Tuesday 26th May 2015,
Comic Booked

Arrested For Possession Of Manga?

Jacques Nyemb 06/24/2011 Features

Imagine being stopped at an airport by a custom’s officer and having all of your belongings searched. The officer discovers manga on your laptop and considers it to be child pornography and decides to issue a warrant for your laptop. After that ordeal you are turned over to police on charges of possession of child pornography, as well as smuggling it into the country.

This true story happened to an American traveler on Canadian soil.

The Case:

The case involves an American citizen, computer programmer, and comic book enthusiast in his mid-twenties who was flying from his home in the United States to Canada to visit a friend.  Upon arrival at Canadian Customs a customs officer conducted a search of the American and his personal belongings, including his laptop, iPad, and iPhone. The customs officer discovered manga on the laptop and considered it to be child pornography.  The client’s name is being withheld on the request of counsel for reasons relating to legal strategy.

The images at issue are all comics in the manga style.  No photographic evidence of criminal behavior is at issue.  Nevertheless, a warrant was issued and the laptop was turned over to police.  Consequently, the American has been charged with both the possession of child pornography as well as its importation into Canada. As a result, if convicted at trial, the American faces a minimum of one year in prison. This case could have far reaching implications for comic books and manga in North America. (via CBLDF)

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors voted unanimously to aid the case by raising funds to contribute to the defense and to help the defense with strategy and expert resources.

The CBLDF has agreed to assist in the case by contributing funds towards the defense, which has been estimated to cost $150,000 CDN.  They will also provide access to experts and assistance on legal strategy.  The CBLDF’s efforts are joined by the recently re-formed Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund, a Canadian organization that will also contribute to the fundraising effort.



Why this case is important:

CBLDF’s Executive Director Charles Brownstein explains:

“This is an important case that impacts the rights of everyone who reads, publishes, and makes comics and manga in North America. It underscores the dangers facing everyone traveling with comics, and it can establish important precedents regarding travelers rights.  It also relates to the increasingly urgent issue of authorities prosecuting art as child pornography.  While this case won’t set a US precedent, it can inform whatever precedent is eventually set.  This case is also important with respect to artistic merit in the Canadian courts, and a good decision could bring Canadian law closer to US law in that respect.  With the help of our supporters, we hope to raise the funds to wage a fight that yields good decisions and to create tools to help prevent these sorts of cases from continuing to spread.”

Find out more on the case HERE.

To help support the case, you can make a monetary contribution HERE.


The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1986 as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of First Amendment rights for members of the comics community. They have defended dozens of Free Expression cases in courts across the United States, and led important education initiatives promoting comics literacy and free expression. For additional information, donations, and other inquiries call 800-99-CBLDF or visit them online at www.cbldf.org.

The Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1987 to raise money for the defense of a Calgary, Alberta comic shop whose owners were charged with selling obscene materials. The CLLDF has since been maintained on an ad hoc basis to provide financial relief for Canadian comics retailers, publishers, professionals, or readers whose right to free speech has been infringed by civil authorities.  Largely dormant since the early 1990s, the CLLDF is reforming to provide support for this case, and reorganizing to ensure that help will be readily available for future cases involving Canadian citizens or authorities.  To help the CLLDF in this mission, please go to www.clldf.ca.


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About The Author

Jacques is a comics lover, 80-90's nostalgic and an all around geeky guy. He is a graphic artist by trade and just love all things artsy-fartsy.

  1. Robb Orr 06/24/2011 at 1:36 pm

    A serious issue and great piece, Jacques.

  2. Andy Kirby 06/24/2011 at 1:43 pm

    THIS IS RIDICULOUS!! I know that every nation's citizens have different rights, but we have reduced the definition of pornography to "offensive material."

    This is a dangerously slippery slope. I'm appalled.

  3. Jason Edwards 06/24/2011 at 2:18 pm

    Even though this whole situation reeks of Fahrenheit 451, if any of you seen the manga Mai-chan's Daily Life, you'd be apalled.

  4. Jacques Nyemb 06/24/2011 at 2:38 pm

    I agree with Andy this definitely creates a slippery slope.

    @Jason I'm no Manga expert, but I don't think CBLDF and Canada's equivalent CLLDF would unanimously get involved in this case if the charges where clearly as such. I guess we'll see what comes of this as time passes.

    @Robb Thanks for the compliment!

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