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in law, anything that tends to corrupt public morals by its indecency. The moral concepts that the term connotes vary from time to time and from place to place. In the United States, the word obscenity is a technical legal term. In the 1950s the U.S. Supreme Court began to relax rules prohibiting the possession, sale, and distribution of obscene material, often called pornography, but in 1973 that trend was reversed. The court ruled that material that appealed to prurient interest in sex and that did not have serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value could be banned as obscene. It ruled that a national definition of obscenity was not necessary and, therefore, that communities could develop local standards within the court's guidelines. The legal determination that material falls within a definition of obscenity is usually made by a jury.


See H. M. Clor, Obscenity and Public Morality (1969, repr. 1985); D. S. Moretti, Obscenity and Pornography (1984).

References in periodicals archive ?
It added: "She agrees with Mrs Whitehouse that piecemeal legislation on obscenity is unsatisfactory and that the Government ought to be bringing forward proposals for a general reform of the Obscene Publications Acts, which she believes to be ineffective.
The court rejected the plea seeking disposal of petition filed by late Qazi Hussain Ahmad against the dramas fomenting obscenity and other obscene programs on media.
Kernes wrote that "one juror reportedly sent a note to Judge [George] King charging that one of the other jurors had said that he/she did not believe in the obscenity laws" That complaint prompted an admonition from King, who told the jurors they had to apply the law no matter how stupid or unjust they thought it was.
The 1986 Attorney General's Commission on Obscenity and pornography noted that, "with few exceptions the obscenity laws that are on the books go unenforced.
Howl interweaves three stories: the unfolding of the landmark 1957 obscenity trial; an imaginative animated ride through the prophetic masterpiece; and a unique portrait of a man who found new ways to express himself, and in doing so, changed his own life and galvanized a generation.
Paramhamsa Nityananda was Wednesday arrested on charges of obscenity and "hurting religious sentiments," AFP reported.
India's obscenity laws are punishable by a maximum of two years' imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 rupees ($39).
Under Indian laws, obscenity is a criminal offence.
Jones, of Gronant Street, Rhyl, was said by Gerallt Evans, prosecuting, to have scrawled "Rhyl Rebel Crew" and an obscenity about police "endorsed with his own name".
Meanwhile, two cases are testing the parameters of obscenity.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl and Other Poems", Howl on Trial: The Battle for Free Expression presents the inside story of editing, publishing, and defending the poem Howl in the context of censorship of literary works, and the 1957 obscenity trial in San Francisco that supposedly represented "the people" versus City Lights, the bookshop that published and sold "Howl and Other Poems.