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Iran: New Law Punishes Illegal Audiovisual Activities

(Mar. 2, 2008) The Iranian Islamic House (Majlisi Showra'i Islami Iran) passed a law on January 16, 2008, on the punishment of those involved in illegal audiovisual activities. According to article 1 of the law, any legal entity or individual that engages in introducing illegal audiovisual products as legal or undermines the rights of the producers by illegal copying of the material will be subject to a fine of 2 million to 20 million rials (about US$200-2,000), along with the punishment provided for copyright violations.

Article 2 of the law states that any commercial activity to produce, distribute, or copy audiovisual products, cassettes, CDs, and DVDs will require a permit from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Violators will be fined 10 to 100 million rials (about US$1,100-11,000).

Article 3 of the law provides for the punishment of those involved in copying and distributing pornographic audiovisual products with one to three years in jail for the first offense and a fine of 100 million rials. Moreover, the persons involved in such illegal activities will lose their political rights for seven years. Repetition of the crime will subject the offenders to two to five years of imprisonment. The article then adds:

The following persons may receive the death penalty if their crime is qualified as corrupt on earth: persons who produce pornographic materials in order to exploit others sexually and the principal agents involved in production of pornographic materials. If they do not qualify as corrupt on earth, they will receive 30 to 74 lashes and a fine of from 10 million to 50 million rials and the loss of social rights for from two to five years.

Under this law, production of pornographic or obscene materials in digital format and through the Internet or intranet connections is counted as publishing and distribution. Violators will receive punishments decided by the Revolutionary Courts based on the gravity of each case. (Iran: President Promulgates Law on Illegal Audiovisual Activities, AFTAB NEWS, Jan. 29, 2008, Open Source Center No. IAP20080130950076.)