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House advances legislation expanding protections for victims of obscenity and child pornography

The House on Tuesday advanced legislation that will discourage the production and distribution of child pornography and obscenity in Tennessee.

House Bill 2159, introduced by State Rep. Jody Barrett, R-Dickson, specifies that people and entities that produce and distribute illegal obscene material can be held civilly liable for injuries and damages to victims.

“Producing and distributing obscenity and child pornography are terrible crimes and those harmed by it deserve accountability,” Barrett said. “The ability to pursue civil action provides another avenue for law enforcement and parents to help get this evil material removed from the internet, where it never should have been in the first place. Nothing is more important than protecting children and helping victims get justice.” 

Obscene pornography does not have First Amendment protections. Material that the average person would find appeals to the prurient interest, that depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, and that lacks serious value is considered obscene.

Individuals and entities who produce, sell, send, or distribute obscene material are already in violation of state and federal law.

House Bill 2159 is scheduled to be voted on by the House chamber next week.

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