An Ontario judge has ruled that the province's film reviewboard does not have the right to require cuts to films submitted forclassification prior to distribution.

Overturning a previous judgment, Mr. Justice RussellJuriansz of the Ontario Superior Court said the province's censorship rules runcontrary to the nation's freedom-of-expression statutes.

Justice Juriansz said the Ontario Film Review Board (OFRB)did not have a provision for giving notice that a film had been cut,potentially misleading viewers into assuming the film was being shown in itsoriginal form.

Using the example of the blanket review exemption grantedevents such as the Toronto International Film Festival, he pointed to theOFRB's double-standard when it came to who could see what; the inference beingthat people who see films at a festival are more sophisticated than the generalfilm viewer. Further, he said the board doesn't seek to censor those videosprocured by mail-order or online.

The case sprang from an incident in 2000 when a Toronto bookstore was charged with selling a US-produced pornographic video that had notbeen submitted to the province for review. The store's owner appealed anOntario Court decision that those charges were constitutionally valid.

However, the latest judgment upheld the right of theprovincial government to enforce federal obscenity laws and said the fees thereview board charges distributors to review non-Canadian titles is not animpediment to a distributor's business. The Ontario government has 30 days tofile an appeal.