The Criminal Code Provision of Corrupting Morals
Toronto Internet Lawyer Gil Zvulony, spoke to various news media regarding the laying of criminal charges against Mark Marek, under section 163(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada (reproduced below). In June 2012, Mr. Zvulony expressed his opinion that distributing the Magnotta murder video was illegal and contrary to Canada’s obscenity laws.
Gil Zvulony was quoted in the CBC as saying:
If this guy is convicted, I don’t think he’s going to go to jail for this, He’ll probably get a slap on the wrist. But it will definitely send a message that distributing this kind of video is illegal and it is a crime and you could end up with a criminal record.
While Gil Zvulony has not seen the infamous video (he does not wish to), his opinion is based on various descriptions he has read of the video.
Wikipedia describes the video as follows:
On May 25, 2012, an 11-minute video titled 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick was uploaded to Bestgore.com depicting a naked male tied to a bed frame being repeatedly stabbed with an ice pick and a kitchen knife, then dismembered, followed by acts of necrophilia. The perpetrator uses a knife and fork to cut off some of the flesh and gets a dog to chew on the body.
The Criminal Code section 163(8) deems such a video to be “obscene” because the dominant characteristic of the video is sex with crime, horror, cruelty and violence.
When it comes to obscene materials, it is irrelevant if the depictions are real or fake. Thus even if the exact depictions were rendered in 3D animation or staged with the use of actors, the video would still be obscene and distributing it would be illegal.
Gil Zvulony is hopeful that the laying of charges will raise awareness about the illegality of distributing such material.
Available Media Clips
Matt Holmes Show – CHML AM 900
On July 17, 2013 Gil Zvulony had an in-depth discussion about the case with Matt Holmes on CHML. The broadcast may be downloaded here.
Edmonton Journal Story
Edmonton gore-site operator charged with posting alleged Magnotta slaying video
Gore site owner charged over video in Magnotta case
CBC Calgary Eyeopener Interview
Relevant Section from the Criminal Code of Canada
Offences Tending to Corrupt Morals
163. (1) Every one commits an offence who
(a) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, circulates, or has in his possession for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation any obscene written matter, picture, model, phonograph record or other thing whatever; or
(b) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, sells or has in his possession for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation a crime comic.
(2) Every one commits an offence who knowingly, without lawful justification or excuse,
(a) sells, exposes to public view or has in his possession for such a purpose any obscene written matter, picture, model, phonograph record or other thing whatever;
(b) publicly exhibits a disgusting object or an indecent show;
(c) offers to sell, advertises or publishes an advertisement of, or has for sale or disposal, any means, instructions, medicine, drug or article intended or represented as a method of causing abortion or miscarriage; or
(d) advertises or publishes an advertisement of any means, instructions, medicine, drug or article intended or represented as a method for restoring sexual virility or curing venereal diseases or diseases of the generative organs.
Defence of public good
(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section if the public good was served by the acts that are alleged to constitute the offence and if the acts alleged did not extend beyond what served the public good.
Question of law and question of fact
(4) For the purposes of this section, it is a question of law whether an act served the public good and whether there is evidence that the act alleged went beyond what served the public good, but it is a question of fact whether the acts did or did not extend beyond what served the public good.
(5) For the purposes of this section, the motives of an accused are irrelevant.
(6) [Repealed, 1993, c. 46, s. 1]
Definition of “crime comic”
(7) In this section, “crime comic” means a magazine, periodical or book that exclusively or substantially comprises matter depicting pictorially
(a) the commission of crimes, real or fictitious; or
(b) events connected with the commission of crimes, real or fictitious, whether occurring before or after the commission of the crime.
(8) For the purposes of this Act, any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence, shall be deemed to be obscene.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 163; 1993, c. 46, s. 1.