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Thursday, 11 June 1970

Some idea of the difficulties can be gained by studying the Roth v. United States case of 1957 which established that works of real value to society shall not be censored as obscenity, that a book shall not be judged by the impact of a few passages on a special class of persons, and that the standards of judgment shall be those of our time. The common law rule to emerge from the Roth case was, basically, whether to the average person applying contemporary standards the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest. That common law rule is interesting because it is quite different from the law in Australia.

The Law in Britain and the United States of America

In Britain, the Obscene Publications Act 1959 refers to persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, use or hear the matter and not to the average person. The British law is concerned with material which is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt. The United States law is, conversely, concerned with material which appeals to prurient interest of the average person. The legislation of other countries is different again.

Mr Crean - What does the word 'prurient' mean?

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