The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is asking for donations to the legal defense of an American detained by Canadian police. The Americans name is being withheld on request of counsel, based on their legal strategy. The crime he is being charged with is importation and possession of “Child Pornograhy” images on his laptop. The images he was in possession of were electronic copies of his manga collection.
The facts of the case involve an American citizen, computer programmer, and comic book enthusiast in his mid-twenties who was flying from his home in the United States to Canada to visit a friend. Upon arrival at Canadian Customs a customs officer conducted a search of the American and his personal belongings, including his laptop, iPad, and iPhone. The customs officer discovered manga on the laptop and considered it to be child pornography. The client’s name is being withheld on the request of counsel for reasons relating to legal strategy.
The images at issue are all comics in the manga style. No photographic evidence of criminal behavior is at issue. Nevertheless, a warrant was issued and the laptop was turned over to police. Consequently, the American has been charged with both the possession of child pornography as well as its importation into Canada. As a result, if convicted at trial, the American faces a minimum of one year in prison. This case could have far reaching implications for comic books and manga in North America.
Our readers may remember the case of Christopher Handley who was given a six month sentence here in the States for the importation of Manga from Japan.
What makes both the US and Canadian governments think these guys have child pornography? Simple. To many government officials any depiction of a naked child OR someone who looks like a child is automatically pornographic even if the context is not sexual. Yes, all those pics your mom has of you taking a bath as a child (every mom has them), that’s child porn. Half of Deviant art; pornographic. Ever watched Strike Witches? It’s on Netflix, check it out here. You’ll eventually hit this scene.
That girl in the center. Breasts in perfect, unpixelated view. She’s supposed to be 14. Watch it through Netflix and it’s fine. Have this screenshot on your laptop, or have a copy of the manga as you cross the border? It’s now child pornography, despite the fact that there is not one single scene in the show where any of the characters have sexual relations. How stupid is that? Legal to stream in both countries but would be illegal to cross the border with it on my laptop.
The government needs to spend more time going after real child pornographers, the people who molest and rape real people and not arresting comic book and anime makers and their fans for possession of lines on paper. If you want to help with this case you can make a tax deductible contribution to the legal fund here.
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