Since 1857, delicate British sensibilities have been protected by the Obscene Publications Act, which outlaws anything that is intended to ‘deprave or corrupt’. But the act, which has in the past been used against the likes of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and the magazine Oz, looks to be in tatters this week after a London jury rejected some of its core tenets.
In the case of a man accused of running a mail-order business, the jury ruled that the material – which depicted legal, consensual acts between men – could not be ruled to have run afoul of the act. Experts now say that the Obscene Publications Act is virtually impossible to use and that it needs to be overhauled if it is to remain relevant.
The act has been used more than 70 times in the past year and is unofficially used by many licensing agencies working in the media. As David Allen Green wrote during the case, current law regarding obscenity simply doesn’t make sense in the modern digital age.