COLUMBUS, Ohio Legislation introduced in the Ohio House would amend Ohio law so that no proof would be required that a minor depicted in pornography is an actual person in order to prosecute child pornographers.
The bill is similar to a federal law that expanded the definition of child pornography to include computer images that are indistinguishable from real children.
Sponsoring Rep. Timothy DeGeeter, D-Parma, said he sought the change because of cases in which defense lawyers have tried to use the First Amendment in defending clients charged with child-pornography offenses.
He said defense lawyers make the claim that no crime has been committed because their clients aren't viewing actual children engaged in sex acts, but rather computer-generated images meant to represent children.
Gary Daniels of the Cleveland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said the proposed bill is an attempt to subvert a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, that virtual porn is protected by the First Amendment.
"People cooking images, using Photoshop to morph body parts, using sleight-of-hand computer generation ... . This is exactly the issue the Supreme Court addressed," said Daniels, adding that such image manipulation doesn't constitute child pornography.
Passage of the federal law, which hasn't been tested yet, followed that ruling.
DeGeeter said his bill is a "legislative fix" that reflects the new federal statute.
"The bill will take away the added burden placed on prosecutors to prove there is a real victim," he said.