back to article Cartoon Law goes live

If you happen to possess any cartoon images on your hard drive – or on your bookshelf – that just might depict children involved in or present at a sexual act, then you should probably have deleted them already. Today – April 6 2010 – is the day on which various sections of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 come into effect, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "If somebody is in the process of arousing themselves sexually by that process, it must be part of something. In a lot of cases, it will be part of something that will lead on to something else."

    I can prove that 100% of previous crimes (especially paedophilia) were committed by people that can or could breathe. It is obvious that breathing does in fact lead to disgusting criminal activity and should be either stopped completely or at the very least be grounds for total surveillance by the police.

  2. MonkeyBot

    "in the presence of a child"

    What if the cartoon shows a legal sexual act, but it's drawn in the presence of a child?

  3. BilstonBoy

    Films that are now illegal?

    Does this mean that my DVD of Kill Bill, with it's cartoon explanation of how a child Oren-Ishi kills the Yakuza boss, is now illegal?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wonder if any one has told Amazon they have to remove Sundome/Yubisaki Milk Tea/probably a few dozen other titles.

  5. Jerry

    Law is the starting point

    I work in this area as an expert witness in criminal cases, mostly involving child pornography.

    I technically work for the courts, but my role is to ensure that all the facts in a prosecution are raised with a jury - as distinct to what is presented by the Police.

    With very few exceptions (*) it is up to the jury to determine if particular material is pornographic or not. It is not a matter of law, it is matter for the jury. The law is an aid but the final decision is made by the jury - they are the finders of fact.

    This new law may make constraints on juries, but in the end they represent community values. It is quite possible they will determine the law is not appropriate and acquit.

    It is moot whether the legal decision to criminalise cartoon material is significant. What matters is whether the juries convict or not.

    I expect there will be some convictions, but the pattern of conviction will show where community values lie and will certainly restrict the type and severity of cases prosecuted.

    I'm betting there will be a new standard developed which rates child manga in a range of super-mild to hard-core and the result will be a de-facto classification scheme.

    (*) - I have been involved in one case where the prosecution failed because the film ratings authority deemed the material G rated entertainment rather than criminal child abuse.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Not that simple

      The problem is the fact something is brought to trial sets a bar in the first place.

      Yes, a jury *may* decide that a certain bit of material is acceptable but all this does is legitimise the crazy situation in the first place.

      More worryingly is the effect that getting to that stage has. Once a person is prosecuted, convicted or otherwise, of a sexual related offence their life is in tatters. Juries are going to be biased by the nature of the crime and the simple fact that if it got that far, it must be bad.

      I fail to see how cartoon imagery can be considered criminal in any way, shape or form. No one is hurt in its creation and if it offends you, dont look at it. The rationale for criminalising the cartoons is insane.

      I actually agree with you on:

      "I'm betting there will be a new standard developed which rates child manga in a range of super-mild to hard-core and the result will be a de-facto classification scheme."

      But that is just wrong from the outset. More importantly people shouldnt have their lives destroyed while we find the balance of where our insane community values lie.

    2. Eddie Edwards


      Another possible grey area is if the cartoon depicts the situation where a child walks in on their parents shagging *by accident*.

      That would be a perfectly valid occurrence in a piece of comic literature, say to illustrate the past of a character.

      In fact I'm sure I've seen stuff like this before - on sale in Borders or whatever. I hope those guys are checking their stocks today.

    3. Mike Bell 2

      Sex = Bad, Violence = Good

      No problem, Bilston. You can have as much gore-dripping sadistic violence as you like (so no reason to junk your copy of "Chainsawed Cheerleaders" yet). It's just the sex that is harmful.

      It's sex that's dirty, not violence. Violence is fun, wholesome and exciting! That's why theme-parks are introducing rides based on popular cinematic gore-fests. Take your kids for a great day out.

      Just don't draw any naughty cartoons - OK?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      However the starting point is that fantasy and drawing is comparable to child abuse, which for me is an unacceptable link. The starting point should be that they're drawings and it should have been laughed off the cornoers bill in about 30 seconds.

    5. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      An expert witness?

      So just how does someone become "an expert witness in ... child pornography"? I'd have thought - given the direction that UK law has been traveling recently - that this statement alone is enough to lock you up and throw away the key.

      But it seems not . . . is there a university course somewhere that you take to become an expert child pornographer? A test to take maybe? A national licensing body or an European Standard? I wasn't advised that this was a possible career when I was at school...

      So, does it pay well - this child pornography gig? Are there any decent benefits? Do you get summers off?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I don't think...

        Borders are checking anything much any more.

      2. mmiied

        the simpsons

        I am sure I saw it there (but it probley was not pornagraphic) but still.....

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        This happens in the classic comic novel 'Watchmen'. Although in this case, it's one parent, and one consenting adult who isn't the child's parent. Whatever would the DM make of this I wonder?

        1. jsp

          I think you do

          It is explaining the character of Rorshach. Luckily my copy disappeared long ago. Now if only I knew who had it, I could stitch them up ...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Worse still...

          the non-parent is paying for the attentions of the parent.

      4. PT

        So, Mike Bell 2...

        ...You have not seen "Kill Bill".

        I could explain Bilston's reference, but will not until I hear from my solicitor whether a written description (a "word picture") of a cartoon drawing of a pedophile sexual act constitutes an offense under the Act.

        1. Graham Marsden


          You do not have to wait to hear from your solicitor because Baroness O'Cathain's attempts to get a "Dangerous Writings Act" passed got short shrift from anyone with half a brain!


      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How one becomes an expert...

        ...on pornography, in the case of the expert i used to know, is by looking at an enormous amount of porn in the British Library. I wonder if they are burning it?

        Strangely, he did not become depraved or corrupted by it.

    6. ElFatbob

      A worthy observation..

      but I was also left wondering if Donald Rumsfeld had started up some kind of 'Knowing the Known Unknowns' training seminar for politicians..

    7. Anonymous Coward

      Without this law, what crime?

      Without this new law, there's no such crime for juries to convict people of.

      Possession of mere drawings shouldn't be a crime at all. It shouldn't come down to "community values". We're not talking about publication here - for which "community values" are relevant, and for which there is already the Obscene Publications Act - but mere possession, which itself is private, and not the business of the "community".

      We now live in a society where you can commit a sex crime just by privately drawing the wrong kind of picture. Such laws, creating such thought crimes, are truly Orwellian, and have no place in a free society.

    8. Anonymous Coward

      The evils of breathing

      Well said. I await the new Governments desire to clamp down on this precursor to horrific crimes and a raft of new laws...

      In fact the list of things people who commit crimes do is very long so should the breathing one get defeated in the house, there are still eyes, hands, ears, brains etc to be removed.

    9. Leigh Smith

      RE: orly?

      "I can prove that 100% of previous crimes (especially paedophilia) were committed by people that can or could breathe. It is obvious that breathing does in fact lead to disgusting criminal activity and should be either stopped completely or at the very least be grounds for total surveillance by the police"

      Or as Judge Death would put it "The crime is life, the sentence is death!"

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is far more to this than conviction or acquittal

      It is not the case that "whether the juries convict or not" is the only thing that matters.

      It matters a great deal if someone is arrested and detained, has his house raided and searched, all his equipment confiscated, is regarded with suspicion by social workers, is separated from his children, charged and tried. Even if he is acquitted he has still been publicly humiliated and probably lost his job and his family.

      I'm surprised that someone who claims to be involved in the justice system would think otherwise.

    11. Jerry

      Re various comments on my 'expert witness' post

      If you are charged your life is destroyed in most cases. The cost of a defence is huge and the social cost immense.

      Most child pornography cases result in a conviction. But usually the charge is well justified and there are usually aggravating factors.

      How to become an expert witness in child pornography? It's pretty simple, become an expert in computers and the internet and security and computer forensics and then gain a good appreciation of the law, and finally get to know a good range of briefs. The child pornography is secondary to how computers and the internet are used to obtain it. The matter of pornography is determined by the jury, not the expert witness.

      Does it pay well? Yes. At least as good as a mid level silk - and the hours are good.

    12. ph0b0s

      Juries decide

      Facetious comment I know, but imaginary crime happening to an imaginary child in an imaginary world. Wish it was only imaginary police investigating. Surely the real police should be working harder to solve real case with real children rather than this...

      Anyway the point I wanted to make was about the idea of obscenity being decided by a jury. Under the idea that members of the public are able to give an assessment of what the wider society would view as obscene. The idea I don't like about this it that what people say is obscene and what they actually believe is obscene (and are looking at on their computers) are likely to be two different things.

      A way to solve the problem (but would never be practical), would be to have an anonymous database of everyone's pr0n collections and to use the average from this to inform as to what people really this is obscene or not.

      If 50% of the population had possession of illegal material it would be hard to argue it was obscene.

      Not sure if I am making myself clear...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        No, the point you make is a good one.

        The issue still remains that the crime is not absolutely defined.

        Usually the crime itself is clear and the jury weighs the evidence as to whether or not you actually did it.

        However, in this case, the jury has to determine if a crime has actually been committed which is an atrocious state of affairs.

    13. Anonymous Coward

      letters and numbers

      "It is moot whether the legal decision to criminalise cartoon material is significant. What matters is whether the juries convict or not."

      but there will be some poor sap that was dragged through the courts and the media, have his life and family destroyed because social services take his kids away... then found not guilty....

      so what really matters?

    14. Goat Jam


      I can also guarantee that most, if not all pedos have eaten bread at some time in their lives.

      See this link for the other dangerous aspects of bread use in our society.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    IWF Not Blocking!

    It appears that the IWF are not adding non-photographic "prohibited images" to their block list. Instead, they're only taking reports of such images hosted in the UK, and treating them in a similar way to extreme porn.

    See item 7 (b) of their board meeting minutes from 29th September 2009:

    "(b) Non-photographic images (“NPI”)

    The Funding Council has agreed to the inclusion of prohibited non-photographic images of children within the IWF’s remit, with its inclusion being subject to the same conditions which applied to extreme pornography. The Funding Council requested that the response to the Ministry of Justice (“MoJ”)should make it clear that the material would not be suitable for inclusion on the ‘block list’. The Board agreed that the response should include an option for the IWF to withdraw from including NPI within its remit if the conditions for its inclusion were not met and that MOJ attention should be given to the PR implications of the legislation.

    Action 10: A letter to be sent to the MOJ from the Chair reporting the industry and the IWF’s willingness, subject to certain conditions being met, to include prohibited non-photographic images of children hosted in the UK within its remit."

    See also the IWF report page, which now includes an item for "Non-photographic child sexual abuse images hosted in the UK":

    This means we can't rely on the IWF to shield us from "prohibited images" (or extreme porn) hosted outside the UK (that's most of the world).

  7. Rocket

    what next?

    you'll be asked to close your eyes in Toys 'R' Us when passing the pole-dancing kits

    tin foil hats at the ready for when the though crime detector vans appear

  8. sandman
    Thumb Down

    Robert Crumb is doomed

    So, possession of the famous (OK and grossly tastless but funny) "Family that lays together stays together" cartoon will be very illegal indeed. Burn your comics now folks...

  9. xyz

    Kill Bill?

    You know that bit in Kill Bill where the daughter seeking revenge gets "close" to her victim because he's a paedophile...Does that have to be edited out now or does the BBC (+watch +world + dog) get done for having a naughty DVD?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Time to store gunsmith cats in the attic

    Well, this means my copy of Gunsmiths cats has to move to a hiding spot in the attic until my children turn 18, right?

  11. Eden

    Head - meet desk

    That is all.

    All points have been covered numerous times on this on this forum and many others so rather than preach to the wise I'm simply going to go stand in the corner and smack my head against a wall, it's probably more productive, unlike the government.

    (oh and as for that argument, lessen the barrier to real stuff, IE, if it's just as illegal to posses a 100% fictional cartoon then people may as well get the real stuff, I imagine (haven't studied this at all), that most hentai nuts actually have little to no interest in real stuff, given the mass market for the stuff in Japan but very low child abuse/rape stats you'd assume that's the case.

    1. Jimbo 6

      unintended consequence of lessening barriers

      Slightly off-topic, but analogous :

      Several years ago the UK Gov't made steps towards having mandatory life sentences for carrying a loaded gun. IIRC this was opposed by the police on the (quite reasonable) grounds that as there would be no difference in sentencing terms, between having a weapon and committing murder, perps would have no disincentive to opening fire, rather than just waving a weapon threateningly.

    2. Dapprman

      Depends on which version s well

      Mini May Hopkins is only 16 in the original manga (from what I remember), so had to have her age raised for the US as she was sexually active, then the writer threw a big curve ball by saying she'd worked in a whore house for 4 years prior to meeting Rally, resulting in her age being increased yet again - so depending on your version, it's not just your kids you need to keep it hidden from ....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      The BBFC are your friend.

      Look at Section 63 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, and you'll find that the BBFC are your friend:

      Basically, there's an exemption for "classified works", such as BBFC-classified films. You can still legally own what would otherwise be "prohibited images of children", as long as they're "classified works". But an extract from such a "classified work" is not itself excluded from this law, and may still be criminal to possess.

      Yes, you can own the whole DVD, but not the clip!

      This isn't the first step down the road to a society where you can only legally own stuff properly classified by the censors. The previous step was the extreme porn law, in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (see Section 64 of that act).

  12. Ball boy

    Hold on, I can keep it if...

    ...the cartoonist supplies a certificate that shows, beyond reasonable doubt, that the characters they've drawn are intended to be seen as over the age of 18, right?

    Daft point - but you get the idea: how can you tell a cartoon character is under 18? In some cases, it would be clear to all - Maggie in The Simpsons for example is clearly under 18 - but I'm sure lawyers will make a tidy game out of proving that the pr0n I choose to watch contains pencil sketches of 18 year-olds.

    Abject fail for the obvious reasons. <sigh> at least we know when we get to vote the damn government out now.

  13. Winkypop Silver badge

    Spend the money on offender detection

    Not on political-masturbation!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One more square...

    ...ticked on the forms of those sad and dangerous people who imagine that if enough loopholes are closed, enough forms generated, enough squares ticked, then sooner or later we are all going to be 100% safe, 100% of the time.

    No discretion needed, bureaucratic, public or judicial, because discretion and individual judgment makes the power-hungry mind uncomfortable. We need rules - hard and fast rules - for everything. Without rules people apply discretion and judgment and that simply cannot be allowed. A judicial system we might hope to balance this is so far failing.

    We've had to become accustomed to a 'Register' that fails to discriminate between sexually active teenagers and violent abusers of small children. Now people who read Manga are to be tarred with the same brush as serious serial abusers. This law is as sick as those it purports to defend us against.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: Hold on, I can keep it if...

      The Simpsons debuted back in 1989. That makes Maggie at least 21 years old.

  15. Michael Nielsen

    you ain't seen nothing yet.

    Just you wait

    Next step.

    It is illegal to take holidays snaps, when having a holiday with family and kids on the beach.

    What-do-you-mean that's already the case ?

    Next step

    Prohibit the use of photographic equipment, except for spying on the public, by the government as it is possible some one gets turned on by pictures of clothed children, that just might be in the photo.

    Next step.

    All adults without children are required to wear a blindfold in public, because it is possible they *might* become sexually aroused by the sight of a child.

    The step afterwards.

    All parents are automatically thrown into jail, for pedofilia, as they have seen their children nude, and seen and touched their privates (how do you wipe a bottom without touching ?), therefore they all face lifetime sentences for child abuse. Quite a few parents are already scared of touching their kids.

    The step afterwards,

    Any child that comes of age is automatically thrown in jail, as they are bound to break a law at some stage in their lives, we might as well lock them up immediately.

    geez, it's a ruddy sick world we live in.

    if I draw 2 stick figures having sex, and I accidentally draw one smaller than the other - is that child porn ?

    The ruddy problem is that it's entirely up to the viewers interpretation if it is a child or not, and also - it's a ruddy drawing!!!! There is no victim nor crime, except in some legislators sick mind.

    Now they're talking about putting a minimum bust size on models, to avoid child pornography, lol my girlfriends sister, who is 32 had no bust, until she got her augmentation, lol that would by some legislation, that they're looking at in Australia, classify any pictures taken of her nude - as child porn.

    My girlfriend, who is 35 this year, is often mistaken as a minor, she does have a very youthful face, and has often been mistaken as my daughter, I'm 39. Lol, I guess it won't be long before I'll go to jail, because my girlfriend looks young, and it's a crime to be intimate with someone who looks young.

    Sigh, Yes we must protect children, but these laws are NOT protecting children, they're just criminalising people, and creating tought crimes - just like George Orwell warned in his famous novels!

  16. Wize


    Japan may have low child abuse/rape stats, however they do not have an age of consent.

    Anything involving an under-age girl, even with her consent is illegal here and added to our statistics but not over there.

    72% of statistics are lies.

  17. phuzz Silver badge

    Lost Girls

    I guess Alan Moor's 'Lost Girls' will be being burned in the street then.

    Do any commenters have anything good to say about this law, anyone? Anyone at all?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      They do have an age of consent, they also have a number of other laws that lift the effective age of consent in all districts.

      However the stats battle isn't one to meander into, it's better to refer to case studies that point towards porn reducing offending, and to discreadited studies that support the supporters of the law (the one where they asked peadophiles if it was the drawings fault they did it.)

      How the stats battle pans out btw, most sex crime is under reported in Japan that figure is very low and the conviction level is notoriously high over 90% (Japanese police convictions relying on confessions gained through weeks of harsh interigation.) Anyway due to the official under reporting people clamor to claim that rape/child abuse is everywhere (I'd certainly say teacher/student sex is way more common - however that's as much a culture thing as anything else.) However these beliefs don't seem to be supported by annoymose crime victimisation surveys where reported incidents are indeed much higher then the reported levels but still below the likes of the UK.

      However at the same time the general feeling in Japan is that it is safe for a female to go about her business far more so then the feeling in the UK. However there are bizare things that Japanese woman don't do.

      A case in point represented by friends who say they have no problem walking down a dark ally at night in Japan, however they wouldn't hang their underware up outside.

      But people feel safer over there, and that at the end of the day is likely more important then the crime statistics.

      Fear of crime is what really does us in. Fear of everything actually. We're a very fearful nation, and we and the rest of the English world are trying very hard to make everyone else as scared as us. Ahhh for an age where we laughed at fear.

    2. Eden

      No AOC


      Damn...didn't know that, like I said I've not looked into this at all, I simply don't agree with this whole slippery slope argument (Cartoons != people).

      I mean I love Anime about huge robots with jepacks and guns but it doesn't mean I want to go out and get...oh wait......never mind...

  18. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Danger to society

    All these laws do is open the route for governments to frame anyone they want by planting an appropriate image (or thousands of images) on undersirables' home computers, which will make it easy to discredit them and to lock them up.

    If you are an inconvenient activist, a member of some non-PC organisation or just annoyed too many people in high places - beware.

    As for the real child molesters I postulate the following:

    - no amount of child abuse imagery will make non-paedophile a paedophile.

    - contrary to Laborast MPs views, easy availability of images is not the first step in progression to acting out but actually is a barrier to acting out. People are lazy, if they can satisfy themselves at home with no risk they will not bother to subject themselves to the risk of attacking someone in the real life (there will of course be exceptions).

    - a paedophile whose pictures been taken away means a paedophile roaming the streets.

    - a paedophile whose drawn cartoons now pose the same risk to him as images of real abuse might as well switch to the real stuff.

    Anyone is welcome to refute any/all of the above by providing evidence to the contrary.

    Conclusion: The real child abusers are the politicians and ministers promoting such laws. They are making the streets more dangerous by prompting paedophiles to revert to acting out their desires and fantasies in real life.

  19. Len Palmer

    Whats the problem?

    Whats the problem? these are cartoons aren't they? from fantasy land? so who is to say what ages are depicted in these pics, the artist can just say this is a stylised drawing of an adult, problem solved...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Stupid beyond belief

    There is reasonable argument and evidence that people are born with attractions to children. Read the account of the ambulance man called to a child that wanted to kill himself. The child had the urge to rape and kill small boys but knew it was wrong, so wanted to commit suicide. It is all there in, "Blood, Swwat and Tea."

    Those like that teenage boy who have gone in to adulthood are going to be too scared to seek help and are likely relying on cartoons will now have nothing to fall back on ... like a tiger backed in to a corner, actual offending might be the only outlet they have left. That or suicide.

    There is a strong possibility that this law has put more children in very real danger ... but the Ministry of Justice head, Mrs Eagle, has refused to answer my letters for more than a year, even when sent va my MP. Now, I may be wrong but I believe that the MoJ have to, by law, reply to every letter received. That tells me they know exactly what can of worms they have opened and would rather break the law and not reply to letters, rather than admit that this law is a very, very bad screw up.

  21. blackcat

    Quick call the police!

    I see Amazon are still selling the lost girls.


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