Tag Archives: manga translator

Swedish manga translator still guilty of child porn charges

Svea Hovrätt, a regional court in Sweden, today found manga translator Simon Lundström guilty of possession of child pornography, because of 51 drawn pictures (cartoons) that were considered child pornography. The court thus confirmed the verdict from July 2010 by local court Uppsala tingsrätt, but lowered the sentence a bit after scrutinising the drawn cartoons.

In a press release, Svea Hovrätt explains that “in four images, it cannot with absolute certainty be ruled that they depict children” and that “in eight images, it is uncertain if they are pornographic in the sense of the law”.

But they also write:

Regarding the remaining 39 images, the court finds that they are, from a legal perspective, to be regarded as pornographic images of children.

It should be remembered that there were no real children depicted in these images – all were cartoons. It was thus fantasy creatures that the court investigated. A bit surprised, they note that some of the “children” have “cat ears and tails”. Nevertheless, they come to this conclusion in the verdict, which I have read:

Even if some of the images do not appear real in all details, there is no doubt that they depict human beings.

Lundström is thus sentenced for child pornography of the lower degree, and has to pay a fine of 5,600 SEK (632 euro).

Lundström is Sweden’s most famous manga expert. He is teaching in this subject at the university and has translated over 80 manga, most of them published by Bonniers, Sweden’s biggest publishing house. One could expect that Bonniers would defend Lundström, since this verdict will most definitely affect their own business, but instead they chose to stop working with him, according to DN.

As a manga expert, Lundström possessed about three million pictures, that were investigated by the police. Of these three million, only 51 were considered child pornography (or 39 of them, according to Svea Hovrätt). One can also note, that out of these 51 pictures, 20 were duplicates from a backup disk.

Lundström says he is surprised at the verdict, and concludes that he must now stop working as an expert of manga in Sweden (from TT Spektra/SvD):

“I can work as a translator, but not as a manga expert, as I would need access to the erotic cartoons that exist in Japan. I’m not even allowed to visit manga artists’ homepages in Japan, since that is considered a crime”, he says.

Many are surprised that drawn cartoons, where no child has been involved in the creation process, can be deemed child pornography in Sweden. In its press release, the court explains the aim of the law:

The reason why the law has been extended to include drawn images is that such images are seen as humiliating to children at large, and not only to the child that might have been used as a model.

Personally, I’m very surprised too. I was convinced Svea Hovrätt would find Lundström not guilty – the court always has a choice to interpret the text in the law. Hopefully, Lundström will appeal to Högsta domstolen, the highest court in Sweden, and it will repeal the ruling.

I’ve chosen to illustrate this post with a painting by Gaston Goor (1902-1977), a French illustrator who worked closely with Roger Peyrefitte. This painting is now most definitely illegal to possess in Sweden. (Neither me nor my blog’s servers reside in Sweden.)

Some Swedish blog reactions to the verdict:

  • Wille at Prylfeber recommends Swedish manga fans to go through their mangas and cut out any picture that might be considered child porn in Sweden.
  • 之乎者也 on what he calls “blaspedy”.
  • Mårten Schultz analyses the verdict, and regrets that fiction, here in the form of cartoons, are not protected by the constitution.

Also read my three posts in Swedish (but with illustrations that everyone will understand), about ways other than sexual that Ecpat and other defenders of the law think are goods way to humiliate children in drawings (murder for example):

I’m still convinced this interpretation of the law will not hold, or that the law will be changed. But until then, Sweden should be considered a no-go area not only for manga fans, but for artists in general.

Swedish manga translator in court again

Sweden’s most famous manga translator Simon Lundström was convicted of possession of child pornography in July 2010. The local court in Uppsala found that 50 out of his three million images – drawn cartoons, that is, and 20 of them being duplicates from a backup drive – were to be considered child porn, since the definition of child porn in the Swedish law includes drawings.

Yesterday, Mr Lundström was up in the next court, Svea Hovrätt. The prosecutor asked for a trial behind closed doors, but the judge decided they would be open. So for the first time, the public were allowed to see what kind of images the police, prosecutor and court considered child porn. I read this report by Steamboat Willie on Facebook and publish it in its entirety here (in Swedish) for those of you who don’t want to visit Facebook:

Nu har jag precis kommit tillbaks från en något komisk – men ändå skrämmande rättegång.

Det var alltså frågan om den omdiskuterade manga-rättegången i hovrätten vars förhandlingar hölls i dag i en fullsatt rättegångssal.

Jag kan bekräfta för alla som antagit att det varit värre än man trott… Samtliga åhörare som gick därifrån var slagna av det faktum att det generellt var ovanligt oskyldiga bilder. Åklagaren yrkade så klart på stängda dörrar, men hovrätten tog det visa beslutet att avslå åklagarens begäran – så den samlade pressen kunde med egna ögon se vad som i dag av experter och åklagare räknas som barnporr. Bland annat en bild på två sedesamt tecknade seriefigurer omgivna av frukt – ätandes bananer. Inte ens min mormor hade sett detta som pornografi. Bild på bild radades upp – och expertvittnet från barnporrgruppen fick vrida ovch vända sig som en korkskruv för att få argumenten att hålla. Ett samfällt skratt hördes från publiken när hon förklarade att en figur som utför oralsex på en annan var barn för att den hade raka höfter och små bröst… Vilket i sammanhanget vore något skumt då figuren skulle föreställas vara en pojke.

Samtidigt är det en skrämmande uppvisning… Att så pass oskyldiga bilder skall leda till räfst och rättarting?

Åklagaren gjorde flera fruktlösa försök att sammankoppla bilder av så kända seriekonstnärer som Ichigo Mashimaru med avbildningar av riktiga övergrepp gjorde hela föreställningen än mer smaklös.

Åklagarens rena lögner att det finns teknik som gör att man snabbt och lätt från ett foto kan framställa vilken serieteckning som helst firekt från foton med “gratis neddladdningsbara program på internet” är en förolämpning mot alla hårt arbetande serietecknare i världen. Om det vore så enkelt – varför finns det överhuvudtaget några tecknare kvar?

Dagens citat:”Jag har bedömt bilderna som pornografiska för att de innehåller barn.” — Cecilia Wallin-Carlsson, Barnporrpolis

Faktum är att samtliga besökare här på forumet bör ta sig i akt. Om de snällaste bilderna blir fällda så lär det vara mycket få personer med serieintresse som inte har värre bilder än så hemma. Det har fokuserats på de tre bilderna med samlagsscener i domen, men minst lika intressant är de fem påklädda bilderna som bara visar strandliv.

Domen faller den 28:e Januari.

(Found through 之乎者也, who as usual makes a good reading – also in Swedish. Plus a short text in DN.)

The Steamboat’s main point is that the prosecution is a joke, and that everyone in the audience was shocked that these apparently very innocent cartoons were considered child porn. There were also laughter when the prosecutor explained that the drawn girl in a sexual act was a child because of her “slim hips and flat chest.” No wonder – it was a boy.

On the whole, I find this trial very unheimlich. It shouldn’t matter if the comics are innocent or gross. If you argue that this isn’t child porn because the drawn images are innocent, then you at the same time admit that it could be child porn if the drawn images were of a more serious nature. Which it can’t.

Because:

They

are

DRAWN!!!

For fuck’s sake.

I’m pretty sure the court will go against the text in the Swedish law and free the man. (The law in Sweden is shaped only partly by the text in the law book, and partly by the way the courts interpret the text.) Always remember that the politicians who vote for these stupid laws are often without education and though well-meaning, not very smart. That’s why we have the courts. Unfortunately we lack a constitutional court in Sweden, that is, a court that can rule laws unconstitutional, as sometimes happens in for example Germany. (On the other hand, the constitution is changed so often in Sweden that such a court probably would be superfluous.)

The verdict will be official on January 28, 2011.

Update January 28, 2011: Guilty!