After a Singaporean OnlyFans content creator was jailed and fined for posting obscene materials on the site and breaching police orders to stay off the site, many Singaporeans are questioning whether OnlyFans is legal in Singapore.
The 22-year-old was charged with uploading 32 explicit photographs and 29 videos onto the online platform. He was fined S$3,000 and sentenced to jail for three weeks after accessing the site against police orders to stay off the platform.
Although the case was not about the legality of OnlyFans, it raises some valid questions about the legality of the online platform and its users.
This article will tell you more about OnlyFans, what you should know as a subscriber, and what you should consider before creating and posting content on the platform.
What is OnlyFans?
If you haven’t heard of OnlyFans, it is a British-run internet content subscription service. Content on the site is generated by the users, and subscribers pay a monthly fee or pay-per-view to access the content. Content creators share photos and videos, which users’ access for a fee. The content creators earn a percentage of the fees. Creators and users must all be over 18 years old.
Content varies from musicians, fashion, travel, and physical fitness experts, but it is also well-known for sexually explicit content.
The platform itself has an acceptable use policy, stating that content creators are prohibited from publishing illegal content or content promoting drugs, incest, bestiality, or sexual assault.
Content including or referring to under-18-year-olds is not allowed, and revenge porn is also prohibited.
Is OnlyFans legal in Singapore?
The simple answer is, yes, it is legal.
The real answer depends on what you do on OnlyFans. The site is not banned in Singapore, and not all the content is objectionable in the eyes of the law.
Is it legal to access the site and view the content?
Yes, it is legal to subscribe to and view any content on OnlyFans. In Singapore, it is not illegal to watch pornographic content online.
However, if you are thinking of downloading, screenshotting, or forwarding the content, you must think again.
If the content can be classified as obscene material, it is illegal under section 292 of the Penal Code to possess or distribute the material by electronic means for any purpose. So, even sending an electronic copy to a friend can be an offence.
If you were considering downloading obscene material for personal offline viewing, you need to know that it could also be an offence under the Film Act. Section 30 of the Film Act makes it an offence to possess any obscene films, and if found guilty, you can face a fine of S$40,000, 12-months imprisonment, or both.
So, if you only view content, you are not doing anything illegal. However, as soon as you save, download, or take a screenshot of obscene material, you are at risk of committing an offence.
What constitutes “obscene” material?
Section 42 of the Penal Code defines “obscene” as anything or matter that tends to deprave and corrupt a person’s mind who is likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see, or hear the material.
Whether something is obscene would thus be evaluated in context. For example, a painting of a naked woman or a medical illustration will be viewed very differently to a sexually explicit photo.
What about creating and posting content on OnlyFans?
It all depends on what you post. If you are planning on posting sexual content, it is illegal, regardless of the platform you post it on.
It is a known fact that sex workers use OnlyFans to earn money. It is, however, illegal to post sexually explicit content. If prosecuted and convicted, they can be liable for a fine or even face imprisonment.
As stated above, distributing obscene material is illegal under sec 292 of the Penal Code. If found guilty, you can face a penalty of a fine and/or be jailed for three months.
Similarly, you can be guilty of an offence under the Film Act if you distribute obscene material electronically.
In addition, if you make or reproduce for the purposes of selling, exhibiting, or distributing any objectionable publication, you may be guilty of an offence under the Undesirable Publications Act 1967. If convicted, you can be fined a maximum of S$5,000 or face imprisonment up to 12 months, or both.
Should you post obscene or undesirable content on a platform such as OnlyFans for commercial gain, you also run the risk that it might be considered an aggravating factor that the court can consider imposing a heavier penalty.
When is content objectionable?
The Undesirable Publications Act defines objectionable content to include the following:
A publication is objectionable if it describes, depicts, expresses, or otherwise deals with sex, horror, crime, cruelty, violence, or the consumption of drugs or other intoxicating substances in such a manner that the availability of the publication is likely to be harmful to the public good.
It also includes content that describes, depicts, expresses, or otherwise deals with matters of race or religion in such a manner that publication is likely to cause feelings of enmity, hatred, ill will, or hostility between different racial or religious groups.
So, before you create or post anything on OnlyFans or any other platform, ask yourself if the content is objectionable or obscene. If so, refrain from creating or publishing the content.
Race and religious content
If you post anything that might stir up racial or religious hostility or offend a particular group of people, you could be guilty of an offence under the Undesirable Publications Act or sections 298 or 298A of the Penal Code.
Sec 298 stipulates that if you utter words, make gestures, or place an object in sight of a person with the deliberate intention to wound the racial feelings of any person; you can be punished with imprisonment of a maximum of three years and/or a fine.
Sec 298A applies when you are found guilty of promoting enmity (hostility) or feelings of disharmony between different groups based on race, whether by words, signs, visible representation, or otherwise. It also applies to conduct that will disturb public tranquility.
So, if you post anything on OnlyFans or any other platform that falls within the scope of undesirable racial or religious content, it will be illegal.
Does it make a difference that subscribers pay to view the content?
Yes, for the creators of the content, it makes a difference. Selling obscene material by electronic means is illegal in Singapore.
If the material is obscene and they profit from the sale of it, it is an offence – even if the viewers pay to view it. It does not matter that viewing is restricted to paying subscribers only.
The fact that subscribers pay to view the content is not a defence. It would be illegal to sell pornographic videos to someone. Saying the person paid for it was never a defence. The same applies if you pay for online content.
Creators of such content must note that posting the content for commercial gain can count against them. Not only is it illegal, but it can be considered an aggravating factor when the courts decide on a penalty.
Can you argue that the creator consented to the material being posted?
If someone posts obscene material featuring themselves, they cannot argue that they consented to the material being published, as it’s illegal to publish such materials in Singapore. (Consent cannot be given.)
- OnlyFans is not illegal in Singapore.
- Viewing sexually explicit or any other content on OnlyFans is not illegal.
- General content creation and distribution on OnlyFans is not illegal.
- Creating and posting content that contravenes racial and religious laws is illegal.
- Creating and posting pictures, photos, videos, audio recordings, or anything that is objectionable content is illegal.
- Creating and posting obscene material is illegal.
- The fact that access is restricted to paid subscribers makes no difference.
If you are being charged for an offence
If you are charged with an offence relating to posting illegal content on an online platform, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
You might not understand why you are prosecuted whilst so many other content creators get away with posting sexually explicit content. Whether you are charged depends on the prosecution. They have the discretion to decide whether to prosecute or not.
The prosecution will evaluate whether the harm caused by your content is serious enough to prosecute. It also depends on someone laying a complaint against you. The prosecution will also consider any commercial gain from your online content.
An experienced criminal lawyer knows the law and can help you navigate the charges against you to ensure the best outcome for your circumstances.