Attempts made to suppress it include: outright bans, prohibitions of its sale, censorship or rating schemes that restrict audience numbers, and claims that it is prostitution and thereby subject to regulations governing prostitution. Legal decisions affecting production and consumption of pornography include those relating to its definition, its relationship with prostitution, the definition of obscenity, rulings about personal possession of pornography, and its standing in relation to freedom of expression rights.
American advocates for pornography often cite the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech; however, under the Miller test established by Miller v. California, anything lacking "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value" is generally not protected. However, the Supreme Court of the United States held in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition (2002) that pornography which involves consenting adults is protected by the First Amendment, even if the models "appear to be" minors but are, in fact of lawful age, and thus has seen to protect the majority of, but not all pornography on the basis of first-amendment law. Pornography's critics and detractors have blamed it for a succession of societal and spiritual ills.
Although pornography dates back thousands of years, its existence in the U.S. can be traced to its 18th century origins and the influx of foreign trade and immigrants. By the end of the 18th century, France had become the leading country regarding the spread of porn pictures. Porn had become the subject of playing-cards, posters, post cards, and cabinet cards. Prior to this printers were previously limited to engravings, woodcuts, and line cuts for illustrations. As trade increased and more people immigrated from countries with less Puritanical and more relaxed attitudes toward human sexuality, the amount of available visual pornography increased.
In 1880, halftone printing was used to reproduce photographs inexpensively for the first time. The invention of halftone printing took pornography and erotica in new directions at the beginning of the 20th century. The new printing processes allowed photographic images to be reproduced easily in black and white.
The first porn daguerreotype appeared in 1855 and with the advent of "moving pictures" by the Lumière brothers the first porn film was made soon after the public exhibition of their creation. Pornographic film production commenced almost immediately after the invention of the motion picture in 1895. 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 1896 film, Le Coucher de la Marie showed Louise Willy performing a striptease. Pirou's film inspired a genre of risqué French films showing women disrobing and other filmmakers realized profits could be made from such films. In the United States, one of the Thomas Edison's first efforts using his methods and equipment for making moving pictures was of a nude woman getting up from her bath tub and running away.