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As opposed to questions of "indecency", which have been applied to sexual explicitness, films charged with being obscene have been viewed as having "a tendency to deprave and corrupt" and been liable to prosecution.Obscenity law in England and Wales is currently governed by the Obscene Publications Act, but obscenity law goes back much further into the English common law.Twenty more states were considering such legislation in 2001–2002.—that depict sexually explicit activities involving a child. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) issues ratings for motion pictures exhibited and distributed commercially to the public in the United States; the ratings are issued through the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA).The intent of the rating system is to provide information about the content of motion pictures so parents can determine whether an individual motion picture is suitable for viewing by their children.This resulted in a considerable black market of poor quality videotapes.Meanwhile, people attempting to buy pornography legally would often be stuck with heavily censored R18 certificate material.The take-down included over 20,000 live feeds from 26 different websites that were hosting a variety of content involving pornography and violence.the Canadian prohibited class of articles that are to be legally included as "obscene things" is very broad, including text-only written material, pictures, models (including statues) records or "any other obscene thing.” According to Section 163(8), if "a dominant characteristic of the publication is the undue exploitation of sex, or the combination of sex and at least one of crime, horror, cruelty or violence,” that publication is deemed to be "obscene" under the current law. (1) Every person commits an offence who makes, prints, publishes, distributes, circulates or has in their possession for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation any obscene written matter, picture, model, phonograph record or any other obscene thing.

During the 1990s the advent of the internet made it easier than ever before for British citizens to access hardcore material.

By the 1980s the UK was almost the only liberal democracy where the sale of hardcore pornography was still completely illegal, although ownership was not a criminal offence (except child pornography).

Home videotape was a booming market and it was relatively simple for individuals to smuggle hardcore material in from Europe or the United States, where it had been purchased legally, either for personal use or to copy it for distribution.

Delivering the opinion of the court, Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote: The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. 486 (1897)", which upheld a conviction for mailing and delivery of a newspaper called the 'Chicago Dispatch,' containing "obscene, lewd, lascivious, and indecent materials", which was later upheld in several cases. 1760, was judged to be obscene in a proceeding that put the book itself on trial rather than its publisher. FCC rules and federal law govern obscenity in broadcast media. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, and the Marquis de Sade. Supreme Court ruled that child pornography need not be legally obscene in order to be outlawed. constitutional law concerning obscenity and that governing child pornography is that the Supreme Court ruled in Stanley v. The three dissenting justices in that case argued, "While the sexual exploitation of children is undoubtedly a serious problem, Ohio may employ other weapons to combat it." This is most notably shown with the "X" rating under which some films are categorized.

While most recent (2016) obscenity cases in the United States have revolved around images and films, the first obscenity cases dealt with textual works. One of these was "A Book Named John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure" v. Many historically important works have been described as obscene or prosecuted under obscenity laws, including the works of Charles Baudelaire, Lenny Bruce, William S. Obscenity law has been criticized in the following areas: Obscenity laws remain enforceable under Miller despite these criticisms. The Court ruled that in contrast to the types of images considered in Miller, images that depicted underlying harm to children need not appeal to "the prurient interest of the average person," portray sexual conduct in "a patently offensive manner," nor be considered holistically, in order to be proscribed. The most notable films given an "X" rating were Deep Throat (1972) and The Devil in Miss Jones (1973).

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