Many pornographic sites have a community that is uploading videos to the site. Some of the most well-known sites like pornhub.com and xhamster.com are an example for such websites.

There are several types of pornographic content where the visitor of such sites does not know whether the persons shown in the video are consenting with the video being uploaded to the site (or depending on the kind of pornography, even consenting to take part).

Examples for such (possibly) problematic content are:

  • so called "amateur videos"
  • videos of sunbathing (nude) persons on public beaches
  • exhibitionist videos (public nudity, masturbation)

Does this pose a legal issue for visitors of such sites?
Is it illegal to even accidentally view such videos?
Am I obliged to take specific action when recognizing such content? Would ignoring be illegal?

I am specifically interested in U.S. and German jurisdictions.

  • 2
    pornhub.com and xhamster.com you say... Let me do some research; I'll be back with a complete answer when I'm done.
    – jqning
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 2:12
  • @jqning: Still not back?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 22:36

1 Answer 1


Well I do not think, he will come back from his "research"...

So here is an answer. I am not a lawyer and if I am wrong with something please comment it and I am going to edit the answer. I think its a very very interesting question because you click on a link and you do not know what your cache is going to buffer on your internal memory.

  1. Does this pose a legal issue for visitors of such sites?

    • there is no law that regulates viewing pornography just one that regulates distribution and production in Germany and in the US:

      $ 184 StGB

      18 U.S.C. 2257 Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act

    • your are not indictable, because you do not know that a person in the video is not informed about the uploaded...

    • ...but it is important if the contant has copyrights and it would be an infringement if you watch it, because streaming is a crime in the US...:

      CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Illegal Internet Streaming of Copyrighted Content: Legislation in the 112th Congress

    • ...but not in germany:

      § 44a UrhG

Is it illegal to even accidentally view such videos?

  • No it is not except the content is copyrighted

Am I obliged to take specific action when recognizing such content (would ignoring be illegal) ?

  • No, because you do not know if the person does not want to be in the video

So the responsibility leads to the uploader and the video platform. In Germany a website owner / operator has to remove content which contains a crime

§ 10 TMG

  • No, watching copyrighted content via streaming is not illegal in Germany. Only the person who offers such a stream is breaking copyright. This was consensus of quite a lot of law experts and the German ministry of justice during the redtube warning affair where someone tried to bully users of RedTube into settlements for watching various videos they bought the rights to.
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 22:49
  • I did not know § 44a UrhG, you are right Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 12:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .