Home videotape was a booming market and it was relatively simple for individuals to smuggle hardcore material in from Europe or the United States, where it had been purchased legally, either for personal use or to copy it for distribution.

During the 1990s the advent of the internet made it easier than ever before for British citizens to access hardcore material.

Finally, in 2000, following the dismissal of a test case brought by the BBFC, hardcore pornography was effectively legalised, subject to certain conditions and licensing restrictions.

During the 1960s and 1970s most Western countries legalised hardcore pornography.

By the 1980s the UK was almost the only liberal democracy where the sale of hardcore pornography was still completely illegal, although ownership was not a criminal offence (except child pornography).

California established a three-tiered test to determine what was obscene—and thus not protected, versus what was merely erotic and thus protected by the First Amendment. 413 (1966)" wherein the book "Fanny Hill", written by John Cleland c. Extreme pornographer Max Hardcore served 30 months of a 46-month prison sentence for obscenity. Some states have seen their sex toy bans ruled unconstitutional in the courts. 557 (1969), that possession of obscene material could not be criminalized, while in Osborne v. The reason was that the motive for criminalizing child pornography possession was "to destroy a market for the exploitative use of children" rather than to prevent the material from poisoning the minds of its viewers.

Delivering the opinion of the court, Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote: The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. 486 (1897)", which upheld a conviction for mailing and delivery of a newspaper called the 'Chicago Dispatch,' containing "obscene, lewd, lascivious, and indecent materials", which was later upheld in several cases. 1760, was judged to be obscene in a proceeding that put the book itself on trial rather than its publisher. FCC rules and federal law govern obscenity in broadcast media. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett, and the Marquis de Sade. Supreme Court ruled that child pornography need not be legally obscene in order to be outlawed. constitutional law concerning obscenity and that governing child pornography is that the Supreme Court ruled in Stanley v. The three dissenting justices in that case argued, "While the sexual exploitation of children is undoubtedly a serious problem, Ohio may employ other weapons to combat it." This is most notably shown with the "X" rating under which some films are categorized.

While most recent (2016) obscenity cases in the United States have revolved around images and films, the first obscenity cases dealt with textual works. One of these was "A Book Named John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure" v. Many historically important works have been described as obscene or prosecuted under obscenity laws, including the works of Charles Baudelaire, Lenny Bruce, William S. Obscenity law has been criticized in the following areas: Obscenity laws remain enforceable under Miller despite these criticisms. The Court ruled that in contrast to the types of images considered in Miller, images that depicted underlying harm to children need not appeal to "the prurient interest of the average person," portray sexual conduct in "a patently offensive manner," nor be considered holistically, in order to be proscribed. The most notable films given an "X" rating were Deep Throat (1972) and The Devil in Miss Jones (1973).

The classification of "obscene" and thus illegal for production and distribution has been judged on printed text-only stories starting with "Dunlop v. Some states have passed laws mandating censorship in schools, universities, and libraries even if they are not receiving government aid that would require censorship in these institutions. These films show explicit, non-simulated, penetrative sex that was presented as part of a reasonable plot with respectable production values.

the Canadian prohibited class of articles that are to be legally included as "obscene things" is very broad, including text-only written material, pictures, models (including statues), records or "any other thing whatsoever"—that according to Section 163(8)—has "a dominant characteristic of the publication is the undue exploitation of sex, or the combination of sex and at least one of crime, horror, cruelty or violence" is deemed to be "obscene" under the current law. (1) Every one commits an offense who (a) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, circulates, or has in his possession for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation any obscene written matter, picture, model, phonograph record or other thing whatever; or "Crime comics" are stated to be books that glorify criminal activities and have at least one depiction of such criminal actions of the book's text.