This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Is Viewing an Illegal Video on a Website Considered Illegal in England?

Question from …., Is Viewing an Illegal Video on a Website Considered Illegal in England?

Answer from AI:

In England, the law regarding viewing illegal content online is complex and can depend on various factors. The primary legislation that governs this area is the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

General Legal Position

Generally, merely viewing content online, even if it is illegal, is not considered a crime. This is because the law typically targets those who make, distribute, or possess such content. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

Obscene Publications Act 1959: This Act makes it an offence to publish an obscene article, or to have an obscene article for publication for gain. The term ‘publish’ is broadly defined and could potentially include uploading or sharing a video online. However, merely viewing such a video would not typically fall under this Act.

Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008: This Act introduced a new offence of possession of extreme pornographic images. The images must be realistic and depict certain acts in an explicit and realistic way. If you intentionally download such images onto your device, you could be committing an offence, even if you do not share or distribute the images.


There are certain exceptions where viewing illegal content online could potentially be considered a crime. These include:

  • Child pornography: Under the Protection of Children Act 1978, it is an offence to take, make, distribute, show, or possess for distribution any indecent photograph of a child. This includes viewing such images online. The law is very strict in this area and any involvement with child pornography, including merely viewing it, is likely to be considered a crime.
  • Terrorist material: Under the Terrorism Act 2006, it is an offence to view or otherwise access any article that is likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. This includes viewing such material online.

Legal Advice

If you have viewed illegal content online, even unintentionally, it may be advisable to seek legal advice. This is a complex area of law and the consequences of being found guilty of an offence can be severe. A legal professional can provide you with advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

Remember, this information is a general guide and not comprehensive legal advice. If you need more help, you should speak to a legal adviser. You can find a solicitor by visiting the Law Society’s website.

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