03/30/2015 12:53 EDT | Updated 05/30/2015 05:59 EDT

Lawyer for man accused of child pornography says films of naked boys weren't sexual

TORONTO - The movies produced and sold by an Ontario man accused in a sweeping child pornography investigation weren't sexual in nature but simply showed "naked boys doing silly things," his lawyer argued Monday.

Brian Way's lawyer told a Toronto court his client was selling films that depict the nudist lifestyle by showing boys engaging in various activities, such as riding horses or playing sports, while nude.

Though Way was aware some buyers might have a sexual interest in children, the films themselves had no sexually explicit content or sexual language, Nyron Dwyer told the judge-alone trial.

"It's boys getting together, they do an activity, they become nude for some reason, they interact with each other while nude, then they put their clothes on and go home," he said in his closing submissions.

Despite their poor quality, the movies "do have some artistic merit to those who watch them," the defence lawyer said.

Way has pleaded guilty to seven child pornography charges related to his home collection, but is contesting nine charges related to 176 of the films he sold online.

Those charges include making and possessing child pornography, possessing property obtained by crime and instructing a criminal organization.

Prosecutors argued Monday that Way knew he was making child pornography given that he himself admitted to being sexually attracted to boys and would have been aware of the market for such films.

Crown lawyer Jill Cameron noted that Way's personal collection contained a sexually explicit video featuring a boy who also appeared in at least one of the movies for sale.

"He is making child pornography and selling child pornography and trying to get away with it," she told the court.

The movies were "made by pedophiles ... for a sexual purpose," she said.

The judge presiding over the case, however, warned that Way's sexual preferences are irrelevant in determining whether the films meet the threshold for child pornography.

Judge Julie Thorburn said she must only consider what Way did, not who he is.

The investigation that led to Way's arrest began in October 2010 when undercover officers made contact with a Toronto man on the Internet they believed was sharing child pornography online.

That sparked a massive investigation — dubbed Project Spade — that led to more than 300 arrests in Canada, the United States, Mexico and other countries in 2013.

Police said at the time Way had made millions producing and selling the films through a company called Azov Films.

The films at the centre of the trial were mostly shot in Romania, Ukraine and Spain. None of the boys involved are Canadian.

Court has heard Way contracted people to create the videos, then distributed them to customers around the world.

The Crown is expected to continue its closing arguments on Wednesday.