The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

Guidance for operators of R18 adult websites

Published March 2016

The following information is also available for download in PDF format: Guidance for operators of R18 adult websites (PDF, 333KB)*

If you or your business use the internet to advertise or sell R18 adult products or services ─ such as, for example, DVDs, escort services, or performances via webcast or streaming video ─ this web page explains the minimum standards you should follow, to ensure that you are complying with the law.

We’ve explained your obligations in plain language, but if you need further advice or clarification, we suggest you contact the Office of Film and Literature Classification or the Film and Video Labelling Body, or seek independent legal advice.

Summary

  • If you or your business are located in New Zealand and you:
    • operate or upload content to an adult website hosted in New Zealand or overseas
    • publish adult content provided by another person (who is based in New Zealand or overseas) on a New Zealand-based adult website, or
  • If you or your business are located overseas, and you
    • operate or adult upload content to a New Zealand-based adult website

you must comply with the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (“the Act”) and Regulations 1994 (“the Regulations”), and all other applicable legislation.

The law treats all pages on a website and each of the elements on each page – such as text, images, video and streaming video – as a publication. Each page and each element on a page must comply with the Act, the Regulations, and any other relevant legislation.

An adult webpage is any webpage that has age-restricted content, such as nudity or sexually-explicit material or themes.

An adult webpage containing any combination of images, text, or video is likely to be age-restricted.

Website operators must take reasonable steps to prevent minors’ exposure to age-restricted material.

Helpful tips

Steps to prevent minors' access to age-restricted website content should include having:

  • a landing page that must be viewed before accessing any other pages on the website.  The landing page must have clear information about the age-restrictions that apply to the content available on the website; and
  • an age declaration on the landing page that the visitor to the page must complete before they can view the material on the rest of the website.

Operators of webpages that include adult video must ensure that the content of each webpage is appropriately classified and labelled.

You must ensure your website, and any content you upload, does not include any objectionable content.

What legislation applies to anyone operating or uploading age-restricted content to an adult website?

Throughout this information, we refer to New Zealand legislation that applies to people and businesses that operate or upload age-restricted content to adult websites. You can see the full text of the legislation on www.legislation.govt.nz.

You should be aware of, and meet the requirements set out in the:

Anyone or any business in New Zealand that operates or uploads content to an adult website, whether the website is hosted in New Zealand or overseas; and anyone based overseas that operates or loads content to a New Zealand-based adult website must comply with these New Zealand laws.

If you need further advice or clarification, you can also contact the Office of Film and Literature Classification, or the Film and Video Labelling Body, or seek independent legal advice.

What standards must adult website operators meet, to comply with the law?

In brief:

As a minimum, you must ensure that your website has:

  • A landing page with a clearly-visible age-restricted content warning
  • Appropriate classifications and labelling for all content – including:
  • Information promoting safer sex practices

You must ensure that your website does not:

  • Include any objectionable content
  • Offer or advertise anything that implies the availability of sexual services without the use of a condom

Landing page

Any website offering age-restricted products or services should have a ‘landing’ or ‘splash’ page which viewers must see first, before they can access any pages that contain age-restricted content.

The landing page may contain non-restricted material, but it must include an R18 content warning notice and an option to view the website or to exit.

Helpful tips

  • Your website’s landing page should clearly say that the website contains nudity/adult themes/sexually explicit material (whichever is applicable) and require the viewer to confirm they understand this, are over the age of 18, and wish to enter the site.
  • The landing page should also contain an “exit” option for anyone who is under the age of 18 and/or does not want to access the website.

Here is an example of an appropriate age-restricted content warning for a landing page:

AGE-RESTRICTED CONTENT WARNING

You must be 18 years of age or older to access this website

I confirm that I am over 18 years of age, and understand that this website contains material featuring nudity and/or sexually-explicit material and/or adult themes that are age-restricted, and I confirm that by entering this website I agree that I am not offended by viewing such material.

ENTER [name of website].co.nz

I am under 18 years of age and/or do not want to access this website –

EXIT [closes window]

Classification and labelling of films

The Office of Film & Literature Classification is the Government body responsible for classifying publications – including films – that may need to be restricted or banned in New Zealand. Note that there is likely to be a charge for obtaining a classification or label for an adult film, or an exemption.

What does the law consider to be a "film"?

The law regards any visual moving image that has been recorded and is made available to the public –via, for example, a DVD, embedded video such as YouTube, or a website – as a “film”.

Adult films must be classified by the Office of Film & Literature Classification. All adult films screened, sold or rented to the public must be submitted to the Film & Video Labelling Body, which issues labels that must be displayed on films before they can be advertised, exhibited or supplied to the public.

The label issued for a film must be displayed next to the film’s title (and must also meet these requirements) wherever that film is made available or advertised to the public. The label on your adult film, whether it is available as a DVD or advertised online, must:

  • be an exact copy of the information on the label issued for the film by the New Zealand Film & Video Labelling Body
  • include the classification symbol (for example, R18) and the Censor’s explanatory notes (for example, “Contains explicit sex scenes”)
    R18 label 
  • be clearly legible.

Helpful tips

  • Adult material must first be classified by the Office of Film & Literature Classification and then be labelled by the Film & Video Labelling Body.
  • If you advertise and sell or rent adult DVDs, and include an image of the DVD cover in your advertisement, you must also separately show the label information, and be sure it is legible.
  • If you advertise and sell adult DVDs that have been imported from overseas, and display an image of their cover, you must clearly display the correct New Zealand label alongside the image of the DVD cover.
  • Remember – you must not advertise or make available to the public a DVD, or embedded video without first having it classified by the Office of Film & Literature Classification, and obtaining a label from the Film & Video Labelling Body.

What may qualify for an exemption?

Video footage that is a commercial advertisement for your or your sponsor’s activities  may be exempt from labelling requirements if it is not a restricted publication – that is, if it:

  • is not overtly sexual, and
  • does not contain levels of nudity or sexual behaviour which would result in an age restriction. 

Helpful tip

No objectionable content

Webpages must not include objectionable content.

Penalties for the publication or distribution of objectionable material on a webpage or within an element of a webpage include imprisonment for up to ten years, and fines of up to $200,000.

If you operate an adult website and upload content – including content provided to you by another person – including text, video and/or images, you are responsible for ensuring that the content complies with the law, and you are responsible for ensuring that no objectionable material is displayed or implied.

Examples of objectionable material – anything that involves or implies:

  • the sexual exploitation of anyone under the age of 18 years
  • sexual behaviour associated with
  • animals
  • urine
  • faeces or defecation
  • sexual violence
  • demeaning or dehumanising a person or group of people.

Examples of potentially objectionable terms that should be removed from your website:

  • young teen/school girl (used in conjunction with sexual themes)
  • jailbait
  • pissing
  • squirting (in relation to urination)
  • golden shower
  • Greek shower
  • brown shower.

Note that these examples are not exhaustive – the Office of Film and Literature Classification, or the Film and Video Labelling Body can give you more specific information about what the law considers to be objectionable content, if required.

Advertisements for adult DVDs or adult sexual services should not have selection categories or topics that relate to or imply objectionable material.

What kinds of online content does the law treat as a publication?

Text, images and video 

The law treats all the pages on a website, and each of the elements on each page – such as text, images, film, moving images such as GIFs, and embedded video – as a publication.

All publications – including each of the elements on a webpage – must comply with the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993, the Films, Videos and Publications Classifications Regulations 1994, and any other relevant legislation.

Video files hosted/embedded on a website

Pseudo streaming video (also called an “embedded” video) – such as a YouTube video – is contained as a file, and must meet the classification, labelling and content requirements set out in the Act, as explained above.

Example - broadcastA live adult webcast showing a performer, which is available to a number of viewers, is considered to be a broadcast. It must comply with the requirements of the Broadcasting Act.

Example - pseudo stream/embedded videoAn adult video hosted on a website (similar to a YouTube video) is an example of a pseudo stream or embedded video. It must comply with the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 and Regulations 1994, and must not contain any objectionable content. It must be age-restricted for display and access.

What other requirements must you meet?

Any public place where films are exhibited, supplied, or offered for supply must display an explanatory notice advising the public of the meaning of the different rating and classification labels.

It is an offence not to display this information.

The law treats a website as a ‘public place’ and if it also exhibits or sells or rents films to the public, the website must include a page displaying the explanatory notice, or a link to the information. 

Helpful tip

  • Here is an example of a notice explaining the different classification and rating labels which you can use on a website or any other public place where films are shown or available to buy or rent.

Safer sex practices

Anyone offering or advertising sexual services should adopt and promote safer sex practices. Sex workers and their clients must practise safer sex.

Websites advertising or promoting sexual services should also promote safer sex practices. Websites must not advertise sexual services that imply the availability of sexual services without use of a condom.

Glossary

TermDefinition
Broadcast Simultaneously sending or making available the same content to multiple recipients
GIF animation An animated GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) file is a graphic image on a web page that moves - for example, a twirling icon, or a hand that waves, or text that gets larger and smaller
Landing page/splash page A single web page that acts as a “gateway” to the rest of the website, and which (in this case) requires viewers to respond to an age-restriction warning before being able to view the rest of the site
Pre-recorded Data or moving images that are recorded at an earlier time for exhibition at a later time

Pseudo-streaming - also known as:

  • embedded video
  • on-demand streaming

Pseudo streaming (also known as embedded or on demand streaming) is an internet stream where a pre-recorded and complete video file hosted on a website can be downloaded, and the user is able to begin viewing the file before it has completely downloaded. This type of streaming is used for YouTube videos and other on demand videos.  

Note: the data from a pseudo stream is usually saved on the viewer’s computer as a temporary file, but it can often also be downloaded and saved as a permanent file.

Streaming - includes:

  • live/true streaming
  • real/progressive streaming
  • live webcasts
  • on-demand streaming (also see pseudo streaming, above)

Technology that sends data through the Internet in a continuous flow so that information is displayed on a user's computer before the entire file has finished downloading. 

Streamed video may be live/true streaming (also known as real streaming or progressive streaming) or it may be pseudo streaming (also known as on demand streaming – see above).

Live, or true streaming (also known as real or progressive streaming), is an internet stream that is sent to users in real time.  Live streams are often used to cover current events (such as live streams from sporting events), or can take the form of a live webcast.

Note: without use of specific ‘third party’ software there is no retention of the streamed data on the receiver’s computer.

There is no pre-existing video file on the web server to be downloaded – instead, the stream is viewed (following a short delay for latency and buffering) as it is created.  

Webcast

A webcast is a media presentation distributed over the Internet using streaming media technology to distribute a single content source to many simultaneous listeners/viewers. A webcast may either be distributed live or on demand.  Essentially, webcasting is “broadcasting” over the Internet. 
 Website/webpage Content written in HTML or similar mark-up language and accessible on the World Wide Web via a web browser

 

Further information and contacts

Department of Internal Affairs – Censorship Compliance Unit

Film and Video Labelling Body

Office of Film and Literature Classification

 

Disclaimer

This information provides only guidance. The Department of Internal Affairs cannot give a legal opinion or any kind of formal approval or statement defining what is, or is not, acceptable in respect of classification and labelling activities. The Department is the regulator and will examine website operators’ activities as they arise, to see if they breach the Act or Regulations.