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It is also followed by dedicated industry publications and trade groups as well as the mainstream press, private organizations (watchdog groups), government agencies, and political organizations.

They present a significant challenge to the commercial pornographic film industry.

Irrespective of the legal or social view of pornography, it has been used in a number of contexts.

Although nineteenth-century legislation eventually outlawed the publication, retail, and trafficking of certain writings and images regarded as pornographic and would order the destruction of shop and warehouse stock meant for sale, the private possession of and viewing of (some forms of) pornography was not made an offence until the twentieth century.

The Victorian attitude that pornography was for a select few can be seen in the wording of the Hicklin test stemming from a court case in 1868 where it asks, "whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences." Although they were suppressed, depictions of erotic imagery were common throughout history.

Those that were made were produced illicitly by amateurs starting in the 1920s, primarily in France and the United States.

Processing the film was risky as was their distribution. In 1969, Denmark became the first country to abolish censorship, thereby decriminalizing pornography, which led to an explosion in investment and of commercially produced pornography.Data suggests an increase in pornography viewing over the past few decades, and this has been attributed to the growth of Internet pornography since widespread public access to the World Wide Web in the late 1990s.The scholarly study of pornography, notably in cultural studies, is limited, perhaps due to the controversy about the topic in feminism.The American equivalent was the Comstock Act of 1873 which made it illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail.The English Act did not apply to Scotland, where the common law continued to apply.Kirchner directed the earliest surviving pornographic film for Pirou under the trade name "Léar".

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