Obscenity and the Internet: A Case Study of U.S. Law

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Chalisa Magpanthong Drew McDaniel


U.S. Law makes a sharp distinction between public communications that are indecent, which are generally permissible, and obscene, which are prohibited and subject to legal penalties. This study analyzes the way that laws have been interpreted over time, focusing specifically on how the Internet has complicated the way obscenity has been interpreted in the courts. In the current state of law, whether a work is obscene or not will be determined by community standards existing where it is received. Moreover, obscenity is judged subjectively by courts without a need to consult experts. Nevertheless, obscenity laws can be understood as protection for the majority, in the name of a universal good.


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