Fan Fiction Author Charged With Obscenity In The UK

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

Apparently, it's not just the US that has decided to jump back into the murky waters of charging people with obscenity charges for stuff they put online. Over in the UK, a guy is facing an obscenity charge for a bit of fiction that he wrote. There are communities of folks online who often write fiction involving "famous" characters, whether from TV or movies or, in some cases, from real life. The whole concept, frankly, strikes me as a little bit odd, but for those who want to do it, I don't see why they shouldn't be allowed to do so. In this case, the guy wrote some apparently graphic fiction about a band in the UK and is now being charged with publishing obscene materials. If he loses, I would imagine that there are large groups of folks who post this sort of (yes, ridiculously distasteful) stuff online, who could be facing similar charges. I have enough difficulty understanding obscenity laws that go after people in online communities where the content is, in no way, pushed on others -- but it seems even more bizarre to include obscenity charges for fictional writing.
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Filed Under: community standards, fan fiction, obscenity, uk

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  1. identicon
    Milan Olofsson, 23 Oct 2008 @ 11:51am

    Re: re: this article and public opinions

    Chris wrote:

    There should be a central website for fanfiction of this nature. On it, a disclaimer that explains by no means are any of the contained stories fact or true.

    It’s on the Kristen’s Putrid Stories section of the Alt Sex Stories Text Repository website, and the disclaimer is there, clear and strong.

    This case is significantly different to the one involving Paul Little (Max Hardcore). America has always had an uneasy relationship with things like pornography and gambling. It’s a fundamental tension between the freedoms upon which the country was founded and a, possibly misguided, religion-driven desire to protect people from themselves. The case of Paul Little is a small move in the tug-of-war between the two.

    The case of Darryn Walker and his story, Girls (Scream) Aloud, is closer to that of Karen Fletcher of Pennsylvania and her Red Rose Stories website. This case highlights a worrying trend. The rise of the Thought Crime. It’s particularly worrying in the UK, because there is no First Amendment-like backstop. Rizwaan Sabir, a student preparing for a PhD on radical Islamic groups, along with a member of university staff, arrested for possessing an al-Qaeda handbook downloaded from a US government website. Robul Hoque convicted of possessing, not publishing, non-real images of child abuse downloaded from an on-line comic strip. When section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 is brought into force, it will become illegal to possess many BDSM images that portray acts that are, themselves, legal to perform.

    I don’t think there’s any chance of the case against Walker standing up in court. Close to the start of the story, we have this sentence.

    It was purely by chance then, that I stumbled across the most fantastic eBay offer I had ever set my eyes upon: Genuine Girls Aloud body parts plus a DVD of all five girls’ murder with every purchase.

    eBay is used in the same sort of running jokes in the UK that it is in the US. You can’t sell that? You can on eBay! Eg. Weird Al Yankovic’s song eBay; the Lancashire Hotpots’ song eBay ’Eck. That puts Walker’s story close to the genre of comic horror. No-one’s going to be able to take it seriously. But, that doesn’t matter. The mere possibility of arrest will increase individual self-censorship on the Internet.

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