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Pornography (often abbreviated porn) is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual arousal.

Pornography may be presented in a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photographs, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, writing, film, video, and video games.

Sexually explicit films opened producers and distributors to prosecution.Those that were made were produced illicitly by amateurs starting in the 1920s, primarily in France and the United States.They did not know what to do with the frank depictions of sexuality and endeavored to hide them away from everyone but upper-class scholars.The moveable objects were locked away in the Secret Museum in Naples and what could not be removed was covered and cordoned off as to not corrupt the sensibilities of women, children, and the working classes.Two of the earliest pioneers were Eugène Pirou and Albert Kirchner.

Kirchner directed the earliest surviving pornographic film for Pirou under the trade name "Léar".

The authors were charged with "corrupting the King's subjects." The world's first law criminalizing pornography was the English Obscene Publications Act 1857 enacted at the urging of the Society for the Suppression of Vice The Act, which applied to the United Kingdom and Ireland, made the sale of obscene material a statutory offence, giving the courts power to seize and destroy offending material.

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.

Social attitudes towards the discussion and presentation of sexuality have become more tolerant in Western countries, and legal definitions of obscenity have become more limited, notably beginning in 1969 with Blue Movie by Andy Warhol, the first adult erotic film depicting explicit sex to receive wide theatrical release in the United States, and the subsequent Golden Age of Porn (1969-1984), leading to an industry for the production and consumption of pornography in the latter half of the 20th century.

The introduction of home video and the Internet saw a boom in the worldwide porn industry that generates billions of dollars annually.

The English Act did not apply to Scotland, where the common law continued to apply.