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Manga images 'not child porn': Supreme Court

15 Jun 2012, 09:15

Published: 15 Jun 2012 09:15 GMT+02:00

In a ruling issued on Friday, the court acquitted Simon Lundström, who had been found guilty of child pornography crimes by two lower courts before appealing his case to Sweden's highest court.

"I'm obviously very relieved, in part because it makes life easier for me personally, but most of all I'm generally relieved for Sweden as a whole," Lundström told the TT news agency in an email.

"It would have been very hard for me to relate to Sweden as a country if it turned out to be a place that prohibited certain expressions of the imagination."

According to the Supreme Court's ruling, the drawings are pornographic and they do portray children.

However, because the cartoons represent imaginary figures there is no way they could be mistaken for real children.

"The criminalization of possession of the drawings would otherwise exceed what is necessary with regard to the purpose which has led to the restriction on freedom of expression and freedom of information," the court said in a statement.

Lundström, described by Swedish media as a top manga expert, was found guilty by two lower courts of having 39 drawings portraying figures in sexual poses stored on the hard drive of his computer.

In his initial trial, he explained that he had retrieved the pictures in order to stay up to date with the latest developments in the Japanese comic genre.

A district court fined him 25,000 kronor ($3,500) but an appeals court lowered the sum to 5,600 kronor.

During the Supreme Court trial, the images were shown on large screens in the courtroom. The pastel-coloured pictures showed children in different states of undress.

The depicted persons have large eyes and many other features that are characteristic for manga-characters. They are both posing for the viewer and taking part in different sexual activities.

Lundström's attorney, Leif Silbersky, expressed his satisfaction with the ruling.

"It's heartening that common sense has prevailed. The Supreme Court has an excellent way of cutting through the formalities and coming to the right conclusion. The ruling is very good in its entirety," he told the TT news agency.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court did however find that one of the 39 images possessed by Lundström could be considered to depict child pornography as it was sufficiently realistic.

But the court ruled that possession of the image was nevertheless defensible and as a result acquitted Lundström for possession of that image as well.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

10:35 June 15, 2012 by RobinHood
The prosecutor's name is Hedvig Trost. Hedvig has now learned that an essential ingredient of child pornography is ..... well, a child.

One hopes Hedvig will now be moved to less strenuous duties, for example counting the paper clips or arranging the pencils.
10:47 June 15, 2012 by Shibumi
What's next RobinHood? Thoughtcrime?
11:10 June 15, 2012 by rise

Without defending the filthy business of child pornography in any way at all, nor these utterly stupid manga drawings, of course there is a difference between photographing a real live children compared to drawing an imaginary cartoon. Who's hurt the most, the child or the cartoon? Do not sink children down to the level of only being cartoons. Hedvig Trost, if he's the one, gave the right sentence.
12:17 June 15, 2012 by tesseraktik

I think you may have misread #1's comment: Trost was the prosecutor in this case; the one saying Lundström SHOULD be convicted.

#1 is saying pretty much the same thing you are: A cartoon character, even if it carries a superficial resemblence to a child, is not actually a child.

[Nor is a photograph of a child, of course, but a photograph proves that a real child was involved at some point in the process, whereas a cartoon does not.]
13:30 June 15, 2012 by Shibumi
Yes tesseraktik, I misread. Thank you for pointing it out... and apologies to RobinHood.
13:36 June 15, 2012 by Garry Jones
Sick. Sick. Sick. Sick. There is no difference. Anyone caught with Child Porn in Manga form should be hung by the neck. The fact that these grown men fantasize about raping innocent children is bad enough. The bottom line is that Sweden has now decided to aid and abet pedophiles so they will be encouraged to continue with their sick crime. The state of Sweden and the High Court judges who made this ruling should be arrested.

Any image (including child porn) can be turned into cartoon form with a click of the button. I took a picture of David Beckham and Posh Spice and I did this myself in less than two minutes.


The Swedish courts have now given the pedofiles a way of using child porn without the possibilty to prosecte them.

14:01 June 15, 2012 by Kalyissa
One bit difference Garry, your image was made from a photo and the people look reasonably realistic however how many children or heck people do you know with bright pink/blue/green hair and eyes the size of fists? I would be a bit worried if you did,.

I don't read lolita or Shota because it doesn't appeal to me, but some people it does and I have known several people in my time who have read either lolita or shorta manga and have normal happy lives with an adult partner and have no sexual feelings towards children at all. Its just something they enjoy to read.
14:09 June 15, 2012 by Abe L
Garry, would you rather have pedophiles get off on actual child porn that involved real children? If they don't cause society any harm by watching some freakshow manga then it's cool with me.

Same reason to legalize prostitution, rather have a tax revenue generating industry that provides sickos legal access to their needs instead of raping people.

Sweden should drop it's never-ending desire to forbid and restrict as many things as possible. If it doesn't harm anyone, there is no need to have a law or rule forbidding it.
15:12 June 15, 2012 by Shibumi
re #6

Garry- if there really is no difference, then next time you pay to watch a Hollywood film where somebody is brutally murdered, you should be, as you say "hung by the neck".

"No" you say? Then why not?
15:54 June 15, 2012 by bcterry
I'm with Garry on the point that anyone who fantasizes about having sex with children, and then depicts it in a cartoon to get their jollies off, is sick and perverted.

15:55 June 15, 2012 by Dazzler
So its ok to have cartoon kiddie porn but not a cartoon Mohammed?
16:15 June 15, 2012 by Shibumi

It's ok to have ANY kind of cartoon.


You can judge them to be sick and perverted all you want. I might even agree with you. But calls for punishment and even "hung by the neck" are not ok. A just society cannot criminalize people's thoughts... period.

I know that pedophiles are the boogeymen du jour, but how people can get all worked up about a sexualized kiddie cartoon and then not bat an eyelash about the Saw torture movies is baffling.
16:33 June 15, 2012 by Twiceshy
Oh look, some common sense.
19:17 June 15, 2012 by jostein
Ill name the The supreme court of sweden by their rightfull name: CHICKENS!

And thats an insult to chickens.

Clearly, the horrific law is that drawn child pornography is illegal. This is a thought-crime. The shame is on the swedish riksdag for passing such a spectacularly bigotted and illiberal law to begin with. But law is law. And enforcing such a horrid law will shame the legislator every time. And shame is what they deserve.
19:45 June 15, 2012 by bcterry

"You can judge them to be sick and perverted all you want. I might even agree with you."

That's the point i agreed with.

It's not "boogymen de jour" it's pedophillia, and it's messing with children sexually, which in M.O. is out of bounds on any level.

And make no mistake about it, this is pedophillia.
21:00 June 15, 2012 by jostein
Down the drain in a spiral of ever increasing speed. Its quite a ride!
23:33 June 15, 2012 by BackpackerKev
"the cartoons represent imaginary figures" that states it all that is required. Child pornography should be just that, pornography of a child where a real child is involved.

Half the manga/hentai images are of teenage girls, many of which you cannot assume the age, just like any real life pornography labelled "barely legal" even tho the actresses may look like they are 14-16, they are legally of age. How can you prove the age of a child in a cartoon or an adult that looks like a child?8yes there are some exceptions but its a cartoon)

I would much rather paedophiles take up anime/hentai/manga than create a demand for real images where there is a victim.

The flip side is, if you choose to classify a naked cartoon image as pornography or child pornography, where does it stop. Galleries and art enthusiasts will have to give up ALL art works which may feature a naked child, let alone statues and how about statues and images of naked cherubs, the multitude of religious images and statues of naked babies/children/cherubs.
23:54 June 15, 2012 by jostein


| L

Arrest me?
04:43 June 16, 2012 by Garry Jones
You lot are missing the point. Many drug abusers start off on the light stuff and progress to the heavier stuff. The judgement gives the possibilty to turn child porn photos into Manga and this will put children at risk. Your arguments are about as valid as "We allow them to look at the child porn that was made last year because that will be enough for them and there wont be a need for new child porn and all kids will be forever safe".After starting with Manga they are likely to move onto raping kiddies outside nursery schools. I don't care for any government that has not understood that all forms of democracy are wrong because pedofiles should be hung by the neck until dead dead.
07:33 June 16, 2012 by NordicDreamer
Pedophiles should not be "hung by the neck."

Pedophiles have an attraction to young people and they can't help it. They should be able to receive treatment BEFORE they even think about touching a child, but there is so much stigma and hate against them that they probably find it very difficult to do so.
07:55 June 16, 2012 by RobinHood

"You lot are missing the point"

The law says for there to be a crime of child pornography, there must be an image of a child. Not a cartoon. Not a figment of someone's imagination, a real-life, living, breathing child. This legal concept is pretty much universal in the western world.

What part of this simple, sensible statement do you not understand? How about this? No child - no crime. Child - crime. Any better?
09:02 June 16, 2012 by rise

tesseraktik, yes I appear to have misread RobinHood..? My apologizes to him.
10:42 June 16, 2012 by BackpackerKev
@gary jones

I dont think you understand what manga is, the judgement wouldn't make paedophiles turn images into manga, they may make them turn into make a sketch image at best, but that is not manga, nor is it a cartoon, it would still be a realistic image of a child obviously with a real child image being used.

I also dont think you understand the illness associated with paedophilia, when you were 14 didnt you have a crush with a classmate or some girl maybe a year or 2 younger, well some people dont grow out of this, they dont mature with their sexual attraction relevant to their age in the same way, some men prefer much older women, or some much older men(mainly rich) preferring girls 20-30years their junior. Thats the most simplistic way to put it.

Also the whole gateway thing is a myth, drug abusers use by association and choice.

People dont suddenly turn into child abusers or Paedophiles by choice, they are what they are just like psychopaths, you dont turn into a psychopathic you are from birth.
18:11 June 16, 2012 by bcterry
@BackpackerKev ,

To accept pedophilia into the mainstream in ANY FORM is essentially an endorsement.

Whether or not they are born that way is moot, it is an assault on the most vulnerable amongst us, ......... INNOCENT CHILDREN!
20:09 June 16, 2012 by lamnar
I think the biggest insult in this whole affair was that they wasted all those resources on a case where THERE WAS NO VICTIM, rather than putting all that into all those cases where there ACTUALLY ARE children getting HURT.

Another thing that might be interesting to know is that Lundström actually had plenty more manga porn on his computer, the only difference between these images and the ones that got into trouble was the size of their breasts. Apparently, you're not a legal adult unless you've got a C-cup or bigger. Good to know.

There are lots of other things I could mention about this case but I'll leave it alone today.
23:41 June 16, 2012 by BackpackerKev
@bcterry To accept paedophilia into the mainstream in ANY FORM is essentially an endorsement..

Do you think all paedophiles act on their impulses and that all paedophiles create victims?

Paedophilia has been around as long as history in one form or another in many cultures, as we change laws the definition of what paedophilia is changes, just like the age of statutory rape differs from many countries even within the EU, because there is a lower age in a country that mean they endorse sex with a 13yr old where their neighbour states 15 is minimum.

Paedophilia is everywhere and this isnt about accepting it into the mainstream, but accepting that there are different forms of paedophilia with and without victims, and i would wish to a higher power all paedophilia was victimless, and if that means 1,2,100 children don't get abused because some paedophile chose hentai or cartoon images as his whatnot, im actually all for that.

i dont want to see those images everywhere in shops, websites etc, but there's a legal choice between making it a criminal offence and not making it a criminal offence and maybe those who live on the edge may just fall to living a victimless life and still feel satisfied.
13:32 June 17, 2012 by bcterry
Do you think all paedophiles act on their impulses and that all paedophiles create victims?"

Do you think a large percentage do act on them, and create victims?

"Paedophilia is everywhere and this isnt about accepting it into the mainstream"

Sure it is if it is allowed to exist unchallenged.

There's a reason why it is banned some countries.

"Convictions for possessing child pornography also usually include prison sentences, but those sentences are often converted to probation for first-time offenders.[3] Some nations such as Canada and Australia have laws banning cartoon, manga or written child pornography and others require ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to monitor internet traffic to detect it."

"The United Nations Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child requires states to outlaw the "producing, distributing, disseminating, importing, exporting, offering, selling or possessing for the above purposes" of child pornography.[7] The Council of Europe's Cybercrime Convention, and the EU Framework Decision that became active in 2006, require signatory or member states to criminalize all aspects of child pornography.[3] Article 34 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) stated that all signatories shall take appropriate measures to prevent the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials."

And that is exactly the way it should.

As far as what consenting adults choose to do sexually, i have absolutely no problem whatsoever, as long as it is not detrimental to others.

Children are off limits, no ifs ands or buts. ..........PERIOD!
17:39 June 17, 2012 by Jes
I can`t understand why Lundström is celebrating . The theme of his images is child pornography no question about that.

How can a sane person think that cartoons are imaginery figures that cannot represent real life ? Why is the world fixed on The Simpsons ; why did "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" win oscars ?

If the Judge is a parent , can he hand Lundströms images in his 5 year old bedroom ?
18:28 June 17, 2012 by BackpackerKev
"shall take appropriate measures to prevent the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials."

**the use of children**. and this is the MOST important part of this discussion.

Cartoon/manga/hentai images do not involve the use of a child merely some physical attributed associated with what may be constructed as age relevant.

I have been to both America and Canada and to many art museums which have and include naked children under maybe 10 at play where all genitalia were on show. As I stayed, you only have to look at google and type Cherub and you are blasted with multiple CARTOON images of naked children,

Why are both of these examples not covered by the same laws you are trying to support. If you want to support a law, you must be able to stand by that law and remove all media which comes under that law.

Religious images such as Mary nursing Jesus has Jesus - a baby naked with genitalia on show. This is child pornography. But we will allow this into society. Many other example can be discussed and these are all examples Child pornography already in the Mainstream. You cannot and should not differentiate between a cartoon image and a painted image. You cannot allow one thing and not the other when both are as guilty as each other.
19:02 June 17, 2012 by bcterry
I have been to both America and Canada and to many art museums which have and include naked children under maybe 10 at play where all genitalia were on show."

And none of them were displaying children in sexual positions.

"As I stayed, you only have to look at google and type Cherub and you are blasted with multiple CARTOON images of naked children"

Again, ...... NOT in sexual positions.

"Religious images such as Mary nursing Jesus has Jesus - a baby naked with genitalia on show. This is child pornography."

21:57 June 17, 2012 by BackpackerKev
Why does it have to display a child in a sexual position? I haven't read anywhere that child pornography is that solely of a child in a sexual position.

Have you just created a loophole that states a paedophile may contain images of a naked child so long as said child in not in a sexual position.

I hope you don't go into government.
22:23 June 17, 2012 by bcterry
"Religious images such as Mary nursing Jesus has Jesus - a baby naked with genitalia on show. This is child pornography."

"Why does it have to display a child in a sexual position? I haven't read anywhere that child pornography is that solely of a child in a sexual position.

Have you just created a loophole that states a paedophile may contain images of a naked child so long as said child in not in a sexual position."

Definition of PORNOGRAPHY



: the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement


: material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement


: the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction
00:36 June 18, 2012 by BackpackerKev
Amazing, you can cut and paste.

The one hope that humanity has is that despite definitions, we can use common sense.

1 Child a : an unborn or recently born person (i dont think this applies to cartoons or manga as they are not born) a : a young person especially between infancy and youth (you can ask what their age is, but then what's the definition of youth(maturity comes up, but whats the definition of mature) b : a childlike or childish person (may apply but there are childlike and childish adults) c : a person not yet of age (what age, can we see their driving licence in a manga magazine) a : a son or daughter of human parents (humanoid maybe, but i dont know if they appear with their parents that maybe specialist)

I see the word person alot, and now to reinforce child we must now look up the definition of person.. and amazingly the one thing it doesn't cover is humanoid cartoons and characters.

I say humanoid because features differ from humans in many cases with manga/hentai and as from many star trek episodes they use the term also.

Much of what is classified as child pornography does not meet those same criteria that you have pasted. Many do not depict erotic behaviour, nor an act in a sensational manner. from many documentaries i have seen, something as simple as a child sitting on a bed naked which may or may or not have been created for the purpose of child pornography still gets classified within the same genre. So is Webster wrong? does it need updating or is it best for people to judge on a case by case situation.

Mere images of children in a state of nakedness cannot be classed as child pornography(according to your definition, rules and laws etc) tho I wonder why isn't this mainstream then if it doesn't break any laws? ah I guess paedophiles require them to be in a sexual position having a naked child isn't enough for them.

lets take for eg. a photograph of a naked child on the beach having fun,the parent uploaded to facebook(its not child pornography by standards) and became saved by a stranger. This now becomes by law child pornography.

Images change with a persons intent to use them. The same way firearms don't kill people, only peoples intent on how to use them.

From what I understand, many places in BC Canada forbid the use of cameras where children are present, so much that you cannot take photographs of you own children in swimming events or on some beaches. These children are not naked, so i have to ask, why?

You try and define what child pornography is by stating rules and regulation and definitions which have been given but what you have said are easily able to bypass by just not having children in sexual positions. So do you think those creators and distributors will change their methods so that it cannot be classed as pornography?

think outside the box and not what people or definitions tell you to think.
10:24 June 18, 2012 by jackjones
If you convict people of owning drawings of imaginary people, then you must extend the law to any fictional representation.

Much of western art features pictures of naked kids and statuettes of nude cherubs. TV programmes showing murder, and films portraying war crimes would make most people guilty of finding the suffering others, entertaining.

And by extension, any adult who views porn, must be a would-be rapist.
13:06 June 18, 2012 by BackpackerKev


While I do not like dictionary definitions but that seems to be the ground of much defence. I shall use one here as silly as it may sound.

any adult who views adult pornography are watching by a definition Child pornography, the images depicted contain that of someone's child(age irrelevant).
23:15 June 19, 2012 by MWolf
First and foremost, I wanted to point out to those reading that the comments made here are not reflective of Swedish society - they are merely the emotional reactions of an ill-informed populous who seems to be emboldened by a relatively lawless and very immature society (America) to opine about issues they have no training or expertise to opine about.

Second, an opinion is defined as a view based on research into or knowledge of a subject. No, not just anyone can have an opinion. You have to have a working brain, and be willing and able to use it first. What you are reading here are largely not opinions, but rather feelings. "I feel" should be in front of every single post here.

Please note that my intent is not to offend, but rather to educate. Social discourse is only productive when those discussing a social issues are sufficiently educated and/or knowledgeable in the subject matter. And maturity is an important aspect of that. The format of the internet promotes, or rather doesn't prevent, immature people from stating their feelings, just as it does not prevent people from understanding that what they are reading is not opinion.

I would like to, therefore, offer my opinion on the matter, as this is a subject I have researched extensively. It was my intent, in fact, to argue before the United States Supreme Court on this exact matter, as we have a law which affects a social subculture I am involved with, and because my father was a pedophile.

Child pornography is a crime, the most serious type of crime there is for good reason - taking advantage of the innocence of a child destroys that child, socially. In fact, molesting a child is far, far worse to society than murder, because murder only removes one person from society whereas a molested child has the potential to adversely affect the lives of an almost unlimited number of people, a terrible price to society.

Child pornography, in my well-researched opinion, is a result of today's society and both its immaturity (look up Kohlberg's Moral Development, great Wikipedia article on the subject), and its social pressures to look so young. My research included examination of perceived beauty, and the example I like to use is Bond women, the female leads from Cubby Broccoli's Bond films. A single example is Darryl Hannah; who as a Bond woman in "Never Say Never Again" (a remake of Thunderball) looks older than she does in latter movies.

This and other social pressures create a desire inside of some people which often cannot be helped. As painful as it is for me to say so, my father was not at fault for molesting my sister for 13 years. Fortunately I am spared the grief of dealing with this as my father died a few years ago.

09:33 June 26, 2012 by smilingjack
child porn is insidious.

but age limits are odd

anyone been watching game of thrones?

sophie is 15 or just turned 16 which means off to jail for if you have sex with her but OK distribute pics of her. strange.

15:11 June 27, 2012 by jackjones
@MWolf You are not correct that (a) all child pornography is a crime (b) always involves "taking advantage of the innocence of a child".

In Europe, many families are nudity-friendly, for example. the German FKK movement. Non-one cares about nude family photos involving kids. But in America, exactly the same photos are classified as child porn. The photos do not portray any illegal activity, and no children are harmed.

Two 13-year-olds that masturbate in front of their webcams for their mutual pleasure, are also not committing any crime per se, but the law considers them both guilty of distributing child porn.

Yes, some fathers abuse their kids, for which they should be locked up. But we should not confuse nudity and natural adolescent sexual exploration with actual crime
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