If a company made a child pornography anime (so not using real children, just drawings), would it be illegal?

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    [OT] Pragmatically, albeit disgusting, it might be a very good idea to make it legal: this would automatically reduce the need to kidnap real children and abuse them. It wouldn't stop, of course, but just reducing it would still be a great goal.
    – o0'.
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 8:38
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    Talking about manga and anime specifically, pay attention next time you watch some more "left field" ecchi. Even when it doesnt include sexual content, just suggestion, before or after there is a big disclaimer "The characters depicted are fictional and all above the age of consent" (Wording varies with translation) Although its ridiculous that a Middle Schooler is over 18, apparently its good enough for law.
    – Seraphim
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 9:20
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    @Lohoris: I don't know if that's true. What you see is that most sexual delinquents go through an evolution: each time the current level is no longer satisfactory. Most pedophiles don't start with raping children, it's more a stage in the evolution. By legalizing this, the amount of potential pedophiles (so to speak) would thus increase. Evidently not everybody is a pedophile, but by making this legal, one can trigger potential ones. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 12:12
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    @CommuSoft What are the parallels with Violent Video Games? People have been crying for years that CoD and other more and more "realistic" video games will push people to the "next level"... once shooting someone on a screen is no longer fun, the "next level" evil music in the background... all of those skills/habits learned online will translate to marauding bands of teenagers with guns. Yet, year after year, gun violence has decreased... Is "Manga" a "gateway drug" to "the real thing? or is it an outlet keeping those from doing "the real thing"?
    – WernerCD
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 12:47
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    @Lohoris - I this were a purely sexual crime you would be correct. However like most rapes it is more about the power, control, and domination than the sex. dukechronicle.com/articles/1993/11/22/…
    – Chad
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 13:52

3 Answers 3


The Coroners and Justice Act of April 2009 (c. 2) created a new offence in England and Wales and Northern Ireland of possession of a prohibited image of a child. This act makes cartoon pornography depicting minors illegal in the UK. This Act did not replace the 1978 act, extended in 1994, since that covered "pseudo-photographs"—images that appear to be photographs. In 2008 it was further extended to cover tracings, and other works derived from photographs or pseudo-photographs. A prohibited cartoon image is one which involves a minor in situations which are pornographic and "grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character."

Prior to this, although not explicitly in the statutes, the law was interpreted to apply to cartoon images, though only where the images are realistic and indistinguishable from photographs. The new law however covered images whether or not they are realistic.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_status_of_cartoon_pornography_depicting_minors

The Wikipedia article includes a further list of footnotes and sources for this topic. The only reason I wrote this answer because I remembered reading about this in the newspaper around 4 years ago when the Netherlands outlawed such images and they referred to the UK having 'recently' banned such things as well rather than just the older acts mentioned by Flup.


Virtual child pornography "pandered" as real is illegal in the U.S., and the law forbidding it was upheld by the Supreme Court in United States v. Williams (2008). The Court explains the distinction:

An offer to provide or request to receive virtual child pornography is not prohibited by the statute. A crime is committed only when the speaker believes or intends the listener to believe that the subject of the proposed transaction depicts real children.

Here's a Law Review article on the general question.

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    Thanks for that. what about the united kingdom?
    – user607
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 18:23
  • That's not correct. Williams upheld a statute that prohibited the promotion or distribution of material that is intended to make one believe that it is actual child porn. Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition held that virtual child porn is free speech and cannot be outlawed. Thus, it is lawful to have and distribute virtual kiddie porn UNLESS one gives the impression that it is actual kiddie porn. Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 0:40
  • @user3344003 - Good catch! I just amended the answer.
    – feetwet
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 19:04

In England and Wales, indecent 'pseudo-photographs' of children were made illegal by s84 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. This amended s1 Protection of Children Act 1978 to criminalise the making, distribution, possession or publication of such images.

'Pseudo-photograph' is defined by s7(7) PCA 1978 as—

... an image, whether made by computer-graphics or otherwise howsoever, which appears to be a photograph.

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    are drawings deemed pseudo photographs though?
    – user607
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 20:44
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    Only if they 'appear to be a photograph'. There may be other rules for drawings that I'm not aware of.
    – Flup
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 20:49
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    @HishamMohammed Since 2009 they are prohibited as well, see my answer for slightly more detail. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 0:39

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