Obscene Publications Act 1959 and 1964

The law makes it an offence to publish, whether for gain or not, any content whose effect will tend to "deprave and corrupt" those likely to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it. This could include images of extreme sexual activity such as bestiality, necrophilia, rape or torture.    
 
Obscene Publications Act 1959
An Act to amend the law relating to the publication of obscene matter; to provide for the  protection of literature; and to strengthen the law concerning pornography.
 
1. Test of obscenity
(1) For the purposes of this Act an article shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect or (where  the article comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items is, if taken  as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all  relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.
 
(2) In this Act ‘article’ means any description of article containing or embodying matter to be read or looked at or both, any sound record, and any film or other record of a picture or pictures.
 
(3) For the purposes of this Act a person publishes an article who—
    (a) distributes, circulates, sells, lets on hire, gives, or lends it, or who offers it for sale or for  letting on hire; or
    (b) in the case of an article containing or embodying matter to be looked at or a record,  shows, plays or projects it [, or, where the matter is data stored electronically, transmits that data].
 
(4) For the purposes of this Act a person also publishes an article to the extent that any matter  recorded on it is included by him in a programme included in a programme service.
 
(5) Where the inclusion of any matter in a programme so included would, if that matter were  recorded matter, constitute the publication of an obscene article for the purposes of this Act  by virtue of subsection (4) above, this Act shall have effect in relation to the inclusion of that  matter in that programme as if it were recorded matter.
 
(6) In this section ‘programme’ and ‘programme service’ have the same meaning as in the  Broadcasting Act 1990.
 
2. Prohibition of publication of obscene matter
(1) Subject as hereinafter provided, any person who, whether for gain or not, publishes an obscene article [or who has an obscene article for publication for gain (whether gain to  himself or gain to another)] shall be liable—
    (a) on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding [the prescribed sum] or to imprisonment  for a term not exceeding six months;
    (b) on conviction on indictment to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three  years or both.
 
(2) . . .
 
(3) A prosecution . . . for an offence against this section shall not be commenced more than  two years after the commission of the offence.
 
(3A) Proceedings for an offence under this section shall not be instituted except by or with  the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions in any case where the article in question is  a moving picture film of a width of not less than sixteen millimetres and the relevant  publication or the only other publication which followed or could reasonably have been  expected to follow from the relevant publication took place or (as the case may be) was to  take place in the course of a [film exhibition]; and in this subsection ‘the relevant publication’  means—
    (a) in the case of any proceedings under this section for publishing an obscene article, the publication in respect of which the         defendant would be charged if the proceedings were brought; and
    (b) in the case of any proceedings under this section for having an obscene article for publication for gain, the publication which, if the proceedings were brought, the defendant  would be alleged to have had in contemplation.
 
(4) A person publishing an article shall not be proceeded against for an offence at common law consisting of the publication of any matter contained or embodied in the article where it is  of the essence of the offence that the matter is obscene.
 
(4A) Without prejudice to subsection (4) above, a person shall not be proceeded against for  an offence at common law—
    (a) in respect of a [film exhibition] or anything said or done in the course of a [film  exhibition], where it is of the essence of the common law offence that the exhibition or, as the  case may be, what was said or done was obscene, indecent, offensive, disgusting or injurious  to morality; or
    (b) in respect of an agreement to give a [film exhibition] or to cause anything to be said or  done in the course of such an exhibition where the common law offence consists of  conspiring to corrupt public morals or to do any act contrary to public morals or decency.]
 
(5) A person shall not be convicted of an offence against this section if he proves that he had  not examined the article in respect of which he is charged and had no reasonable cause to suspect that it was such that his publication of it would make him liable to be convicted of an offence against this section.
 
(6) In any proceedings against a person under this section the question whether an article is  obscene shall be determined without regard to any publication by another person unless it could reasonably have been expected that the publication by the other person would follow from publication by the person charged.
 
(7) In this section ‘film exhibition’ has the same meaning as in the Cinemas Act 1985.
 
Obscene Publications Act 1964
An Act to strengthen the law for preventing the publication for gain of obscene matter and the
publication of things intended for the production of obscene matter.
 
1. Obscene articles intended for publication for gain
(1) [Amends the Obscene Publications Act 1959, above.]
 
(2) For the purpose of any proceedings for an offence against the said section 2 a person shall  be deemed to have an article for publication for gain if with a view to such publication he has  the article in his ownership, possession or control.
 
(3) In proceedings brought against a person under the said section 2 for having an obscene  article for publication for gain the following provisions shall apply in place of subsections (5)  and (6) of that section, that is to say,—
    (a) he shall not be convicted of that offence if he proves that he had not examined the article  and had no reasonable cause to suspect that it was such that his having it would make him  liable to be convicted of an offence against that section; and 2 Obscene Publications Act 1964
    (b) the question whether the article is obscene shall be determined by reference to such  publication for gain of the article as in the circumstances it may reasonably be inferred he had  in contemplation and to any further publication that could reasonably be expected to follow  from it, but not to any other publication.
 
(4) Where articles are seized under section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (which provides for the seizure and forfeiture of obscene articles kept for publication for gain), and a person is convicted under section 2 of that Act of having them for publication for gain, the court on his conviction shall order the forfeiture of those articles:
Provided that an order made by virtue of this subsection (including an order so made on appeal) shall not take effect until the expiration of the ordinary time within which an appeal in  the matter of the proceedings in which the order was made may be instituted or, where such an appeal is duly instituted, until the appeal is finally decided or abandoned; and for this purpose—
    (a) an application for a case to be stated or for leave to appeal shall be treated as the institution of an appeal; and
    (b) where a decision on appeal is subject to a further appeal, the appeal shall not be deemed to  be finally decided until the expiration of the ordinary time within which a further appeal may  be instituted or, where a further appeal is duly instituted, until the further appeal is finally  decided or abandoned.
 
(5) References in section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and this section to publication for gain shall apply to any publication with a view to gain, whether the gain is to  accrue by way of consideration for the publication or in any other way.
 
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