Legislative Attempts To Regulate Online Pornography

Pornographers have been an active voice on the Internet since its inception, as have the opponents of online pornography. While those in the pornography industry have argued that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects their right to free speech on the Web, their opponents have argued that obscenity is illegal and that children should be protected from viewing pornography on the Internet, as well as being used as models and participants in the production of pornographic works that are distributed electronically. Several laws have been passed by the U.S. government in its ongoing attempt to limit the dissemination of pornography on the Web in order to protect the welfare of children, in accord with constitutional protections. However, the attempts of the legislature to regulate online pornography have met with little or no success in the courts. Instead, although each of the laws passed has defined the prohibited materials and prohibited actions differently, the courts have found that the laws have been, or are likely to be, unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

The following questions have been addressed in this article:

What practical advice can attorneys provide, if asked what the standard is for determining whether a particular film or picture is illegal under either COPA or CCPA?
Is it likely that the U.S. legislature will enact a law that passes constitutional scrutiny and prohibits the online distribution of pornography?

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