Unlawful Tumblr images

I was wondering, in the UK, the specification of images that it is unlawful to circulate on the grounds of obscenity. Obviously, anything to do with paedophilia, necrophilia and bestiality; but what else? Please comment if you know where to find the relevant legislation or what it is. Please do not comment  if you are simply guessing.

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8 Responses to Unlawful Tumblr images

  1. Say says:

    Although this isn’t law yet, it’s on track to be:

    Looks to ban anything that wouldn’t be allowed through commercial DVD’s

  2. Something very closely related….Could easily be used as a case law example if the authorities felt the images depicted went far enough….would expect anyone publishing could be in line for a ‘aid and abetting” charge… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Spanner

    But as time moves forward views have become more liberal so how valid?

    • Thank you. This seems to have, for practical purposes, superseded the Obscene Publications Act. When you take out bestiality and necrophilia, you seem to be left with:
      The law applies to pornography (defined as an image “of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal”) which is “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character” and portrays “in an explicit and realistic way” any of the following:
      An act threatening a person’s life,
      An act which results (or is likely to result) in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals,

      and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person (or animal) was real.

  3. Sissy Candy (aka object) says:

    Dear Mistress Scarlet,

    This is an area in which I would not claim particular expertise, but sufficient interest to know how little I know. For an expert treatment, I would suggest you read Myles Jackman at http://www.mylesjackman.co.uk/index.php/obscenity-law-advice/obscenity-crime-advice. However, in an attempt to be helpful, I offer the following observations.

    The Obscene Publications Act 1959 remains in force, and can still be used against a ‘publisher’ for example, R v Gavin Smith 2012 (for analysis see https://www.5sah.co.uk/news-and-events/articles/2012-10-18/the-obscene-publication-act-and-the-internet-a-legal-analysis-of-the-case-of-r-v-gs). This case showed that ‘publication’ can include any sharing (with one or more persons), including text without images, of material tending to deprave or corrupt even if the recipient might be considered already ‘corrupted’.

    The proposals related to adopting BBFC censorship to online content and requiring adults to ‘register’ as consumers of sexual content are worrying.

    Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 – the so-called ‘dangerous images’ section is probably most relevant to your Tumblr question. This makes it an offense to possess so-called ”extreme pornographic images” which appear realistic, even if they were staged and even if the acts themselves are not illegal. Consent of the participants is irrelevant. It was enacted despite lack of evidence of such images causing any harm because “The vast majority of people find these forms of violent and extreme  pornography deeply abhorrent…Such material has no place in our society” (Vernon Coaker MP)

    The definition of the images covered might appear clear from the statute, but in practice it is slippery (a cynic might say deliberately so, to create a ‘chilling effect’ due to uncertainty). For example, what is a depiction of an act which ‘threatens a persons life’? Depending on the level of threat, this could include gagging someone, as there is a (albeit remote) risk of them choking on the gag. Similarly the concept of ’serious injury’ will generally apply the tests from common law of assault: so bruising may amount to ‘actual bodily harm’ and breaking the skin to ‘grievous bodily harm’; so either could amount to ‘serous harm’. In practice, prosecutions can depend on questions of personal taste and prejudices of investigating police officers and CPS lawyers. And remember, even if you are (eventually) found not guilty, this would only be after your personal life had been exposed (often in the Press) leading to damage to your reputation, and possibly loss of livelihood.

    ‘Possession’ is also a tricky concept, which would be pertinent to your question about Tumblr. I am not aware of case law on Tumblr, but in more general terms possession does not just mean physically holding an item (such as having the image on our hard drive). Possession can include having effective control (for example, holding the keys to a car may amount to possession of the car). So, by analogy, possessing the password to a Tumblr account, even if the original images have been shredded from your PC (not just deleted, which does not remove data from a hard drive), could amount to ‘possession’ of those images.

    Sorry if my comments seem incomplete, but this is a complex area. I hope that is of some help and interest.

    • Thank you. The Myles Jackman site is very interesting. I don’t think I agree with your analysis that bruising could mean a problem under the extreme images legislation. By the legislation setting out examples as it does, that sets a threshold for serious harm. If it was meant to apply to a gag it would have listed that.

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