Child Online Protection Act Law and Legal Definition

Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is a U.S. federal statute designed to control child pornography on the Internet by prohibiting Internet speech that is harmful to minors. According to the Act, "Material harmful to minors" includes any material that by "contemporary community standards" was judged to appeal to the "prurient interest" and that showed sexual acts or nudity (including female breasts). It does not apply to e-mail or chat-room communications. It applies to sexually explicit material that appears to depict minors, even if the people are actually over 18 or the images are computer-generated and do not depict living people. The Act has been challenged on ground that it violates the constitutional protection of free speech. After several court challenges, COPA was held unconstitutional and never became effective.