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The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man. Everyone can therefore speak, write and print freely, with the proviso of responsibility for the misuse of this liberty in the cases determined by law. [0045] ‘Declaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen’ (Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen), France, 26 August 1789
1.—(1) A person shall not establish any wireless telegraph station, or instal or work any apparatus for wireless telegraphy, in any place or on board any British ship except under and in accordance with a licence granted in that behalf by the Postmaster-General with the consent of the Admiralty, the Army Council, and the Board of Trade. Wireless Telegraphy Act 1904
1. An exhibition of pictures or other optical effects by means of a cinematograph, or other similar apparatus, for the purposes of which inflammable films are used, shall not be given unless the regulations made by the Secretary of State for securing safety are complied with, or, save as otherwise expressly provided by this Act, elsewhere than in premises licensed for the purpose in accordance with the provisions of this Act. Cinematograph Act 1909
cf Cinematograph Act 1952
The exhibition of moving pictures is a business pure and simple, originated and conducted for profit, like other spectacles, not to be regarded, nor intended to be regarded by the Ohio constitution, we think, as part of the press of the country or as organs of public opinion. US Supreme Court judgment in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission, 236 US 230, 1915
cf The Miracle case (1952) that effectively overturned this view
This film is so cryptic as to be almost meaningless. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable. British Board of Film Censors, imposing ban on French surrealist film La Coquille et le Clergyman by Germaine Dulac, 1928
Relations between capital and labour; ... inciting of workers to armed conflict; ... industrial violence and unrest; conflicts between the armed forces of a state and the populace; ... scenes showing soldiers or police firing on defenceless population; ... objectionably misleading themes purporting to illustrate parts of the British Empire, [or representing] British possessions as lawless or iniquitous. British Board of Film Censors list of forbidden topics, 1931; cit Nicholas Pronay, ‘The first reality: film censorship in liberal England’ in K R M Short (ed), Feature Films as History
Delete two pigs. Hays Office instruction on a line in the script submitted for feature film Zara, 1939. The original line read ‘Pig! Pig! Pig! Pig! Pig!’
Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations, 1948
1. ... [The Cinematograph Act 1909] shall apply as respects all cinematograph exhibitions, whether given by means involving the use of inflammable films or non-inflammable films, or by means not involving the use of films. ...
9.—(1) ..."cinematograph exhibition" means an exhibition of moving pictures produced on a screen by means which include the projection of light.
Cinematograph Act 1952
cf Go to Official Cinematograph Act 1909
Go to Cinematograph Act 1952 Cinematograph Act 1952
It cannot be doubted that motion pictures are a significant medium for the communication of ideas. They may affect public attitudes and behavior in a variety of ways, ranging from direct espousal of a political or social doctrine to the subtle shaping of thought which characterizes all artistic expression. The importance of motion pictures as an organ of public opinion is not lessened by the fact that they are designed to entertain as well as to inform
        It is urged that motion pictures do not fall within the First Amendment's aegis because their production, distribution, and exhibition is a large-scale business conducted for private profit. We cannot agree. That books, newspapers, and magazines are published and sold for profit does not prevent them from being a form of expression whose liberty is safeguarded by the First Amendment. We fail to see why operation for profit should have any different effect in the case of motion pictures.
        It is further urged that motion pictures possess a greater capacity for evil, particularly among the youth of a community, than other modes of expression. Even if one were to accept this hypothesis, it does not follow that motion pictures should be disqualified from First Amendment protection. If there be capacity for evil it may be relevant in determining the permissible scope of community control, but it does not authorize substantially unbridled censorship such as we have here.
        For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that expression by means of motion pictures is included within the free speech and free press guaranty of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
US Supreme Court in Joseph Burstyn Inc v Wilson, Commissioner of Education of New York et al—the Miracle case, 26 May 1952
cf The Mutual case (1915) that was effectively overturned by this decision.
No advertisement is allowed which leads children to believe that if they do not own the product advertised, they will be inferior in some way to other children or that they are liable to be held in contempt or ridicule for not owning it. ... While it is recognised that children are not the direct purchasers of many products over which they are naturally allowed to exercise preference, care should be taken that they are not encouraged to make themselves a nuisance to other people in the interests of any particular product or service. Independent Television Authority Principles for Television Advertising, 4th edition 10(c) and (e), August 1961
Each culture has a dignity and value which must be respected and preserved—to enable everyone to have access to knowledge, to enjoy the arts and literature of all peoples. Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation, Unesco, 1966
23.—(1) Any reference in this Act (whether express or implied) to a thing done or required or authorised  to be done, or omitted to be done, or to an event which has occurred, under or by virtue of or for the purposes of, or by reference to, any provision of this Act includes (except where the context otherwise requires) a reference to the corresponding thing done, or having effect as if done, or required or authorised to be done, or omitted to be done, or to the corresponding event which has occurred, as the case may be under or by virtue of or for the purposes of, or by reference to, the corresponding enactment repealed by this Act. Cinemas Act 1985
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Page updated 3 January 2006
Compilation and notes David Fisher