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Is Watching Porn Illegal ?

Porn has grown into one of the largest forms of entertainment in the world. In fact, it brings in more money than professional basketball, baseball and football combined, not to mention that it has a higher revenue than CBS, NBC and ABC combined as well. With this sort of power and money, it is able to reach every corner of the globe. This includes the Internet and your home.Sometimes it can seemingly be difficult to completely avoid porn, as it seems to pop up in random Internet searches and other website advertisements, but ultimately, when it comes down to the question “is watching porn illegal?”, the answer is no. However, there is a ‘but’. Porn, in general, is not illegal, but there are forms of porn that are illegal and can bring about federal charges. Plus, with how easy it is for the federal government to track down IP addresses and other Internet connections, it can be rather difficult to prove innocence if illegal porn has been downloaded. If you download or watch porn online and are wondering is porn legal to watch or not? Can you get in trouble for watching porn? How old do you have to be to do porn or watch it? It is a good idea to know what sort of porn is illegal and what can come up due to it.

|SEE ALSO: What Is Permissive Parenting?|

Age Range

For starters, you need to be 18 to purchase pornography from the store. This means top shelf magazines. Other, lesser entertainment magazines, such as Maxim, do not have these kinds of rules or regulations, but they also do not have the same general content. In terms of viewing porn online, the age limit is still 18, but this is a bit more difficult to regulate, simply because there is no bouncer at the front of the website. Sometimes a website might ask you to confirm your age, but this takes a single click and you are in. At this point in time, it really comes down to the parent to prevent a child from viewing the pornography content found on the Internet through the usage of a porn website blocker or other services available to them. In case of a child not being of age viewing the Internet website or viewing a pay per view movie, there is no legal penalties for the production company. They must put on a disclaimer and state it is for individuals over the ages of 18, but other than this, as long as they are not targeting underage individuals with advertising, they have no real legal ramifications because of it. But can you get in trouble for watching porn when the website clearly states an age range that you are under? Mostly no, but it could depend on where you are in the world.

Child Pornography

In terms of subject matter, there are some very specific kinds of porn that are not allowed, in any kind. One such form of porn is child pornography. It is possible to film and include just about anything in a porn video, but a minor is not one of these things. How old do you have to be to do porn is an essential element in its legality. Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor and is not allowed to be in such a video, picture, or any other adult content.

Child pornography is a federal crime and is often charged by a federal prosecutor. Possession of child pornography, which is known as indecent photographs of children and is covered under the Protection of Children Act of 1978 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988, section 160.

Visiting a child pornographic website is difficult, if not impossible, to charge someone with, even though the government is able to monitor IP addresses and different Internet based connections. However, once someone attempts to download the child porn to their computer, then they are breaking the law. There are different forms of child porn laws. There is simply owning and holding onto the child porn, then there is attempting to distribute, which is extremely serious, and then there is selling the child porn to other individuals. Lastly, there is the production of child pornography. This is the most serious of the three and comes with the longest jail time. Life for someone convicted of child pornography inside prison is usually rather difficult too.

Child Pornography Crimes

Animal Porn

Animal porn is also illegal, although, unlike child pornography, it does not have the same sort of federal attention. This is considered illegal inside the United States because it falls under obscene material, plus the animal cannot indicate consent or lack thereof. Any sort of sexual act with an animal is considered illegal, regardless of if it being a man or women partaking in the sexual acts with the animal. While viewing animal porn is not likely going to bring about any sort of charges, a person who appears in the video and is caught is more likely to face criminal charges of animal cruelty.

Obscene Porn

Porn that is illegal generally falls under a classification of obscene porn. In this day and age, it can be often difficult to determine what is obscene, as there is some rather perverse content found on the Internet now. However, it usually is of a realistic, violent nature and appears to potentially hurt and place the person in danger. The interpretation for obscene porn is difficult, but you usually are able to know it when you see it. Bondage, in general, is not illegal, but it is possible to cross into the plane of being illegal. If someone is doing bodily harm to someone, such as cutting them with a knife or stabbing them, this is considered obscene, as they can potentially kill the person. Hammering nails through genitals or any other extremely violent connotation in porn is illegal. Also, violent, sexual encounters, such as rape, are obviously illegal as well. But can you get in trouble for watching porn that includes any or all of the previously mentioned elements? This, again, is more of a problem for the individuals who produce the content than someone who might accidentally or even intentionally watch porn online of such themes. As you are not stabbing or raping the individual in the video, you are not the one at fault, but some porn laws and regulations can vary, depending on where you live.

Laws regarding obscene porn change almost on a regular basis. What the government considered obscene back at the end of the 19th century is far different from what is considered obscene today. Due to this, there is a chance the regulations might change again in the next few years. Essentially, if you are watching a material that arouses the question “is porn legal?” in your head, then you are probably watching obscene porn and it is better for you to stop immediately.

National and State Porn Laws

Depending on where you live, the answer to is porn legal can vary and the laws regarding pornography can change rather drastically. Different countries are going to have different rules and regulations on porn. Most countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada and most of Europe share the same basic porn laws as the U.S. They may or may not go after child pornography as quickly as the United States, but all of these are considered illegal. However, the different countries you might visit outside of North America and Europe can have more extreme porn laws or more laid back laws. If you live in such a region, you need to check up is porn legal where you are and what are the regional laws and how can these laws potentially affect you. On top of this, some states have some very extreme laws in place, so even though you might not be breaking federal law, you might be breaking state law. Some states require individuals to be of a higher age in order to view pornography.

Supplying Porn for Minors

Buying porn for underage individuals is the same as buying alcohol for minors. A person who purchases a video or magazine for a younger individual and is caught doing it can end up in serious trouble. This does not cover children accessing porn on a computer system, but instead it usually only covers physical items.

When asking is watching porn illegal, you are left with the short answer “no,” but with a but. This is because the vast majority of porn is fine to watch, depending on your personal opinion of the material. It is also necessary to remember that while many forms of porn are illegal, child pornography comes about with the highest level of punishment. It is the government’s duty to protect children from the horrific abuse of children sex trade. But while protecting children from being exploited in the porn industry is the duty of the state, protecting your child from the side effects of being exposed to porn is mostly the parents’ job. Through conversation and maintaining an honest and strong line of communication between a parent and a child, such issues can be addressed. But keep in mind that children are resourceful, and even if you make sure that their own devices (computer, tab, cell phone) cannot access porn, they could still find a way through a friend’s device or a method that overrides your protection program. Speaking to your children about what is right, legal, and morally acceptable and what is not remains vital in protecting them from the evils of the Internet. 

Learn more about recognizing sex offenders and keeping your child safe!

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