This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law.
It is an offence to supply, or offer to supply, media containing video recordings (be they DVD, Blu-Ray or any other format), video games, and computer games to any person who has not attained the age specified on the recording.
The penalty for breaking this law can be a fine of up to £20,000, up to 2 years imprisonment or both
You did not know or had reasonable grounds to believe that
If you can show that you had taken all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.
This means setting up control systems and making sure they work.
The Video Recordings Act of 1984 (as amended) and 2010
If you transfer media into library cases, you will need to have those cases labelled in accordance with the regulations. You do not have to label the front of a transparent library case if the label on the media inside is clearly visible through it.
The maximum fine for selling or hiring incorrectly labelled videos or DVDs is £5,000 per item.
All videos, except certain exempted ones (those which are solely designed to inform, educate or instruct, concern only sport, religion or mimic or comprise only a video game) must have been submitted to the British Board of Film Classification. This Board will either give the video or DVD a certificate or refuse classification. Some producers of videos or DVDs display an E to show that they are exempt, but this is not a legal requirement. Only certain video games have to be submitted to the BBFC, being those that depict certain types of imagery (e.g. gross acts of violence towards humans or animals, horrific behaviour or incidents, human sexual activity, criminal behaviour).
It is an offence to supply, or have in your possession for supply, any media (subject to the above) that has not been classified. The maximum fine for these offences is £20,000 or 6 months imprisonment or both, per tape or disc.
Media is classified with regard to all of the material on it. So, for example, trailers for other films would be considered in its overall classification.
The maximum fine for selling or hiring age-restricted media to someone under the age specified by the BBFC is £5,000 or imprisonment for up to 6 months or both. Sometimes magazines or newspapers will come with DVD's or games; if that video recording is BBFC rated then the magazine or newspaper cannot be sold to anybody under the BBFC rating of that video recording.
Some computer games have a Pan European Games Information logo (PEGI) which is currently a voluntary rating. It is advised this rating is always observed and it is best practice to comply with this in the same way the BBFC rated games are controlled. It should be noted that the Digital Economy Act 2010 allows for a new system for the age rating of video games. This may see the BBFC system replaced, possibly with the PEGI system alone. However, until such time as the new system is set up, the BBFC ratings are the only legally enforceable ones on video games.
Although this legislation is applicable to a wide range of consumer goods, it has a significant bearing on videos and DVD's. Many companies have registered their trade mark and incorporate it on the label, the video cassette and DVD and on the content so that it can be seen on viewing. If an unauthorised copy is made, found in possession for sale or hire or so sold or hired and it has a copy of the registered trade mark, an offence is committed which can result in a prosecution.
The fine at the magistrate's court is up to £5,000 and is unlimited with a maximum ten year prison sentence at a crown court. In addition all offending stock is liable for forfeiture and destruction.
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Ref B/uas/120/004 December 2010