Canadian Webmaster Appeals Obscenity Conviction

Matt O'Conner
ONTARIO, Canada – Webmasters hoping to steer clear of trouble with the U.S. Department of Justice will find no safe harbor from our neighbors to the north.

Weeks after Extreme Associates’ owner Rob Black had his obscenity case dismissed by a U.S. district judge, Donald Smith of Woodyatt, Ont., continues to appeal his 2002 obscenity conviction in Canadian court.

On Nov. 27 of that year, Smith was found guilty on four counts of making, possessing distributing obscene materials.

The materials in question are three films available to age-verified members of Smith’s now-defunct website that showed male predators surprising and killing scantily clad and semi-nude women, often by shooting or stabbing them in the genitals.

More than 2,000 subscribers paid about $30 (U.S.) to view the videos after going through three pages of warnings and age verification.

Smith was fined an amount equal to roughly $60,000 (U.S.), put on probation for three years and forbidden from using the Internet or ever again being involved in an Internet venture. In addition, he is prohibited from having a computer in his home.

Defense attorney Brian Greenspan, arguing before the Court of Appeals on Tuesday, said the videos do not qualify as obscenity because “sexual activity is virtually absent.” He also contended that mainstream movies, including “Natural Born Killers” and “Kill Bill,” contain far more violence — and far more explicit violence — than Smith’s films.

The state’s prosecutor, however, said the films’ “innuendo-laden dialog” and “suggestive poses” combined with graphic, effects-enhanced violence were enough to justify the conviction.

The court will continue to hear arguments from both sides this week.