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Chapter 4 and 5 glossary terms


The act of not allowing the publication or broadcast of specific communication, either in whole or in part. The formal legal term is prior restraint.

Comstock Act

The first federal obscenity law in the U.S. passed by Congress in1873. Named for Anthony Comstock, a New York grocer and social activist appointed by the government to investigate the problem of obscenity sent through the mail.

Hicklin Rule

A now-defunct rule in English law, established in 1868, that determined a work was obscene if it "had the tendency to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences."


A legal term used to describe offensive (but not obscene) material that includes profanity or references to sex or other bodily functions.

Miller Test

A Supreme Court standard for evaluating obscenity cases. Instead creating a uniform national definition, the Miller Test allows individual communities to define obscenity according to their own standards.

Non-obscene sexual expression

Material or activity of a sexual nature considered not offensive enough to be labled "obscenity"; examples include nude dancing, topless dancing, some adult videos, and photographs in most adult magazines.


Material or activity of a sexual nature considered so offensive as to not receive any constitutional protection.


Entertainment of a sexual nature in the form of literature, photography, audiotape, videotape, or motion picture film; generally an artistic term rather than a legal term.

Roth Test

From the 1957 Supreme Court case of Roth v. U.S., the standard for evaluating obscenity cases from 1957 through 1973; the forerunner of the Miller Test.

Variable obscenity

A pricipal that allows individual communities to set different standards for different audiences when defining obscenity.

Advisor model

A method of structuring student media in a college setting; a faculty advisor member serves as advisor to the media organization, but the production of content is not connected to academic classes.

Captive audience

A situation in a school setting in which attendence is mandatory, such as a class session or student assembly.

Free speech zone

A specific location on a college campus where the distribution of literature or other forms of speech are allowed outside the zone.

Independant model

A method of structuring student media in a college setting; the media outlet serves the institution but is located off campus and receives no financial support from the institution.

Jeanne Clery Act

Originally called the Campus Secruity Act, this federal law requires colleges and universities to disclose information about crimes committed on or near campus to prospective students, their parents, journalists, and the general public.

Laboratory model

A method of structing student media in a college setting; content for student media is produced by specific classes in exchange for academic credit.

Non-captive audience

A situation in a school setting for which attendence is voluntary, such as club meeting or athletic event.

Speech code

A set of rules or limitations on speech that may offend women or minority groups, often incorporarted into a college's code of student conduct.

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