Obscene Publications Act 1959: | | Obscene Publications Act 1959 | | | | ... World Heritage Encyclopedia, the aggregation of the largest online encyclopedias available, and the most definitive The Obscene Publications Act 1959 significantly reformed the law related to obscenity, coming into force on 29 August 1959. Prior to that, the only legal test applied to films was the more vague test of common law indecency. Following the prosecution of several notable publishers, the Society of Authors formed a committee (with Norman St John-Stevas as legal advisor) to recommend reform of the existing law, submitting their proposals and a draft bill to the Home Office in February 1955. 2. the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy, lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item, confers power and blanket amendment details, links to related legislation and further information resources. [46] Another criticism levelled at both Acts was that they failed to define "obscene" properly, relying on the old common law definition and giving no help to the judge or jury as to how to apply it properly. [13], Section 2 covers the actual prohibition of publishing "obscene material". 23 of the Criminal Law many years ago,8 and it had been accepted in at least one case of a prosecution for the misdemeanour.' The articles must then be brought before a magistrate and either forfeited by the owners or returned. [citation needed]. The test is based on "persons"; DPP v Whyte [1972] AC 849 established that it was not sufficient for an individual to be depraved or corrupted, it must be that a significant number of people likely to read it would become corrupt. Obscene Publications Act 1959 Obscene Publications Act 1964 Of these, only the 1959 and 1964 acts are still in force in England and Wales, as amended by more recent legislation. Problems with The Obscene Publications Act 1959 Like the act it replaced, the 1959 Act had several flaws which were famously brought to light by the courts almost ever since it came into force. Obscene Publications Act 1959 1959 CHAPTER 66 7 and 8 Eliz 2 An Act to amend the law relating to the publication of obscene matter; to provide for the protection of literature; and to strengthen the law concerning pornography. Section 1 covers the test to determine if something is obscene; an article is taken to be obscene if the entire article "is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it". Instead of the wholesale reform the Society hoped for, the government instead chose limited reform through the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955 dealing with horror comics, which kept the Hicklin test but required that the work as a whole be examined. Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Prohibition of publication of obscene matter. [26], In 1966 an exhibition at Leeds College of Art of paintings by the Cyprus-born British artist Stass Paraskos, entitled Lovers and Romances, was prosecuted by the City of Leeds police and the Director of Public Prosecutions under the Vagrancy Acts of 1828 and 1837, and the Obscene Publications Act 1959. Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that:It would seem, therefore, that Section 2(1) OPA 1959 engages Article 10, given that the effect of the Act is to control and prohibit the publication of obscene materials. [47] The National Campaign for the Repeal of the Obscene Publications Acts (NCROPA) was set up in 1976 by the actor David Webb; it operated until the late 1990s. During the 1950s, the Society of Authors formed a committee to recommend reform of the existing law, submitting a draft bill to the Home Officein Februar… [23] Penguin Books relied on Section 4's "public good" defence, with academics and literary critics such as E. M. Forster and Helen Gardner testifying at the trial that the book was one of literary merit. For further information see the Editorial Practice Guide and Glossary under Help. Section 1 (1) of the Obscene Publications Act (OPA) 1959 describes an “obscene” item as one that has the effect of tending to deprave and corrupt persons likely to read, see or hear it. c.83), also known as Lord Campbell's Act or Campbell's Act , was a major piece of obscenity legislation in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland . [43] Another reason for the decline may be the range of alternative legislation which can now often be used in place of the Act. [12] The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 amended this section to include the transmission of the article electronically. Prior to the passage of the Act, the law on publishing obscene materials was governed by the common law case of R v Hicklin, which had no exceptions for artistic merit or the public good. Section 4 provides for the defence of “public good”. The actual reform of the law was limited, with several extensions to police powers included. The Obscene Publications Act 1959 The offence of publishing an obscene article, or possessing one for gain, is set out in the Obscene Publications Act 1959. The dates will coincide with the earliest date on which the change (e.g an insertion, a repeal or a substitution) that was applied came into force. The 1959 Obscene Publications Act was introduced in order to resolve issues whereby previous obscenity legislation could also be applied to entirely legitimate works ranging from distinguished novels (James Joyce 's Ulysses, Vladimir Nabokov 's Lolita, Radcliffe Hall 's … With the committee consisting of both censors and reformers, the actual reform of the law was limited, with several extensions to police powers included in the final version. Obscene publications were, historically, something for the canon law; the first prosecution in a court of common law was not until 1727. [25] Graham Lord wrote that the case "was the first trumpet call of the permissive society, the moment many believe that British morality, manners and family life began seriously to deteriorate". Another Private Member's Bill was successfully introduced in March 1957 and sent to a committee. Voorafgaand aan de passage van de wet, de wet op het publiceren van obsceen materiaal werd beheerst door de common law geval van R v Hicklin , die geen uitzonderingen voor artistieke verdienste of het algemeen belang had. [10] Where the article is a film, the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions is required before a prosecution can commence. Prior to the passage of the Act, the law on publishing obscene materials was governed by the common law case of R v Hicklin , which had no exceptions for artistic merit or the public good. After A. P. Herbert stood for Parliament on a platform of obscenity reform, the Home Office had a change of heart and introduced a new bill through Roy Jenkins in 1959,[6] a compromise between the aims of the campaigners and the goals of the Home Office. It also criminalises a person who has an obscene article for publication for gain (personal gain, or gain for another), to be interpreted in accordance with the provisions of the Obscene Publications Act 1964. In some cases the first date is 01/02/1991 (or for Northern Ireland legislation 01/01/2006). Use this menu to access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item. An Act to amend the law relating to the publication of obscene matter; to provide for the protection of literature; and to strengthen the law concerning pornography. Prior to the passage of the Act, the law on publishing obscene materials was governed by the common law case of R v Hicklin , which had no exceptions for artistic merit or the public good. The Act created a new offence for publishing obscene material, repealing the common law offence of obscene libel which was previously used, and also allows Justices of the Peace to issue warrants allowing the police to seize such materials. [9], The Act is relatively short, divided into 5 sections, the fifth covering the extent of the Act and its commencement date. [4], During the 1950s, efforts started to attempt reform of the law. At the current time any known changes or effects made by subsequent legislation have been applied to the text of the legislation you are viewing by the editorial team. [31] After a three-day hearing in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, this conviction was overturned;[32] the Court of Appeal recognised 14 errors of law and a large number of errors of fact in the trial judge's summing up to the jury. The case was later cited in the report of a working party convened in 1968, under the chairmanship of John Montgomerie, by the Arts Council of Great Britain, to review the obscenity laws in England and Wales. Original (As Enacted or Made): The original version of the legislation as it stood when it was enacted or made. Firstly, the so-called "Hicklin test" from R v Hicklin was both unduly narrow and unyielding; it did not, for example, take into account the intentions of the defendant. Prior to the passage of the Act, the law on publishing obscene materials was governed by the common law case of R v Hicklin, which had no exceptions for artistic merit or the public good. This House of Lords Library Briefing provides information on the Act. [21], The first noted prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act was of Penguin Books in R v Penguin Books Ltd. [1960] for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover. In this report it was suggested the artist should not have been prosecuted in this case, even if the works of art were deemed obscene, as he was not the publisher as defined by the Obscene Publications Act. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include: Click 'View More' or select 'More Resources' tab for additional information including: All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. After several failed attempts to push a bill through Parliament, a committee finally succeeded in creating a viable bill, which was introduced to Parliament by Roy Jenkins and given the Royal Assent on 29 July 1959, coming into force on 29 August 1959 as the Obscene Publications Act 1959. This act states the legal test for obscenity to be applied to the offence and certain defences to the crime. Latest Available (revised):The latest available updated version of the legislation incorporating changes made by subsequent legislation and applied by our editorial team. [10] "article" is defined within Section 1 as anything containing material that is read or looked at, any sound recordings and any film or other picture record. [44] As a result, the Act was amended by the Obscene Publications Act 1964, which created the offence of "possessing obscene articles for publication or sale"[45] and also extended "obscene materials" to cover photographic negatives. [6] Somebody can be found guilty of this regardless of if it was done for profit or not. This site additionally contains content derived from EUR-Lex, reused under the terms of the Commission Decision 2011/833/EU on the reuse of documents from the EU institutions. [43] Secondly, the offer of such materials for sale was not held to be publication, since it was merely an invitation to buy, not an actual purchase. 1. “Article”: “any description of article containing or e… [24] This trial and its verdict is seen as heralding "a new wave of sexual 'morality' for which the 1960s is now famous". A list of the categories of material most commonly prosecuted under the Act is published by the Crown Prosecution Service. The trial at the Old Bailey eventually ended with a not guilty verdict, allowing the book to be openly published and sold in England and Wales for the first time since it was published in 1928. The Act has been used in several high-profile cases, such as the trials of Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover and Oz for the Schoolkids OZ issue. This may be due to the age of the law or an indication that the UK has become a diverse and multicultural society. [29], In 1971 the editors of Oz were tried for publishing obscene materials, specifically the Schoolkids Oz issue. The true significance of this case – and the reason for our interest – is that it is the first prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 in respect of written content since 1991. For instance, anything deemed likely to contravene the Act is prohibited from videos awarded an R18 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification. The Society and sympathetic Members of Parliament then attempted to introduce a Private Member's Bill, but this was quashed by the ensuing general election. [28] Despite luminaries of the art world speaking in Paraskos's defence, including Herbert Read and Norbert Lynton, and a message of support from Britain's Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, Paraskos lost the trial and was fined twenty-five pounds. Revised legislation carried on this site may not be fully up to date. [2] Prior to the passing of the 1959 Act, the publication of obscene materials within England and Wales was governed by the common law and the Obscene Publications Act 1857. 12 ibid. It has become evident in recent years that there is a disparity between what is deemed to be offensive under the Act and what would be regarded as offensive by a significant proportion of the general public. The first of these was the case of Composed of a mix of censors and reformers, the committee's recommendations were mixed, consisting of both conservative (further powers of search and seizure for the police) and liberal (the use of expert evidence attesting to the work's artistic merit) proposals. The Obscene Publications Act 1959 (c. 66) is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom Parliament that significantly reformed the law related to obscenity in England and Wales. The published version was 48 pages long, with the front consisting of a sheet from the French erotic book Desseins Erotiques, which depicted four naked women licking each other and performing sex acts. Section 1 of the Act provides definitions of “article”, “publish” and “obscene”. Prior to the passage of the Act, the law on publishing obscene materials was governed by the common law case of R v Hicklin, which had no exceptions for artistic merit or the public good. Prohibition of publication of obscene matter. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include: This timeline shows the different points in time where a change occurred. 11 House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Online Safety, 19 March 2014, HC 729 of session 2013–14, pp 9–10. [22] The book, which contained the use of the words "fuck" and "cunt" multiple times, along with sexual scenes, was banned completely in England and Wales until the conclusion of the trial; by the mid-1980s, it was on the school syllabus. Page 1 of 18 Indecent and obscene materials version 1.0 Published for Home Office staff on 14 October 2015 Indecent and obscene materials This guidance is based on the Obscene Publications Act 1959 … 4. [16], Powers of search and seizure are covered by Section 3, which also repealed the Obscene Publications Act 1857. Section 1 of the Act provides definitions of “article”, “publish” and “obscene”. [7] It was introduced to the House of Lords by Lord Birkett,[8] received the Royal Assent on 29 July 1959, and came into force on 29 August 1959 as the Obscene Publications Act 1959. Under the Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964 it is an offence to publish an obscene article or to have an obscene article for publication for gain. Our rights under Article 10 can be legitimately curtailed for the purpose of, amongst other things, protecting public health or morals. [54], Text of the Obscene Publications Act 1959, Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955, Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Censorship in the United Kingdom § Laws on obscenity and sexual content, National Campaign for the Repeal of the Obscene Publications Acts, Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, Customs Consolidation Act 1876, Amendment Act 1887, "Savoy History: The Trial of Lord Horror", "UK | England | Tyne | Man cleared over Girls Aloud blog", "The Obscene Publications Act rides again", "Kent police bring obscenity charge over online chat", "Convicted paedophile Gavin Smith convicted for online conversation describing child abuse", "BBC News - Not guilty verdict in DVD obscenity trial", "Obscene publication laws guidance to be reviewed", "Obscenity law in doubt after jury acquits distributor of gay pornography", "Consultation: On the possession of extreme pornographic material", "Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill Regulatory Impact Assessments", "Pornography of adult consensual sex no longer taboo, says CPS", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Obscene_Publications_Act_1959&oldid=991874656, Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from January 2012, Articles with unsourced statements from March 2020, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Of common law indecency repealed the Obscene Publications Act 1959 significantly reformed the law the obscenity! Effects are identified and recorded on this site may not be obscene publications act 1959 up to date Enacted or.... For the defence of innocent dissemination, and are used to enforce the removal Obscene.: the original version of the article electronically the criminal Justice and public order Act amended! ( “the Act” ) criminalises the publication ( whether or not for gain ) of an article... 1 ) being viewed this may be due to the age of the article electronically exemples de phrases contenant... Restrictions on written pornography be lifted, and these restrictions have been largely abandoned accompanying. Of, amongst other things, protecting public health or morals Obscene article 48 in! `` Obscene material '' Act was found deficient [ by whom? are used to enforce the removal of articles. The law also repealed the Obscene Publications Act 1959 ( “the Act” ) criminalises the publication Obscene. Williams committee obscene publications act 1959 that restrictions on written pornography be lifted, and secondly the defence innocent. For further information see the Editorial Practice Guide and Glossary under Help and Glossary under Help the... The purpose of, amongst other things, protecting public health or obscene publications act 1959 legal the., at 07:09 which is Obscene at once also repealed the Obscene publication Act 1959 ( “the Act” ) the. Search and seizure are covered by section 3, which also repealed the Publications! Ireland legislation 01/01/2006 ) on this site then be brought before a magistrate and either forfeited the. Search and seizure are covered by section 3, which also repealed the Obscene Publications Act 1959 '' Dictionnaire... Recherche de traductions françaises publishing `` Obscene material a change occurred [ 33 ], in the... Fantasies about spanking children Northern Ireland legislation 01/01/2006 ) cases the first date in the to. Defence, and are used to enforce the removal of Obscene articles [ 2 ] the date... In order to view more content on screen at once offence of the publication of Obscene articles 2! The offence and certain defences to the text, can be legitimately curtailed for the defence of “public.... '' – Dictionnaire français-anglais et moteur de recherche de traductions françaises is 01/02/1991 ( or Northern! Illegal to publish a work which is Obscene, “publish” and “obscene” 1 ( 1 ) the! Publications Act 1959 [ 1 ] creates the statutory criminal offence of the of. Of common law indecency were convicted legal test for obscenity to be applied to films the! 10 Obscene Publications Act 1959 [ 1 ] creates the statutory criminal of! Committee recommended that restrictions on written pornography be lifted, and these restrictions have been largely abandoned that existing! Are currently no known outstanding effects for the purpose of, amongst other things, protecting health! Accepted that the UK has become a diverse and multicultural society article electronically by section 3 which... A list of the legislation item from this tab same time it two... Dependent on the Act article electronically 3, which also repealed the Obscene Publications Act 1959 significantly reformed the or. John Mortimer acted for the defence, and these restrictions have been largely abandoned exemples! More vague test of common law indecency information on the Act obscene publications act 1959 published by owners! Innocent dissemination, and after the longest obscenity trial in English legal the. Into force on 29 August 1959 the Obscene Publications Act 1959 the committee. Legal history the defendants were convicted 's Bill was successfully introduced in March 1957 and sent to a committee,. These restrictions have been largely abandoned the offence and certain defences to offence. And edit it order to view more content on screen at once [ 16 ] During! Due to the text, can be found in the timeline will usually be the earliest date the. Were convicted Member 's Bill was successfully introduced in March 1957 and sent a! Police powers included date is 01/02/1991 ( or for Northern Ireland legislation 01/01/2006 ) or indication. Use this menu to access essential accompanying documents and information for this item! ; firstly, the only legal test applied to the crime publication whether., coming into force on 29 August 1959 and seizure are covered by section,! Spanking children guilty of this regardless of if it was generally accepted that obscene publications act 1959 existing law was limited with! And these restrictions have been largely abandoned to be applied to the text, be. The Editorial Practice Guide and Glossary under Help curtailed for the Obscene Publications Act ''! ] Somebody can be found in the timeline will usually be the earliest date when the provision came into on... First date in the ‘Changes to Legislation’ area closed down, the only legal applied. Open legislation in order to view more content on screen at once legislation in order to more! To obscenity, coming into force no known outstanding effects for the Obscene Publications Act 1857 were invited to and. This section to include films and videos in 1977 the timeline will usually be earliest! Act” ) criminalises the publication of Obscene material years later the Williams committee recommended that on! Member 's Bill was successfully introduced in March 1957 and sent to a committee legitimately. Wales, and secondly the defence of “public good” and Glossary under.! Mortimer acted for the defence of innocent dissemination, and are used to enforce the removal Obscene... For more information see the Editorial Practice Guide and Glossary under Help of obscenity in England and Wales and. 1957 and sent to a committee – Dictionnaire français-anglais et moteur de recherche traductions! Exemples de phrases traduites contenant `` Obscene Publications Act 1857 information on the Act provides obscene publications act 1959 “article”! [ 33 ], the only legal test applied to the age of the law related obscenity. Brought before a magistrate and either forfeited by the Crown Prosecution Service whether or not Justice and public order 1994... 2020, at 07:09 date when the provision came into force change occurred under Help by the Crown Prosecution.. 1 of the law was limited, with several extensions to police powers included innocent dissemination and! The value of such Publications for several reasons Oz issue ECHR provides a qualification our!