New federal act prohibiting crush videos deemed to be constitutional and effective

crush video

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

This is the rather tortuous saga of attempts to create a law in the USA which prohibits the making of crush videos for distribution and profit.  Anyone and everyone knows instinctively and without question that crush videos are an horrendously perverted example of human behavior which must be stopped.

The original law of 1999 called Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act (the “Crush Act”) was said to be unconstitutional according to the Supreme Court. This is my post on that story.

The court’s declaration, it is argued, encouraged the makers of crush videos to carry on and even make more of them. They had achieved a victory. It was a black day for animal advocates and people who care about animal welfare.

The original act was deemed unconstitutional because it was drafted incorrectly. It was drafted too widely and infringed the rights of people who were making instructional videos. At least that was the argument.

The Humane Society working with associates in Congress tweaked the language of the original act to create a new one which is called the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act (2010).

As it happens, the first prosecution brought under this new act, in 2012, against Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice, was challenged by the defendants as unconstitutional which is exactly what happened the first time around with the previous law. Perhaps they thought they could pull the same trick and get off.

Their challenge was heard in the US District Court who unfortunately held that the law was unconstitutional and a violation of the first Amendment. Therefore replicating what happened years earlier.

However, fortunately, federal prosecutors appealed that decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. With the help of HSUS and lawyers working for free (pro bono) they convinced the judges at the US Court of appeals to overturn the decision of the US District Court. They declared that the current law was indeed constitutional.

That, as I understand it, puts this saga to bed and we can now tell ourselves that the making of crush videos is a federal crime in the United States, but please read on.

There may be some bits that I have missed. I believe what is stated on this page is entirely accurate but the story is complicated. One website states that “it is a federal crime to profit from the commerce in crush videos”.

That is a different to making crush videos illegal because it implies that a person can make crush videos at home for private viewing without payment. That should not be correct because it is still animal cruelty for the perverted titillation of others. However, my reading of the law on the government’s website tells me that crush videos are only unlawful if they are made with the intention of distributing them for interstate or foreign commerce.

The reason, I believe is because the existing, general law covering animal welfare and punishing animal cruelty already covers the animal cruelty in crush videos. Therefore the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act extends animal welfare law to cover making a profit out of crush videos.

This page recites the law.

I hope that this post helps people understand the situation regarding crush videos in the USA but what I stated in the last few paragraphs disturbed me somewhat.

Note: My thanks to Dee for spotting this story.

11 thoughts on “New federal act prohibiting crush videos deemed to be constitutional and effective”

  1. Also marla and I had a fight on our hands with the ACLU who opposed the Bill 5566.

    November 15, 2010
    U. S. House of Representatives
    Washington, DC 20510
    Re: ACLU Opposes H.R. 5566 – Animal Crush Video Pr
    Act of 2010
    Dear Representative:
    On behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union (AC
    LU), its more than
    half a million members, countless additional activi
    sts and supporters, and
    fifty-three affiliates nationwide, we write once ag
    ain in opposition to H.R.
    5566, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 201
    0. We urge you to
    vote “NO” when this bill comes to the floor on the
    suspension calendar.
    We opposed the original form of this bill when it c
    ame up for a vote in the
    House in July.
    We also submitted a written statement to the Sena
    Judiciary Committee when the bill was the subject o
    f a hearing in that
    forum in September.
    The Senate passed an amended version of the bill,
    which is scheduled to come before the House for a v
    ote as early as today.
    While we understand that the House will consider a
    further amendment
    that limits the new crimes created by the bill, we
    continue to oppose the
    bill. In fact, the bill approved by the Senate is
    substantially more likely to
    run afoul of constitutional free speech standards t
    han even the bill
    approved by the House in July.
    H. R. 5566 could be crafted in any of a number of w
    ays to focus on those
    who actually inflict cruelty on animals. The bill
    approved by the Senate
    instead criminalizes the conduct of those who merel
    y document such
    cruelty or distribute such depictions to others – r
    egardless of the intent of
    those creating or distributing such depictions. As
    a result, this bill is far
    more likely to face constitutional challenge – the
    same fate that befell
    predecessor legislation and which resulted in the S
    upreme Court striking
    down the law earlier this year.

  2. What I don’t understand, is why crush videos aren’t illegal on the grounds of animal cruelty?

    It doesn’t make sense to me that these horrific acts aren’t covered by existing laws meant to protect animals from harm and suffering.

    • My feelings too and I am glad you made that point. I wrote this page in a bit of a rush last night and missed writing about the point you have made which needs to be addressed. I’ll see if I can address it. Thanks Michele.

      Update: Having thought about it for a minute, I have a feeling I know what it might be. The existing animal welfare laws do cover crush videos. The crush video prohibition law covers the sale of crush videos – i.e. making a profit from them. It extends the existing law. That I believe is the answer. I’ll add a paragraph to the page. Thanks again.

        • You pose another good question 😉 . I am sure they are illegal. Their illegality must be covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 but there may well be other statutes involved regarding the commercial element (distribution and commercialisation). That is a fairly vague answer.

  3. This is more sad news about HSUS, PETA, and the ASPCA
    not giving a damn. I don’t trust them at all.

    Thank you for sharing about your work. I appreciate your efforts in publicizing this. I feel sick about the suffering imposed on so many helpless animals.

  4. This piece shocks me because back in 2004 I viewed my first crush video of a chinese woman crushing a kitten with her heel and after that I advocated for years to get people on board to bring this vile fetish to the fore front and no one paid attention until 2009 when the video was circulating again and shared it with my AR people and thats when http://www.stopcrush was created by me and several other people,I was the PR person to get interviews for the founder of stopcrush and prevailed,Thomas Janak out of the UK was the first to interview the founder of stopcrush (Marla Stormwolf-Patty)along with Anthony Damiano who took my place as co-founder,we fought hard to bring the Bill 5566 into legislation and won and once it was on the floor Obama signed the Bill into law but a whole lot of good that did since a couple in TX were arrested and then released by the Judge,the HSUS,PETA or the ASPCA would not even give us the time of day when we needed them the most and sadly crush videos are still making their rounds!


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