FILM CENSORSHIP AUSTRALIAN-MADE FILMS: WHETHER COMMONWEALTH HAS POWER TO CENSOR-CONTROL OVER IMPORTATION: COPYRIGHT IN RELATION TO OBJECTIONABLE FILMS
CUSTOMS ACT 1901, Part IV, Division 1: COPYRIGHT ACT 1912
The following minute has been forwarded to me by the Comptroller-General of Customs for advice:
As the question of censoring Australian-made cinematograph films is being raised by certain organisations, it is suggested that the Attorney-General's Department be requested to advise whether the Federal authorities could exercise any control over such films under the Copyright Act, or other legislation; and, if so, what steps would be necessary to enable the Commonwealth film censors to exclude objectionable films or scenes.
The Commonwealth has no constitutional power to exercise censorship in respect of films manufactured in Australia.
The existing censorship is exercised in connection with the power to prohibit the importation of certain goods.
It has been held that copyright cannot exist in a work of libellous, immoral, obscene or irreligious tendency (Baschet v. London Illustrated Standard Co.  1 Ch. 73). The fact that the producer of an objectionable film is not protected under the law relating to copyright would not of itself affect his right to show the film.
[Vol. 17,p. 403]