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An Australian man has lost his appeal against child pornography charges for possessing images of the Simpsons characters having sex.

The Supreme Court of New South Wales upheld a lower court's decision which found him guilty of possessing child pornography.

Alan John McEwan was convicted in February of possessing child pornography and using his computer to access child pornography because he had a series of cartoons based on the TV series The Simpsons including images of the children having sex.

Judge Adams noted that in some ways the figures do not imitate humans - they only have four digits on each hand and: "the faces have eyes, a nose and mouth markedly and deliberately different to those of any possible human being". The judgement said that the television series implied ages of about ten for Bart and eight for Lisa.

Adams said: "The question before me is whether a fictional cartoon character is a 'person' within the meaning of the statutory offences or, to be more precise, is a depiction or representation of such a 'person'."

The judge made clear there was a fundamental difference between depicting an acutal person and an imaginary person - he used the example of video games showing "terrible violence" which if it involved real people "would constitute crimes at the very highest level of the criminal calendar".

But by accepting that a person may be real or imaginary, and may be depicted by drawing then "a cartoon character might well constitute the depiction of such a person". McEwan was therefore guilty.

The judgment said there was no evidence that the material was or might be used for any criminal purpose.

McEwan was fined $3,000 and signed up to a two year good behaviour bond - punishment which the Supreme Court upheld.

Each side must pay its own costs. The full judgment is here.

Rude versions of Simpsons cartoons were a leading meme of the internet in the late 90s, second only to Star Trek jokes. Insurance firm Royal & Sun Alliance staff got into trouble for forwarding smutty Simpsons emails back in 2001. ®

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