Downloaded pictures of the animated likenesses of characters from The Simpsons television show engaged in sexually explicit acts does not constitute child pornography, an Ottawa judge has ruled, acquitting a man of possessing the graphic images.
Ontario Court Justice Robert Fournier ruled a pair of sex pictures of Bart and Lisa Simpson and Bart's friend Milhouse found in the recycle bin of Richard Osborn's computer can't constitute child pornography because an objective observer would
find it difficult, if not impossible to assign ages to the characters from the popular show by looking at the picture.
My perspective is that the characters depicted could just as easily be perceived as teenagers or young adults, said Fournier.
However Fournier did find Osborn guilty of possessing child pornography for a separate collage that included pictures of naked children, adult pornography and bestiality.
Steven Freeman, who led the Paedophile Information Exchange, admitted charges relating to 3,000 drawings found at his south London home.
The drawings found at Freeman's home, where the group met, were described at the Old Bailey as vile and disgusting . Police found he had been drawing images of children being raped. The harrowing drawings were said to be amongst the
worst seen by police.
The trial was the first under the 2009 Coroners and Justice Act which includes sketches among indecent images.
Police also found about 14,500 pictures and films on computer disks at the home of Freeman and two of the other defendants. Tens of thousands of images were stored on encrypted hard-drives, officers believe.
Freeman pleaded guilty to 10 specimen charges of possessing incident images, three charges of distributing the material and one count of failing to disclose the password for an encrypted computer. He was given an indeterminate term for public
protection with a minimum term of 30 months.
The other defendants were given prison sentences from 12 to 24 months.
Comment: In the shadow of more serious offences
So, the first prosecution under the "Dangerous Cartoons Act" was successful. And as usual in these matters, the police and the CPS have started with the low-hanging fruit. Given the gravity of the other offences
these people were charged with, there is no doubt that no questions were raised about the legality of the Coroner's and Justice Act's provisions to criminalise the possession of drawings with respect to universally accepted and understood
principles of freedom of conscience.
A drawing is a record of a thought, an idea, and the freedom to think and to communicate ideas is essential in a free society. It does not and should not matter that the thought itself may be repugnant to the vast majority of people - what
matters should be the right of people to think what they choose and to communicate those thoughts. If those thoughts then lead to actions then full weight of the law should rightly descend upon them, but the transmission of ideas, even repugnant
ones, should and must remain a fundamental right.
A video game containing violence and partial nudity has had its PG rating upgraded to an M classification by chief censor Andrew Jack.
Nintendo's 3DS game Dead or Alive: Dimensions bypassed New Zealand classification as it had already been classified PG overseas.
Dr Jack called the game in for re-classification last month after the Waikato Times alerted his office to its content. He subsequently issued an instruction that copies must carry an M label and a note indicating it contains violence and nudity.
The game temporarily banned in Australia before receiving a higher rating can be switched to figure mode , which allows players to dress or undress female characters and photograph them from any angle, including up their skirt.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification found a small number of partial glimpses of cleavage, buttocks, thighs or underpants but they were not in significant detail to warrant a rating above M. It concluded the game was designed
for a mature audience at least 16 years old. An M rating, however, does not restrict its sale to minors as it is only an advisory.
According to several sources, Nintendo of Europe will not be distributing Dead or Alive Dimensions in Sweden and possibly Norway and Denmark.
The rumour has is that the distributor is afraid the game may break a typically ludicrous Swedish child pornography law.
There is a mode in the game that allows players to take pictures of the characters in canned poses. According to a post on NeoGAF, the law says that if someone is picturing a girl under the age of eighteen, fictional or not, in a pornographic
situation, that accounts for being child pornography.
Of course, none of the poses are pornographic, there's no sex, and aside from one character who, according to the ESRB, is briefly depicted topless, there's no nudity. But Kasumi's bio says she's 17 and the youngest character in the game
is 16 and Swedish Kotaku reader Doneaux points out that the age of consent in his country is 15.
The Nintendo 3DS tactical fighter Dead or Alive: Dimensions has been banned in some ludicrously PC countries because it features sexualized depictions of children. The children are three teen characters named Ayane, Koroke and Kasumi who
game makers describe as under 18 years of age.
Scandinavian laws say it is illegal to show young girls as animated characters in a sexualized way. The concern is mostly with the game's photography mode, which allows players to look up characters' dresses when they are in certain poses.
Controversy about the game in other parts of the world has not affected the game's rating in Australia: the country's rating Classification Board has given the game a rating of PG.
A Nintendo game that allows players to look up the skirts of teenage characters is likely to lose its PG rating.
A spokesman for the Australian Classification Board told The Courier-Mail the authority had given Nintendo seven days to prove why Dead or Alive: Dimensions shouldn't have its rating revoked after media reports exposed the raunchy aspects
of the game.
After concerns were raised in the media, the Classification Board requested preliminary information from (Nintendo) about whether the content described in media reports was contained in the Australian version of the game, said a spokesman
for the Classification Board.
Update: PG Revoked
Perhaps Australian toy retailers should be worried that teenage dress-up dolls may be banned for the same reason.
A video game that has been ludicrously accused of child pornography is to be pulled from the shelves after having its classification revoked.
The Australian Classification Board originally gave the Nintendo 3DS fighting game Dead Or Alive: Dimensions a child-friendly PG rating.
But the board was forced to reconsider the rating after media reports brought some supposedly risque content to its attention - namely the ability to look up the skirts of scantily clad teenage characters.
The board asked Nintendo to advise it why the classification should not be revoked but apparently was not satisfied with the response. The game is now officially unclassified, meaning it cannot be sold in Australia unless Nintendo resubmits it
for a new classification.
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor welcomed the decision: The material in this game is clearly not appropriate to be played by children. I am pleased the Classification Board took swift action to address community concerns.
Criminalising a Swede for collecting images of childlike cartoon figures confuses a victimless hobby with an act of child abuse.
Last year, a Swedish translator of Japanese Manga comics, Simon Lundstrom, was convicted of possession of pornographic material after 50-odd Manga images stored on his hard drive were classified as child porn. The Swedish
court of appeal later agreed that 39 of the illustrated images, none of which has been banned in Japan and none of which shows real people, fitted the definition of child porn. Lundstrom was fined 5,000 Swedish Crowns (
Meanwhile, his main employer, publisher Bonnier Carlsen, has stopped giving him translating commissions, and Lundstrom has been burdened with a reputation of traversing the biggest taboo of our time: getting off on kids.
The case has now been appealed to the Supreme Court.
A Serbian Film has got into more trouble in Spain.
The Barcelona public prosecutor has lodged a complaint against Sitges festival director Angel Sala, accusing him of screening child pornography. It is unclear whether the suit has been or will be admitted to court.
According to Spanish press sources, the Barcelona prosecutor's charge of child pornography relates to two rape scenes, one involving a newborn baby, another a boy of around 11 years of age. The baby in question was in fact a doll with legs
animated by animatronics.
The Barcelona prosecutor's move has stirred a wave of protests in Spain. Writing in the El Pais, film director David Trueba argued Monday that If we believe that everything shown on a screen is real, Christopher Lee will be arrested one day
accused of biting young virgins' jugular veins.
A Serbian Film played uncut at October's Sitges, stirring a wide range of reactions from critics and nutters. The showing moved Spain's Catholic Confederation of Family and Student Parents (Concapa) to lodge a complaint with Barcelona's
public prosecutor for minors.
That prompted a San Sebastian judge to serve a provisional injunction on Tale, banning its screening at early November's San Sebastian's Fantasy and Terror Film Week in early November.
SITGES International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia wishes to show its complete support for Angel Sala and, by extension, the decisions that he has made while exercising his role as Director of the Festival.
Regarding the recent statements concerning the screening of A Serbian Film , the Festival wants to state that the above mentioned title is not a pornographic film, but, in fact, a fictional horror film, and is not
meant as an attack or humiliation against the sexual dignity of minors.
SITGES wants to thank all the support it has received from its audience, other film festivals and important cultural figures.
A Serbian Film was screened after carrying out all necessary informative and control measures in order to prevent any minors from accessing the screening. These measures consisted of information placed in the Festival media
to guarantee awareness about the content of the film to the audience before its viewing, as well as demanding proof of age from viewers entering the theatre.
A Serbian Film has also been screened at the two most prestigious markets in the world, the Cannes Film Market and Film Festival and the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California, and will be commercially distributed
in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
SITGES wants to thank again all support shown, as well as to express its respect to all the criticism that has given room to a necessary debate about the importance of freedom of speech and creation in the programming of
SITGES International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia considers that it has acted rigorously in providing the audience with all the information it might require beforehand. Nevertheless, the rise of critical voices will
make the Festival reflect on their communication mechanisms in the future, emphasizing child protection, and defending freedom of speech and creation as it has done from the beginning.
Support letter by directors of Spanish film festivals
We, the undersigned, directors of Spanish film festivals, wish, in view of the leak to the press published this weekend, to state our surprise at the legal action taken against Angel Sala, director of the Sitges
International Film Festival of Catalonia, for having included in the 2010 programme of the said event, at sessions for adults only, A Serbian Film, which it is claimed contains violent, pornographic scenes conflicting with the rights of the
Over and above our surprise at pinning responsibility of this kind on a cultural programmer, and not on those theoretically responsible for the content in question (the director and the producers, if anyone at all), we wish
to recall, in addition to our support of A'ngel Sala, that the film has been screened over the last twelve months in festivals in Brussels, Montreal, London, Oporto, Austin, San Francisco, Toronto, Sofia, Hamburg, Helsinki, Puchon (South Korea),
Ravenna and Stockholm, among others. A Serbian Film has also enjoyed screening at the two most prestigious film markets in the world: Cannes, and the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California. All of this without anyone, to date, having
taken legal steps of any kind against the film, those responsible for it or its programmers.
We must also add that the film has won prestigious awards including three at Montreal (Best Film; Gold Award for Best European Film and Most Innovative Film); the Audience Award at the Fantasporto Festival in Oporto (less
than a week ago); and the Best Screenplay Award at the FIPRESCI Festival in Serbia.
We also condemn the fact that behaviour such as that shown by the Office of the Public Prosecutor in Barcelona appears to be taking us back to times of censorship limitations on freedom of expression and cultural programming
that we sincerely believed belonged to the past.
Javier Angulo (Festival de Valladolid)
Josetxo Cerdan Los Arcos (Punto de Vista / Pamplona)
Jose' Luis Cienfuegos (Festival de Gij'n)
Jose' Luis Rebordinos (Festival de San Sebastian)
Carmelo Romero (Festival de Cine Espanol de Malaga)
Jose' Sa'nchez Montes (Festival de Granada / Cines del Sur)
Claudio Utrera (Festival de Las Palmas)
Javier Marti'n Dominguez (Festival de Sevilla)
Eduardo Tri'as (Festival de Huelva)
Josemi Beltra'n (Semana de Cine Fantastico y de Terror de San Sebastian)
Eli Roth, director of Hostel , has also taken up the fight against film festival censorship.
He wrote to his followers on Twitter:
If Angel Sala does in fact go to jail festivals will stop showing any controversial or edgy films and censorship will win. Whatever you think of A Serbian Film a film festival director should not spend a year in jail for
exhibiting a filmmaker's work.
Having seen today's article about A Serbian Film , it seemed to me that the debate throws the so-called dangerous cartoons law into sharp relief.
In this film we have a situation where illegal sex acts involving children are apparently being depicted, but the actual depiction is not of itself criminal simply because it isn't real . Similarly, in Catherine
Breillat's film Anatomy of Hell (Anatomie de l'Enfer) , a scene apparently showing a boy inserting his finger into a young girl's vagina was passed uncut by the BBFC once it had been established that the said female body part was not real
but actually a foam prosthetic.
So, what would happen if an artist recreated one of those scenes as a drawing and someone was then subsequently prosecuted for possession of it? Would it be a defence, as it evidently would be for a video, that the child
depicted was not actually real? Unfortunately, no. So what exactly is it that's so dangerous about drawings that they must be regulated even more tightly than photographic images?
Comment: Clarification on Comic Books
10th March 2011. Thanks to Kochin
The law only makes non-real depictions illegal to possess if they are are pornographic or a sex work as the BBFC refers to them. To answer your question a non-pornographic comic book adaptation of Anatomy of
Hell would not be illegal even if contained such scenes. Even if 50% or more of the pages of a comic book consist of explicit sex acts it does not necessarily mean the book is pornographic.
Consider this work for instance, which is widely available from popular UK book stores like Amazon etc:
The BBFC can pass cartoon depictions of actual (non-real) underage sex so long as they are not pornographic, and so long as they do not believe they are credibly likely to harm . For instance maybe a cartoon
adaptation of Anatomy of Hell traced directly from the film would be passed.
Comment: Film vs Drawing
11th March 2011. Thanks to Angelus who reiterates his point:
For any film, "sex work" or not, containing even a single image of a sex act between an adult and a child, possession of that film would (quite rightly) constitute a serious criminal offence. However, if it can be
proved that the sex act did not involve a real child then it is legal and it may be certificated by the BBFC. The difference is that in the first case, there actually was a sex act committed against a real child, but in the second case, even
though the act is realistically depicted, the "child" was not real.
Therefore, in the case of a photographic image, we must conclude that it is not simply the depiction of the sex act that is illegal, the act depicted must have actually taken place for the law to have been broken. However, for a drawing (and I
was careful to use the example of an isolated drawing, not one in context in a comic book), it is the depiction of the act that is illegal, irrespective of whether it actually took place or not.