Pornography Law & Legal Definition


Pornography is governed by state and federal laws. Due to widespread use of pornography on computers, the definition of pornography is being expanded to cover electronic images viewed or stored on computer hard drives, floppy disks, and other recording devices, besides books, newspapers, magazines, movies, pictures, and other tangible media.

All 50 states have laws on child pornography. The United States long has had laws prohibiting sexual abuse of minors and trafficking in child pornography. The Supreme Court allows state and federal officials wide authority to protect minors from the sexual exploitation involved in making pornographic material with actual children. In 1996, Congress passed the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996. The 1998 law, known as the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), has been subject to litigation over constitutional concerns. It would have authorized fines up to $50,000 for the crime of placing material that is "harmful to minors" within the easy reach of children on the Internet, but has been recently blocked by thr Supreme Court for violating free speech protections.