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UK censorship and porn possession law comes into effect

From: "Christine and David" at u4ds.com
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2009 11:27:48 -0000


As of tomorrow, 26th January 2009, it will be illegal for anyone
in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to possess an "extreme"
pornographic image, even if the activity itself is legal.

This law is about possession, not just publication, so it
affects every individual in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
as of midnight tonight. It will of course cover images you have
on your computer, so you may want to read some of the
definitions and links herein.

Scotland's laws are soon to follow suit (early 2009) and are
possibly going to be more draconian. The UK already has some of
the most draconian obscene publications laws in Europe. Northern
Ireland already has laws which make the publication of obscene
articles an offence with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The new offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland requires
the pornographic image in the individual's possession to be
"extreme". For an image to be pornographic, it has to be deemed
to be obscene. But of course a precise definition of what is
either obscene or extreme is highly subjective.

You will find such concerns were raised by the Joint Committee
On Human Rights


where is says that an assessment of whether an image is or is
not "extreme" is inherently subjective and may not, in every
case, be, as the UK Government suggests, "recognisable" or
"easily recognisable".

The full text of the relevant part of the new Criminal Justice
and Immigration Act 2008
is available on the Office of Public
Sector Information (OPSI) web site at:-


And we both have to admit to finding it just as badly written
and confusing as is suggested by the concerns raised by the
Joint Committee On Human Rights.

However, the Ministry of Justice pdf file offered by the
Backlash site here:-


allows the download of some explanatory information intended to
address the FAQs of the public. This document appears to have
been issued by the Ministry of Justice NIO (Northern Ireland
Office). The government advice suggests that to get tripped up
by this new law you need to have triggered ALL of 3 separate

The first two, obscenity and extreme nature are confusing. But
you may find yourself saved by the third area, which is perhaps
a little less confusing in that it defines the acts which are
covered. The acts covered are not all relevant to most
practitioners of BDSM. However, those acts which may affect BDSM
images are:-

a. An act which threatens a person's life


b. An act which results in or is likely to result in serious
injury to a person's anus, breast, or genitals

The trouble is that although we in the BDSM community would not
condone anything which is not safe, consensual and sane, it is
also somewhat subjective as to whether an act which we would
regard as "safe" would be deemed by others to actually threaten
a person's life, or would be deemed to be likely to result in
serious injury.

Just crossing the road is life threatening, and punishments such
as a caning or whipping might be seen by some as "likely to
result in serious injury" so once again we find the whole issue
to be highly subjective.

Lastly, the images have to appear to be real, in that cartoons
and drawings that don't appear to be real are not intended to
fall within the scope of this new law.

We don't believe that anything we have ever published should or
would therefore fall within the scope of this new law, but
because of the subjective nature of definition we would not like
to find ourselves having to defend ourselves in the UK should
the situation ever arise.

All the above is our opinion, and your mileage may vary.
Backlash's legal section can be found here:-


and this offers immediate help and advice for anyone in need of
legal assistance.

We found all these links via the Backlash site


The Backlash site is well worth a visit as it "monitors
implementation of the law, provides sources of advice for many
otherwise law abiding citizens inadvertently caught up in this,
and explains how the law came about."

Christine and David at Ms-Christine.com

The DOMestic discussion list. Now in our thirteenth year. The
password site now has over 6,700 files with well over 400
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