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London, England – A bureaucratic blunder by the Tory government back in 1984 means that the UK law covering illegal DVDs and videos is unenforceable, leaving pirates free to produce illegal copies of movies and sell hard core porn to children.
Thousands of people charged since 1984 could now appeal against their convictions and sue for damages. Official figures show that 1,700 people have been convicted under the act in the last 25 years.
The 1984 Video Recordings Act covered age classifications and restricted sales of porn to licensed sex shops, but because the Conservative government failed to notify the European Commission officially of the new law, it is not enforceable. The omission also went unnoticed when the law was updated twice in the 1990s and was only noticed when additional clauses covering video game classifications were being added.
The Commission will now have to be notified of the law in a process unlikely to be completed before the end of the year. Until then, no one can be prosecuted for selling pirated movies.
Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat culture, media and sport spokesman, told the Daily Telegraph: “The Conservative’s incompetence when they were in Government has made laws designed to prevent video piracy and protect children from harmful DVDs unenforceable and thrown film censorship into chaos.
“This must be a massive embarrassment to the Tories, especially as David Cameron was the special adviser to the Home Secretary in 1993 when the law was amended. Until the problems have been overcome we must hope that legitimate retailers will observe the spirit of the act to protect our children from violent and explicit DVDs and video games.”