Classification Review – Terms of Reference

The government is currently inviting submissions on the Terms of Reference for the Australian Law Reform Commission to conduct their review of the whole classification system. This has obvious impacts on the R18+ discussion – and I suspect they’ll be getting rather a lot of submissions on that – but what I realised from reading their proposed terms of reference was that the impact of some of these changes on say a small festival trying to develop an iPhone app hadn’t really been addressed. There’s talk of media and children and industry but not an awful lot on the practice of just making things, so as someone who runs a small festival – and encourages people to just make things – I figured it was worth supplying something.

This is my very first draft, and I’ve never written anything like this, so I figured it would be useful to a) crowdsource it and b) provide a template for anyone else who runs a festival or small organisation to make a submission too.  Please comment if you think there’s something I should add or take out, and feel free to copy & paste whatever you want. I’ll update it as we go and submit my version on Friday.

To whom it may concern,

In looking at the review of the classification system, in particular the potential introduction of new classification structures for application software distributed via mobile phones, it is important to consider not only the impact on “a strong content and distribution industry in Australia” and “the size of the industries that generate potentially classifiable content and potential for growth”, but the wider cultural sector who have already been using these new technologies in innovative ways and who could be seriously affected by increased regulatory burden.  For some small-scale developers, there may be an option to simply not distribute their content in Australia, but for some applications such as not-for-profits or festivals, location is incredibly significant. In particular, I would point to the following as being potentially affected:

  • Independent publishers using applications to distribute locally created or relevant content
  • Festivals developing applications that support and extend their experience
  • Independent game developers
  • Art galleries or museums developing interactive tours or delivering supplemental material through a phone application
  • Musicians building an online community accessed through their audience’s mobile phone
  • Artists extending both their work and the connection to their audience through interactive projects

Any classification system that increases the regulatory or financial burden on these areas would significantly alter the cultural sector’s ability and willingness to engage and develop new technology. In developing the terms of reference and the subsequent changes to the classification system, I would encourage the commission to consider the impact on not only the scale of “a strong content and distribution industry” but on the wider creative uses and potential applications of these technologies as well.


Paul Callaghan

Co-director, Freeplay Independent Games Festival.

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