Oregon Supreme Court: It’s OK to View Child Porn Online

Jan 7, 2011 11:00 AM PST
SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Supreme Court ruled today that it’s perfectly legal to look at child pornography on the Internet, if none of those images are purposely downloaded, printed or paid for.

In a 5-2 decision, the court ruled that it’s not a crime to look at child pornography on the Internet, saying that simply looking at photos on a website does not mean a person “possessed” the photos.

“Looking for something on the Internet is like walking into a museum to look at pictures — the pictures are where the person expected them to be, and he can look at them, but that does not in any sense give him possession of them,” Justice Michael Gillette wrote.

The court also pointed out that while some states have outlawed the mere viewing of child porn, Oregon only makes viewing child porn illegal if someone pays for it.

The ruling has outraged child-safety advocates and other officials.

“Many pedophiles do not pay for child pornography,” ASACP CEO Joan Irvine told XBIZ.

“In order to have access to these images, they need to come to a chat room with other pictures of sexual child abuse as their entry fee. The laws need to catch up with the reality of this horrific crime against children.”

Oregon prosecutors were quick to respond saying the ruling doesn’t go far enough to protect children.

“[The ruling] does absolutely nothing to discourage [looking at child pornography on the Internet], and we have to discourage that activity,” assistant district attorney Mike Pugh told the local newspaper.

State lawmakers could still decide to change the law to more specifically address viewing.

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