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New York State rules viewing child porn is legalThe New York Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that viewing child pornography is not a crime, reports MSNBC.com.

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Ruling in the case of James D. Kent, an assistant professor of public administration at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, Senior Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick wrote the following for a majority of four of the six judges:

“Merely viewing Web images of child pornography does not, absent other proof, constitute either possession or procurement within the meaning of our Penal Law,” wrote Judge Ciparick. “Rather, some affirmative act is required (printing, saving, downloading, etc.) to show that defendant in fact exercised dominion and control over the images that were on his screen. To hold otherwise, would extend the reach of (state law) to conduct — viewing — that our Legislature has not deemed criminal.”

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Concurring with Judge Ciparick, Judge Victoria A. Graffeo wrote, “The purposeful viewing of child pornography on the internet is now legal in New York.”

Article 263 of New York’s penal code states that it’s illegal to “create, possess, distribute, promote, or facilitate” child pornography, but it’s not illegal to view it. When Kent took his computer to get scanned for viruses, the child porn sites were discovered cached in his computer. He was sentenced to one to three years in state prison in August 2009, but always said that he didn’t view the images and that someone else must have been on his computer.

Since he didn’t know the browser cache was capturing the disturbing content,  the court decided that Kent can not be held responsible for collecting them.

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