back to article Govt uses Obscenity Law to stuff up cartoon sex loophole

New Parliament, new legislation – and time for the government’s favourite pastime of "closing loopholes". This time it's about even more dangerous pictures, or maybe less dangerous, given that the subject matter is - allegedly - cartoons. The government last week proposed, via s49 of the Coroners and Justice Bill, to make …

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  1. Mark

    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.

  2. Josh
    Unhappy

    @ Mark & Jeffery

    I think you're right: brave people are needed, perhaps now more than ever. We can't count on the mainstream media anywhere to highlight injustices such as these - they are always more likely to fall in behind the likes of CEOP and tow the official line completely uncritically, especially because this is one of those 'think of children!' issues that seems to render almost everyone incapable of rational thought or argument. Politicians, police and commentators - spineless bastards, all (Reg excepted, of course) and all will happily see this pernicious and potentially very dangerous law pass through parliament unhindered. It really is a complete disgrace that something like this is even being contemplated by our elected politicians.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Have I Found a "Loophole"?

    Firstly, IANAL (I Am Not A Lawyer). But I'd love to know what lawyers would make of this.

    From Section 52 of the Bill:-

    "(3) “Image” does not include an indecent photograph, or indecent pseudo-photograph, of a child.

    (4) In subsection (3) “indecent photograph” and “indecent pseudo-photograph” are to be construed—

    (a) in relation to England and Wales, in accordance with the Protection of Children Act 1978 (c. 37), and

    (b) in relation to Northern Ireland, in accordance with the Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (S.I. 1978/1047 (N.I.17))."

    The accompanying "Explanatory Note to Bill 9" (from http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2008-09/coronersandjustice.html) is quite helpful in explaining this:-

    "352. Subsection (3) provides that “image” does not include an indecent photograph or indecent pseudo-photograph of a child, as these are subject to other controls. Subsection (4) defines “indecent photograph” and “indecent pseudo-photograph” in accordance with the Protection of Children Act 1978 and for Northern Ireland, the Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978. “Indecent photograph” includes an indecent film, a copy of a photograph or film, a negative and electronic data capable of conversion into a photograph. It also includes a tracing or other image derived from the whole or part of a photograph or pseudo-photograph and electronic data capable of conversion into such an image. A pseudo-photograph is an image, whether made by computer-graphics or otherwise, which appears to be a photograph and includes a copy of a pseudo-photograph and electronic data capable of conversion into a pseudo-photograph."

    Now, imagine someone is in possession of an image (such as a drawing) of, say, a masturbating child. Imagine also that it's possible the image is "a tracing or other image derived from" an "indecent photograph" of a child, but where it's just as possible that it's purely original, entirely from someone's imagination.

    Imagine, therefore, that the prosecution are unable to prove that it's an "indecent photograph", and are also unable to prove that it's not an "indecent photograph".

    If they can't prove that it's an "indecent photograph" or "pseudo-photograph", they can't prove an offence has been committed under the Protection of Children Act 1978.

    If they can't prove that it's not an "indecent photograph" or "pseudo-photograph", they can't prove that it's a "prohibited image of a child" under the proposed law. And if they can't prove that it's a "prohibited image of a child" under the proposed law, they can't prove that that offence has been committed.

    Of course, they can still prove than an offence has been committed, but they can't prove which offence it is.

    Can courts convict in such cases? If so, how would that work? If they can't convict, doesn't that mean that this would be a loophole?

    That would be quite ironic, since this proposed law is supposed to close exactly that alleged "loophole" in the first place, but would turn it into a real loophole instead!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Josh

    The mainstream media is not such a lost cause. Here are a couple of old articles from last year.

    Matthew Parris writing in the Times.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article4023121.ece

    Article in the Independent on artist David Hockney, including his objections to this proposed law.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/painter-sees-red-is-david-hockney-the-grumpiest-man-in-britain-840532.html

    And just look at all these comments here - are any actually supportive of the proposed law?

    One thing the media like is controversy, and this proposed law offers that already.

  5. Aaron
    Thumb Down

    what the hell?

    They want to be able to lock people up for drawing PICTURES!?

    Have these idiots really got absolutely nothing better to do?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Damn it.

    Due to this:

    >From Section 49: "(3) An image is “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."

    Anyone with copies of a lot of anime (Strike Witches, Zero no Tsukaima, Shakugan no Shana, and many, MANY more), legally acquired or not, could be jailed.

    All of those feature pictures of underage girls with the main purpose of being 'fanservice', which is basically for the purpose of sexual arousal.

    This cannot be passed.

    Someone go e-mail Japan and tell them to step in and stop this. About 30% of all anime DVDs will be illegal in the UK because of this law.

    Pic related, GO CONTACT JAPAN!

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