Legal provisions on pornography on the net

The legal provisions on dealing with pornography in the Federal Republic of Germany are essentially set out in the Criminal Code (StGB), the Youth Protection Act (JuSchG) and the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV).
The legal provisions can be summarily divided into (cf. Liesching 2007):

  • Absolute prohibitions, with a general ban on content that may not be made accessible even to adults. In terms of content, absolute prohibitions refer, for example, to violent pornography (depictions of rape), animal pornography or child and youth pornography.
  • Relative bans, with an applicable ban for children and young people, but not for adults aged 18 and over. They relate to a general prohibition on the distribution of pornographic depictions to children and adolescents and on the distribution of indexed media or media not released for adolescents (films, games, music).

In summary, Section 184 of the German Criminal Code prohibits making pornographic material available to minors under the age of 18. Possession or distribution is permitted for adults, however, with restrictions on trade, etc. So-called "hard pornography", on the other hand, falls under the absolute legal prohibition. "Hard pornography" includes not only so-called violent, animal and child pornography, but also so-called juvenile pornography (distribution, acquisition and possession of juvenile pornographic writings), which includes bogus juveniles/adults.

In the case of child and youth porn ography, moreover, mere possession is punishable (§ 184 b-c StGB). § Section 184 thus also prohibits the use of pornographic material in school.

However, the depiction of sexually active people is not necessarily pornographic in the sense of the above definition, so it can certainly be used in connection with sexual education topics in lessons or youth work.
According to Section 184 of the German Penal Code and Section 4 of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV), the dissemination of pornography on radio (television and radio) is prohibited. Distribution via media or teleservices is prohibited as long as the provider does not ensure that the material is only made accessible to adults. On the Internet, therefore, age verification is mandatory. Unfortunately, however, many portals do not comply with this. In particular, web offerings with foreign headquarters often succeed in evading access by German law enforcement agencies. For the U.S.-hosted site YouPorn, for example, it is enough to click on a link to indicate that you are over 18.