back to article Brooke Shields pic exposes real/online rift

Police advice to the Tate Modern Art Gallery, that one of the pictures in their current "Pop Life" exhibition may be child porn, and therefore illegal to display, highlights yet again the difficulty of policing this sort of material in an internet age. The picture in question is Spiritual America, by reputable photographer …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the law

    is, always has been, and always will be, bullshit.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who possesses it currently?

    Yes, we know that enforcing laws in meatspace works differently to in cyberspace, but more importantly, why weren't the people in possession of the photo charged? That is what the law demands.

  3. awhit

    Van Halen - Balance

    Would the Van Halen Album cover for Balance be an issue. If so where do we stop?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    You gotta wonder about censors' motives

    When a person sees a picture of a child and proclaims that some people will find it sexually arousing, it says more about that person making the proclamation than it does other people.

    There is no doubt that if a normal, healthy, well-adjusted adult sees a child naked that is all they see: a naked child. When people react with disgust to the thought of naked children then there really is something going wrong with the thought processes in their head.

    I'd bet that they see the nakedness, and are intrigued themselves, maybe even titillated, and they hate this reaction so express disgust. Disgust that is aimed at their own feelings.

    And these are the exact people that drive these stupid policies and organisations like the IWF.

    One more thing - when the IWF does its censorship they use proxies to send fake 404 messages to users. Therefore, if you are on an ISP who is a member of the IWF and you see a 404 on any website, it may be your ISP messing with the site rather than a missing file on the server. So call up your ISP and confirm if the 404 is real or fake, and waste the time and money of these censors.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Must be missing part of the article


    I do not understand the REAL?ONLINE RIFT comment, nor the part "This conflict of means and objectives does, nonetheless, serve to highlight a continuing tension in the law, that is likely to prevail as long as individuals are subject to prosecution for possession of certain images, irrespective of intent."

    Are you saying that this photo is 'art' and thus should be allowable? Or are you suggesting that the current law is wrong and if so in what way?

    I'm quite puzzled by this article.

  6. Ben Morgan

    Double Standards

    So if the law states that mere possession of the electronic version of the picture is an offence then how can possession of a physical representation not carry the same weight of the law? The police visited the Tate and advised them not to display the picture. They did not, apparently, advice them to destroy the image or confiscate it.

  7. Neil Cooper

    Protection of children

    Firstly let me state clearly that I don't agree with child porn or child exploitation in any way.

    That said, as Ms Sheilds is currently over 40 years old (i.e. not a child), and also a figure who intentionally puts themselves in the public eye to make money, and also probably herself is allowing this to be shown, what child are we actually protecting here by banning this art under the child protection act?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    How does the old saying go?

    If it's blurred, it's art. If it's in focus, it's porn.

  9. GeorgeTuk

    I will give the modern artists their art but...

    ...this cannot be art. Its just glorified kiddie porn.

    I don't really like modern art but it doesn't mean it can't exist as other people like it. But this is just not art, if it was on the internet it would be indecent (as article says) so why should it be any different just because it is in an exhibition.

    I know its probably only one picture but it seems sensible to remove.

    As for the US showing it...thats just classic of their standing on many things.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    It's OK, the police are here to make sure galleries do not "cause any offence to their visitors".

    Gosh, because I really wouldn't want an art gallery to challenge my sensibilities would I.


    The original photo, taken by her mother, who later manages to manufacture stardom for her child is a sorry portrait of contemporary society. In the typical viewer, the piece illicits sadness and disgust, even more so when you realise that this must have been one of the many steps to fame.

    But let's ban it anyway, in case the paedos hear about it. Oh wait, they already have.

  11. Mike Moyle

    Now there's a question...

    Is the picture in question by any chance the shot of Ms Shields, as Violet -- a girl growing up in a New Orleans brothel around 1920 - 1920 -- in the Louis Malle film"Pretty Baby" (1976)?

    I seem to recall her being served up on a silver platter for the client who's getting her first time.

    Interestingly, if so, the film is certified "18" in the UK.

    Thus it would seem that anyone over 18 can see the film, but not possess a copy of it.

    See the icon at left for my opinion if this in fact the case...

  12. BeachBoy

    Sad reflection on society

    I had never heard of this picture, and of course the first thing I did was google it to see what the fuss is about.

    The picture itself shows nothing that virtually every under ten year old child in Europe doesn't display on a beach every summer (ie no genitals are visible)

    Its a sad reflection on our society when we are now retrospectively censoring art. Where will this stop? Ruben's paintings in the national gallery getting little fig leaves added? Greek and roman statues being given pants to wear?

    These people should go out and get a life, This is not a problem in the more liberated rest of Europe, where icidently they have lower levels of sex related crimes.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Country's gone stark raving mad...

    I'm retired now, and the temptation to emigrate to some other country becomes greater every year.

    For the last few years I've watched this country go totally bonkers. If it all wasn't so dangerous it would actually be funny. Vested and corrupt interests control our lives more thoroughly than Big Brother might ever have hoped for, and a compliant Mr Plod - bereft these days of a glimmer of common sense - makes criminals of ordinary citizens. 'Public servants' tell ME what to do rather than the other way around - I've given up voting as it counts for nothing.

    Frankly I'm actually glad I'm not young any more - my heart goes out to a new generation trying to make sense of a society taken over by madmen. Everyone has lost the plot - including me, increasingly...

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Think of the children

    I am.....

    Oh, I see the problem.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Child Porn

    The Icon used is a picture of a nude child provocativly posed lying on a wite sledge in a blizard with a black helicopter in the forground. The occupents of the helicopter are intent on aresting the photographer rather than resquing the child from incipiant hyperthemia.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ GeorgeTuk

    "As for the US showing it...thats just classic of their standing on many things." - You mean, a far more sensible sanding?

  17. mike panero


    If I cooked a bit of toast and by some miracle an image of a naked child should appear on it, would I go to jail mummy?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the Met - judge, jury, and (literally) executioner

    "to ensure that they do not inadvertently break the law or cause any offence to their visitors".

    Does the name Ian Tomlinson mean anything to these people? Is a picture of his dying moments following unprovoked assault from a Met officer (as with many others, illegally not wearing any ID, but none have been disciplined or charged) likely to be considered 'likely to cause offence'? 'Cos I find the folks in the Met offensive, but then I'm not a Met officer so I don't get to enforce my views.

    J C de Menezes etc too. Too many to list. The Met want the same treatment as the RUC, they're about as out of control.

  19. Justin S.
    Thumb Down

    When in doubt, go with the 'classics.'

    Fig leaves for everyone!

  20. Marcelo Rodrigues

    THAT's a sad state of affairs...

    When we are reduced to even discuss if some child nude is porn. It should be obvious! Does anyone here think twice about an adult picture - to know if ti is, or isn't, pornographic? Or are we deciding that NUDE is porn by itself?

    Much worse, in my opinion, it's that famous picture from Vietnam. That one, with the burned girl running and screaming. How can anyone complain about the Brooke Shield's picture and accept that one to be published worldwide?

    Just to clarify: I believe BOTH should be allowed. I did NOT got aroused by the Sield's picture - and the Vietnam one is good to remember us the horrors of war.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Alan 6

    Porn vs Art

    Just like the furore surrounding Lady Chatterly's Lover only kicked off when the paperback (read plabs) edition was published, this issue only occurs when the so-called child porn is exposed to the gaze of the unwashed masses.

    If this picture of Brooke Shields is porn then we'd best burn all of Jock Sturges work, as much of it includes small children in little or no clothing (definitely NSFW)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That is not art

    That's not art. If that was really taken when she was 10, what were her parents thinking?

    It shouldn't be displayed. And yes, I'm a parent.

  24. Ermie Mercer

    Taken during a movie shoot?

    About 25 years ago, I was watching a rented video titled "Pretty Baby" starring Ms. Shields. Near the end was a brief (maybe 5 second) scene exactly matching the description of this picture. It struck me as gratuitous at the time, not really essential to the story being told. I wonder if that's where the picture was taken.

  25. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down

    Problem is Broken Law

    This is why looking at pictures, no matter how objectionable one may find the subject matter, should not be criminalised.

    If a child actually was abused in the making of the picture, then fair enough: go and prosecute the person who abused the child. And if the person who looks at the picture goes on actually to abuse a child, then again fair enough: go and prosecute the person who abused the child.

    But mediæval superstition notwithstanding, the subject of a picture does not somehow become further abused everytime some other person looks at that picture. And given how many people see pictures of sports cars and don't go on to break speed limits, I think it's unlikely that one peek at an image of a child is going to turn anyone into a nonce. Most people who did cop an eyeful wouldn't admit to it anyway unless they were already in real trouble (say, on suspicion of actually abusing a child) and there was no plausible way to deny it.

    Anyway, if some sicko is going to get his filthy little rocks off, frankly I'd rather he did so into a box of Kleenex.

  26. Christoph

    It's OK if you're a gallery?

    If the gallery deliberately imports this picture, the police will "work with gallery management to ensure that they do not inadvertently break the law"

    If an individual inadvertently views this picture on the internet and immediately closes that page, but it is later found in their cache, the police will destroy that person's life.

  27. Clarissa

    More proof (as if it were needed)...

    ... that the law of possession is an ass - something that should surely be obvious to anyone with the ability to think rationally . Simply possessing an image such as this should not lead to someone being branded a pervert or guiltly of an unprovable thought crime regardless of what irrational, emotional muppets think.

  28. Man Outraged

    There IS no rift!

    John, I don't believe there is a rift here.

    Possession of indecent images of children, in whatever form, be it electronic or print, is a criminal offence.

    As far as I'm aware, this is a "strict liability" offence, meaning outside of a very few well-defined statutory defences possession is a crime.

    I don't believe artistic merit is a defence, therefore if the police advised it to be removed from display they should also have arrested and charged the owner or keeper of the work and left the rest to the courts.

    No rift - it's either illegal, in which case you can't own or view it via the internet or in print.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Neil Cooper

    It should be noted that Ms Shields does not condone the use of this picture. In fact, for some years she has been trying (and failing) to regain the rights and ownership of the original, in order to suppress or discourage its use.

    This is nothing to do with the legality or not of the image, but she does not support it being shown.

  30. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Blue Lagoon

    By the same token, and staying with Ms Shields, I would expect anyone in possession of a copy of "The Blue Lagoon" to be wary of plod, as well.

  31. Julian I-Do-Stuff

    @Ben Morgan

    Indeed. It surely - at minimum - requires them to take it away until such time as it is deemed legal or illegal.

    Though what the police's role in helping to spare anyone from "causing offence" is unclear - I see hopeful signs there... maybe Mr Plod will intervene to stop e.g. Home Secretary, PM, etc. from causing offence with stupid policies...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem is the ambigiuty

    The problem here is not whether the picture is illegal or not, but that the law is sufficiently ambiguous to make innocent people appear criminals.

    What if I had a photography of myself naked as a toddler? As a 50-year-old adult, I can state that no abuse was involved, and I don't give a fig who sees it, nor what they do with it. But the law is so ambiguous that I can (a) be arrested (b) labelled a paedophile (even though its a photo of myself!) (c) lose my job and my house (d) Be stigmatised with the labels for the rest of my life.

    No law should do that to its citizens. For the ignoramuses reading this, no, I'm not saying you remove the law, I'm saying that you are more clear and logical in its implementation.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OMG, I've seen a naked child!

    You'll have to come and arrest me. Shit, and my wife. And my parents. Oh, and my Doctor (always thought he was a pervert, he's been far too intimate with my wife).

    Little known fact: there is a way you can always spot a peadophile! It's when someone looks at a picture of a naked child and says, "That's disgusting, we must ban it!" Ask yourself, "What are they thinking?"

  34. Mike Moyle

    Ah... Just reread the article...

    The photo is, in fact, NOT from the movie "Pretty Baby"... Which doesn't change the point that a movie with a scene of a pre-pubescent Ms Shields being served up naked (or at, most, in lingerie) at a brothel appears to be legal to view, but not to own.

    "Fail" for my original misreading of the source of the photo.

  35. EvilJason
    Thumb Down

    how soon till....

    How many classic art are now going to be destroyed because they feature nake paintings of children and child like cherbs and such?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Risky in the UK

    The photo was not taken by Brooke Shields' mother - it was one of a series taken by a photographer named Garry Gross. Brooke Shields' mother was paid $450 by Playboy Press for a series of such photos by Gross. Brooke Shields later tried to prevent further publication of the photos when she was 16 via court action but failed.

    The "art" in question was a photograph of Gross's original photograph, taken and reworked by Richard Prince, who then presents it as his art.

    I'm not in the UK and have seen the photos in question: If you had such photos of a 10 year old girl in the UK, you would likely be arrested.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    too late...

    if you type "brooke shields" into google, its the second-to-top suggestion.

  38. John Ozimek

    The Point (@ AC 15.37)

    I though there might be some question around what i was getting at. I do actually think that this picture breaches the law. Whether the law should be precisely as it is is another matter. First, and i wasn't particulary having a go at the Met or the IWF, this incident does point up a real/online rift simply becuase it is much easier to police and control a single image in a gallery than multiple images on the international web. That is a fact of life but undoubtebly it leads some pedants to question law.

    In respect of the law itself I'm always slightly queasy about the introduction of the principle of strict liability to such a serious matter. Of course a requirement to prove intent in respect of such material would cause some difficulties in some cases but to be honest almost only in the most marginal cases. If you talk to forensic experts or if you look at charge sheets you tend to find that the true paedophile does not restrict their interest to a handful of level one images but tends to collect avidly across the range.

    The grey area opened up by the ability to prosecute soley on level1 images without need to demonstrate intent may actually contribute to a weakening of public support for the law in this area and is therefore counter productive.

  39. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    Crown Prosecution Service

    I read that as "Clown Prosecution Service." I'm guessing I'm not the first one.

  40. Pablo

    The Rift

    I don't think it's a rift between online and offline so much as a rift between what people think the law is about, and what the law actually says.

    First of all, there is the claimed purpose of protecting children, but it doesn't take a genius to see the law is way off the mark if that is goal.

    I think what most people really want is to outlaw paedophilia. That is, make it a crime to have sexual thoughts about children. But for both practical and ethical reasons, the law can't actually do that.

    So, instead they just outlaw pictures a paedophile might enjoy looking at, and everybody pretends they outlawed paedophilia instead.

    The net result is that sometimes the law is enforced as people think it is, and someone can be convicted or totally ignored based only on whether they seem like a peado or not, and other times, it's enforced as actually written and everyone is shocked to discover that a naked toddler in the bathtub could be considered illegal.

    I'm not sure which is worse.

  41. Richard Cassidy
    Big Brother

    Blind Faith

    Time to arrest all the elderly hippies with a copy of the Blind Faith LP. Partly just for being elderly hippies, but also because of the cover image (as seen at Amazon, for any youngsters who don't remember all this).

  42. h4rm0ny

    Ms. Shields' Feelings

    Quite frankly, the subjects feelings are what matter most. If she were happy for the work to be displayed, and just considered it just "something that she did" when she was ten, then it should probably be allowed. (That said, I haven't seen it and whilst pictures of naked children are not inherently pornographic, this one - posed provocatively and made up - does sound v. bad). Still, a ten year old child can't give informed consent and if Ms. Shields says the photograph is against her wishes then that should be an end to it - get rid of the picture.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a requirement to prove intent

    "a requirement to prove intent in respect of such material would cause some difficulties in some cases but to be honest almost only in the most marginal cases"

    What are we talking about here? Intent to masturbate? Intent to commit a thought crime? Do you honestly think that replacing "strict liability" by some kind of intent to commit a thought crime would improve things?

    No, just get rid of the stupid law!

  44. Anonymous Coward


    Any law that can be broken 'inadvertently' is a bad law.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    @Neil Cooper

    The law, right or wrong, applies to all images no matter how old as the intention, missplaced or not, is to prevent any being possessed and thus remove the motivation for the creation of new ones and so theoretically protecting children.

    There may be some logic in this but .......

    as recent case shows - BIG FAIL

  46. Andy ORourke

    @That is not art

    "That's not art. If that was really taken when she was 10, what were her parents thinking?"

    Answer - $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  47. Frank Fisher

    Ah, but *is* it indecent?

    "I don't believe artistic merit is a defence"

    Ah, but it may come into play when deciding if the image is "indecent". I dont' think it's as clear cut as John. I've seen the image too and it's absolutely true that this looks to pop out of the top of the the Level 1 at first consideration; she's naked, though artfully posed, she's made up and pouting - it's absolutely a sexualised look for a ten year old girl; but on the other hand, this is what the artist was intending to show - that the gaze can be warped with a pout and lick of paint, that you can see "wantonness" where there is none.


    Now, if the image has a purpose *beyond* itself - and that's pretty much a definition of art - does it remain "indecent"? Doesn't it perhaps matter which eye falls on it? Doesn't it perhaps matter, what you are thinking?

    I'd say it does - and that's why the law, and those who enforce it, are asses. Confine illegality to *real* images of *real* child abuse, and you remove all grey areas - focus on "indecency" and this absurdity will never end. For instance, what about *paintings*? Oh boy....

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Perhaps the Duke of York might shed some light on the matter, after all didn't he have a 'fling' with Ms Shields, a point which seems to have been, erm, overlooked this week, can't imagine why.

    Oh wait ....

  49. Andus McCoatover

    Seen it, but watch out!

    There's absolutely nothing that would make me 'randy', etc. No genitalia visible. Can't understand it. Just a non-revealing photo of a pretty girl. Art.*

    BUT, if you google for the picture, some returned sites have hijacked it to the "Warning - your computer is infected" shit. Obviously, pressing the (in my case) Peruuta - close - button runs the scam anyway. Amazingly, even killing it in a second amazingly reported 200+ infections. Astounding!! Now, Microsoft needs to write code that efficient. If they had, Vista would've succeeded.

    (Pub computer, natch. Mine runs Linux).

    * Oh, if the plods removed it is in their wank^W tea room now?

  50. Ian 11

    No-win for the IWF

    The fact the IWF can end up in such no-win situations is evidence enough that the existence of the IWF is in fact pointless and a waste of time.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tate Modern *has* visitors?

    Now it does...

  52. Anonymous Coward

    Streisand Effect

    What it says on the tin.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nudity is not indecency

    Nudity is not indecency, as anyone with kids will know. Do you close your eyes when you help clothe and bathe them?

    By the same analogy, adult nudity should turn us all into rapists.

    My naked baby photos are not indecent, and destroying them would have zero effect on my protection, or anyone else's.

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Pretty Baby

    Region 2 PAL version available from for £2.98.

    Surely questions should be asked in The House ?

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ A J Stiles

    The argument for criminalisation of possession of indecent images is that the demand for the images causes an increase in the supply of those images.

    I am not here to discuss the merits of this picture, I have not seen it and I have no intention of seeing it. If it is technically kiddieporn then I really don't want to see it and if it is a harmless picture of a 10 year old girl in makeup then I also don't want to see it. Nor am I saying that the current definitions of child porn are correct, valid, helpful, pointless or anything else. Neither am I addressing the point at which photos become abuse (not the act in the photo).

    However it is clear that were there no demand for [proper*] child porn there would be no child porn and therefore a reduction in child abuse. It is clear to me also that an argument that the abuse has already occurred and it is no worse if 1 person looks at the picture or 10,000 do so is without merit as a defence.

    *where abuse is definitely taking place.

  56. Doug Southworth


    To all the people saying that the surest way to spot a paedo is show them a pic of a naked youth and see who yells the loudest, isn't is just as plausible that you who are OK with a piece of "art" such as this are just more cleverly disguised kiddie fiddlers? I mean, why else would you assert so adamantly that you have the right to see other peoples children naked?

    Just a though...

  57. Equitas

    Mad, mad, mad.

    What possessed Brooke Shields' mother to have such photos taken is an interesting question -- it clearly can't have been an innocent record of childhood. On the other hand, was it her mother's drive that was the architect of Brooke Shields' subsequent acting success?

    However, having said that, if it hadn't been for this most recent ban, how many people would have seen the pictures? Declaring them illegal has caused millions to view them who would otherwise never have even heard of them. Does that say something about the extent to which the "guardians of public morals" are in touch with the real world.

    What those putative guardians of public morality have done in taking such a public action is likely to have a counter-productive effect.

    I'm not sure that the fact that her exact age is of central importance -- what's relevant is that she was manifestly pre-pubertal. The overwhelming majority of the adult population are heterosexual and not have no paedophilic leanings. This sort of fuss is likely to have the effect of stirring up a prurient curiosity about paedophilia.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old masters

    And while you are down at the Tate Gallery, Inspector Plod, get them to cover up all those Titians and Rembrandts with their naked cherubs flaunting their charms at the great British public.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Images increase demand?

    A J Stiles wrote: "The argument for criminalisation of possession of indecent images is that the demand for the images causes an increase in the supply of those images"

    The issue is whether an increase in actual physical abuse takes place. What if I have a photo of myself as a child, completely naked. I don't consider it indecent, and I consent (as an adult) to let you, or anyone else, look at it.

    I may have an entire photo album of me running around on a beach naked, posing, even playing (as kids do) with my dingaling. No abuse took place, and they are not indecent. Myself, and many other naturist families consider them natural, innocent pictures.

    The law says I **might** be thrown in prison, and claims abuse where non happened.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cover them up!

    Doug Southworth wrote: "why else would you assert so adamantly that you have the right to see other peoples children naked?"

    As some extremist would argue, why would you want to look at photos of other adult women (even clothed!), unless you intend to flirt, or covert thou neighbough's wife. That is why they force women to dress in veils, and stone to death the men who gaze upon them.

    It is not about having the right to see other people's kids naked. It's about my family bathing, or running around on the beach naked, taking photos, and having the right to show the pictures to others without fear of arrest.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AC for this one methinks

    My friend tells me the grauniad have a detail from the photo at I do hope this is legal. Is the print edition also spreading this vile filth? Bit of a problem for the teachers / social workers / media luvvies if it is... Better make sure the bin nazis (or the local paedos!) don't start rooting through the recycling.

  62. Doug Southworth

    @ Cover them up!

    "It's about my family bathing, or running around on the beach naked, taking photos, and having the right to show the pictures to others without fear of arrest."

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, but that is miles away from taking those same pictures, enlarging them, touching them up with virtual makeup, and then displaying them to the public. And that is where the law fails us...there is no way to distinguish the two. One mans art is another mans prurient interest.

    My point was mainly that there seem to be some in this world, and indeed in these comments, that are very zealous about their right to view what might be considered kiddie porn. It does make me wonder what their intent really is.

    Either way, this is one of those debates that will never end, and neither side will come eye to eye on.

  63. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down

    @ Lee

    "The argument for criminalisation of possession of indecent images is that the demand for the images causes an increase in the supply of those images." -- Er, no it isn't. The argument for criminalisation of possession of indecent images is that even though it's very hard to catch someone who looked at a picture, it's still a lot easier than it is to catch someone who actually abused a child. Everything else is post-hoc rationalisation and sophistry.

    Most people don't have paedophilic tendencies, and aren't going to seek out images of child abuse. Of the ones who do seek out such images, most will just think "ick!" and make an effort to forget what they have seen. Of the ones who actually get any gratification, most will be satisfied with masturbation -- or at any rate, will have the self-control not to actually abuse a child in real life. After all, you've probably seen porn of adults. Did it make you go out and rape someone? Of course not, you've got more self-control than that.

    "However it is clear that were there no demand for [proper*] child porn there would be no child porn and therefore a reduction in child abuse." -- But there *is* a demand for child porn, and it *isn't* going to go away. The best we can hope for is to minimise the harm that comes from that.

    "It is clear to me also that an argument that the abuse has already occurred and it is no worse if 1 person looks at the picture or 10,000 do so is without merit as a defence." -- Then it should be equally clear to you that 10000 people looking at the *same* picture of *one* abused child is a lot less harmful than 10000 *different* children being abused.

    Now, the odd person or two *may* decide that looking at pictures isn't enough, and go on to abuse a child. Or they may never even have seen a single child porn picture, but abuse a child anyway. Ironically, they will in all probability get away with it -- because the police were too busy searching for people who had been doing nothing worse than look at pictures.

    That's how criminalising the possession of images is counter-productive.

  64. lmno

    the rift revealed... (hopefully not in the photo...)

    It is possible that the police have advised the TATE that displaying that particular image, after the publicity it has received already, might lead to a breach of the peace, or some such, in which case no questions of indecency arise.

    But, otherwise, I have to say that I am confused about what the actual situation is with regard to the Brooke Shields image. I am aware that there are various laws other than the Protection of Children Act 1978 that would prohibit "indecent displays" and obscene publications, and I know rather less about them than I do about the 1978 Act, but, as a strict matter of logic, IF offences would be committed under those Acts by displaying the photo, then the image MUST BE indecent or obscene, and it follows that offences under the 1978 Act or the Criminal Justice Act 1988 have ALREADY been committed. The image is not extreme porn, but even if it were, it would also be an indecen photograph of a child - R v Stanley (1965) "while an indecent article need not necessarily be obscene, an obscene article must almost certainly be indecent."

    But the police seem satisfied that they have prevented an offence being committed. So, again as a matter of logic, the image is not indecent, or the police do not know what the law is, or the police do not want the public to know what the law is...

    Or maybe the only rift revealed by this is the rift between those who can afford good lawyers, and those who cannot...

  65. Syd

    Why hasn't the curator been arrested?

    The Met clearly believe that the image is potentially infringing, and he (she?) was clearly in "possession" of the picture?

  66. Mark .


    Regarding what the law should be, I'd say it should be about images of *abuse*. That's what the law was meant to be about (although sadly it's since gone from that to absurd claims of fuelling fantasies, or simply on the grounds of being disgusting, a road which has brought us laws against fictional images and even adult images now).

    In some cases, taking photographs of a naked child could be abuse (being told to strip and having photos taken could certainly constitute abuse, I think). But if it's clear that the act itself wasn't abusive, there should be no grounds for the image being illegal. And if it is considered abuse, the police should start off by prosecuting the crime of production in the first place.

    Some good points made about asking why the gallery owners aren't being charged for child porn, nor the image being destroyed. Not that I think this should happen, but why the double standard? The law is one of possession, not publication. When you or I break the law, will the nice policeman come round to merely give us "advice", and say it's okay as long as we don't publish, and we don't even have to delete it? No, we'd be arrested without even a chance to delete it, and be facing prison and/or the Sex Offender Register.

    "This is nothing to do with the legality or not of the image, but she does not support it being shown."

    Your source for this? According to the article, they're using the law on child porn. If it wasn't a matter of a law, and was simply them taking it down at her request, why are the police involved?

    h4rm0ny: "Still, a ten year old child can't give informed consent and if Ms. Shields says the photograph is against her wishes then that should be an end to it - get rid of the picture."

    I don't necessarily disagree, but note that this would have wide ranging implications - everything from babies used in nappy adverts, to child actors. How do we handle them not being able to give informed consent? What if they later say it was against their wishes - does that mean even say an entire film should be scrapped?

    I also think there's the point that these issues shouldn't have anything to do with child porn law. Removing an image from a gallery because the person no longer wishes to be in it is one thing; saying that everyone who's privately got a copy of the image in their browser cache deserves up to 10 years in prison and being placed on the Sex Offender Register is another...

  67. Mark .

    @Doug Southworth

    "My point was mainly that there seem to be some in this world, and indeed in these comments, that are very zealous about their right to view what might be considered kiddie porn. It does make me wonder what their intent really is."

    Who? Come on, let's not be making up straw men. Quote an example of someone who is allegedly "zealous about their right to view what might be considered kiddie porn", and then we can discuss what their intent seems to be.

  68. ShaggyDoggy


    hey - is it illegal to look at a picture of yourself naked when you were 10 ??

    serious question actually

  69. Anonymous Coward

    Dilution of the law

    Is not the more worrying aspect of this law it's place in an insidious trend: i.e. the current Government's apparent intent to label/stigmatise as many of their citizens as possible as 'criminals' (and paedophiles in this case)?

    This legislation is simply another subtle way to expand the potential for the 'criminalisation' of honest, upstanding and decent citizens - which (I'm sure our rulers hope) will lead to the sort of docile society they want to develop: one in which each and every individual is way too fearful of the authorities to stand up for common sense & decency just in case they're accused/arrested for something (a breach of some legislation) so genuinely innocuous they hadn't even noticed it!

    Or am I just paranoid...

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