Obscenity regulation (feb. 7 9, 2011)

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Obscenity regulation (feb. 7 9, 2011)

  1. 1. Obscenity regulation<br />COMM 502, Feb. 7-9, 2011<br />
  2. 2. history<br /><ul><li>1842 - First anti-obscenity statute (not enforced)
  3. 3. 1873 – Comstock Act (criminal law)
  4. 4. Why?</li></ul>Anthony Comstock<br />
  5. 5. Comstock act (1873)<br />Every obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy book, pamphlet, picture, paper, letter, writing, print, or other publication of an indecent character, and --<br />* * * *<br />Every written or printed card, letter, circular, book, pamphlet, advertisement, or notice of any kind giving information, directly or indirectly, where, or how, or from whom, or by what means any of such mentioned matters, articles, or things may be obtained or made, . . . whether sealed or unsealed . . .<br />* * * *<br />Is declared to be nonmailable matter and shall not be conveyed in the mails or delivered from any post office or by any letter carrier.<br />
  6. 6. Comstock act<br />Did not define the crime<br />
  7. 7. Problems for the courts<br />(1) <br />Legal concept: <br />What is obscenity?<br />
  8. 8. Problems for the courts<br />(2) <br />Evidence: <br />How should the obscenity of an artifact be determined? <br />
  9. 9. Regina v. hicklin (1868)<br />obscene is that which has a tendency to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences and into whose hands the work might fall<br />
  10. 10. Roth v. united states (1957)<br />Legal concept<br />“Obscene material is material which deals with sex in a manner appealing to prurient interest.”<br />
  11. 11. Roth v. united states (1957)<br />Evidentiary test<br />“whether, to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interest”<br />
  12. 12. What about the First Amendment?<br />
  13. 13. Chaplinski v. new Hampshire (1942)<br />“there are certain well defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or ‘fighting" words’...”<br />
  14. 14. Chaplinski v. new Hampshire (1942)<br />“It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality”<br />
  15. 15. Roth determined that statutes regulating obscenity are constitutional.<br />
  16. 16. Memoirs v Massachusetts (1966)<br />(1) Dominant theme of the material taken as a whole must appeal to prurient interest<br />
  17. 17. Memoirs v Massachusetts (1966)<br />(2) A court must find that the material is patently offensive because it affronts contemporary community standards re sexual maters<br />
  18. 18. Memoirs v Massachusetts (1966)<br />(3) Material must be utterly without redeeming social value<br />
  19. 19. Loophole:Expert testimony that material had a modicum of social value<br />
  20. 20. Miller v. california (1973)<br />(1)<br />An average person, applying contemporary local community standards, finds that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interest<br />
  21. 21. Miller v. california (1973)<br />(2)<br />The work depicts in a patently offensive way sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law<br />
  22. 22. Miller v. california (1973)<br />(3)<br />The work lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value<br />
  23. 23. questions<br /><ul><li>Who is the “average persons”?
  24. 24. What is the relevant community?
  25. 25. What are prurient interests?
  26. 26. What is patent offensiveness?
  27. 27. Who determines the value of the material?</li></li></ul><li>Elements of the miller test<br />Average person<br />All adults (not children) comprising a community<br />
  28. 28. State has the choice of jurisdiction, even on the Internet<br />
  29. 29. Community standards<br />Jury decide what the community standards are<br />
  30. 30. Prurient interest<br />Shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex or excretion<br />
  31. 31. Patent offensiveness<br />State laws are supposed to define what type of content is patently offensive<br />
  32. 32. Serious value<br />Test: whether a reasonable person (juror) would find serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value<br />Use of experts<br />
  33. 33. Robert Mapplethorpe<br />
  34. 34. Variable obscenity<br />Two standards:<br />Material that may be legally distributed to adults, but not to juveniles<br />
  35. 35. Variable obscenity may be regulated using TPL regulations<br />
  36. 36. Regulation of non-obscene material<br />Zoning, licensing, signal scrambling, ID technologies, etc.<br />31<br />
  37. 37. Media self-regulation<br />E.g., MPAA code<br />
  38. 38. Child pornography<br />Images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, even if the depiction does not raise to the standards of obscenity in Miller<br />
  39. 39. The production, distribution and possession of child pornography is not protected by the First Amendment<br />
  40. 40. What about sexting?<br />Minors who take, possess or distribute sexually explicit photos of themselves or other minors are not exempt from child pornography statutes.<br />
  41. 41. Erotic material in cyberspace<br /><ul><li>1996, Communication Decency Act
  42. 42. 1998, Child Online Protection Act
  43. 43. 2001, Children’s Internet Protection Act</li></li></ul><li>Erotic material in cyberspace<br /><ul><li>1996, Communications Decency Act (CDA)
  44. 44. Attempted to regulate the distribution of both indecent and obscene online material to children
  45. 45. 1997, Supreme Court declared CDA partially unconstitutional</li></li></ul><li>Erotic material in cyberspace<br /><ul><li>1998, Child Online Protection Act (COPA)
  46. 46. Required commercial distributors of “material harmful to minors” to restrict minor access to their sites
  47. 47. Declared unconstitutional between 2004-2008</li></li></ul><li>Erotic material in cyberspace<br /><ul><li>2000, Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
  48. 48. Requires schools and public libraries using federal funding to install anti-pornography filters on their public computers
  49. 49. Constitutionality upheld in 2003</li></li></ul><li>review<br /><ul><li>Regina v. Hicklin (1986)
  50. 50. Roth v. U.S. (1957)
  51. 51. Memoirs v. Massachusetts (1966)
  52. 52. Miller v. California (1973)
  53. 53. The Miller test of obscenity
  54. 54. Average person
  55. 55. Community
  56. 56. Community standards
  57. 57. Prurient interest
  58. 58. Patent offensiveness
  59. 59. Serious value</li></ul>Variable obscenity<br />Examples of erotic material regulations<br />Child pornography<br />CDA, COPA, CIPA<br />

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