• Sweden's news in English

Translator fined over child porn cartoons

Paul O'Mahony · 25 Jul 2010, 11:14

Published: 25 Jul 2010 11:14 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The ruling is the first of its kind in Sweden and has sparked a heated debate over children’s rights and censorship.

The translator at the centre of the case was found guilty of possessing child pornography after downloading the offending manga images from the internet. He told the court that he had retrieved the 51 pictures in order to stay up to date with the latest developments in the Japanese comic genre.

Judge Nils Pålbrant conceded that the decision to fine the translator, though unanimous, had raised a number of thorny issues.

“There’s a clear conflict between freedom of speech on the one hand and general regulations regarding children’s rights on the other,” he told local newspaper Upsala Nya Tidning.

“It was however our view that the protective aspect weighed more heavily when taking into account the intentions of the legislator. The aim of the law, as described in the preliminary work that led to its creation, is not just to protect individual children but children in general.”

But the case has polarized opinion in Sweden. In an editorial published on Thursday, tabloid Expressen gave its backing to the translator.

“However unpleasant and nasty a work of fiction might be, and whatever one thinks about Japanese porn involving cartoon children, there is actually no victim here. The children in the Uppland man’s manga comics were not molested since they were characters in a comic.”

The translator’s lawyer, Leif Silbersky, expressed surprise at the June 30th ruling and has lodged a formal appeal on behalf of his client.

Story continues below…

“It goes against all common sense. These are just drawings; no children have been harmed,” he told Upsala Nya Tidning.

Judge Pålbrant said he too would welcome a second opinion from the Court of Appeal due to the precedential nature of the case.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

11:47 July 25, 2010 by dobermann
This is an absurd. I am 100% against child pornography, but you can draw anything you want, because it doesnt hurt anyone in any form. I drew a lot of picure in sexual contest mixed with religious themes and etc., but it\s just drawings anyway.
13:02 July 25, 2010 by glamelixir
No you can not draw anything related to child pornography to sell it becaues you are engouraging it!!! You can't compare religion to child porn!

Religion is a belief, it is related to ideology, it is only a dogma that can be totally fake. Nobody can.

Chid pornography is a crime! OMG, I am scared of your comment, how can you really say this?

A couple of days ago, btw, I was actually watching a tv show about Japan and how they have legal erotic child movies, with simulated sex, Couldn't understand how nobody in the world would put a stop to that.

It is good to hear that someone is concerned about the children.
13:59 July 25, 2010 by booka
Naked baby angels is not child pornography ...... but on the other hand it is pritty odd......
14:22 July 25, 2010 by NovaLand
So if I draw a comic about a super villain robbing a bank, I will be charged for .. umm..?
14:47 July 25, 2010 by eZee.se
Personally, I believe people who molest children should be castrated, with a rusty fork... heck, call me on a free day and I'll do it myself.

But if I were to see cartoons (example: Bart Simpson) having sex or in a sexually suggestive position, I would laugh and should not be charged with viewing child porn... because thats just absurd.

While I do agree that from all the people who view actual child porn, some will want to go ahead and try it out and thus that endangers children,In this case what was the translator going to do? buy a giant float of Mickey mouse and hump it? NO cartoons will be hurt in the production of THAT movie.

It makes no sense and I'm betting this law was passed at a time just to get more votes from moron voters.
18:56 July 25, 2010 by CarlBlack
I'd like to know how does the court find out that the manga character is below 18. Just from wearing the typical Japanese high school uniform? Just from typical pictures I'd guess ages 13-22, no way to say more from a simple cartoon.
19:32 July 25, 2010 by locaxy
"The translator's lawyer, Leif Silbersky, expressed surprise at June 30th ruling and lodged a formal appeal on behalf of his client. "It goes against all common sense. These are just drawings; no children have been harmed," he told Upsala Nya Tidning. "

Ha-ha! Common sense goes out the window when children are involved. People lose all sense of proportion.

See glamelixir's OMG for an illustration.
20:15 July 25, 2010 by dobermann
To glamelixir

I can't agree with you. There is a huge difference betwean a real photography(and all those action before you can do it) and drawing. If someone can draw that kind of stuff, it doesn't mean that he likes it. There are people who get paid for theyr skills, so they do that for living and beleave me there is no moral difference betwean drawing an all killing vampire or serial killer or children related stories. If you want I can personally draw that kind of stuff and send to you and to some public sites, and dont be afraid to take responcibility of that because I know differences betwean photography and drawings.
22:27 July 25, 2010 by eZee.se
To see just how retarded this has gotten see this article concerning the London Olympics:


And if you look at the logo, you have possibly committed the crime of viewing child porn according to UK law.

Honestly, is this how demented, we, as a society are?
23:25 July 25, 2010 by Sjayna
Sick men need sick mangas like Lolicon, Shotacon, Guro, Hentai...
00:45 July 26, 2010 by eZee.se
I only heard of manga and hentai, no idea what the others are (I'm not into that kind of stuff) so I wont comment on your comment, but as for the Lisa logo:

(Google is your friend!)

04:49 July 26, 2010 by glamelixir
@ dobermann

Ehhh... WHAT?

I don't really understand the point of your comment.... and how it is directed or related to mine... don't know if you missunderstood something or if it is your lack of skills in english... ehhhh..mmm.. what?????? Whatever, no thank you, I don't want you to send me anything....or get in touch with me in any kind of way.
05:27 July 26, 2010 by AussieAndy
Those manga & hentai drawings are for sick pedophiles.
08:28 July 26, 2010 by Flappytango
funny place this sweden..

take legal actions against this guy for downloading (not drawing and distributing) some sicko comics but as of a year ago collect, preserve, and distribute actual child porn in the national library!

Swedish national library reported for child porn


Swedish national library in child porn scandal

09:36 July 26, 2010 by dobermann
To glamelixir

Sometimes it's quite difficult for me to express my opinion through writing, so I will try again.

''No you can not draw anything related to child pornography to sell it becaues you are engouraging it!!! You can't compare religion to child porn!''

Yes I can if I want. Because I draw and no actual child is harmed.

(If I can't draw what I want, then welcome to the end of democracy, the same with writing, talking and expressing yourself in general)

I am not sure about encouraging, because there are a lot of different types of media( movies, comics, even books) where fiction people commit crimes such as murder, robbery, cheat and etc. and it doesn't mean, that people after watching a movie o reading o comic book will go and act like that.

That's the main point I can't understand, why some types of behavior are allowed to show in media and some types not.

''Whatever, no thank you, I don't want you to send me anything....or get in touch with me in any kind of way. ''

I am not going to send you anything . I just wanted to say, that if I draw, it doesn't mean that I am encourage someone to act against the law nor that I like what I draw.

And this particular case, when translator was fined for possesing that kind of comics is absurd. On the other side it would be absolutely ok to send him to jail if he was possesing photos of children pornography
10:58 July 26, 2010 by locaxy
@dobermann: "and no actual child is harmed."

Well...I'm no lawyer but it seems that's not an acceptable argument in modern society. Say I light up a joint in my garden...I'm not harming anybody but myself, and yet the cops could come and bust me.

I don't know at which turn the world has gone crazy, but I think it's the relics of religion. Let's not forget that gay people were persecuted not too long ago (and still are to a lesser extent).

The judge who made this decision needs to go. In fact, anyone who's been wasting taxpayer money to prosecute a cartoon (however sick it may be) has to be fired for not using common sense. Not holding my breath though...
11:56 July 26, 2010 by dobermann
@locaxy : '' Say I light up a joint in my garden...I'm not harming anybody but myself, and yet the cops could come and bust me.''

I think it's a little bit different, because that kind of action has deeper consequenses. If you buy weed, it means , that you support criminal word, you can become a drug addict and after that you would be very expencive for goverment(police, anti drug programs and etc.) , but these are only variations, because you can also grow weed by yourself and try to smoke it one time in your life without bigger consequenses..

''In fact, anyone who's been wasting taxpayer money to prosecute a cartoon ''

It seems that's true..
15:22 July 26, 2010 by locaxy
@Dobermann: "I think it's a little bit different, because that kind of action has deeper consequenses. If you buy weed, it means , that you support criminal word, you can become a drug addict and after that you would be very expencive for goverment(police, anti drug programs and etc.)"

Absolutely not!

it's only different if you view cannabis as something criminal. If you were to view hentai as criminal, then its possession supports the "criminal" world, and you can potentially become a sex addict and be very expensive for the government.

See...if you believe the "gateway drug" principle, then surely you must be able to see how the same reasoning can be applied to cartoons of kids having sex, and how owning hentai can potentially lead a person to become a child molester. And this stupid "gateway" reasoning (be it applied to cannabis or hentai) is the core issue in both cases. And it's bs in both cases. Cartoons don't lead to abusing children anymore than cannabis leads to shooting heroin!

The laws in this society are inconsistent. You just can't see it because your views have been shaped by propaganda.

And just to be clear, I neither smoke herb nor watch porn cartoons.
17:44 July 26, 2010 by dobermann
To locaxy

Now I got your point althought I don't fully agree with your statement.

I neither smoke nor watch porn cartoons too, I have a life:)

It will be interesting to hear the decision of the court.
00:56 July 27, 2010 by Authentica
Totally agree with glamelixir.

@doberman: Try to think this way: Those who like to watch cartoons of children having sex are sick. Those who draw those cartoons CATER to those sickos, not to mention they, too, are sick. So, to make my point even clearer, I would like to sh#t on the freedom of such expression.

P.S. I also sh#t on Pokemon, Bakugan and any other stupid japanese cartoon. I with they get banned from showing in Sweden.
01:19 July 27, 2010 by Hydra
Authentica and glamelixir, I do hope you guys arent being serious here, or else you must be utter morons and I honestly feel ashamed reading your stupid comments.

Ok, first of all, lets make one thing clear. I hope you DO realize that most of these pictures, maybe even all of them, are pictures of girls that look like they are like 14-18 years old. Right, so you are saying its SICK to feel attracted to the body of a 16 year old girl? No its not, its NORMAL. Here, let me spell it out for you one more time: NORMAL. And since NO girls are getting harmed in any way its ridiculous that legal action has to be taken against this harmless man.

And oh, even if it is girls that look like they are 10 years old, thats still not sick. Pedophiles cant help that they are attracted to kids, its not their fault. Implying that these people are sick is the same thing as saying that homosexuals are sick. Because I hope you can understand that being a pedophile is not the same thing as being a rapist. So then, please tell where the harm is in watching sexual drawings of kids. Who is getting hurt? Now please tell me, Im dying to know!
12:06 July 27, 2010 by Mr. Puppy
@Sjayna I happen to know several women that like all four of those things. It's not just men. And they're not sick, as what they are attracted to are DRAWINGS and they know they are fake, and if they saw those things in real life they would be freaked out and not turned on, because there is a huge difference between fantasy and reality, and reading manga like those doesn't cause anyone to blur the lines between fantasy and reality.

I think it's disgusting that this translator was fined for downloading DRAWINGS. Even if the law in question used to prosecute the translator was meant to protect children in general, that means REAL CHILDREN, not imaginary characters who happen to vaguely resemble children (manga drawings don't even look like real people).

It's also bizarre that people in such a conservative society like Japan can fantasize in freedom but people in the so-called 'sexually liberated' Sweden are subject to thought police. Is it really 2010?

Well, as has come up already, cannabis is still illegal and not tolerated by the law in Sweden despite never killing anyone and despite the gateway drug theory being disproved by scientists... so I guess we can't expect logic to prevail when it comes to moral panics without base in reality.

And to add another cannabis metaphor here I would say that this is more like if someone drew a picture of a joint and then someone else downloaded that picture online and got fined for downloading 'drug paraphernilia'... the ridiculousness of that scenario should show the ridiculousness of the scenario in this news item.
14:59 July 27, 2010 by Raiha
@ glamelixir and authentica

Should everyone who read Nabokov's Lolita also be charged with a criminal offense?
15:28 July 27, 2010 by SteveMD
This is a very worrying state of affairs. People in Sweden are being convicted for having bad taste? Now the state can dictate what you are allowed to think about...

What is really appalling, is that other countries, like the U.K., have followed Sweden's example on this law and instead of laughing such proposals out of parliament, have passed a very similar law here. Now U.K. citizens can be convicted of exercising bad taste, in private, a "crime" which harms no one, but apparently must be punished "for the sake of the (cartoon) children".

In my opinion, any judge that willingly goes along with this law is a moral coward and does not deserve their position of authority and trust.
17:06 July 27, 2010 by Sjayna
@Mr Puppy Even a mentally ill person can have a normal/high IQ meaning they know the paintings are fake...Maybe in your reality the people who like pictures as http://img10.hostingpics.net/pics/334607lolicon_hentai.jpg

are mentally healthy people, according me they are in need of professional help. Send me some pictures by you known children and I paint some unforgettable mangas which you can hang up on the wall... For me this is not an issue about moral...I only want to get rid of some millions of dirty minds,mostly guys, impossible to be cured.
17:30 July 27, 2010 by LeoKinmann
@ Sjayna

The kids on the pictures you mentioned, are they supposed to be naked and presented in a sexual way or not? And on your manga, can you recognize the real kids the drawing depicts? If the answer is yes on any of them, then you are committing a crime and fall into the category of those who require professional help.
17:53 July 27, 2010 by Hydra
@ Sjayna

"Maybe in your reality the people who like pictures as http://img10.hostingpics.net/pics/334607lolicon_hentai.jpg

are mentally healthy people, according me they are in need of professional help."

Haha, you dont say huh. Are homosexuals also people in need of professional help? Im just curious of what you think.
18:10 July 27, 2010 by SteveMD
To ban something because it might, in the opinion of a few, cause a mentally unbalanced person to commit a crime is, in itself, insane. There are known to be such a wide range of triggers for the unstable criminal that it would mean banning almost everything. Ian Brady got off on images of the holocaust, Al Bundy collected, perfectly legal, cheerleader magazines, Peter Sutcliffe was "inspired" by the Bible, should we ban that too?

We also have to factor into the equation that many western people, unfamiliar with manga, might assume most of the faces drawn there are of children, when those who know the genre are well aware that is not the case at all. so, although in this case they might have been images meant to be children, it still endangers others, a much, much larger group, who view manga images not meant to be children.

Whatever your viewpoint on the above, how can it be right that the state can punish an individual when the state cannot show credible evidence that the individual has caused or is even in danger of causing harm? Laws like this are true "thought crimes", they punish people for what the lawmakers think they are thinking.
23:36 July 27, 2010 by Sezren
There seem to be some evil (because they want to punish innocents) people who claim that anybody possessing/reading/whatever sexual depictions which include "minors" is a pedophile.

I am against censorship. And regarding this case lets give an example:

A cartoon or manga author makes a piece of art. So (s)he creates a story which of course contains dramatic scenes. Now what makes something dramatic in the eye of the reader? Something which will touch them emotionally in a strong way. Incidentally this is also the kind of stuff some people try to outlaw. So here this author may come up with a scene where a "cute little innocent child" is brutally raped by some "bad guy".

What can this author do? Make the art and hide it (still criminal according to such laws) or get thrown into prison. Or dont make the art at all. Or somehow water it down (like not showing the scene even if that is inconsistent with the style). But then its compromised, is not really art anymore.
08:58 July 28, 2010 by tyciol
I think censoring the media is an extremely bad idea. This is exemplified in cases involving fictional characters where it is clearly "thoughtcrime" because we can not link this to any specific exploitation or suffering.
22:18 July 28, 2010 by Sjayna
One's perception of reality can destroy so much.
23:24 July 28, 2010 by Sezren
17:06 July 27, 2010 by Sjayna

"For me this is not an issue about moral...I only want to get rid of some millions of dirty minds,mostly guys, impossible to be cured."

I only want to get rid of some millions of evil(*) minds, mostly humans, dont know if they can be cured.

(*) Those that dont care about morals and take it upon themselves to dictate what others may think and take it upon themselves to decide what is "dirty".
17:43 July 30, 2010 by Icarusty
I don't see why he felt the need to draw/download such images, just take a trip over there or to a similar Far Eastern country and every dirty white male's fantasy will be fulfilled, legally.
05:17 December 26, 2010 by fafdsfr
@Icarusty "I don't see why he felt the need to draw/download such images"

He's a translator, he's taking the Japanese versions and translating them to English, so those of us who don't know Japanese can understand what's going on.

Now to prepare a flame shield.

We'll use the comment made at 23:36 July 27, 2010 by Sezren

The author makes that dramatic scene.

We, as the reader, read that dramatic scene.

We, as the reader, feel an emotional response, perhaps that the bad guy is REALLY bad.

If we don't understand what's being said, we can't feel that emotional response.

The art is ruined.

If the reader still wants it, even if they don't know what's going on, then yes, it is likely the reader is a pedophile. No, that does not mean he should be arrested.

Most of us wouldn't read it though, because we don't know what's going on.
Today's headlines
US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Swedish pharmacies restrict paracetamol sales for teens
The move is intended to cut paracetamol overdoses. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available