or a cut 12A. The studio, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, opted for the cut 12A choice. But as this year's Report states...

There were a small number of complaints criticising the decision to cut the film for 12A. These were mostly from young fans of the books who believed the film should remain intact and that any cuts to the violence would sanitise its impact.

The flipside to this desire from youngsters, was marked out by adults and parents who wrote in, with the BBFC noting that:
The film generated 43 complaints about its violence and theme.
The concept of kids killing other kids has been covered before - from BATTLE ROYALE (2000, Kinji Fukasaku) through to LORD OF THE FLIES (1963, Peter Brook, and adaptations made in 1990 and 2008) - so it's not a subject that is new to the worlds of movie-making, but parents still don't like the concept at all. Possibly the fact that in recent weeks, the issue of James Bulger's murderer Jon Venables was being prepared for parole did the film no favours. (A crime in which a toddler, Bulger, was murdered by two 10-year-old Liverpudlian boys. See  here  for a detailed account of this heinous crime.)

Yet, THE HUNGER GAMES was not the only 12A rated film to receive complaints. In fact, the most complained about film was Hammer Horror's new adaptation of the classic theatrical production of THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012, James Watkins). As it starred Daniel Radcliffe, more famous to millions of youngsters the world over, as boy wizard Harry Potter, the BBFC received 134 complaints about the dark and unsettling themes, despite the film being pre-cut by the Studio once again, to gain the 12A rating. (Both films were released onto Blu-Ray in uncut versions, with the higher 15 certificate classification.)

Alas, despite numerous campaigns and information available on the BBFC's own site that goes into great detail to advise parents that - despite what you may think, a 12A is a warning to inform you that 12 is really the minimum age for seeing such a classified film - too many parents seem to think that a film with a 12A rating is going to be completely suitable for their kids to see. Ever since BATMAN was given a 12 rating back in 1989, and the first 12A being awarded to THE BOURNE IDENTITY in 2002, the 12 and 12A ratings have been extremely contentious.

Striving to meet the balance between a PG film and a 15 film, throughout the 1980's and early 1990's, too many films were being viewed by the BBFC that were too strong for the lower category, but placing them in the upper category was unfair and implied a film to be far more adult than it actually was. So, there were several bizarre occurrences of films being given a PG rating like THE GOLDEN CHILD (1986, Michael Ritchie) and a fairly innocuous movie like CROCODILE DUNDEE (1986, Peter Faiman) being given a 15. (Both films caused censorship issues, here in the UK, and as it is legal for local councils to increase or reduce certificates to any film they wish to do so, many reversed the certificates around, making THE GOLDEN CHILD restricted to teenagers, but allowing younger children to view CROCODILE DUNDEE, in spite of the comedic drug usage and fairly extensive mature humour, in the latter.)

We've also had instances in the world of anime, where films were "fifteened": dubbed to make them ruder and cruder than the original Japanese dialogue actually was, just so they would be rated at 15 rather than PG, to make them seem cooler and edgier than they really were.

These days, the problem is not much different: films that really should be a 15, are routinely being pre-cut or altered by the Studios and Distributors, just to gain the more financially-viable 12A classification. (See my blog article  here  for further discussion on this issue.) TAKEN 2 (2012, Olivier Megaton) being a prime example. A film that really is not thematically intended for, nor aimed at under-15's in any way, shape or form!

I know there will be many who disagree with me on this, but for the most part, I think the BBFC get it right... Most of the time. Certainly more often than the populist press would love to have you believe. Here in the UK, any film that is cut or banned, is still able to be imported - within certain limitations (such as hardcore pornography, for example) - thus UK film fans don't tend to have to worry too much if a favourite film of theirs is not available uncut. Of course, in an ideal world, no film should be cut, and film fans shouldn't have to import, just to see what the State Censors have removed.

But with that all said, at least we have that freedom to import. I've collected a lot of banned and contentious material over the past 18-odd years of importing DVD's and films. I've never yet been stung by HM Customs, nor have I ever had anything confiscated - touch wood. Yet, for some, all films should be available in the UK, as the director wishes them to be seen, with all certificates being nothing more than advisory notices.

I don't think that that system works very well. Certainly, in the USA, I would hate going into a cinema to see an R-rated horror movie, and be surrounded by people who have been accompanied by kids or young teenagers. In fact, this is one of the most common complaints in the UK cinema industry, for 12A films: adults complaining that their enjoyment of a film is being reduced, due to youngsters who can't, won't or simply don't want to watch the film, and so start messing about, using their phones, or chatting.

But I digress. For the most part, I think the BBFC gets things right.

With that said, this year's Report also demonstrates that - once again - the Christopher Nolan BATMAN franchise still attracts large numbers of complaints. When 2012 saw the release of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, again with a 12A rating for "Moderate violence", the BBFC's postbag was full of complaints from young and old, saying that the film was too intense and too violent for such a low rating. This year, it was Bane - the lead villain - who was seen as being far too menacing for youngsters to cope with, and the endless scenes of crunchy action violence that caused the most problems. Admittedly, with a 164 minute running time, this was never really a film for youngsters. The problem, like Tim Burton's 1989 version, really stems from the campy 1960's TV series, where Batman was shown in a very family-friendly form. In fact, anyone who knows about the history of this much-loved comic-book character will already be aware, Batman was never a nice, homely superhero. Batman's creator Bob Kane always wanted Batman to be a hero of the night: a foreboding warrior who took on villains and criminals at their own game, and used whatever methods and means he felt necessary, even if those same methods and means were illegal, immoral or against the better interests of society as a whole.

When David Nolan write and co-produced the Nolan trilogy of Batman films, this was what he wanted to take the comic-book veteran back to: his origins of a troubled, anti-hero, who stalks the streets of Gotham. Thus, the new trilogy was never going to be aimed at or intended for younger kids, but older teens and adults.

Still, violence is violence, and the DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY is very, very dark and mature in theme and content, but I do wish parents would not simply kowtow to their kids, and would investigate the films they take them to see. The certificates and advisory information on the posters is there for a reason, not just for show! However, with that all said, maybe the BBFC has got it wrong, and if the films had all been given 15's, maybe there would have been less of an issue? I suspect not. Knowing the public, I would suspect that the BBFC would be getting complaints that these films are not violent enough to warrant the 15 classification. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Anyway, I hope you are all enjoying the recent hot weather, and I'll be back again soon, with another article on something, of some sort, for you to have an intellectual tussle over! Keep cool, and I'll see you around!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Plagiarism Is One Very Ugly Word!

Welcome Back, Everyone!

This post was not the one I was intending to write to you all about. That article will be posted later, as the article I am going to post for you today, is about something that's just occurred in the past 72 hours, and is at the heart of what my blog is about - horror film journalism - and it's a sordid story that needs as much exposure as possible! Thank You to Alan Simpson of the website  Sex, Gore, Mutants  for the initial Facebook posting on which this article is about.

If you are a horror film fan residing in Britain or the United States, then you may well be aware that a few years back, there was an issue over plagiarism creeping into articles and reviews for the British horror film magazine THE DARK SIDE, which was edited and published by one Allan Bryce.

To cut a long story short, articles allegedly written by one "rogue author" (known only by the pseudonymous Gordon Booker) were wholly or almost-wholly stolen from other people's original works, either from online blogs, reviews from other magazines, and/or a mixture of the two. Some were stolen from other well-known journalists' work - people who are paid to write for a living. Occasionally, the plagiarism was just one paragraph. On other occasions, entire reviews running to 1000-plus words were stolen blatantly, with just the most minuscule of edits to try and hide the original source.

Bryce stated that this was just an accident, a mere oversight, and the blame was put on one temporary film reviewer interning at the magazine, at the time - October 2009. Yet, the problematic plagiarism took place over several years, between Issues 87 through to 115 of THE DARK SIDE, thus it seemed that the one "rogue author" response was not entirely honest. (Issue 87 came out at the end of 2000, and is cover-dated October/November of that year!) I should point out that the discovery of plagiarism wasn't noted until October 2009. It was at this point, that Callum Waddell's name was brought to readers attention thanks to Mirek Lipinski, and it was asserted that Mr Waddell had something to do with the plagiarism, though nothing was ever proven.

As such, we have to assume Mr Waddell is innocent of any claims being made. (You can read the whole sordid story - and it's a very, very long one - at American Film maker and journalist Mirek Lipinski's  The Latarnia Forums  over some 60-odd pages. All of the details, including screenshots are there for you to peruse. Just be aware, though, that many posts are no longer available, or have had to be removed for various legal reasons. However, the main body of content is still viewable. If you want to see just how many articles and reviews were "appropriated", see this link  here  for all of the extensive details and notes on who the original articles were written by.)

But the story does not end there...

Oh, no. This is the same Mr Waddell who works for Arrow Video. Arrow Video use his company, High Rising Productions (HRP), to make the featurettes for many of their titles. According to Mirek's Laternia Forums site, Mr Waddell used a personal photo of his, in one of HRP's featurettes, and credited that photo to one Allan Bryce. See  Calum Waddell Copyright Theft  thread, for the details.

Mr Waddell then blamed Naomi Holwill - another HRP "staff member" - for using the copyrighted image, and she claimed that the image was sent to her, via social media, by a fan wanting to help her out.

Sound a tad fishy?


Ever heard of the saying "Shit rolls down hill"? Well, this is what seems to be happening here. The person at the top, blames the person beneath them. Who, in turn, blames the person beneath them. And, who then goes on to blame the person beneath them, until you get to some poor, blameless grunt at the very, very bottom of the corporate ladder who loses their job, for doing absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever! It's never anyone's fault, just a humble, accidental oversight!

These plagiarised articles were then being published, in magazines bought by the very people who work in the same industry, and/or by horror film fans. A nasty, little cycle of people paying for stuff to people who were stealing from others who did the work for nothing in the first place! As such, the magazine haemorrhaged readers - myself included. I stopped buying it, refusing to subsidise a company that let plagiarism go through unchecked, and that which I was paying hard-earned money for, for material that wasn't even the magazine's to publish in the first place, and which was available for free online. If I buy a magazine, I expect to get original work, not available elsewhere in the exact same format.

The plagiarism at THE DARK SIDE eventually stopped, but at the time, this hit the horror film journalism industry hard, as it seemed that there were people happy to duplicate other people's hard work, and worse still, these were journalists (doing the work often for free and purely because they loved writing about horror films) being downright ripped-off.

I count myself amongst those same journalists. I write what I do, because I love writing about horror films and extreme cinema. I do it for free. It can take me several hours or more, just to research then write-up my longer blog posts. It may not sound like much, but I take pride in my work. I want it to be the best it can be. But I would never knowingly steal anyone else's work. It's just plain wrong! In fact, it's one of the very first rules about writing you get taught. You never, ever, EVER crib, poach, steal or duplicate someone else's material without their express permission, or unless you state whose work you are using, so that your readers know exactly which parts of your work is yours, and which is that of others, so that everyone gets due credit.

Sadly today, July 2013, another plagiarist has been discovered, and it's just as interesting and shocking!

A lady, by the name of Lianne MacDougall, who I had never heard of until today, who also writes online and in magazines under the name of "Lianne Spiderbaby", has been unmasked this weekend just gone. What makes her work even more devastating than the previous plagiarist, is that Ms MacDougall, is none other than Quentin Tarantino's current girlfriend, and a woman who has worked for some of the biggest horror film magazines in the world - namely Video Watchdog, Famous Monsters Of Filmland,, and Fangoria. Again, publications I have personally paid hard-earned cash for!

According to her, the plagiarism is just one "rogue intern", and alas, this is the response Ms MacDougall posted on her Twitter account (@liannespider). Alas, her Twitter account seems to have gone through a case of severe editing, and a lot of posts she had originally made, including the "rogue intern" apology have now gone to Twitter Heaven. (Nice one, Lianne!) For what it's worth, this intern was (allegedly, supposedly) known as Raven Cousins, another almost-certainly completely fabricated creation - much like most of Ms MacDougall's writings.

Her plagiarism can be seen over at Impossible Funky's blog, which you can access  here  for the details. More of Ms MacDougall's plagiarism also came to light at Flick Filosopher's blog, located  here  and which includes further information for you to read through.

As you will see from Impossible Funky's blog page, Ms MacDougall is about to publish a book called Grindhouse Girls, courtesy of St. Martin's Press. I do sincerely hope that the book is dropped completely, and that Ms MacDougall is forced to return any and all fees she may have already been paid for her "work", because she absolutely does not deserve it. If her book does get published, and even one review or part of an article is found to have been plagiarised, then they will be opening themselves up to a massive lawsuit! One, that could force them under!

No one wants that, but credit is due where credit is due! All writers, bloggers and journalists, no matter what area of the film industry you write about, should ever have their work stolen. I have to hope that no one has taken any of mine. I doubt anyone has plagiarised my work, but you never know. Plenty of other bloggers have had their work stolen by "Gordon Booker" and Ms MacDougall!

What makes this whole sordid saga worse, is that Mr Bryce, and now Tim Lucas, editor of the respected Video Watchdog magazine, never apologise. They simply try and wash their hands off of things, and shout that there's nothing to see here.

Tim Lucas even posted comments over the weekend. This is what he wrote (I've shortened the quote, but the full account can be seen on Mirek's site, as shown  here  ):

In regard to my own working relationship with Lianne, she has written two features for VIDEO WATCHDOG - the one Mirek cited above, and another about the Emmanuelle and Black Emanuelle films, which is forthcoming in our next issue. About the first: the SKIN I LIVE IN piece was quite lengthy, and if Mirek was able to find only two parts that show evidence of cribbing in Lianne's research, I would say the word "plagiarism" doesn't really apply. His findings show that the great bulk of her lengthy feature was original work, and it was excellent work. My own years of experience as a writer make it easy for me to understand how something like that could happen, in all innocence. It looks to me like Lianne may have copied that material into her document with the intention of making use of its information and, as she juggled several too many things over a period of time, somehow lost track of what material she had and had not written herself. This is the very real danger of using any internet material as research material.

Ever since Lianne arrived on the scene I have noticed that she projects an image that certain fans hate on sight. She's young, beautiful, affluent, educated, athletic and seems to be living a charmed and golden, bicoastal life, now with one of our leading writer/directors on her arm. (What's not to hate, right?) When she and Quentin went on a sailing trip after his Oscar win, a paparazzo took stealth photographs of the two of them in their swimwear to mock their physical condition. And this was after she had starved herself for three days to fit into her Oscar dress. I am only going into this aspect to point out that she has always attracted trolls online, and that not everything you read about her or her works online is automatically to be trusted. A certain bias seemed to be dripping from the headline of the article that first broke this story.

The word "plagiarism" is poison to a writer and his/her reputation. I've gotten to know Lianne slightly since we began working together and, though evidence suggests otherwise, I don't think it's in her nature to have done this with the deliberate intention to cheat or deceive -- those traits that make plagiarism the ugly word that it is. There are other ways for this sort of thing to occur, but I'm not going to discuss it. I don't intend to prolong this episode's discussion, just to make a statement on her behalf. What happened (and I think she would agree) boils down to a stupid mistake, repeated out of simple convenience until it caught up with her, and made in the first place because she's still young and fairly new to the rigors of professional writing. And in this day and age, when even our leading newspapers contain preposterous errors and feature stories picked up from the internet, the bar that defines professional writing seems to be getting lowered all the time.
Lucas's assertion that...
Lianne may have copied that material into her document with the intention of making use of its information and, as she juggled several too many things over a period of time, somehow lost track of what material she had and had not written herself. This is the very real danger of using any internet material as research material.
... is complete hogwash! Any half-decent journalist writing anything, and using the internet to gain information from for research purposes, knows exactly how to quote the right parts, and remove those that aren't pertinent. You shouldn't lose track of anything, if you're good at your job.

As an author, I know exactly what I write, and which parts I've used from other people or other publications or works, and I never publish anything, until I've fact-checked it at least twice. If errors do creep in, then you should remove them at the first available opportunity. However, if your work is being published in a magazine, to which people pay, then you have an even stronger duty-of-care to make sure there are no errors in it, and nothing remains within it, that shouldn't be there!  The whole "juggled several too many things" is garbage! What Lucas is saying, is that she can't keep tabs on what work she's doing, if it involves more than one article/piece of work she's working on, at the same time!

To then say that...
Ever since Lianne arrived on the scene I have noticed that she projects an image that certain fans hate on sight. She's young, beautiful, affluent, educated, athletic and seems to be living a charmed and golden, bicoastal life, now with one of our leading writer/directors on her arm... When she and Quentin went on a sailing trip after his Oscar win, a paparazzo took stealth photographs of the two of them in their swimwear to mock their physical condition. And this was after she had starved herself for three days to fit into her Oscar dress. I am only going into this aspect to point out that she has always attracted trolls online, and that not everything you read about her or her works online is automatically to be trusted.
... is firstly putting the blame on us, the public, because we like looking at an attractive woman, and secondly, blaming us in perpetuity, for her starving herself to fit in a dress.

Sorry, Mr Lucas, but you can go fuck yourself right there!

The only person to blame for Ms MacDougall's downfall, is Ms MacDougall!

She chose to date Quentin Tarantino.
She chose to write film reviews and articles.
She chose to plagiarise from others, to bump-up her own word-count.
She chose to wear that dress for the Oscars.
She chose to starve herself.

Not us. Not the Oscar voters. Not anyone else in the world. Just her!

To most of us, her sex, her (perceived) looks, and who she was dating had no reference to how we saw her. As I said earlier, I hadn't heard of her until today. I don't care if she's beautiful or not. I don't care that she is dating Mr Tarantino - a guy who has made some good films, some okay film, and some stinkers too. She is wholly to blame here, and for you, or anyone else, to dare insinuate that we the public are to blame, is both gutless and disgusting, and I'm not taking any ounce of blame for what she did! Not. One. Single. Bit! I am judging her purely on what she has done - plagiarised from other people's works, to create her own film reviews. Nothing more, nothing less! To my mind, and many others, she is nothing but a thief! Everything else is utterly irrelevant!

So, what does this all mean?

Essentially, that where there's dollar and pound signs to be found, someone, somewhere, may be willing to rip your copyrighted material off, and get paid for it in the process! That no one, famous or not, is against copyright theft, if they think they can get away with it. That, ultimately, film journalism is a free-for-all, and anyone can find themselves the brunt of it.

Jimi Hendrix once said:
I've been imitated so well I've heard people copy my mistakes.
That seems to fit Ms MacDougall and "Gordon Booker" down to a tee. See you back here soon!

ADDENDUM #1 - Tuesday 16th July: Tim Lucas has posted another, sort-of apology for Ms MacDougall's plagiarism, as shown  here  which I'm less than enamoured by.

ADDENDUM #2: The L.A. Times has the story  here  as does Gawker  here !

Saturday, 13 July 2013

A Short Update For You

I just wanted to make a quick post, and let you all know that I haven't forgotten my blog or my readers, and I'll be posting a new update in a few days time (hopefully before Wednesday 17th July). I hope my UK fans are enjoying the lovely weather we're getting here, and Thank You one and all for continuing to visit here.

See you soon, folks!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Something Fun: Dumb Ways To Die

Welcome Everyone,

I don't normally do "fun" stuff, but this ad has just recently been brough to my attention, that will probably appeal to anyone who reads my blog.

The Melbourne Metro Transit Authority in Australia premiered this ad towards the end of 2012, but it's only now starting to do the rounds, in other parts of the world.

Essentially, a safety advert about... Well, watch the ad, and see for yourself. I'll be back soon! Enjoy, and if you wish to visit the website too, just click  here  for some more stupidity!