Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Virtual Child Porn: Is It Illegal?

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the bring-out-the-gimp dept.

News 584

pcosta writes "Today's LA Times has an article about a Supreme Court hearing on wheteher or not 'virtual' child porn created with computer generated images is illegal. In a previous ruling, the federal appeals court in San Francisco agreed 2-1 that the 1st Amendment prohibits the government from making it a crime to generate "images of fictitious children engaged in imaginary but explicit sexual conduct". But prosecutors said this kind of pornography can whet the appetite of pedophiles, and therefore is dangerous even if no real children are involved." This will be one of the major free speech cases of the year, and I think there's no telling how the Supreme Court will decide.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

what about anime porn? (2)

harlemjoe (304815) | more than 13 years ago | (#487335)

do they have any/similar legislation about anime/cartoon porn especially relating to children, not to mention mutilation, bondage etc.

What about simulated pictures of other crimes (5)

tedd (30053) | more than 13 years ago | (#487336)

Would someone familiar with the case draw a distinction between simulated child porn and simulated murder on TV or in the movies or on the internet? Simulated rape or any other crime?


Oh boy... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#487337)

looks like we'll have to ban all pornography now, because that obviously whets the appetite of rapists. oh, and can't forget racist propaganda, that makes people commit hate crimes! whoops, don't forget explots! people who read some C code want to go out and 0wn a system!

get real.

I guess this hits the anime... (1)

mmaddox (155681) | more than 13 years ago | (#487338)

...producers right where it hurts, eh? :) I mean, what will this do to shows like Sailor Moon?

Seriously, though...what sort of restrictions are really created by such legislation? As you know, the definition of "child" varies from locale to locale (such as between states), making the creation of child porn comparatively subjective. Think about how terribly complex this sort of a law can get; how can you judge the age of a "virtual child?"

Contentious, but... (4)

str8-and-sober (266417) | more than 13 years ago | (#487448)

Whilst I think I'll be in line with the majority of people here by saying that child porn is wrong, sick and best left out of any society, there is a point here that needs raising.

In any society, there will be one section of people who appear as "unacceptable" or "twisted" to another section. Whether these sections are the minority or majority, who has the right to say what images (or sounds, experiences, smells etc) we are not allowed to generate electronically?

If it is possible for the powers that be to dictate what is acceptable to generate using technology, then where will this dictatorial power end?

The question is: is it right to decide what is and is not "acceptable use of technology", thereby setting a precedent for the future? Or should we say "there must be a morally defined limit for the application of technology" ? Who would decide on such morals? Who could veto such morals?


Re:where is the line? (1)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 13 years ago | (#487449)

No matter how lame-ass it is, it is virutal porn. The question is whether it should be legal, or not, in case of virtual child porn.

I feel it's morally wrong, but you'd be hard pressed to find legal justification for banning it, since no children are actually forced to do anything against their will.

Typo correction (1)

Private Essayist (230922) | more than 13 years ago | (#487450)

The sentence should read:

I worry that this law (which will accomplish zero) is worded generally enough...

Re:This is just silly... (1)

jaydub99 (188487) | more than 13 years ago | (#487451)

Sorry, this is a bad analogy. It is not illegal to have a picture of an actual murder. It IS illegal to have a sexually suggestive or explicit image of a child!

Welcome to Canada (3)

Nezumi-chan (110160) | more than 13 years ago | (#487452)

We've had this sort of thing on the books for a long while. I did an article [] on the subject a couple of years ago, and the situation has changed little.

The upshot here is that in Canada it is illegal to create art of two people having underaged sex, or even who look underaged. And it doesn't matter if it is made clear that the characters are not underage, the only test is that they look underage. So disclaimers mean nothing.

Re:What about simulated pictures of other crimes (2)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 13 years ago | (#487453)

I don't see how there would be one. Furthermore, the argument can be made that no children are harmed in the production of such material (although they might be when a user tries to act out what he sees, but that's another matter).

Of course, there's the whole issue of using the images or likenesses of real people in virtual productions. Can an actor sue you because you made a computer-generated movie starring a digital simulacrum of him or her? But that's somewhat tangential to discussion.

Just for the record, I am not condoning this behavior. I think it's awful. But I can't see how it would be illegal under the laws as I understand them. IANAL.

Re:Prosecution problem (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | more than 13 years ago | (#487454)

Laws do not exist simply to make the job of law-enforcement easier.

Re:Illegal (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#487455)

well I really dont think the children consenting or not is an issue (and I definitely dont think whether they're enjoying it or not is), the fact is that children do not have the right to choose in the affirmative (let's clarify that!) to be a part of sexual activities with adults in our society.

How do you prove the age of a nonexistant person? (3)

JesseL (107722) | more than 13 years ago | (#487456)

If this "virtual kiddie porn" is a purley fictional representation of nonexistant children how the hell do you determine wether or not they are underage? The creator could simply claim that he was drawing people who looked young or something - right? No one has a bith certificate for Lara Croft do they?

Re:This is just silly... (2)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 13 years ago | (#487457)

Is it illegal to draw one?

Re:I guess this hits the anime... (2)

gavinhall (33) | more than 13 years ago | (#487458)

Posted by polar_bear:

Actually, it'd be frightfully easy -- just as easy as Pixar showing the wireframes and such for Woody and Buzz.

i really don't have much to say (1)

heecrak (238374) | more than 13 years ago | (#487459)

i just think it's really sick.. i'm not for or against whatever happens at the supreme court level. omg, horrible to think people like this sh!t

everybody jump in (1)

mons (124270) | more than 13 years ago | (#487460)

everybody jumps in when it smells like a common sense.
- Well, do accept to remove any FPS from your computer? You KILLING weirdo?!
- Do you like to KILL people?

I think people should be free to speak to themselves, even when it disgusts me.

Do you think, should be banned, it's a joke, right?
or this is not the common sense, which seems to me the real question.

Moderators really moderate based on your sig. but they don't realyze this

If the intent is there (1)

geek (5680) | more than 13 years ago | (#487461)

Then it should be illegal. It seems the same as the guy who tries to shoot an unloaded gun at someone, he intended to kill them, therfore he is guilty of attempted murder. The fact that pedophiles intend to view and masturbate to child pornography doesn't make it any less sick.

child porn (1)

houdeanis (168591) | more than 13 years ago | (#487462)

Anything pornographic and relating to children should be banned in some way, this is the kind of stuff that made the internet how sleazy it is today. The internet used to be pure, and good, filled with cultural exchange etc..

This is not silly. (5)

laetus (45131) | more than 12 years ago | (#487463)

Simulated murder in video games, movies, et. al. are not done with the intent of arousing murderous feelings in the viewer.

Simulated child pornography is done with the intent of arousing pedophilic feelings in the viewer.

The former does not seem dangerous to me. The latter is sick.

Re:Illegal (1)

IanCarlson (16476) | more than 12 years ago | (#487464)

But this isn't "Child Porn of any type", computer images aren't people and they can't be exploited. I'm just as disgusted by child-porn as you are, but I'm also watchful for anything which may open the door to inproper First Amendment legislation.

You would be hard pressed to back up the arguement that child porn somehow exploits children that weren't even involved in the process. One could even argue that artifical kiddie porn would keep children from being exploited because real kiddie porn would actually involve real photography of a real child, where computer generated porn is created in some pervert's den, sans children.

The word is "whet", and one could say that it would do so to the pedophile's appitite, but a pedophile is going to obtain child porn either way.

Should we save the artifical child at the cost of real children? That sounds like society cutting off its own nose to spite its face.

Re:sick puppies (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 12 years ago | (#487465)

(except, some would say, the viewer of virtual child porn)

Do we care? Is this actual physical harm? No, then go right ahead. If this is actual physicial harm, is this self inflicted? Yes? Go right ahead.

Here we go, down the slippery slope... (1)

cybrpnk (94636) | more than 12 years ago | (#487466)

This topic really bugs me because of my own inconsistencies. I am OK with "wholesome" porn, wish there wasn't sick porn, am dead set against child porn, and consider the First Amendment to be sacrosanct. Logically I think that computer sims of anything can't/shouldn't be illegal, but on a gut emotional level I'm willing to go along with a ban. The thing that really bothers me, tho, is that once you say that a sim crosses a line, then defenders of anything real but borderline/controversial on first amendment grounds have no leverage against those who can point to banned sims. Once anime is banned, how do you cope with attacks against selling old Coppertone Girl ads in a mall antiques booth, or the Calvin Klein ads with sexy waifs, or news documentaries showing video of JonBennet's beauty contests? The problem with this issue is that it redraws the old line of crimes of action (taking sick pictures of actual kids) with crimes of thought (moving a mouse around in a certain pattern). With the conservatives / Christian Coalition / George W using this as the starting point, what else will be a thought crime by 2084?

Re:Sick as it is, this makes sense... (2)

belgin (111046) | more than 12 years ago | (#487470)

It's a scary idea, because the obvious extrapolation on this idea is virtual reality, but from a legal point of view, no children are being harmed in its production, so I don't see how it could be illegal.

While I completely disagree with the act of doing so, I have to grudgingly agree that a person does have the right to create CG child-porn, as much as they would have the right to paint it. I also agree with you on the extrapolation to VR.

The next question becomes: Where is the onus of proof? If a piece of porn is obviously computer generated, it is one thing. However, if it is virtually indistiguishable from the real thing, does law enforcement have to prove whether or not real children were involved, or does the person owning the porn. Our current system would say law enforcement, which translates to no way that they can crack down on child pornographers without catching them "in the act".

Perhaps, Congress should pass a new law that requires any producers of virtual child pornography preserve proof that the image/movie/VR in question was created without models. If they have CG wireframes, etc. They might be able to show the origins. This is a heavy onus on producers of this crap, that still allows law enforcement to nail real pornographers without ending free speech. Unfortunately, this solution might be considered undue limiting of free speech itself and the Kiddie porn guys might just find a way around it.

All around, this is a pretty sick group that we are talking about, and there is no easy answer for someone who values free speech and loathes things like child porn.

B. Elgin

Re:Illegal (1)

lrichardson (220639) | more than 12 years ago | (#487471)

Child Porn of any type should be illegal.

Completely neglecting the minor inconvenient detail that it's impossible to define 'porn', let alone 'Child Porn'. Anyone under 18? Sorry, perfectly legit to marry under that age in many places (in the US, too). And those terrible art museums, hundreds, even thousands of paintings of nekkid people!!!

I don't agree with porn period.

Geez, it's only got a history going back several thousand years. I guess you've managed to find a way to clearly define what qualifies as 'porn', and have great ideas about what punishment to inflict on those who dare to contravene your idea of correctness. No? Then shut the f$ck up until you realize the total hypocracy, not to mention stupidity of your position! Taking your point about 'wheting the appetite' apart has been done so very well by others here, but I think your statement shows another facet of the same mindset: stupid, really stupid, ignores facts, and f$cking stupid.

P.S. This comment contains more than the usual amount of profanities, in celebration of the 1st amendment.

P.P.S. BTW, did anyone catch the bit at the end ... that no-talent Bolton _still_ has to pay $5.4 million for plagarism!

Re:Any evidence one way or the other??? (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 12 years ago | (#487472)

Cool. So like because access to material about Hitler can encourage the Eric Cartman's of this world, perhaps we should ban that too. I dont want to risk my freedom on maybes, you shouldn't either.

slippery slope, anyone? (1)

nycdewd (160297) | more than 12 years ago | (#487474)

'nuff said. (what IS that sound of chisels i hear? or is it the sound of hammers in the junkyard??)

A good prosecutor's reason for having it that way. (1)

cmowire (254489) | more than 12 years ago | (#487476)

There is a good reason for having it. I'm pretty much undecided on the whole issue, but I can see a few issues and some good reasons.

Mainly, it's a lot easier to prosecute somebody for putting what clearly looks to be a minor in a porn vid by just stating that it "looks like kiddie porn" than trying to dig up the creator of the vid (hard), and then proving the age of the person in the vid (also hard).

So by making it illegal to even LOOK like there is a minor in the vid, you therefore save the afformentioned effort.

Now, I will say that, either way, there's a lot of holes in this. What is the difference between a 17 year old person before their 18th and an 18 year old person after their 18th? A few thousand dead cells here, a few thousand cell divisions there, and a few new neuron patterns established.

And I'm not sure what to think of all of this. I mean, people need to distinguish between the truly wrong -- an unwilling 12 year old girl getting graphically raped on camera -- the merely sick -- a girl who may be 16 or 20 that some guys find attractive dancing around naked -- and the artistic -- the boatloads of paintings from ages past that involve naked people of all ages, from 1 to 80.

What people dont seem to get (1)

Wordsmith (183749) | more than 12 years ago | (#487477)

is the justifiable reason that child pornography is illegal. It's not because it's offensive or disgusting, although it happens to be both in my and most other people's opinions. It's because a child cannot, under our law, consent to the acts involved in the creation of child pornography. If no child is involved, there's been no harm. If the court tries to enforce a ban on virtual child porn because of the type of thought it might inspire (as in the argument about wetting appetites) it will have done something very dangerous indeed.

Re:Al&Joe != LEFTWing (1)

ChildofAndromeda (308041) | more than 12 years ago | (#487479)

Oh, don't forget Tipper. You know, Mrs. I-Am-Morally-Superior-To-All-of-You-So-I-Should-Te ll-You-What-You-Can-And-Cannot-View-or-Listen-To. I think it is time to punish the person for the CRIME and stop trying to prevent the crime by taking everyone else's rights away. If cancer appears in an organ, you remove the affected cells in that organ. You don't remove all the organs because they MIGHT be affected in the future.

Re:Sick as it is, this makes sense... (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 12 years ago | (#487480)

...and your point would be?

Tough call (1)

Calimus (43046) | more than 12 years ago | (#487481)

It really is a tough call. i think I feel as many parents do, I don't want any kind of child porn real/fake to be legal. I've seen alot of argument that acting murders on tv fall into the same catagory as this fake child porn. Let me say that I can see where these people come from, but it really is different (specialy if you have a child of your own).

I know it seem bias but murder unfortunalty has become almost socialy acceptable to see on tv/read about/see pictures of the sceen in the paper. Yes, people that murder have underlying problems just like pedophiles. But we are already feeding one psycho catagory with tons of media coverage, why start feeding another? Why possibly help create more of these kinds of people. I say, the hell with making fake child porn legal. Our kinds don't need this kind of thing being unleashed.

Re:blurring the line (2)

technos (73414) | more than 12 years ago | (#487485)

That's a line we'll cross when we get to it. Judging from the big budget CG I've seen recently it'll be a while.. They spend $40 million on CG effects and still end up with a plasticene Jar-Jar (Gumby had mre beleivable facial expressions!) that wouldn't look realistic drunk AND on acid, for crying out loud..

As of RIGHT NOW, the illegal part of kiddie porn is the exploitation and abuse of children. I can simulate a murder on film right now, complete with plunging knife, squirting blood, dismemberment, etc, and for all intents and purposes it is indistinguishable from the real thing. Does that make me guilty of murder? Nope. No murder, no crime.

Same thing with simulated 'kiddie porn'; No child, no crime.

virtual porn? (2)

joto (134244) | more than 12 years ago | (#487489)

There seems to be a witch-hunt involving anything vaguely associated with pedophiles these days. I'll be the first to say that paedophiles are not exactly something I admire, but I think people are taking this witch-hunt a bit too far. There are other crimes that are just as ill or worse. And there is no reason to throw normal citizen rights overboard just because there exist some paedophiles.

How about hand-drawn imagery. Should that be legal, and computer-generated imagery be illegal? What about a collage? It can be made with computer, or with paper, scissor and glue! Or is it realism that counts. Some good artists can create very photo-realistic paintings on a canvas. Should that be illegal as well? How about bad computer-generated images. How about parody? How about unrealistic computer-generated images (hand drawn in windows paintbrush?)

And what exactly does it mean that something depicting children in sexual activities is porn? How about teaching materials (for parents, teachers and children about paedophiles)?

I think it is time that we stop thinking about paedophiles as the worst evil of our time. The witch-hunt for paedophiles is most likely creating a lot of victims that doesn't deserve the label (much like the witch-hunting did!). A convicted paedophile today will have very much trouble to adapt to society after his sentence is finished, because he will have to live with the fear that someone finds out about his past and decides to do whatever they find appropriate (starting a lynch-mob, fire him from his job, kick him out of his apartment, whatever...)

I am not to say that paedophilia is ok, because it certainly isn't, but today I think we are going too far. Treat paedophiles as humans, not monsters! They are humans that need treatment (and perhaps punishment), but they don't need a witch-hunt. And please don't judge anyone in advance. Many accusations that come up against a "paedophiliac" are false, but yet it is very hard for the person accused.

We don't need to get medieval just in order to feel safe about our children. The good, old, normal system of justice is just fine. I am not even so sure that child-porn increases paedophilic activity. Maybe it is better for them to get their steem out through pornography than through real life. Anyone know of some good studies of this?

I can see the compromise now... (1)

eric17 (53263) | more than 12 years ago | (#487491)

"No real children were screwed during the making of this film"

Re:Is this really necessary? (1)

woody_jay (149371) | more than 12 years ago | (#487495)

Are you really so ignorant to think that either is ok? I personally don't believe that we need either in our society. Why does there have to be one or the other? Have we not heard of morality or decency? Someone who 'creates' via computer a fake picture of something so grotesque has a serious problem. Then again, I have a little girl and I know how I would react to someone even drawing pictures about something so inconceiveable concerning her.

Re:This is more important than you think (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 12 years ago | (#487497)

Fantasy in troubled individuals often leads to acts.

Do you have any studies to indicate this? Perhaps you're a psychologist. Either way, what does this have to do with me wanting to cruise around as Adolf Hitler in some future artificial VR game of the future? After all, if we assume that people are "troubled individuals" then obviously a game where you get to play Adolf Hitler should be outright banned because it may encourage another global war.

Prior restraint (1)

ResHippie (105522) | more than 12 years ago | (#487502)

It hasn't happened yet, so lets make sure that it doesn't.

I'm pretty sure that this is covered in the US Constitution. You can't arrest somebody for something that they *MIGHT* do. Unless of course you can prove a conspiracy.

Yeah, unless you can prove that somebody *PLANS* to do something, you really can't touch them. (Ooooh, sorry for the bad pun.)

Already applies in porn movies (2)

wfaulk (135736) | more than 13 years ago | (#487578)

There was a ruling a while back that porn movies could not state (or imply, maybe?) that the characters in the movie were underage, regardless of the age of the performer. In fact, you'll see a lot of the young-looking perfomers explicitly stating their age (or some legal age) in the film, so as to avoid this ruling.

Right Wing (1)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 13 years ago | (#487581)

I understand that you people have just got some new "senior management". As they have been put in by your new Pres' they will probably ban VPorn as it is sinful.

Don't worry about it though, you would never see it from your Libraries now anyway...

will this cover.. (1)

bluelip (123578) | more than 13 years ago | (#487583)

my collection of ansi screens that I converted from .gif's to .ans's for the use on my old bbs?

Anyhow, I think it will come down to intent. The origin isn't what qualifies it as kddie porn, but what the actual nature of the image does.

sick puppies (1)

ender's_shadow (302302) | more than 13 years ago | (#487587)

need their porn. you know, it sucks that some people are what i would deem perverted, but that shouldn't have anything to do with their access to porn. this is not a troll, i'm just saying that it is certainly a free speech issue. no people are being hurt here (except, some would say, the viewer of virtual child porn), and it is a form of expression -- although one that incedentally includes masturbation.

you know, i can think of worse things these people could be watching -- but i'll let the trolls post the links :^)

This is just silly... (4)

moonsammy (65351) | more than 13 years ago | (#487593)

While I don't necessarily think virtual child porn should exist, I don't see why it would be illegal. Actual murder is illegal, but look at all the virtual forms of that we accept - video games, movies, television, etc etc. Why should the argument about virtual child porn be any different?


Sick as it is, this makes sense... (4)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 13 years ago | (#487596)

I would consider this to be equivalent to writing a piece of fiction that depicts these acts. It's a pretty sick puppy that would do this, or want to read it, but you could theoretically do this in a locked room by yourself and for yourself starting with no one else's work, which as far as I'm concerned pretty much makes legal issues moot.

It's a scary idea, because the obvious extrapolation on this idea is virtual reality, but from a legal point of view, no children are being harmed in its production, so I don't see how it could be illegal.

Which isn't to say I don't find the idea morally offensive, but there you go.

Any evidence one way or the other??? (2)

DESADE (104626) | more than 13 years ago | (#487599)

I'd like to know whether this really encourages pedophiles or if it is a safe outlet for them to satisfy their depraved desires.

If allowing a pedophile access to virtuallly generated kiddie porn keeps him so busy he does not feel the need to accost real children, I say let him do it. If, on the other hand, this adds to the problem, feuling his depravity, then it might be a good idea find a way to limit access this type of material.

This is more important than you think (2)

avandesande (143899) | more than 13 years ago | (#487615)

As the quality of CGI grows, people will be able to make artificial movies that are (almost) indistinguishable from real life. Limiting child pornograpy is done for more reasons than just protecting children from exploitation. Fantasy in troubled individuals often leads to acts.

Re:Illegal (5)

kenf (75431) | more than 13 years ago | (#487620)

The ONLY reason for banning child porn is the harmful effect of creating the porn on the real children involved.

Any other porn, which represents itself as child porn but does not depict actual children, should be left alone.

Only adults, who should know what they are doing, are involved.

Of course it is. (1)

Kiss the Blade (238661) | more than 13 years ago | (#487623)

Virtual child porn is just like thinking about children in your sexual fantasies. Both should be made illegal. Thinking wrong thoughts, as well as participating in Virtual Realities, should be punished.

These are the post-1984 methods of the state.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.

Virtual vs Real (5)

.sig (180877) | more than 13 years ago | (#487627)

Well, it kinda sounds familiar to me, what with all the arguments about virtual violence in video games/movies/music whatever. If it's legal to go on a shooting spree and kill hunderends of unuarmed innocents in a video game, or root for the bad guy in a particularry gruesome movie, why should this be any different?
I'll be the first to argue that it's morraly wrong, and basically sick, but it's not my place to decide what people should do with their time. As long as it's purely virtual, then no one gets hurt and it's basically a private matter up to the individual.
Now it could lead to inspiring such acts agains real children, which is a totally different matter, but it could also give the crazies what they want in a harmless matter. The question, I guess, is would the virtual be better than the real thing?
Makes me glad I'm not a parent yet, but afraid of what times will be like when that changes...

"Can whet the appetite" (3)

_Ludwig (86077) | more than 13 years ago | (#487631)

The argument that it should be illegal because it might "cause" someone else to do something is thoroughly unconvincing, especially lacking any serious studies implying a strong causal relationship between fake child porn and actual child molestation. Hell, a sixpack could "whet the appetite," and they're not outlawing beer.

its about the kids (1)

alanjstr (131045) | more than 13 years ago | (#487634)

When the law was written, it was intended to keep people from exploiting minors to make the pictures. It was not meant to keep people from what they "might" do after seeing the pictures.

where is the line? (1)

Pauli (72610) | more than 13 years ago | (#487635)

So if I draw a lame-ass picture of a kid having sex using microsoft paint, is that "virtual porn?" Or, do I have to use something better, like Photoshop... or does it have to be generated on an SGI like Jurassic Park?

blurring the line (3)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 13 years ago | (#487643)

I think this kind of "virtual" porn should be illegal, but not for the reasons that I've seen written about. With computer graphics getting better and better every day, how long will it be before CG stuff becomes imperceptable from the real stuff? If a guy gets busted with kid porn on him computer, he can just say that he created it. We need to remove any reasonable boundries that prevent the prosecution of child pornographers. Outlawing crypo? No. Outlawing niche market virtual child porn? Yeah.


I've been waiting for this one ever since... (2)

alumshubby (5517) | more than 13 years ago | (#487647)

...I first saw Jurassic Park and saw how lifelike they'd made the CGI'd dinosaurs. At some point, animation will be so lifelike that it'll be possible to, say, make a Shirley Temple avatar dance and sing on your desktop. Or a JonBenet Ramsey one. However, there's some precedent [] for animated stuff being considered raunchy even if it's animated rather than live.

"whet the appetite"? (5)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | more than 13 years ago | (#487649)

What about porn that depicts a (fictional) rape? Should that be illegal because it'll "whet the appetite" of a rapist?

What about a movie that depicts graphic dismemberment of a corpse? It might "whet the appetite" of a serial killer. Silence of the Lambs

What about a movie that depicts a not at all graphic simple domestic homicide? It might "whet the appetite" of a spouse abuser.Almost any TV show

What about a BOOK, for crying out loud, that depicts any of these things (including fictional sex acts involving fictional children)? Lolita

These are all perfectly legal. I just don't see that the "simulated child porn is wrong" case has a leg to stand on. Therefore it'll probably pass unanimously...
MailOne []

Some people like kiddie porn (2)

The NT Christ (305898) | more than 13 years ago | (#487656)

There's nothing wrong with liking kiddie porn per se. The problem comes when actual real-life kids are exploited the make these movies/photos.

It may make you sick to the stomach thinking about it, but it's better to provide kiddie porn fans with a virtual outlet for their perversion, than actually make real kiddie porn.

It's like video games. It's better to vent your frustrations on a Cacodemon than it is to go postal. I think video games have a useful place in society as exactly that : an outlet for urges which may be harmful if let out in real life.

I don't see how kiddie porn is different, and anything that reduces the market for genuine kiddie porn is a good thing.

That's if kiddie porn even exists, and isn't just a manufactured concept designed to raise funding for federal law enforcement ... which some have suggested.

Anyway, as has been argued passim on this site, once the technology exists it will happen. When we have proper virtual adult porn, how hard is it going to be to load in a less mature looking model?

I say keep this legal. It harms no-one, and the idea that kiddie porn is a "gateway drug" to actual child abuse is just a bunch of weak supposition backed by moral outrage. Like video games "causing" shoot-outs in highschools.

Coming soon.... (1)

los furtive (232491) | more than 13 years ago | (#487658) Quake, get charged with Virtual Manslaughter?

Get real!

my vaporous thoughts (1)

frknfrk (127417) | more than 13 years ago | (#487659)

i hate for my first posting to /. in a while to be so indecisive, but man, i have no idea what to make of this. i really really really am opposed to child pornography, ficticious drawing or otherwise... and i really want speech on the web to be as free is it can be - no, infinitely free. i guess i answer for myself: as horribly as this is, etc, etc, for infinite freedom of the web you'd have to allow it. but of course this would extend to actual child pornography, and so back to the conondrum. who decides what is moral? i really hate questions like this, darn you /. for making me think and hurting my brain, as if trying to debug these stupid Java native calls aren't painful enough. but in all seriousness this is definately the type of issue we all have to deal with: and fight for if the price becomes too great. but remember, there are a lot of people with lots of dollars and lots of determination (read: years of christian-doctrine-induced guilt and fear of hell) to fight every step of the way... ... frknfrk!

CNN coverage (1)

mr_gerbik (122036) | more than 13 years ago | (#487661)

I saw this on CNN yesterday. You can find their coverage here. []


Re:What about simulated pictures of other crimes (1)

jaydub99 (188487) | more than 13 years ago | (#487662)

Child pornography exists in a very special category (and for good reasons!). The tv show COPS is not illegal, but it shows graphic images of actual crimes. So simulated crimes on tv are safe. Even so-called "Death Tapes" are not illegal, and they supposedly show real murders, etc. So I don't think there is a parallel.

Re:Illegal (1)

matth (22742) | more than 13 years ago | (#487663)

That was not flamebait! But anyway. Adult pornography is between two consenting adults. However, when it is between children, the children usually are not concenting, or enjoying it in any way whatso ever. In addition, having digitally created pictures of children in sexual positions only goes on to say that it is ok to have this type of thing done. The fact that they are under the age of 18 regardless of if it is a picture or not, makes it illegal. In addition, if you post a story or something to an adult message board, you would not be permitted to post a story about children under the age of 18, regardless of if the story is true or not.

Really tough decision (1)

Dman33 (110217) | more than 13 years ago | (#487684)

This one is really difficult to determine. I mean, it is something that I have never even pondered! My gut reaction is that it should not be illegal and that the origional decision should be upheld, then I thought about it and realized how sick and demented this can be. The bottom line though is that the government should not be able to 'censor' any form of art no matter how sick and demented it is! I, personally, am revolted to think that people would appreciate this stuff, but the fact remains that the governement should not make the decisions for the people... (Unless the images are in public, but that falls under pornography laws anyway..)

The Canadian courts have a similiar case (1)

tyrann98 (161653) | more than 13 years ago | (#487687)

Currently the Canadian Supreme Court is looked at almost exactly the same case. A British Columbia man is charged with possession of child porn and is contesting it since criminalizing possession itself is unconstitutional; secondly, he is also contesting it due to the fact that stories that he wrote were considered illegal child porn. I do have a problem with child porn created using real children because that obviously harms the child. However, imaginary works and stories really crosses the line into thought control! Look at all the other cases where artists' (-and I'm not saying that man is an artist) works that were confiscated because of "illegal" thoughts and writings. What next: criminalizing computer generated murders, drug use, etc.. While I really do not like the idea of photorealistic portrayals of child pornagraphy, I hope that both courts respect freedom of speech. Freedom is something like air; you don't notice it until it is gone.

Not always sick (5)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 13 years ago | (#487689)

For instance, in an erotica writing club I belong too, a woman's story was removed becuase it talked about her sexual experiences as a teen.

I realize it's mostly a moot point with the Slashdot crowd (hell, I was a 20 year old virgin), but if you had a sexual experience at 13, would you want the right to talk about it?

Legal quagmire (1)

V_M_Smith (186361) | more than 13 years ago | (#487690)

IIRC, part of the reason for making Child Pornography illegal was the exploitation of the children involved in the production of the material. In this case, however distasteful the images are to most people, there is none of that occuring. That's what makes this such a legal grey-area.

There was a recent Supreme Court (Canada) case in which it was ruled that prohibiting possession of Child Pornography was unconstitutional (the law was deemed to be overbroad). This seems similar, in that other than possession of questionable images, no other underlying crime has been committed.

Definitely a case to watch.

Re:Illegal (1)

The NT Christ (305898) | more than 13 years ago | (#487693)

You know you're talking to a bigot when he claims that ideas in people's minds can be "sick and wrong".

Re:"Can whet the appetite" (1)

DrFardook (27432) | more than 13 years ago | (#487708)

Except beer does whet the appetite. Hands down a sizable chunk of at home crimes, assaults, date-rape, domestic abuse, incest and the like are done under the influence of alcohol.

So can an abused child sue budweiser?

Re:This is more important than you think (1)

HyPeR_aCtIvE (10878) | more than 13 years ago | (#487713)

>Fantasy in troubled individuals often leads to acts.

And so next they are going to ban all 1st person shooters right? Because of the above? At some point you have to draw the line that we can't cater to EVERYONE. If nothing 'Fantasy' is ever allowed because someone somewhere might copy it ... then say goodbye to all movies, games, etc as we know them.

In fact, lock us all in boxes for our whole life, just in case we are the 1 in a million person who just can't stand seeing blue, and all those blue jeans are going to make us go on a killing spree.

focus on the symptoms, not the disease (1)

spliff (225977) | more than 13 years ago | (#487715)

if doctored images were considered censorable, would erotic fiction depicting child-related sex acts be next? Is there a difference bewteen imaginary images and imaginary text? between a fantasized mock-rape and an actual violation?

me thinks the problem here is excessive media pandering to obsessively-worried suburban parents.

but don't most incidents of childhood sexual abuse occur in the home?

how do you know its fake? (1)

p0w (134255) | more than 13 years ago | (#487718)

In the next couple of years (or even right now), virtual porn will look so "real" that it will be indistinguishable from actual porn images. Whats to stop people from using children and then applying a filter or two to make the image look "fake"?

Does this include naked petrification? (1)

SpanishInquisition (127269) | more than 13 years ago | (#487720)

this could have some consequences on /.

This is shakey, but important ground. (1)

km790816 (78280) | more than 13 years ago | (#487723)

Currently, you can't produce porn that even claims to have people younger than 18. (You can't take young looking 18-year-olds and say they are younger.)

I think the same should apply to the virtual. Sex acts should not be depicted involving individuals younger than 18. Period.

I'm all for free speech and I understand the touchy nature of this subject, but I think the goal of protecting kids is justified. This is minimal infringement on free speech.

yes -Illegal- no room for discussion (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 13 years ago | (#487725)

YES, and there shouldn't be much to say about it either. Common sense should apply and no arguments
about riduculous extreme situations (reductido ad absurdium).

Prosecution problem (1)

madirish2600 (149913) | more than 13 years ago | (#487726)

The real problem that this sort of judgement will create is the difficulty in prosecuting someone for child porn goes through the roof. Now police don't only have to prove that you have child porn in your posession, but they must now also prove that the kiddie porn is REAL. Imagine the headache this is going to create. This sort of judgement opens the doors for kiddie porn distribution. Now web sites can post 'All models that aren't over the age of 18 are actually digitally created' and get away with posting all sorts of obscene child pornography. How can you prove that a digital image is real and not fabricated????

Re:What about simulated pictures of other crimes (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 13 years ago | (#487741)

I agree to an extent- it seems ridiculous you can watch a dozen murders on tv but not see a womans breast or a man's ass.

It does seems though that culturally it is ok for people to fake a murder (shakespear anyone?), but portraying the molestation of children is discussed or portrayed only under very specific circumstances.

There is only one way to rule (1)

popular (301484) | more than 13 years ago | (#487744)

I see no reason why virtual child abuse should be any different than the virtual murders committed daily in virtually every video game known to man.

Logically, the only way to rule would be against the prosecution, but in a country so full of "family values", such as sexual uptightness and the protection of children, you never know.


This makes me sick... (1)

MicroBerto (91055) | more than 13 years ago | (#487747)

Yes, this does make me sick. But not the Supreme Court's decision ...

What makes me sick is that there are creeps out there that get off on looking at this, and worse yet, people that MAKE this.

Go do something with your lives, people!

Mike Roberto
- GAIM: MicroBerto

my girlfriend (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#487751)

My girlfriend told me the other day that I was a pedophile.
I said, "That's a pretty big word for an eight-year-old."

Re:I guess this hits the anime... (1)

jaydub99 (188487) | more than 13 years ago | (#487752)

I know in non-virtual (my favorite new descriptor!) child-porn cases, the onus is on the owner to prove that seemingly underage people were actually not underage when the pictures were taken. That would be pretty damned tough to do in this case.

Re:Any evidence one way or the other??? (1)

HyPeR_aCtIvE (10878) | more than 13 years ago | (#487754)

Problem is any attempt at limiting someone from doing ANYTHING, makes said something much more inticing ... and makes one WANT to do it.

So I think it is a general statement that allowing something like this would HAVE to act more as a 'safe outlet' than an encouragement.

I'm torn... (1)

boinger (4618) | more than 13 years ago | (#487776)

There are several ways to look at this, I think...
  1. It provides the same end effect for the viewer looking for such material - If that's what is morally wrong (the desire to see kids engaged in such behaviour/scenarios), then this is wrong.
  2. Technology is advancing such that it will soon (already is?) difficult or impossible to distinguish between real and "virtual". So what's to stop producers of child porn of just saying "but they're virtual! I swear!". While this is a slippery slope argument, I think there's some validity.
  3. But, then, if it IS distinguishable from real life (Bart Simpson porn?), then, who is it really satisfying. Most pedophiles aren't going to settle for some lame line drawing.
Personally, I just don't like new laws when they don't even enforce the old laws. I mean, seriously, in a country where NAMBLA (the North American Man-Boy Love Association) exists freely, shouldn't we start with the laws we have? (For the curious, NAMBLA doesn't have a web site anymore, apparently. It used to be, but, that's not around any longer...)

A very similar case has already been tried... (4)

digidave (259925) | more than 13 years ago | (#487777)

I can't remember all the details, so sombody please correct any mistakes...

A Vancouver court heard a case like this a few years ago. The defendent claimed that his drawings of nude children engaging in sexual activities were both works of art and products of his imagination. While simply being "works of art" isn't a defense (photos can be art, but not if they're of nude children having sex), his argument about being products of his imagination stood up in court.

The court said that while they found the drawings disgusting and that they should be banned, it would be impossible for them to rule that they're illegal because that's one step away from declaring that a person's thoughts are under the control of the law.

Al&Joe != LEFTWing (1)

JohnTheFisherman (225485) | more than 13 years ago | (#487778)

As they have been put in by your new Pres' they will probably ban VPorn as it is sinful.

Actually, the pro-censorship crowd would have done better with Gore/Lieberman - Anybody remember PMRC? And JL is an unabashedly pro-censorship kind of guy. They want(ed) to censor rock music and Hollywood, let alone the rougher stuff like (v)porn.

It must sadden Al's heart to see one of his many inventions put to such poor use.

OT: Nobody seems to be reporting this, but they finished the Miami-Dade recount [] . Surprise surprise, Al Gore LOST YET AGAIN.

One Thing To Remember (1)

Artagel (114272) | more than 13 years ago | (#487780)

Obscenity is not speech! That means the bill only really covers non-obscene pictures of virtual sex with minors. (It is sorta lost on me how you get into a "non-obscene" version of this stuff, but there we are!)

Re:"Can whet the appetite" (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | more than 13 years ago | (#487782)

Exactly my point. But there are a lot more beer-drinkers who aren't beating their wives than ones who are. It's the "wife-beating" part that is (and should be) illegal, not the beer-drinking.

Re:Sick as it is, this makes sense... (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#487785)

or hell, you could read about it on oops, there goes that forum under the hands of the puritans. I cant believe people can argue with the first ammendment. How many times do we have to say it? I may not agree with your views but I'll fight to the death to protect your right to express them! And yes, that includes images, sound recordings, videos, big billboards, stories or code. Before the puritans had an arguement "creation of this filth hurts children!" but that arguement is dead! Now they want to replace it with "creation of this filth _might_ hurt children?" Common, I dont want to bet my freedom on maybe's and I dont want to bet anyone else's.

An interesting case (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#487789)

Can a fat person sue because a picture of virtual food made them break their diet?
Can an alcoholic be absolved of a drunk driving conviction if a virtual drinking game made him want to drink the real thing?
Can we hold the makers of a virtual driving game accountable for accidents caused by drivers trying the same stunts they see in a game?
Is a simulated or imagined injury grounds for damages?
Where does a simulation end and reality begin?
If you have a dream that your neighbor is having an affair with your wife, does that make it OK for you to shoot him in the head?

So many questions... so many clueless lawyers and judges.

Court case in Canada, too (2)

DeadVulcan (182139) | more than 13 years ago | (#487806)

There was a slightly similar case before the British Columbia Supreme Court regarding posession of child pornography. There's an article [] about it on the CBC website.

However, part of the issue this side of the 49th is the definition of child pornography. The particular case before the court at the moment involves someone who penned erotic fantasies of juvenile sex for his own private enjoyment. The argument is that the definition is so broad that it infringes on basic rights.

The police, on the other hand, argue that they need a relatively broad definition, and the ability to arrest for posession, because otherwise they would be handicapped to ineffectiveness and they'd be unable to fight child pornography at all.

My take on the issue is that the two sides are arguing past each other. Fix the definition. I'm reasonably sure there's a happy medium where both sides can be equally dissatisfied. ;-)


Re:What about simulated pictures of other crimes (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#487809)

Because rape and murder in movies is done by rich Hollywood producrs who have the legislators in their back pockets. Banning ficticious murder and rape in movies would destroy in industry. Ban something not many are profiting from, and who cares, right?

freedom of speech in the spotlight (4)

mcarbone (78119) | more than 13 years ago | (#487811)

This issue is interesting as it addresses some potential "exceptions" to freedom of speech.

Child pornography has always been rightfully illegal as an inherent part of it is sexually abusing a child. So the question then becomes: with modern technology, if child pornography can be produced artificially (that is, without the abuse of children), then what is the harm? Well, apparently, the major argument is that it whets the appetite of child porn users (or observers), and hence puts children in potentially harm's way.

But then why is this issue more important than other harmful crimes? Not to lessen the tragedy of sexual abuse of children, but realistic movies and stills of violence could also then, using the same argument, cause murders and rapes. And so why not ban those as well? Of course, then the snowball rolls and suddenly fiction about hacking is illegal.

This may be an exaggeration, but the issue isn't as one-sided as many people think. But I understand the popular hesitation - it is hard to defend freedom of speech as sometimes one is defending the child pornographer next door.

Re:Sick as it is, this makes sense... (4)

prizog (42097) | more than 13 years ago | (#487817)

A sick puppy like Gunter Grass [] ?

Or did you mean like Vladimir Nabokov [] ?


Nicola Griffith?

Diane Duane?


Better to be virtual than real. (1)

MongooseCN (139203) | more than 13 years ago | (#487818)

You know people who want porn are going to go out and get it somewhere, and as long as people are demanding it, people will be supplying it. You can't make porn go away. So if pedophiles want their child porn and can't get it virutally, then they are just going to get it through images of real children, just like they always have. It's better that pedophiles get it through virtual images rather than images of real children.

Laws must have a reason (3)

Private Essayist (230922) | more than 13 years ago | (#487819)

A law should only be passed if it has a reason for being. So let's examine what a ban on completely computer-generated porn involving images of children is supposed to accomplish:

  • Protect Children: Real kiddie porn uses children, and they need to be protected from this. But computer-generated images do not involve the use of any real children. Therefore this law does not directly protect children.
  • Don't Fuel Pedophile Appetites: That's the reason being given here, that such images will encourage pedophiles to abuse children. But isn't it commonly understood that pedophiles do not stop wanting to abuse children no matter what you try or do? Isn't that the whole point behind Megan Laws, that even a released pedophile is not really reformed, and can never be reformed? So a pedophile, evidently, needs no encouragement to engage in their acts.

I dunno, seems as if this law doesn't accomplish anything other than to 'get rid of the stuff' (out of sight, out of mind). Not that this would work either, since kiddie porn producers are already breaking laws. Pass this law and that will be just one more law for them to break. Won't stop them, that's for sure.

Mind you, I can't think of any valid use for kiddie porn, computer-generated or not. But free speech being only valid when you defend that which you find offensive, I worry that this law (which will accomplish zero) is wordly generally enough that the prosecution won't end with explicit kiddie-porn. Anime will be the obvious next step, and so on.

Note, I'm not defending kiddie porn. I'm pointing out that I think this is a law that will accomplish nothing good, and could be used down the road for something bad.

Romeo & Juliet (3)

Cheshyre (43113) | more than 13 years ago | (#487820)

Keep in mind that Zefferelli's film "Romeo & Juliet" features a bare Romeo leaving Juliet's bed in the morning. Certainly "conveys the impression" that those two minors jad been "engaging in sexually explicit conduct?"

Disclaimer (1)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 13 years ago | (#487839)

All computer generated figures depicted in this film would be 18 years or older if they existed. Any appearances otherwise are the result of virtual hormonal imbalances.

segue skills (1)

mr_gerbik (122036) | more than 13 years ago | (#487842)

The LA Times writers really need to polish up on their segue skills. They went from child porn to phone service regulation in no time flat.

"Producing or selling child pornography is punishable by as much as 15 years in prison. Possession of such pornography can lead to as much as five years in prison.
Meanwhile, the court agreed to take up two regulatory cases that will help determine whether many consumers will ever have access to competitive local phone service and high-speed Internet access via cable television"


Why Virtual is different than real (1)

seichert (8292) | more than 13 years ago | (#487843)

Real child porn is photographic or perhaps audio evidence that a crime was committed against a child. When you buy such material or pay to have such material made you are in effect soliciting the commission of a crime, much the way if you pay a hitman to commit murder.

Virtual child porn, i.e. computer generated images or sounds, are in no way evidence that a crime was committed. They are merely the product of free expression. Granted a large percentage of the population would consider this expression disgusting and vile and do not want it in their own homes. The first amendment does not require that the vast majority of the population like your expression, just that they respect your right to look at whatever garbage you want so long as you do not infringe on their right not to.
Stuart Eichert

Re:"whet the appetite"? (2)

technos (73414) | more than 13 years ago | (#487844)

Unanimously? No..

We've seen the SC play politics, and this will be no exception. They'll uphold the ruling, sure, but by a margin of only one vote. The dissenting justices will use the opportunity to hop up on a soapbox and please their political masters, with a tear-jerking "child pornography is evil" spiel that'll get coverage on the news networks..

what i have an issue with (1)

steronz (307926) | more than 13 years ago | (#487845)

is how they think this will somehow whet the appetite of child porn addicts. it's gonna end up being like drinking in college. so long as you're under 21, you'll drink like mad just because you can. once it's legal, it loses its appeal. if anything, i think actually seeing some child porn would help most sickos fill their appetite for child porn.

Re:Illegal (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#487846)

Violence of any type should be illegal. Not only does it invoke sick and wrong ideas in people's mind, but it can wet the appetite for individuals to go in search for real violence.

Sex of any type should be illegal. Not only does it invoke sick and wrong ideas in people's mind, but it can wet the appetite for individuals to go in search for real sex.

Cheese of any type should be illegal. Not only does it invoke sick and wrong ideas in people's mind, but it can wet the appetite for individuals to go in search for real cheese.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?