WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Senate on Friday unanimously passed legislation to ban the creation, sale and distribution of so-called “crush videos” — sexual fetish films in which small animals are maimed or killed.
The measure, which calls for fines and prison terms of up to five years, now goes to President Barack Obama to sign into law.
The legislation defines crush videos as video portrayals of “actual conduct in which one or more living animal is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, or impaled in a manner that would violate a criminal prohibition on cruelty to animals.”
It also prohibits such videos from being distributed for free, a common practice on the Internet via file-sharing peer-to-peer networks.
Congress acted after the US Supreme Court in April struck down a 1999 law that criminalized videos depicting animal cruelty as overly broad and an infringement of the US Constitution’s First Amendment right to free speech.
The new legislation explicitly exempts the sale or distribution of videos showing hunting, trapping, fishing, or any typical veterinary or agricultural husbandry practices.