October 16, 2008
It's been a busy few weeks at the intersection of Law and Fandom. Citizens of Otaku-dom, take note:

UNICEF Japan wants to include animated children under pornography laws. This would mean that depictions of children (not just photographic representations, but drawings too) would count, and that people found to be producing or publicly displaying such depictions would be guilty. However, the Japanese government has decided that a three-year study is necessary to determine the necessity and efficacy of changing existing law.

A similar ban might soon exist based on how the courts determine the PROTECT act in regard to an Iowa manga collector charged with possessing "obscene" manga. Now counseled by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Christopher Handley had his entire manga and anime collection taken as evidence after a postal inspector opened a package sent to him from Japan and found material that he deemed potentially objectionable. Whether Handley goes to prison for the next 20 years hinges on how his manga stands up to the "Miller Test":

(1) would the average person find that the material appeals to the prurient interest; (2) does the material depict, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law; (3) does the work, taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The jury will have to find that the material fits all three of the criteria in order to convict.

(Source: MangaBlog, which has great coverage of the incident)

Naturally, there are ways to be prosecuted under both the PROTECT act and the DMCA, depending on your doujinshi of choice: US copyright law now allows seizure of your property.

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Times are tough indeed....

The U.S. government tried to move through a piece of legislation regarding the Federal pursuance of digital copyright violator on behalf of service providers over the past month or so as well, I believe.

And on the topic of including animation as pornographic, a 32-year-old man in the UK was just convicted of violating laws pertaining to child pornography... he's facing jailtime, it would seem. (I doubt this guy could claim "collector" status...)

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