The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund are pleased to announce that the Crown has withdrawn all criminal charges in R. v. Matheson, the case previously described as the Brandon X case, which involved a comic
book reader who faced criminal charges in Canada relating to comic books on his computer. The defendant, Ryan Matheson, a 27-year-old comic book reader, amateur artist, and computer programmer has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.
search of his laptop in 2010, Matheson was wrongfully accused of possessing and importing child pornography because of constitutionally protected comic book images on that device. He was subjected to abusive treatment by police and a disruption in his
life that included a two-year period during which he was unable to use computers or the internet outside of his job, severely limiting opportunities to advance his employment and education.
Matheson has agreed to plead to a non-criminal code
regulatory offense under the Customs Act of Canada. As a result of the agreement, Matheson will not stand trial.
Although the outcome of this case is ultimately positive, comic book readers should be aware that there are still dangers for
traveling with comics in Canada. Michael Edelson, who managed the defense said:
Aside from the very positive outcome to this story, your members should be cautioned concerning the search and seizure regime here in
Canada exercised by the Canadian Border Services Agency. Moreover, they should also be aware that although anime and manga is legal in many areas of the United States and Japan, etc., to possess and utilize, the Canadian authorities may take a different
view if this material is found on any laptops or mobile devices when you enter the country.
Please visit cbldf.org today to make a donation in support of paying off Ryan's legal defense and creating new tools to combat abuses like this from happening
in the future. You can also support this effort by becoming a member of the CBLDF. Every contribution helps CBLDF get Ryan back on his feet, and furthers our efforts to protect the First Amendment rights of comics and manga.
Xtra.com is reporting that Canada Border Services Agency customs officers have seized three gay-themed films en route to Ottawa's three-day Inside Out gay film festival, which ends on Nov. 22.
No explanation was given for the seizure — which,
of course, is exactly what you'd expect to happen in a true democracy. The films are supposed to remain in custody until they're watched in full by some border censor or other.
The three films in question are Adrian Shergold's made-for-TV Clapham Junction
, which follows a group of gay men in Clapham, South London, and which has some nudity; Shamim Sarif's I Can't Think Straight , a Middle East-set lesbian love story starring Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth; and Ella Lemhagen's PG-rated Patrik
Age. 1.5 , the story of a gay couple who mistakenly end up adopting a teen thug. All three films have already been screened elsewhere in Canada. All three are Here! releases, a US-based distributor of gay-themed movies.
In the past, Canadian
border officials have been accused of harassing gays, and of arbitrarily confiscating gay literature and movies. Despite the country's reputation of being more liberal than its southern neighbor, its border cops, obsessed with obscenity, are known
as anything but — especially when it comes to homosexuality. In 2000, the Vancouver-based bookstore Little Sister's sued the CBSA, taking the matter all the way to Canada's Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the bookstore. Clearly, the ruling hasn't
prevented the agency from going after other gay-oriented venues.
A spokesperson for Canada's border guards says that three gay films were flagged by border officials because of simple unfamiliarity with the titles.
On Nov 20, officials from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) refused to let
three films into the country that were destined for the Inside Out film festival in Ottawa.
When Jason St-Laurent, the director of programming for Inside Out, found out that the films had been stopped at the border, he tried frantically to get
hold of staff at the CBSA. No one was able to help him, he says.
He managed to get a shipment of replacements, he says, although barely under the wire. If St-Laurent hadn't found alternate prints, the festival could have lost up to $12,000.
The second time they sent the films, they arrived without any hassle. That time they were sent it to SAW Gallery in Ottawa, rather than the Inside Out film festival.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has released its third quarter listing of videos it won't allow into the country because it has decided they are obscene.
Agents carefully screened 119 porn DVDs between July and September for what the
CBSA calls obscene content. Seventy nine of those titles were turned back at the border.
The CBSA publishes a lengthy list of qualifiers that determine its definition of obscenity. Along with the usual chestnuts of bestiality, necrophilia and
sexual assault, agents are instructed to ban films that include things like watersports, bondage and domination and what it oddly calls sex with pain.
Apparently attitudes at the CBSA have become more liberal over the last few years.
Before Nov 2005, any film that included watersports action netted an instant ban at the border. But in a CBSA internal memo released to Xtra through an access to information request, screeners were told, The Canadian community will now tolerate
consensual urination onto another person. [onto but not into!]
Here's a list of some of the more interesting banned films that were arbitrarily deemed obscene:
Europeein Vol 1, Europeein Vol 2 Frat Piss: The Hazing of Kaleb Scott
Kaleb Scott's Piss Party Weekend San Francisco Lesbian Bondage Club 1 & 2 Triga's Piss Tapes Vol 1 Yellow! Triga's Piss Tapes, Vol 2 Amazing Lactations #2: Bondage Mutterficker Sex Slaves of Satan Femmes De Sade The Jackbooth Job