Let's say a female investigative journalist is looking into a story where the actors involved clearly know things she doesn't, but much to her frustration, they simple wont talk.

Most of them are men, and after much fruitless effort, she gets an idea. She goes up to one of the men she's trying to get information from and makes him a vary simple proposal: if he'll give her what she wants, and can more or less prove it's legitimacy; then she'll sleep with him, and let him do whatever he wants to her.

After a bit of thought and glancing at her, he agrees. He gives her the information, then she strips down and promptly lets him get to work on her. The next morning however, while she's driving home, feeling nice and clever about herself, she gets pulled over by a cop, and before she knows it, suddenly finds herself in a courtroom, on trial for prostitution.

In Canada and the USA and ... let's say for fun, Japan too; would this be considered prostitution? If not, why? And if so, could the defence use the fact that she did it as part of her journalism job as part of his defence of her?

  • Was the information gained of some sort of monetary value? Or was it info needed to write a story? Oct 9, 2017 at 3:59
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    Not sure either of those points matter. If they did, could you imagine how many relationships would be relegated to the umbrella term of prostitution?!
    – A.fm.
    Oct 9, 2017 at 13:32

1 Answer 1


Since you're posting on Law, I will assume that you are interested in the legal definition of prostitution. This depends entirely on the jurisdiction, which you have not specified very precisely (criminal law in the US is largely the realm of the states). With that in mind:

New York and Texas both define prostitution in terms of engaging in sexual conduct in return for a "fee," so the answer there is no. Perhaps there is a US jurisdiction that defines the term more broadly.

In Canada, prostitution is not illegal, so the term does not appear to be defined in Canadian law. There are, however, some Offences in Relation to Offering, Providing or Obtaining Sexual Services for Consideration. I don't know whether exchange of information useful to her as a journalist would count as "consideration" in this case, but she would certainly not find herself in court unless she stopped a vehicle, impeded traffic, or approached her source in or "next to a school ground, playground or daycare centre."

I was unable to find a translation of the Japanese anti-prostitution law of 1956, but according to Wikipedia it defines prostitution as "intercourse with an unspecified person in exchange for payment," so, assuming that is accurate, I suppose the answer there is also no.

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    I would be surprised if a “fee” necessarily meant money - any form of consideration would trigger the statute.
    – Dale M
    Oct 9, 2017 at 5:15
  • @DaleM I searched a bit for some indication that "fee" could include non-monetary consideration, but did not find any. It wasn't a very thorough search.
    – phoog
    Oct 9, 2017 at 5:20
  • Information would certainly count as "consideration" for the purposes of contract formation. I would be surprised (but not completely amazed) if it didn't count for this purpose too. Oct 9, 2017 at 9:46

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