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back to article Beeb, British Museum face smut issues over saucy pot

The BBC and the British Museum could be in a tight spot if the legal system puts two and two together over a Roman cup which also puts two and two together... in a naked, underage sort of way. A sharp-eyed Reg reader (who may now need locking up) draws to our attention the BBC’s online publicity for a Radio 4 series entitled The …

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Anonymous Coward

well

"The Met Police declined to comment on the grounds that they have received no allegation of an offence being committed. ®"

Someone best hurry up and report them so we can see this f---ing stupid law in action.

As by my reconing the kid on the cup isn't real and if he was real he's been dead for a real long time. Not that either matters to the f---ing lunatics that make up the police force/ceop/etc.

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Joke

don't worry

Once someone does report it, they won't be able to comment on an ongoing investigation.

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Grenade

Welcome to Talebania

So what's next? Blowing up Buddah statues and other UN heritage objects if they happen to depict something of remotely sexual nature?

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Unhappy

@ Sooty

I wish what you were saying was a joke, but unfortunately its the most likely outcome!

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Bettany Hughes!

Now she's real filth!

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Met

Here is an allegation of kiddie pr0n being in the posession of the BM.

Question - are there laws against audio porn yet, and if not, why not? Because any *description* of this object is going to be pr0n, surely? Which means that this elreg article is pr0n.

Where does it end?

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What amazes me...

It amazes me that this cup survived the 19th century without being censored/vandalised by the Victorians.

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Happy

Victorians

Perhaps it was in one of the "Royal" collections?

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Anonymous Coward

Victorian PR

...was all about being uptight. The reality was that they were quite naughty, really.

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Ah, but...

The cup may well have survived the 19th century, with its moral prudery, but it probably won't survive the 21st, with its moral idiocy.

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FAIL

Oh dear

Much more worrying than the story is the headline. It's the first time I've noticed our poor Reg slipping into the abyss of the US style of confusing commas and the word 'and'. Is 'Beeb' a place in the county of 'British Museum' or is it just gobledegook?

When are you going to start capitalising all words in a headline for the sake of it and putting Zs in as many words as possible?

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FAIL

They've been doing it for ages..

..and it's very annoying.

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J 3
Headmaster

Commas, and

Hm... I recall seeing that on El Reg titles many times -- not that I was keeping track, mind (I get a little confused by the practice). I didn't even know there was a British x American difference in that regard (or are you just trolling?). I just thought it was common journalistic practice to save space in English headlines everywhere. I don't recall seeing it in Portuguese, though, so maybe we don't do that.

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Big Brother

Audio?

So if you talk to me in the pub and describe the cup are you also guilty?

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Grenade

Those crazy Romans

Snails or Oysters?

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Just ignore it

There is a similar vase in the Fitzwilliam that is captioned "man and boy dancing" - oh no they aren't!

Of course you could simply arrest anyone who suggests that anything rude is going on - since imagining an act is probably against the law.

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That's the problem with sex

leads to dancing. </end methodist mode>

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FAIL

Great lawmaking there

I hadn't realised that: an adult can legally have sex with a 16 or 17 year old (as long as they consent of course), but if they take a picture or even a drawing of they'll be breaking the law.

Wondrous.

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And don't forget

The 16/17yo will not be able to smoke or drink any booze either.

Oh what a wonderful set of rules we have to govern us!

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Anonymous Coward

Rights of a 16 year old

Last time I checked (and I was 16 a long time ago!), and I may be out of date on this one, at 16 you can:

Leave home.

Get married.

Legally have sex and start a family.

Pay top-rate income tax and national insurance (assuming you are a child star earning lots of money).

Have a cash-card from your bank.

Ride a 50cc scooter on L plates.

Play (and potentially win) the National Lottery.

You cannot however:

Photograph yourself or your boy/girlfriend naked.

Vote in local or general elections.

Consume alcohol.

Drive a car/van/lorry.

Is it any wonder teenagers are pissed and armed to the teeth?!

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They can also...

Join the Armed Forces, fight and die, to protect the freedoms of over-18s.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm sadly afraid, scrubber...

...that, in the minds of many of our armchair-general bureaucrats and politicians, cannon fodder is pretty much all our young people are good for. Unfortunately, nothing much new in that.

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Pint

You _can_ consume alcohol

You just can't purchase it.

You're allowed to drink at home from the age of 5 under adult supervision, and with food in a restaurant from 12.

Personally, I'd bump up all the anomalies to 18. Give those teenagers a gap year to not remember ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Correct me if I'm wrong but

Actual combat is restricted to the 18+ year olds.

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WTF?

Pissed?

>You cannot however:

>...

>Consume alcohol.

>...

>Is it any wonder teenagers are pissed and armed to the teeth?!

So how do the teens get pissed if they can't consume alcohol???

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Anonymous Coward

Pissed as in annoyed

The other meaning of the word!

I stand corrected by the other posters. You cannot purchase alcohol under 18, although the supermarkets are happy to jump on the bandwagon and challenge everyone to produce ID. That does not seem to stop the hard core teenagers from sourcing cheap booze.

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Stop

Tip of the iceberg

given the fact that the ancient Greeks and Romans had absolutely no respect for UK law, I can tell you that the British Museum is in possession of *far* worse stuff than this.

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FAIL

In those days

The limitations they set were purely anatomical and physical.

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Grenade

You forgot Polinesia

You forgot about artefacts from Polinesia and the Pacific basin where there future young bride had to go around to "collect some experience" before choosing a husband. This was usually done at the age which in the UK falls under the definition of statuatory rape (or at most an year after that).

Compared to those the Greco-Roman ones are very very very tame.

So what do we do now, take all CCTV recording from the Polinesian exhibitions and put all people from them on the sex offender's register?

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Go

No problem...

I estimate the ages of all the people depicted on the Warren cup to be in excess of two thousand years.

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Coat

Hmmm, nice concept...

... but that does mean that the image I am thinking about drawing, is technically a fetus right now. And that is a whole new can of worms that shouldn't be opened.

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Pint

misleading cases part 94

The BM kindly allow non commercial use of this image for print runs < 4000, or you can commission photographs from them : http://www.britishmuseum.org/join_in/using_digital_images/using_digital_images.aspx?image=ps334687.jpg. So would they refer inquires to the Met? Would my friend have a defence of but it's art yer honner?

BTW, I read the BM article with my thumb over the image so as not to pollute my mind with this filth.

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Better censor my bookcases

Amongst my books covering Classical antiquity I have a few volumes covering Attic red figure and black figure pottery. Plenty of depictions of man-boy love. And Satyr-human interactions too.

I'm assuming then that reprints of these books won't now be permitted?

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Stop

Come on

"namely that the person in possession of a particular image had a "legitimate reason" for doing so"

You mean like being a major museum rather than someone suddenly inventing some "research"? Come on - surely if the legitimate reason let out applies to anybody it applies to a museum - I think you are simply scaremongering.

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Anonymous Coward

Here we are

Scaremongering? That't spelt ``poking fun at bad law'', which is right and proper in a democracy. In fact I'd like a (well-written, thank you) law that puts some nice and severe penalties on the crime of writing and passing laws as bad as this one. Can't be too tough on crime, et cetera.

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@Great lawmaking there

Even better, you can get married at 16 - but take a picture of your wife giving birth at 17 and you are a peodo.

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FAIL

Insanity Rules

While I can understand what this law is trying to do, the wording is, to say the least unfortunate.

We bought a book for our kids that explains just how and where babies are made. One of the pics in the book is of Mum & Dad making love, while a kid happens to see what's going on - something all parents have been through - or nearly been through. I can't remember the exact words, but the caption suggests that it'd be better not to disturb Mum and Dad.

Great, so an educational kiddies book now becomes pornography - just as well I don't live in the UK any more, cos I wouldn't throw this out just because some fools wrote the laws wrongly. But I'll have to seriously vet any literature the kids want to bring on our next trip 'home'.

No laws about computer games that let kids blow people to bits, with lots of blood, flying body parts though. Even though the kids become really nasty and aggressive after playing them....

Sick, sick, sick......

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FFS

while we're at it, what about

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/Angelo_Bronzino_001.jpg

(NSFW... err.. SFW... err... oh, who the f**k knows?)

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pure filth

Ah, yes. My extreme porn collection. It contains explicit violence and inter-species sex featuring various illegal combinations of age and gender. It sits on the third shelf of my bookcase in books with racy titles such as Athenian Red Figure Vases of the Archaic Period (by John Boardman).

Rest assured, good citizens, these volumes will be first on the pyre when the book burnings begin.

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WTF?

Ok

So this cup is... how old?

And its mere existence over however many intervening centuries has not caused the world to stop turning?

No? So what is this law for again?

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FAIL

The American Infection

Your problem is that the UK's turned the "special relationship" into a full-on cargo cult. You copy everything from here regardless of whether it makes sense or is relevant to the UK. This kind of BS is normal in the US because people are free to speak and act, and that freedom extends to bigots and busybodies. We have defenses against such people, though. The UK's allowed itself to be raped by such people but you are relatively defenseless -- your ACPO seems to make the laws there with lots of other NGOs chiming in about what's good for you and no Constitutional constraints on their worst excesses.

What's weirder is that Australia, the country I used to associate with a rather laid-back attitude to life, has gone hyper-bigoted. Its like they got the worst of the UK's small-minded surbanites on those five pound assisted packages and the damn things have *bred*!

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FAIL

Law of unintended consequences

As usual with government laws, the law of unintended consequences comes to bite them in the butt (though it might be nicely formed).

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Paris Hilton

How delightfully smarmy

She knows what i mean.

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They can probably get away with it...

... by claiming that this image is "not for sexual arousal".

However what would be better is if everyone writes to their MP (find their contact details on http://www.writetothem.com) and urge them to include the Cartoon Porn and Extreme Porn laws in the Government's Freedom Bill which, as stated in the Queen's Speech is to "Repeal unnecessary laws" as it's clear that these laws are most definitely unnecessary, unneeded and unenforceable.

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AJO
Stop

Not Really

Nice idea, but not really. To be a 'prohibited image', it has to be all of three things:

a) be pornographic,

b) portray a prohibited act, and

c) be grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character

So the fact that the image might fulfil criteria b) means nothing unless it also fulfils a) and c).

Legally, something is only 'pornographic' if "it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal". Given the original cup was produced primarily to be drunk out of, and the images produced by the British Museum were produced entirely for educational and cultural purposes, a) is almost certainly not fulfilled, and so it could not be a prohibited image.

In addition, it seems unlikely that one of the greatest treasures of the British Museum is going to be classed as 'grossly offensive or disgusting' or legally obscene any time soon, so it probably fails on criteria c) too.

So is it a prohibited image. Er, no, almost certainly not.

The original article rather leaps to conclusions without looking at the detail of the legislation, unfortunately.

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IANAL

and maybe you are, but ...

The image was arguably intended for sexual arousal, otherwise it could just have been vine leaves and mountains. If not, surely I can take any image, have it print it on a coffee mug and say - that's not porn, it's principal purpose is to be drunk from.

"grossly offensive, etc" depends entirely on the eye of the beholder. I'm sure we could find some members of the public who would be disgusted by it - whether this would include the notorious 'man on the Clapham omnibus' is a matter for debate.

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FAIL

@AJO's "its a cup so its ok" stance

@Ajo

So to take that further, if I print some horrible images which would be extreme under the law on a cup, because its "primary" purpose would be to drink from that would be ok? No, it would be abuse of the law's spirit.

Dont make excuses for a bad law and provide contra arguments for its validity without thinking reasonably how it will be misued please.

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FAIL

I don't agree.

"Given the original cup was produced primarily to be drunk out of, " - ??? It may have been created exactly for the purpose of sexual arousal. It might only have been used to indicate that the owner and user are hot-to-trot (I don't see that as being too big a stretch of logic - the owner put it on display, and if the visitor responded in a particular way then it was a form of acceptance). The point is, neither you or I know, and so it is purely subjective. (Interestingly, your argument means that someone could produce hardcore porn by printing it on everyday objects - "It's a plate, not porn, gov"!). Nonetheless, my argument allows part a), prima facie, to be satisfied.

Part c) goes straight to the old "art v porn" argument. Why is it art just because it is old, when something produced today, depicting exactly the same, would be porn? Let's put it this way: could anyone could get away with producing and selling reproductions of this cup without falling foul of the law, or at least causing the "moral" minority to start wailing? I doubt it. Thus, the mere argument that i) it's old, and ii) it is one of the BM's "greatest treasures" really counts for nothing under the law.

I agree with an earlier poster - if the crap porn laws are to remain, we need test cases on stuff like this to see what knots the courts can twist themselves into justifying "art" depictions of what today are prohibited.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not Really...

You're trying to be reasonable here - what does that have to do with the law as it is practised on this subject?

It's probably not a 'prohibited image' because the British Museum owns it - but if I did, then it probably would be? And what if I owned a vase that wasn't 2000 years old that also had similar scenes - I'd probably be prosecuted depending on the opinions of my local CPS. A national Arts gallery probably wouldn't.

The problem is that the crime depends on what you believe someone is *thinking* when they look at an image.

That's why the law is bollocks. Nothing to do with the image.

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