Pornography by region

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World map of pornography (18+) laws
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The production and distribution of pornographic films are activities that are legal to both produce and distribute in many but by no means all countries as long as the pornography only features performers age 18 or older but there are often further restrictions placed upon such material.


The Americas in general have a more positive view on pornography in terms of legality and acceptance compared to the rest of the world. The United States and Canada are the largest producers in North America, and Brazil is the largest producer in South America.


The sale of hardcore pornography is legal in Canada to anyone over the age of 19. Otherwise, such sales are prohibited. Persons below that age may own or possess porn. Most hardcore pornography is sold in adult stores or on adult websites.

Latin America[edit]

Pornography in Latin America consists of pornography made in Latin America as well as being viewed there. While the countries of the region are mostly sexually conservative due to the influence of the Roman Catholic Church the viewing of pornography has been popularized by the Internet and pirated DVDs


Pornography is highly restricted in Guyana. The distribution, possession, sale, import of pornographic magazines, DVDs, books, photographs, etc. or simply browsing for pornographic websites on the Internet can lead to a variety of punishments ranging from community service, a fine of up to 45,000 Guyana Dollars or up to 2 years imprisonment.

United States[edit]

Pornography is legal at the federal level, but is subject to the Miller test, which was developed in the 1973 case Miller v. California.[1] It has three parts:

Pornography is a large industry that involves major entertainment companies such as Time Warner[citation needed], which offers pornography films through its cable channels and in-room movies in hotels. Pornography distribution changed radically during the 1980s, with VHS and cable television largely displacing X-rated theaters. VHS distribution, in turn, has been replaced by DVD and Internet distribution for niche markets. Pornography generates billions of dollars in sales in the United States alone. An estimated 211 new pornographic films are made every week in the United States.[3]


European hardcore pornography is dominated by a few pan-European producers and distributors, the most notable of which is the Private Media Group. Most European countries also have local pornography producers, from Portugal (Naturalvideo) to Romania (Floyd-Agency), all of which compete with larger, international organizations with varying levels of success.

Many U.S.-based pornography websites distribute European pornography as a genre. These actresses (often advertised as "Eurobabes"[4]) may conform more to a look usually seen in U.S. actresses than European ones, although they may still be considered to look "more natural" (European pornography typically de-emphasizes breast implants, among other aesthetic factors).


In France, porn is legal. Hardcore porn must not be sold to minors under the age of 18. Softcore porn is allowed for people 16 and over. Extremely violent or graphic pornography is considered X-rated, and so may be shown only in specific theaters, and may not be displayed to minors. Some pornography has a special VAT: a 33% tax is levied on X-rated movies, and a 50% excise is placed on pornographic online services. The ratings system has caused controversy; e.g., in 2000 the sexually explicit and violent Baise-moi was initially rated only as "restricted" by the French government. This classification was overturned by a Conseil d'État ruling in a lawsuit brought by associations supporting Christian and family values. Notice that some movies are forbidden to minors under 18, without the X rating, like Baise Moi, Ken Park or Saw 3, so that these movies can be viewed in theaters and not attract the value-added tax.


German law is very strict about hardcore pornography, especially when compared to very liberal laws about softcore pornography, prostitution and sex shops. Providing hardcore pornography to a person under 18 is illegal, and shops selling it must keep people under the age of 18 from entering their premises. If only a part of the shop is dedicated to pornography, it must be completely closed off from the rest of the premises. Alternatively, shops may choose not to display their goods or advertise that they sell them, in which case minors may be admitted. Websites hosting pornographic material within Germany must comply with very strict rules about verifying that viewers are over 18.[5]


In Hungary, pornography is illegal if sold or shown to children under 18 years of age. Displaying the genitals openly, as on the cover of a magazine, is not prohibited.


In Italy, it is illegal to distribute pictorial or video pornography to persons under the age of 18. Hardcore and softcore movies and magazines are available not only through sex shops, but also in normal video stores, newsstands, certain gas stations and vending machines.


The legal status of pornography in Russia is uncertain. The law criminalizes only the 'illegal' production and selling of pornography (which implies that it sometimes can be legal), but two circumstances make enforcement of the law difficult: (1) the lack of a legal definition of pornography, and (2) no law defining when production or selling is legal.[citation needed]

United Kingdom[edit]

In England and Wales, the main legislation on pornographic materials is the Obscene Publications Act 1959, the Obscene Publications Act 1964, and the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981. Video-oriented depictions of hardcore material (with certain exceptions for works considered primarily 'artistic' rather than pornographic) were illegal until 1999, when the removal of trade barriers with other European Union member states allowed for the relatively free movement of such goods for personal use. R18-rated videos are only available in licensed sex shops, but hardcore pornographic magazines are available in shops selling newspapers and magazines. In 2008, the Crown Prosecution Service unsuccessfully prosecuted a man under the Obscene Publications Act (the R v Walker trial) for a textual story on a pornography website involving Girls Aloud.[6] Also that year, the Home Office introduced legislation to criminalize possession of what it has labelled extreme pornography; these laws are now contained in sections 63 to 68 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.[7]


The legal status of pornography differs from one country to another in Asia. See full article for details.



In Australia, possession of pornography material is legal, but it is illegal to sell, exhibit or rent X-rated pornography material in all states of Australia except the Northern Territory and ACT. As the Australian constitution prohibits states from regulating interstate commerce, it is legal to purchase pornography from stores in either territory and bring it interstate. This means that the majority of Australian mail order operations for adult material operate from the ACT.[8] Despite the illegality, stores selling X-rated material are abundant in major cities, advertising openly but these laws are rarely enforced.

Ratings for the X18+ category were tightened in 2000 to ban material featuring some fetishes or which appeared to include minors.[citation needed] In 2007 the Howard Government made the possession of X18+ pornography illegal in some Aboriginal communities.[citation needed]

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand, pornography is generally treated in a liberal manner although the most extreme forms of pornography (such as child pornography, rape, bestiality) are classified as objectionable material by the law. New Zealand law is permissive, and magazines and other print copy are sold openly at newsstands.

Papua New Guinea[edit]

The possession, import, export, and sale of pornography is illegal. Control is strict. According to the government, All websites containing pornography, nudity or depictions of sex are blocked and the government has been blocking such sites since early 2009. Under the law, Persons who possesses, owns, imports, exports, sells or exhibits pornography to the public are subject to arrest and trial and can face up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to 50,000 to 100,000 Papua New Guinean kina.[citation needed] In PNG, pornography is subject to legal restraints to publication on grounds of obscenity. Laws relating to pornography in Papua New Guinea are vague. The main legislation used in dealing with cases relating to pornographic nature refer back to the Chapter 262 Criminal Code of Papua New Guinea, Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009, Classification of Publication Censorship Act 1989 and the National ICT Act, 2009. Improper Use of ICT Services.



The possession of "Indecent and obscene material such as pornographic books, magazines, films, videos, DVDs and software" is prohibited in Botswana. Possession or import of such material is illegal and punishable by a fine or up to 4 years imprisonment.[9]

South Africa[edit]

Pornography rated X18 is legal if sold to persons over the age of 18 in registered stores. It is illegal to host a pornographic web site in South Africa because of the difficulty of age-verification and the requirement that pornography only be distributed from designated, licensed physical premises. It is illegal to visually represent bestiality (also rated XX), but not illegal in text descriptions. Violent pornography is illegal in any form. It is legal to produce pornography that would be legal to consume.

Distribution of pornography is regulated by the Films and Publications Act of 1996 [10] which is enforced by the Films and Publications Board.[11]


The distribution, possession or import of pornography is strictly illegal in Egypt.[citation needed]


Pornography is illegal in Sudan and the laws are strict. Pornographic websites are blocked by the government and pornography is largely inaccessible and porn possession, production, distribution and sale can lead to fines, prison or corporal punishment.

See also[edit]