43 posts • joined 3 Jul 2007
Lilith supported the "Extreme" Porn law too; endorsed by Liz Kelly
Lilith also responded to the Government's consultation on extreme porn, not only fully in favour, but also demanding that *all images of naked women* be a criminal offence to possess ("Any material which features naked women for the sole purpose of sexual gratification"), along with material depicting any sexual violence, "Any material which features naked women for the sole purpose of sexual gratification" and "material which is hostile to women by showing them in passive roles in sexual activity or being dominated".
A Government funded organisation, which is responsible for providing Government evidence, responding to the Government's own consultations. This viewpoint would criminalise possession of all porn and erotica, including covering all BDSM imagery even where the women were fully clothed (BDSM is "hostile to women", don't you know!) It would also criminalise any film that has fictional depictions of abuse or even consensual dominance (note that their qualifier "sole purpose of sexual gratification" only applies for the naked women clause).
This madness is what we are up against, and these people have the ear of the Government. And when the Government responds by criminalising some porn (in some made-up category it unfairly labels "extreme"), it thinks it is some kind of fair compromise, simply because there exist batshit lobbyists who demand that everything be banned.
See http://www.backlash-uk.org.uk/lilith.html .
The response was endorsed by Liz Kelly. Recognise the name? She was one of the three authors of the Government's Rapid "Evidence" Assessment on "extreme" porn. So no bias there at all, no.
The REA is a perfect example of what the first poster above refers to as "Meta Research".
Re: It should be illegal, but not for obscenity.
@Jess: Note that Disney suing would be a civil issue, not a criminal issue, so neither should be a criminal offence.
Trademark laws aren't likely relevant here, as he's not using their name to sell a product.
As for extending copyright laws to cover real people - perhaps there is some argument to say that you need someone's permission to write about them, but this would have far reaching consequences, such as a soap that references the Prime Minister, or satirical shows that mock famous people. There would also be the problem that the copyright would last for 70 (IIRC) years after their death, meaning you couldn't even include many historical characters of the last century! That would be a problem for a lot of WW2 films...
Re: Freeom of Speech
Well by that reasoning any restriction of freedom of speech - or indeed, freedom at all - isn't actually a restriction: "You can still do what you like, it's just that you might get locked up in prison as a result".
I don't call it _freedom_ of speech when you're locked up in prison. That's not what I think of as freedom.
If you mean to say that the ruling isn't changing the law, only clarifying it's use - well, the thing is that often courts do decide matters, which then set precedents for future cases, or can be used as a guide when deciding what to prosecute in future. This is especially true with the OPA, which leaves it to the jury to decide whether something is covered by the law or not.
First Use On The Internet Too
There's another significant issue here, aside from the use on textual material. It is also the first time that this law has been used against material uploaded to the Internet ( http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/blogger-wrote-of-murdering-girls-aloud-949711.html ). This moves the burden from publishing companies, to anyone putting material online - even on a site that is clearly marked as being for adults only.
The OPA is still very strict in terms of what it allows, especially in areas such as BDSM ( http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/l_to_o/obscene_publications/#a05 ). Whilst people have rightly been worrying about the "extreme" porn law too, a successful prosecution here could also spark further prosecutions against anyone who's uploaded material, be it images or stories.
It is also curious to note they go after the uploader, rather than the server (it would be like prosecuting the author, rather than the publishing company).
AC #1 - I call poe's law.
AC #2 - But he's not being prosecuted for any law that relates to writing about someone. If he was being prosecuted for something along the lines of inciting violence, stalking, harrassment or defamation, then that might be another matter. He's being prosecuted for obscenity - if successful, the same thing would risk being illegal even if written about people who don't exist in real life.
And I doubt that Girls Aloud are doing badly out of this - on the contrary, they get a load of free publicity. 18 months ago, a spokesman for the band said ( http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2007/07/26/girls_aloud_murdered_by_a_sick_fantasist ) "We won't give this person the satisfaction that the girls care. They have security with them all the time, they are safe enough."
Unfortunately, I fear the fact that it was written about a poor liddle girl band means that a jury will be more likely to convict, thus setting a worrying and broad precedent for a much wider range of material, even that which doesn't mention "real names" at all.
Re: IWF watch list should be examined
As mad as it sounds, those fake cut-n-paste and photoshopped images may well be illegal too - they are in the UK ("pseudo-photographs") and presumably in Australia (given that even cartoons are counted as child porn, there). So despite it clearly not being under the intention of combatting child abuse, from the Government's point of view, it still comes under the aim of "blocking illegal child porn".
Hell, in the UK, images of consenting adults can now be illegal (so-called "extreme" porn - nice unbiased term that the Government uses), and drawings of under-18s (or even drawings of adults with some impression of an under-18) will soon be illegal. Though the IWF does not yet appear to be blocking these (although who knows, since the list is secret).
Does the IWF want anything to do with this law?
Thanks for your continued coverage on this issue.
It's just over an hour to go until "extreme" adult porn is a criminal offence to possess - the Government's guidance recommended we report material online to the IWF, yet their website still has no option for extreme images. It isn't even in their FAQ for other kinds of material!
The Government also promised guidance for the CPS - from http://www.backlash-uk.org.uk/ : "This will be ready in time for when section 63 comes into force. The guidance will be published shortly afterwards on the CPS website and will be accessible to the public. " - can anyone find it?
I'm just back from the CAAN protest. I had a great time - I'd just like to thank Martin Salter, and Mrs Longhurst for the good day I had today.
Who decides if an image depicts "rape"? What about bondage sex etc?
An excellent article, for an awful law.
England's law is already worrying. Including images of consenting adults role-playing rape (whether for porn, or for their own fun in the bedroom) is also worrying.
But as the article rightly points out, how do you tell if an image merely depicts rape? This risks including not just acts intended to depict rape, but all sorts of rough sex, or sex with bondage or gags. Possession of a vast range of BDSM material could be criminalised. The uncertainty of the law would also mean more chilling effects - the opinion of the police or jury as to whether an image depicts rape may be very different from the one in possession.
This also fuels the myth that rape is to do with what the scene looks like - e.g., rape with violence or when you're tied up, or by a stranger, whilst "date rape" from a friend is just fine. Nonsense. Rape is about lack of consent - and this law ignores actual consent altogether, and goes just by what an image looks like.
Some of the media coverage in Scotland is annoying - whilst some criticism has been covered, we've also got the anti-porn lobbyists crawling out of the woodwork ( http://news.scotsman.com/opinion/Linda-Thompson-Pornography-is-just.4896468.jp , http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/featuresopinon/display.var.2482934.0.Do_extreme_images_put_womens_safety_at_risk.php ).
Re: Loopholes? Or Laziness?
A lot of the wording is taken from the "extreme" porn law (because that's obviously such a good law!), that comes into force on Monday. That law is all about criminalising based on what an image looks like, and not what actually occurred. The Government guidance even states that an image can be legal in its original context, but illegal elsewhere (e.g., in a film, or produced for an advert, it's not porn, but if found on your hard disk out of the original context, it's porn).
"this proposed law would make it a crime to own images simply because of how those images appear"
Indeed. Unfortunately they've managed to do that even with adult porn, so doing it for children is no trouble - the difference here is that they've extended the law to include non-realistic depictions, as opposed to just realistic images.
Re: Let me get this straight
ratfox: "It is legal to create a porn movie which shows people getting raped. That's legal, so it apparently does not encourage citizens to rape everybody in sight."
Shh, don't give them ideas! From Monday, "extreme" adult porn will be illegal - even if staged between consenting adults - precisely because of this reasoning. And even though it happens that the definitions don't appear to cover rape, Scotland has plans to introduce even broader laws, covering any sex that appears to be non-consensual... (See http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Art-will-suffer-under-.4892027.jp ).
I agree with your argument though - it was one I used to use myself. The point was to show how absurd it was to criminalise fictional things, but never in a million years did I think I'd live in a country where these things were criminalised.
I agree with you on the reasons for changing the age of "child" porn from 16 to 18. I see no justification for the change.
I guess what I meant to say is that the argument about "working in porn" is the only vague attempt at an argument I've heard in favour of this change. I disagree with the logic, but even for those who accept it - it's not an argument that applies to fictional images at all.
And I fully agree with the rest of your comment too. The worrying thing is that, like the change from 16 to 18, this law will pass unchallenged, because no one wants to be seen opposing it. (And if they could force the "extreme" porn law through, despite opposition and criticisms, they'll have no trouble with this law.)
So a broad range of images will be criminalised; the uncertainty will result in chilling effects. And it will set the precedent that possession of drawings can be illegal - since this Government, and the police forces, think "extreme" porn between consenting adults is no different to child porn, I wouldn't be surprised to see them criminalising "extreme" non-realistic images in future...
But opposition starts with individuals saying you oppose it. Write to your MP at least - http://www.writetothem.com/ makes this easy.
Even images that could be seen as a 17 year old will be illegal!
Note that the age for the "child" is 18. So sex with a 17 year old is legal, but make a drawing of the same act (or perhaps one that simply focuses on her butt, according to the law), and you're a criminal.
It might be one thing to talk about images that are clearly intended to be things that might arouse pedophiles - i.e., prepubescent children. Even there, it is a matter of debate whether they should be illegal. But including up to 18 will criminalise a vast range of material. How do we tell if a cartoon is meant to look 17 or 18? What about all the Japanese manga where characters often have a youthful appearance, or people who like a school uniform fetish? The clause "the predominant impression conveyed is that the person shown is a child despite the fact that some of the physical characteristics shown are not those of a child" means physical aspects such as having big breasts won't make an image safe.
The point about an age of consent of 16 (or even 18) is that when you're dealing with people, it's more than their physical attributes that matter, whether or not they are still pre-pubescent. I disagree with setting the law on child porn to 18 - but the argument there was that a higher age is needed, not because of what the image depicts, but because of wanting to set a higher age limit before people can appear in porn. But there is no such person in a fictional case! Pedophilia is not about finding a 17 year old attractive - so even if a law on fictional "pedophile images" is deemed to be required, it makes no sense setting an age limit so high, especially one higher than the age of consent! There's also the point that whilst real people have an age, fictional people do not - so whilst an age of consent makes sense, it makes no sense for fictional images.
"I thought there was already law about generating sexual images of children via comouters or other mechanisms. Why do we need another law?"
Correct - this was included in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.
The scaremongering is that pedophiles were converting child porn into images of cartoons. Even if that were true (no evidence has been presented), as you say, it's already covered by law now. But the reality with this law is that really, we need a way to convert cartoons to actual people ... because a 17 year old is illegal if he or she is in a cartoon, but legal if they're a person right in front of you!
Indeed, and if material is so corrupting, and if a certain recent image was really child porn, does that mean there are now a million more pedophiles? ( http://stats.grok.se/en/200812/Virgin_Killer )
Re: Why the new law?
"Perhaps was flawed and should have always included possession as well as publication."
No, we should have never criminalised publication, if the intent was to prevent people getting hold of it who wanted to get hold of it. The intent of censoring material under the OPA is out of fear of corrupting others. Who is corrupted if someone possesses an image? Who is the victim? The implication is that we need protecting from ourselves.
Whatever its intent, I think the only reason people tolerate the OPA is because the material might be seen by other people unintentionally, and some control on *publication* is seen as acceptable. Criminalising mere possession - taking that to even private images - is a whole different matter.
It is reasonable perhaps that someone seeking to publish should be aware of what would be illegal, and to have the work classified by the British Board of Film Classification. It is far less reasonable to expect an individual to be aware of what images are and aren't legal, when browsing the Internet, importing an unclassified film, or taking a private photo with his or her partner, nor is it reasonable or practical to have to subject every such image for classification.
And what happens if you submit an illegal image to the BBFC? Currently, they just ask you for cuts, but now you will already have been breaking the law from the moment the image was made!
Another problem is that a ban on possession means that the material must be destroyed. Even if some draconian laws on what is allowed are temporary, the material that is banned is forever lost, unless someone takes the risk of storing it. A ban on publication simply means that it can't be published for that period.
Imagine if obscenity laws had banned possession from the start - think of all the books that would have been burned, and lost forever!
Okay, so the ISPs are to blame for the IP address problem rather than the IWF. But that doesn't change the point that something has gone wrong here.
Comparing Wikipedia's blocking of people editing Wikipedia to this censorship is laughable. There's a difference between controlling who can access *your own site*, and trying to censor other sites!
"Web hosts must not wait for an image to be declared unlawful by a court when they receive a complaint, albeit only a court can declare an image unlawful. If they wait, there is every chance that the declaration will come at their own trial."
And that is Wikimedia's choice to make. And since they are in the US, it is up to the US authorities to notify them.
"Yet that is no defence. Amazon should get rid of it too, or, at the very least, block the image from UK visitors."
That's not the point. The question is, is the IWF going to block them too?
"The IWF says that its system cannot ban individual JPEG files, though. It says that its system is designed to be simple, because that is what the ISPs want. So it bans pages on which images appear, not the images themselves. That is not an over-reaction, in my view."
Censoring *text* is an over-reaction, in my view, the paying customer. If the IWF's system can't handle blocking images, then that's rather mad considering that the system was supposedly designed for blocking images! This system also means that the image is still available, if you know the URL of the image directly. So on the one hand it blocks legal text, yet it turns out it's no good at blocking child porn images anyway!
"Yes, that is a form of censorship; but not all censorship is evil. Wikimedia should know that."
A straw man argument - no one is claiming that censoring actual child porn images is wrong. Wikimedia do know that.
As for the idea that ISPs can choose to block what they like - well sure, but (a) their customers damn well have a right to complain and raise awareness about such actions, and (b) you can damn well be sure that any site which is blocked will also complain, and consider legal action.
There is also the wider issue of fears that ISPs have signed up to the blacklist, out of fears that the Government will force them to do so if they do not.
Whoever is to blame - the ISPs, the IWF or the Government - both individuals and Wikimedia are right to kick up a fuss about it.
"Extreme" Images to be censored too, from January?
Whether or not that image should be considered child porn should be up to the courts to decide.
And from January, it seems the IWF are going to be handling reports of "extreme pornography" ( http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/26/pr0n_ban_date/ ), which is broader and far vaguer than child porn law - so if they start blocking anything that might "potentially" be extreme, I worry that this could mean a lot more sites being blocked.
This also shows that they are willing to blacklist mainstream sites - well, at least they get points for being consistent I suppose (there`s nothing worse than selective enforcement) - but the point is that images that might "potentially" come under the extreme porn law have been found on mainstream non-porn sites. Now even if it may be the case that such a site would never be prosecuted, this shows that the IWF may happily censor any site that has a potentially extreme image on it, no matter what site it is on, or for what purpose it is there for.
It is also wrong that the site returns a fake 404 message - Virgin Media do this, although apparently Demon do not (see the Wikinews article). Is this something decided on a per-ISP level, and something worth complaining to them about?
@Leo Davidson - whilst you are correct, I think that's being a bit pedantic. Their policy page ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_is_not_censored#Wikipedia_is_not_censored ) clearly states that they remove content in some cases. Moreover, that illegal things are removed is an issue to take up with the US Government (or Florida state), as obviously it isn't something that Wikipedia can change. The point is that many editors argue that Wikipedia should be censored even in cases where the images are not illegal, so beating them with the "Wikipedia is not censored" stick is useful.
Article is incorrect (was Re: You consider that "realistic"?)
"Do you honestly think that the NSFW image that you linked to qualifies for "a reasonable person would consider the action depicted to be real"?"
Unfortunately the Register article is incorrect here. The test for whether a reasonable person thinks it's real or not only applies to the people being real, *not* the action. In the linked image, the people are clearly real. ("a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real" - http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/ukpga_20080004_en_9#pt5-pb1-l1g63 ).
The test for the action is merely that the image is "realistic". Images can clearly be realistic, even if we know or suspect it isn't real (e.g., realistic special effects in a film), and I think that the linked image would count.
Re: WRONG! (in Eric Cartman voice)
"I'm about as liberal minded as you can get but even I think videos portraying medical experiments and nun abuse are sick and wrong. "
Doesn't sound very liberal to me. If you don't like it, don't watch it. I'm sure she didn't ask for her images to be splatted all over the tabloids.
Re: I am seriously confused
Firstly to add to my earlier comment - the "extreme porn" law has a clause specifically criminalise extracts from legally available films. So the Government's claim that this only covers illegal to publish material is clearly false.
"I do remember reading somewhere else that it is illegal to do harm, even if it's consenting. Where the f*ck does that leave boxing and all but the fluffiest of martial arts??"
The law is rather confusing on this issue - technically, you can't consent to ABH except for some exceptions. However the number of exceptions is quite broad - sport as you suggest, but also body modifications (including a case where a man branded his wife's buttocks in private - see R v. Wilson). BDSM stands out as the one case that isn't an "exception", due to the Spanner case (R v. Brown) where consenting sadomasochists were sent to prison.
A branding is legal. But if you get off on it, the same branding is illegal.
However, more recently was the Mosley case - it was interesting that the Judge noted that although actual harm and possibly wounding was inflicted upon Mosley, the Judge ridiculed the idea that it was illegal, even though it was clearly S&M. His reasoning was that it wasn't as extreme as Spanner, so the precedent of R v. Brown didn't apply.
But back to the original claim: "There was no intention to attack conduct, so long as it was legal and did not cause harm to the individuals participating in it."
This is false anyway, since the law covers images of staged acts too (perhaps by "conduct" they mean "you can do it, but not take pictures", but this is still criminalising consenting adults for what they do - taking or viewing a picture is still "conduct", after all).
The law is not restricted to just material illegal to publish
"According to them, the extreme porn clauses of the Criminal Justice Act (s. 63-66) were about catching material that originated outside the UK that could not at present be prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1959."
I.e., "other countries like the USA don't share the UK's prudish views on what adults should be allowed to see, so we need to put them in prison for their own good". Right.
Note that the law itself has no requirement that the material be illegal under the Obscene Publications Act - the Government specifically refused to add this clause. Elsewhere, they say "we believe" that it would only cover illegal to publish material ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7682319.stm ) - i.e., they think, but they can't be sure. Since they wrote the damn law, why not make it explicit rather than having to rely on "we believe"?
And even if it is illegal under the OPA, why are we still worried about this Victorian law? If an adult consents to making or viewing a fictional image in the privacy of their own home, why should that be illegal because others deem it to be "obscene"?
Extending publication laws to possession is a huge step. It's one thing to put extra burden upon a publisher when publishing material - it's quite another thing to put a burden upon anyone browsing the Internet, for every image they might stumble across! A publisher can seek legal advice, or submit the work to the BBFC. Do we now need legal advice to browse the Internet? Should people's private videos that they make of their own acts for their own amusement need to be submitted to the BBFC?
Another problem is that if possession is illegal, you are committing a crime as soon as the image is made. So you can't consult the BBFC even if you wanted to, because you'd already have broken the law if the image came under the law!
There is also the point that if a country temporarily has draconian laws against publication, that simply means the material can't be published for the duration. But draconian laws against possession means that the material can't exist at all - it has to be destroyed. So even temporary laws on possession have a permanent effect.
Far greater consideration and evidence must be require for any laws on possession - and for "extreme" adult material, supporters of the law have presented none.
What do children have to do with this? The law is about private possession, not publication.
I look forward to seeing it
Of course I predict that this campaign will draw out all the "But atheists are just as fundamentalist!" whiners....
"Especially since their big message seems to be to get people to think for themselves, and the way they're doing it is by telling people what to think."
If you want to people to think about an issue, it's standard practice to have both sides of the issue put across. One side is already out there, so this is to put the other side across.
After all, it's started up a debate on this page, and that's the point of it.
Plus, there are other reasons put forward for doing this, as well.
If you have a better idea for a message that gets people to think, then feel free to propose it?
"Counter with religious propaganda for a religion who purpose is to proclaim that there is no religion?"
But atheists don't claim that, not all of them - that's a straw man. Note the word "probably".
"The atheist position is surely that god definitely does not exist"
Not all atheists take that position. Even Dawkins puts it in terms of likelihood, rather than absolute certainty, I believe. I can see the point that perhaps it would be bolder to strike it out. But that would also just bring out more of "atheists are just as bad as religious people" type comments, as seen in this thread.
"And athiest is certain there is not god. An agnostic is uncertain whether there is a god or not and so gets on with his/her life as best they can. So it is an agnostic slogan."
It's both. Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. And some agnostics probably wouldn't agree with the statement, as they'd say we couldn't say how likely his non-existence is at all, so it's more atheist, I'd say.
On a slippery slope already...
FWIW, they ask for people to comment via email at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2008/09/24132838/9 .
One worry with the extreme porn law has been that, once the precedent has been set for criminalising adult porn - even fictional and consensual images - it would be easy to extend the law further. And here we are, the law in England has yet to even come into force, and Scotland is already extending it!
Who wants to bet that the UK Government will now update the law to include rape depictions too, in order to "bring the law in line" with Scotland? And perhaps they'll then extend it a bit further again themselves...
"So that rules out any form of bondage then, doesn't it ? Also any form of sub/dom play as well."
Indeed - whilst this is not explicitly outlawed, as others have commented, how on earth does one tell if an image depicts rape? I agree that this puts all sorts of images showing rough sex, bondage, gags or dom/sub play at risk.
It's complete nonsense. Even if the participants in court say they consented, that doesn't matter for this law - the court will be having discussions on whether the fictional character in the scene didn't consent.
A few commenters ask about films: if the Scottish law follows the rest of the UK, then a legally classified films will be exempt, but screenshots *won't* be exempt, if it's believed they were extracted for the purpose of sexual arousal. (Also at risk are non-classified films such as imports.)
Not true after all
See http://royalsociety.org/news.asp?id=8004 .
I think The Register should be applauded for being, AFAICT, the only medial outlet running this story that (a) made an attempt to clarify with the Royal Society, and (b) have edited their story after the Royal Society's clarification.
I wonder how many media outlets will even give an update? It's an embarrassment when misleading stories like this are copy and pasted around all the mainstream news organisations, with no sources given, like some bad game of chinese whispers.
I fear these stories will also lend credibility to creationists. I can hear them now: "even leading scientists, of the UK's national academy of science, support teaching creationism in schools!"
Re: Not quite how we imagine it...
"The scenario I'm trying to paint is this - people won't be arrested for simple possession of whichever material your average Daily Mail reader doesn't like. They will have been picked up or raided for something else, and a charge of possessing said materials will be tacked on the end."
More worringly though I think is the possibility of police raiding your computer for whatever reason, but when they can't find any evidence for what they originally suspected you for, this law is something they could do you for instead.
Re: Oh noes
Hylas and the Nymphs wouldn't be affected, as the law covers "realistic" depictions. So films and other images of staged acts are at risk, but paintings are fine.
However, you should be more worried about another (proposed) law to criminalise all non-realistic sexual images of under-18s: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/28/government_outlaws_pictures/ . As you say, those paintings of naked young girls do not have their proof of age on file, and who can be sure that they are really 18 or older?
I express my gratitude for the invitations to flee to Canada - though it should be noted that even Scotland will be safe for this law. Nevermind getting an international consensual on "extreme images" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/3515797.stm) - extreme porn will in fact still be legal in Gordon Brown's own constituency!
(The new law will apply to England, Wales and NI, but *not* Scotland. As yet, they do not appear to have decided whether to introduce a similar law.)
Re: Well then...
Sex with children is, and should be, illegal. Images of sex with children are illegal.
Sex between consenting adults is legal. Images involving consenting adults should be legal.
Now sure, there is some argument that if images of non-consensual sex between adults was widespread, that should be an argument for criminalising all of them. But:
Firstly, this would be an argument for criminalising depictions of adult sex, on the grounds that they might not be consensual or staged. This law does not target hardcore porn, instead focusing unfairly on acts that might be practiced by sadomasochists. Similarly, it would be an argument for banning all violent films, in case the participants hadn't consented and people were really being harmed.
Secondly, not a single example of "extreme porn" involving non-consenting adults has ever been produced (adult sexual slavery is a serious issue, but no link has been shown between this and the "extreme porn" sites). It certainly is not widespread. We might as well criminalise any film that shows someone dying, out of fear that it's a mythical snuff film.
Thirdly, there should at least be a defence where it can be proven that the participants consented. But under the new law, sadomasochists who photograph their own acts will be criminalised (the defence for participating in the image would not apply to sadomasochists, because the law does not consider their consent valid); you might have cases where only one partner is in the image, and it would be illegal for their partner to possess - not to mention say, a threesome where two of them decide to make a kinky picture, and then give to the third. Other examples would be images from BBFC legal films, or legal porn sites that are regulated, keep records, and where the participants turn up to court to say they consented (if you are going to quibble "what if they were threatened into it" - well, again that's an argument for criminalising _all_ pornography). Also consider staged acts - it can obviously be shown that the participants were in fact unharmed.
I would be more than happy with such a defence, even if the burden of proof was on the defendant - but the Government refused to allow such a defence, because this law is not about protecting participants, but about the depictions themselves:
"So someone please explain the difference in intent between this proposed law, and the law against indecent images of kids."
The Government themselves explain this - this law is not about protecting participants, it's about the claim that looking at images turns people into violent criminals. The Government's own Rapid Evidence Assessment couldn't find any evidence of people harmed in the production of "extreme porn", and instead focused on alleged affects of viewing material. The law came about after Graham Coutts murdered Jane Longhurst, because Coutts had access certain sites - that are known to be staged with consenting adults. Please read some of the House of Lords debates:
In responding to criticisms, Lord Hunt's justification is basically that these images are "disgusting". In particular, he states:
"I do not take this very liberal approach of "If it does no harm to the people taking part, why should we worry about it?" I do worry about it, and about the access that people have to that kind of disgusting material."
When asked if a crime is committed in their production, he states: "some would be covered by offences in this country and some would not, but they were all disgusting."
Whether people are harmed or not is irrelevant, because the Government's position is to do with the depictions themselves, not how they are produced.
Also see the Government's justifications under the ECHR ( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmbills/130/en/07130x-n.htm#index_link_206 ) - only one of the clauses refers to protecting participants (and even there, it states staged activities - not a single clause claims the existence of non-consensual injuries); the rest are about controlling images of consenting sadomasochists; that the material "may be harmful" to viewers; that the depictions should be banned because the activities are "not considered acceptable"; and Please Won't Somebody Think Of The Children...
If you wish to believe that viewing some material turns people into violent murderers, that's up to you - but please don't think that this is about protecting participants.
Consider, can you explain why a BBFC film is exempt from the law, but a screenshot from the same film isn't exempt?
Re: Good law, well-defined, end-of
@Andrew Thomas: "These acts are all unacceptable in civilised society. It's a good law. Bring it on."
Did you not read the rest of the Wikipedia article? It covers fictional images and images of role-played acts between consenting adults. If fictional depictions of "unacceptable" acts should be criminialised, that would criminalise most 18+ films (and, come to that, screenshots from a legal film can come under this law).
This doesn't just affect porn (BDSM or otherwise), it criminalises consenting adults role-playing or practicing BDSM in their bedroom, who decide to take a photo for their own amusement.
@Anonymous Coward: "Are you seriously suggesting that the courts and the police use the Whackipedia.org article as a guideline on how to interpret the Law."
Actually, the Wikipedia article is referenced directly from the Government documents. Unfortunately, he decided to ignore the bits that note it covers consensual and staged material, or the bits that explain just how vague the definitions are (e.g., that threats to a person's life can include simply pretending to threaten someone with a weapon).
Re: Letter from a Lord
"Surely this means things have changed?"
Sadly not - the amendment made was very narrow. The defence for consensual acts only applies for those who "directly participated in the act". So a pic of yourself might be legal for you to possess, but as soon as you pass it to somneone else (even say privately to your girlfriend), it's illegal for them to possess. It's not even clear if the photographer can possess the photo, since they did not "directly participate in the act"!
Also the defence only applies to images the Government thinks we're allowed to consent to - and since acts which result in harm more than "transient or trifling" are still illegal to consent to (see Operation Spanner), the defence won't apply to these, so it is useless for actual acts between consenting adults.
So whilst the defence may help some people, it will still be illegal to possess images of consenting adults (including screenshots from legal films, which are obviously known to be consensual), and in some cases, it will still be illegal to posses images of yourself in these acts.
See http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/ukpga_20080004_en_9#pt5-pb1-l1g66 for the actual wording.
Re: @What If...
To add to Graham Marsden's comment about the Defence for people who directly participated in the scene, note that the law makes it clear that this only applies to acts that adults can consent to in law. This is presumably a blatant reference to the Spanner case, where consenting adults were charged with assault on their own bodies for engaging in sadomaschism. In other words, this defence will be useless for any BDSMers out there who are inflicting harm that is more than "transient and trifling" (though it will at least help for say, a staged image such as knifeplay or pretend breathplay).
Also imagine a threesome - where one night, two partners of the threesome engage in some homemade "extreme porn" making of their own, producing private images that are entirely legal for them to own, but illegal if they then allow their third partner to see it.
There were far more reasonable defences proposed, that still would have allowed the Government achieve its stated aims (e.g., Liberty proposed a defence for those who reasonably believed that no one was made to act against their will), but they were rejected out of hand.
Even if the law was black and white, any law that criminalises images of acts between consenting adults - including staged acts - is draconian. But the fact that no one can be exactly sure what is or isn't illegal places an unfair burden on individuals. It will lead to a chilling effect where people fear visiting adult sites, or taking private images of their own acts, not knowing if such things are legal or not.
For reference, the Police responses (including those of West Midlands Police) to the Government consultation are at:
They seem convinced that these images exist involving torture of non-consenting victims - they even mention "snuff films" - yet the resultant law will criminalise staged and consensual images, and it will even cover clips from legal films!
The "Loophole" Is Already Closed!
Under the new Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, Section 69 (a few clauses after the "extreme porn" ones...) - http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/ukpga_20080004_en_9#pt5-pb1-l1g69 :
"References to a photograph also include- a tracing or other image, whether made by electronic or other means (of whatever nature)- which is not itself a photograph or pseudo-photograph, but which is derived from the whole or part of a photograph or pseudo-photograph (or a combination of either or both)"
So not only is it absurd logic to suggest that all drawings need to be criminalised because pedophiles are allegedly converting child abuse images into them, this simply isn't a loophole anymore anyway!
What if pedophiles start converting images of children into page 3 girls, will they need to be criminalised too?
Thanks for your balanced and informative article - far more so than the rest of the press.
Re: Not Very Well Thought Out :(
I agree with your points about why the law is bad, but the big problem is that it doesn't just cover images of actual non-consensual acts, it covers acts between consenting adults, even if they're staged (e.g., sadomasochists could end up being criminalised with certain acts that come under the law, even if it's just role-play).
The Government has been quite clear that consent is not an issue, and whether the acts happened for real or not is not an issue. But they still like to conflate it with the idea of non-consensual material, to get support.
It's not like porn involving non-consenting adults has ever been found anyway - much like snuff films, it's a myth.
Re: Soz posted in worng topic
"since it appears they passed it, just who on earth are they gonna enforce it"
I don't know, but I guess that the methods used for child porn will now apply to "extreme" adult porn. So they'll go after people who visit certain websites (even if they're entirely legal in places like the US) - presumably paid users or places needing registration would be most at risk, but I'd be worried about visiting a site at all.
Also if the police have any reason to search your computer (perhaps you're arrested for looking suspicious on the tube?), or if you hand your computer in for repair and it gets reported.
Let's hope they don't follow the model of the infamous Operation Ore.
Reading the consultation responses from the police chiefs for this law is worrying - it seems they can't wait for this to become law, to prosecute people who have such images, but they can't prosecute for any other crime.
Re: Ignorance is no defence
"It is a principle of English Law that ignorance is no defence - you don't have to know about it. let alone understand it!"
I think there's two different concepts. Not knowing what the wording of the law is is no defence. But to someone who does make an effort to read up on the laws, the point is that they still don't know what the law is actually criminalising.
The problem with a vague law is not that someone is ignorant of what the law says, the problem is that even though they've read the law, they don't know what is legal and what is not.
Re: On one greasy hand...
"I actually agree on the need for this sort of legislation--not that we can't regulate ourselves, but given the existence of goatse and tubgirl..."
Is there are need? I mean, what are you saying here - that someone should be punished with three years in prison for viewing or privately possessing goatse or tubgirl?
I find those images disgusting, but I don't care if someone else looks at them. This is a law on possession, not on publication. Indeed, if someone tricks me into clicking on a naughty image, I'd be the one at risk from the law.
Of course, I agree entirely with you in the difficulties of judging what is obscene or disgusting; the law criminalises one person's kink, because other people find it disgusting. But we should be careful of saying that some things are too disgusting (where no one has been abused in the production of such images). As soon as we accept that there is a need for some criminalisation of disgusting images, it's just a question of where they draw the line...
Government Amendments - "millimetres rather than metres"
It is a shame that two sane amendments by Lord Wallace and Baroness Miller, that might have had some chance of passing - restricting it to actual sexual offences, and allowing a defence where the viewer reasonably believes the participants were willing - were not even voted on!
Regarding the amendment to limit the material to that which is obscene under the Obscene Publications Act -
"Lord Hunt, who suggested that such linkage might have the effect of widening the scope of the offense."
His response ("The amendment has the effect of opening up the offence to all obscene pornography") is complete nonsense. The amendment required that the material be obscene, in _addition_ to the other requirements (just as his "must be disgusting" amendment is in addition to the other tests). In fact, the proposed amendment directly replaced the text for his amendment about disgusting images. Was he really misunderstanding, or was he being deliberately misleading to avoid having to explain why the Government didn't support this amendment?
I find it ironic if he opposed the amendment because he didn't want the law to be widened in scope!
The Government's amendments are good in the sense that any restriction is welcomed, but they are very limited - as The Earl of Onslow stated:
"My Lords, when members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights were told that the Minister was going to move this amendment, we all said, "Yippee" or words to that effect, so I would like to thank the Minister for going as far as he has. There is a question of moving millimetres rather than metres, but one must be thankful for small mercies; on behalf of the Joint Committee, I would like to say, "Thank you for the millimetres"."
The Register is correct to point out that the "disgusting / offensive / obscene" test is not the Obscene Publications Act definition of obscenity, which requires that the image would "deprave or corrupt" those who viewed it. A law that decides legality based on whether the jury thinks it is "disgusting" or not is a bad law. Despite the repeated claims from the Government that the law would only criminalise material already illegal to publish under the Obscene Publications Act, the rejection of the amendment shows this to be a lie.
The defence for people in the photographs is next to useless, not including the photographer as The Register notes. An image of oneself would also be illegal to show to your partner, if he or she was not in the image! Another problem is that the defence only applies to acts that the law considers people can consent to - this is a blatant reference to the Spanner case, where consenting adult sadomasochists were convicted for consenting to harm on their own bodies. So whilst this might help for staged acts, it's next to useless for consenting sadomasochists, who will still face prison for an image of themselves.
"Erm... Feminists Against Censorship? Now that has GOT to be the top organisational oxymoron of the age!"
Believe it or not, there are some feminists who are anti-censorship, and not anti-porn, and so on.
The radical feminists would have us believe otherwise - they claim that to be a feminist, you must oppose porn, support this law, support criminalisation of all sexual images, and tell women what they're allowed to do with their bodies, and anyone who doesn't can't be a feminist, and therefore support oppression of women. So the last thing we should do is give into this idea, and let a vocal minority of radical feminists dictate what feminism should be about. If we accept that idea, then we accept a world where sexual images are criminalised in the name of "equality".
Several of my friends are feminists, but strongly oppose this draconian law.
Re: So what happenned?
"April 30 is over. Deafening silence."
The law was passed, without only minor next-to-useless amendments by the Government. The sane amendments to restrict the bill, proposed by Lord Wallace and Baroness Miller, weren't voted on.
The debate is at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2008-04-30a.245.0 .
Approx 1 week until images showing staged acts between consenting adults can be a criminal offence to possess.
Best last minute hope now is to write to the Lords ( http://www.backlash-uk.org.uk/doitnow.html ) before Wednesday 30. Or write to your MP. The Government want this to be law by May 8.
Dennis: "So the Act will criminalise the depiction of activity "which threatens a person’s life". Doesn't waving a knife around threaten someone's life? They are not actually hurt. Merely the threat.""
Yes - in fact, the Explanatory Note of the bill gives as an example a (possibly staged) depiction of "sexual assault involving a threat with a weapon." So this is just not life-threatening injuries, just a roleplay with a knife will be illegal, if the image is sexual.
AC: "I can imagine a scenario whereby someone like 'Mary Whitehouse' is in charge of deeming what's extreme or not.".
In fact, mediawatch-UK - the organisation set up by Whitehose - has been campaigning in favour of this law, and even wants any image of adults having sex to be illegal to possess.
AC: "Two of the 5 studies considered 'acceptance of rape myth', Linda Lovelace's video is considered as rape in these studies. You then view these videos and determine that it isn't rape. But then under these terms, you're now in the deviant category, because you accept the rape myth of this video (by denying the rape)! So it's a no win, either the porn is bad (because it's rape) or the porn is bad (because it made you deviant into thinking it wasn't rape)."
The Rapid Evidence Assessment also referred to Linda Lovelace as evidence that people were harmed in the production of pornography - it stated her claims as fact, without any alternative viewpoint offered, nor did it point out that "Deep Throat" is now a legal BBFC film in the UK.
Jeremy: "Before you shout "thought police", have a read of the bill, which says that "extreme" means one of the following: snuff movies, genital mutilation, necrophilia and bestiality. These are all things that most of society would agree are extreme and shouldn't be lawful. Aren't they?"
No it doesn't, it covers staged and consensual acts, most notably those practiced by those into BDSM. The Government has yet to produce a single example that anything like snuff films or adult porn involving non-consensual violence exists at all - it's an urban myth.
Mook: "At the very least it's fair to say that "rape fantasies" propagate misogynistic myth."
There are more problems than just the vagueness of the bill. Whether or not rape fantasies propagate any myths, should people be locked up for their fantasies? Much of the problem with this law is that all of the anti-porn arguments (which may or may not be valid) are being used as support for a very bad law. Should consenting adults who roleplay something like sex at gunpoint not be "worth defending"? However much I may personally dislike it, I will always defend someone's right to do it.
AC: "I'm pretty sure it wouldn't matter if it was home made and consentual."
It would certainly fall under this law.
Dave Morris: "Hey.. look on the bright side.. with a law like this, everyone might be spared the pain of encountering two girls, one cup. That might almost make it worth it..."
Although note, you risk being criminalised for now possessing the image - it's a law on possession, not publication.
Re: I am
"Oh but I am."
Yes, you make good points, I don't really disagree with what you say. It's a matter of debate whether banning possession is the right way of dealing with it. In the case of child porn, I think that paying for it can be said to increase demand, and I can see the argument for criminalising possession to avoid proving that someone paid for it (though then again, it surely can't be that hard, since there'll be a record of electronic payments - that's how most of them are surely caught, anyway...)
This does lead to some silly applications of the law - the case you mentioned in Florida, but also in the UK, the Government's Internet child protection agency recently warned that under-18s who pose naughty photos of themselves over a webcam are at risk of prosecution for publishing child porn ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6757827.stm ).
But with "extreme porn", there seems to be no evidence of people paying for photos of non-consensual acts.
Regarding bestiality, I agree too - I think it is better treated as an issue of animal cruelty (some acts would certainly be cruel, but a dog initiating leg-shagging probably isn't) rather than a separate crime in itself - it was only made a separate crime in 2003, in fact.
Actually, realistic fake child porn is already illegal, but I think that means things like manipulated photos, not unmanipulated photos of young looking models? I don't see anything changing about this in the new law? (There is a bit which extends it to non-realistic images, but only where they were derived from images which are currently illegal.) But that's an interesting bit in itself - it would seem absurd to criminalise a photo of your adult girlfriend dressing up in school uniform (which must be one of the most cliched fetishes around), but this law will do exactly that to images of adults roleplaying activities that involve playing-dead or pretend-violence.
In summary, I guess my point is that opposing this law doesn't mean we are supporting non-consensual acts themselves, and even if people do think images of those things should be illegal, the problem is that this law covers fictional images, and images of acts between consenting adults.
Re: Yes it's just you
"People having various forms of consensual sex: adults only."
The problem is that this law _will_ criminalise images of acts between consenting adults!
No one here is defending acts involving children, animals, or non-consensual violence.
Not Already Illegal To Publish!
Under the law, an image extracted from a classified work _can_ fall under the law. So, it will be possible that an image which is legal to publish (since it is fine in the classified work) is, if extracted for the purpose of sexual arousal, illegal to possess! [See "65 Exclusion of classified films etc.", http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmbills/130/07130.43-46.html#j403 .]
More generally, the Obscene Publications Act requires that an image would "deprave and corrupt", but this law has no such test, and simply requires that the image shows an act which appears to be, or appears likely to cause, "serious injury", or appears to show a threat to life.
Another point is that classified works require a special exemption in the bill (if it only covered things already illegal to publish, why would they need to worry about classified works getting caught in it?)
The law is even broader than originally proposed, and would criminalise a large number of consensual S&M images, as well as faked images or images of staged acts.
Re: Sexual Injury
To George Forth: Interestingly the bill, in the explanatory note ( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmbills/130/en/07130x-n.htm#index_link_206 ) specifically mentions the Spanner case (Brown), as a justification for this law. Yes, this law will criminalise images of consensual things like that, and their stance is that that's justified, as in law their consent is not valid anyway.
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