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The Strange World of Child Pornography Laws


There’s been a lot of discussion about child pornography statutes, including the 200 year sentence of an Arizona teacher for possession of such materials (details here). But a few new worldwide developments highlight some interesting differences:

This story is quite interesting. Two teenagers (ages 16 & 17) took some nude photos of themselves and emailed them to each other. Somehow they were discovered and a criminal prosecution followed for production and possession of child pornography. There was no evidence that the defendant (apparently only the female was charged) had distributed the images outside of her boyfriend and the only images in question were of her. Under a Florida precedent, the teens could not be charged for having sex, but the Florida First District Court of Appeals upheld the child pornography prosecution. Thus, the defendant will endure the label of being a sex offender for life because she took some nude photos of herself. Update: The opinion is here; the child abuse chapter of Florida Statutes is here.

This story reports on a possible new law in Hungary which would allow personal possession of child pornography for images of children aged 14-17 years. Many argue that much of the child pornography is produced and distributed from Russia and Europe (and it was briefly legal in Denmark back in the 1970s), thus, this development is curious.

• Finally, this story, reports that the Netherlands may prosecute virtual child pornography under existing laws. Of course, the Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Ashcroft v. The Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002).


Hopefully, in the case of the "child pornographer", cooler heads will prevail. Why in the world would a prosecutor want to waste his or her time with nonsense like this? And why would the prosecutor want to be that cruel? Sometimes you wonder how people live with themselves.

I was under the impression that criminal laws couldn't be used against those they're intended to protect.

To pose an answer to your question, federalist: moralism and a sense that one is justified sticking one's nose in the private business of others. Cf. Lawrence v. Texas.

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