with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Banning Computer Games in Greece

Just when you thought the world couldn’t get more strange, with people who let wackos run their government and dictate what they can do, wear, think, and believe, we find something else to make us believe that the world is even more screwed up than we thought. Growing up in Seattle, our joke to compete with the joke about New York (In the New York Subway, it’s illegal to spit, but puking is free) I was amazed to find out that every Washington State licensed vehicle must have windshield wipers. It doesn’t have to have windshields but it must have the wipers. Banning electronic and computerized games in public in Greece, a land that had “culture” long before culture was a word, home of the greatest games on the planet, the Olympics – well, this is very strange. So we thought we’d bring it to your attention.

We thought about doing a summary about the law and its consequences, but when we read the law, we realized that it explained itself, and humiliated itself, without any help from us.

This is what Brent got in his Interactive Fiction (IF) newsgroup (>> symbols represent quotes from previous messages):

September 6, 2003
From Joachim
Okay, folks, here is what I have:

Adrien Beau wrote:
>> Nikos Chantziaras wrote:
>>
>> Real life paranoia! New Greek law bans all PC-Games!
>>
>> The Greek government has recently decided to ban all PC-Games in
>> public and private places alike.
>>
>> In an absurd and unprecedented way that conforms to regiments where
>> computers and the internet are considered evil, the Greek Parliament
>> has effectively outlawed all computer games in Greece, even those
>> that can be played on the Internet!
>>
>> That is to say that games such as Age of Empires, Counter-Strike,
>> backgammon or Chess on Yahoo! are considered illegal from now on.
>> (Even Interactive Fiction!)
>>
>> This is no joke! I am an outlaw now. If I don’t stop playing
>> Jigsaw and Curses, I could end up in prison. The Taliban may no
>> longer rule over Afghanistan, but they rule over Greece.
>>
>> Again, this is no joke! Please visit
>> http://www.netcafe.gr/protest/protest.php?lang=english
>> and help us out here in New Afghanistan.

>>
>> Are you expecting people to sign your petition without any further
>> explanation? Do you have a reference to the text of the law proposal,
>> law or decree that is “banning all PC-Games?” Does the text
>> explicitly ban PC-Games, or is this an unfortunate side-effect of a
>> wider text?

It looks like this is the case.

>> Do you have any
>> summary of the current political situation in Greece so that we can
>> understand the context in which the law was passed? Is such a text
>> compatible with the guidelines of the European Union? Are you sure
>> your country can be likened to the Taliban regime? Are you aware that,
>> in its present form, you message uses the same mechanisms as spam, and
>> is as unconvincing as spam?

Whatever you think about the message, he’s telling the truth.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/26939.html

And the actual text of the law, for those who read Greek:

http://www.netcafe.gr/files/pdf/nomos.pdf

Brief quote:
“The government of Greece is making heroic efforts to humiliate the nation in front of the entire world, by banning all electronic games. That’s right; something as innocent as playing computer chess on your laptop in a hotel lobby is now a crime with penalties of up to three months in stir and a fine of 10,000 euros.”

So it seems that IF is now banned in Greece.:-/

Joachim

Then Brent found the English translation of the Greek law. We thought it was amusing, and inciting, reading:

LAW NUMBER 3037 – 30 July 2002 – GAMING PROHIBITION
The President of Greek Republic

We issue the following law which was voted by the Greek Parliament

ARTICLE 1 – GAME CATEGORIES
According to notion of the commands of the current law:

a. Mechanical games are those, that depend on one’s muscle force.

b. Electrical games are those, that depend on electrical mechanisms.

c. Electromechanical games are those that depend on electrical mechanisms and the use of one’s muscle force.

d. Electronic games are those, that depend on both electrical-electronic mechanisms and software.

e. Entertainment technical games are those, whose result depends exclusively on the ability and skill of the player, and are used solely for entertainment.

The category (e) also includes all card games which had been characterized as “technical” games, according to the statement of law F.E.K A21.

ARTICLE 2 – GAME PROHIBITION
1. Operation and installation of any game of type (b), (c) and (d) of Article 1, including computer games, placed in public places such as hotels, cafeterias, organization halls and in any other public or private place, is prohibited.

2. Operation of games of type (e) is allowed in devices of type (a). Regarding these games, it is prohibited to place bets. Such bets will attract penalties described in Articles 4 and 5.

ARTICLE 3 – INTERNET CAFES
The prohibition of using computers described in Article 2 does not affect internet cafes, as long as the computers are not used for any gaming activities.

To be able to run an Internet cafe, a special permit is required from the municipal or the state where the company is based) and from its starting point (port) if it is a boat based company. According to the first application of this measure, the company should be equipped with this permit in three months from the issue date of this law.

ARTICLE 4 – CRIMINAL SANCTIONS
1. Any persons who manage or depend on centres or other places as described in paragraph 1 of Article 2 where games prohibited by the previous Articles are in use or even exist, will be penalized with at least three months of jail plus a fine of at least 5,000 Euros. If this offense is repeated, the penalty will be at least one year of jail plus a fine between 25,000 and 75,000 Euros. The court will also command the confiscation of all those games.

2. The orders for the games of type “c”, in paragraph 1, paragraph 3 and 4 of Article 7 of the coded command 29/1971 are followed accordingly.

ARTICLE 5 – ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS
1. Apart from the criminal sanctions, if it is found that a prohibited game, according to the commands of the previous articles, there will be a fine of 10,000 Euros for every such game and permanent taking away of the business license, according to the orders of Article 7.

2. The fine will be based on the decision of the corresponding authority, in paragraph 1 of Article 6, who had found the violation. In this decision the violation will be described, the fine will be underlined, as well as the order in use. Together with this decision, a copy of the violation report will be notified towards the violator.

ARTICLE 6 – REPORT OF CONFIRMATION OF VIOLATIONS
1. The police authorities are responsible to enforce this law. The port authorities are responsible for boats traveling domestically, and for any other boats staying at the corresponding port.

2. If the authorities for the “body for fighting financial crime” find violations of the law for the games, they will impose the sanctions and will proceed to actions described in the previous article.

ARTICLE 7 – AUTHORIZATION
1. The terms, conditions, procedures and permits for Internet companies are determined by the common decision of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Public Administration, Ministry of Public Order and Ministry of Trading.

2. A similar decision establishes the authority which enforces the taking away of business licenses, the procedure of taking it away as well as any other necessary details for applying the orders of this law.

ARTICLE 8 – TAX RETURNS
Whoever has already paid ” tax for running businesses with entertainment technical games” for 2002 for electronical, electrical or electromechanical games, will have their tax returned corresponding to the time of the publication of the law in the Government’s Paper until the end of the year. No returns will be made in the case of violation of the law for games and there is no awaiting court case in front of the Committee in paragraph 4 of article 15 of law 2753/1999 (FEK 249 A’).

ARTICLE 9 – MAINTAINED AND TRANSITIVE ORDERS
1. With the orders of this law, there are no complications with the orders of the law 2206/1994 (FEK 62 A’) as well as the rest of the orders regarding casinos.

2. From the start of the enforcement of this law, the three-member game committees which are established by the orders in paragraph 4 of article 15 of law 2753/1999, cease to exist. They will still exist though, until the finish of check up of the game machines that had been binded by the auditor authorities and for which there had been a reserve.

Articles 10, 11, and 12 describe the changes in the laws only for card games and are not relative with the game machine orders.

No responsibility is taken for any syntax, grammatical or translation mistakes.

Signed: Grand Master Peter

= = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Always keeping you informed on the most critical issues of the day,

Lorelle
Tel Aviv, Israel

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