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Coming soon: classifications for movie downloads

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The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will launch cinema-style age ratings for film downloads within a couple of months.

A spokeswoman at the BBFC told Register Hardware that the online classifications are designed to give movie download fans the same understanding of a film’s content as they currently get when buying, say, an 18 rated film from a high-street store.

The classifications will be voluntary because the Video Recordings Act doesn’t require downloaded content to carry legally binding BBFC classifications.

“Clearly this [movie downloads] is the way forward and more films will be downloaded online in future,” said the spokeswoman.

More than one in four adults regularly accessing internet content will download TV shows and 15 per cent download full-length movies, according to a survey recently commissioned by digital rights management product maker Macrovision.

The BBFC first began considering the idea of classifying movie downloads about 18 months ago. The body is now “in talks with several companies” that may consider voluntarily adopting classifications for downloads.

By creating the classification system for movie downloads, the BBFC is effectively sticking a finger up at recent comments made by Paul Jackson, the director general of the European Leisure Software Publishers Association - a body of games developers that monitor industry issues.

After last week’s Byron Review publication, which studied the effect of videogames and the internet on children, Jackson hinted that the BBFC may not be capable of handling more classification duties.

An official launch date for the BBFC’s movie downloads classification service hasn’t been released yet.

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