Obscene Materials

The offence of obscene materials is outlined in section 163(1) of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of obscene materials when they make, print, sell, publish, distribute, circulate, or expose to public view an obscene text, picture, object, sound recording, show, or other material, or if they have such a material for the purpose of publicly displaying and distributing it.


Person A creates a violent pornographic video starring person B, who is beaten to death during the video, and intends to publish it on various porn sites.

Person C creates a pornographic video wherein person D is being mocked and humiliated by person C while performing various sex acts that person D is clearly uncomfortable with.


R. v. Smith, 2012 ONCA 892

In R. v. Smith, the accused was charged with five counts of obscene materials when he created videos, still photographs, and written stories of violent sexual acts being committed against women and posted them to various websites he maintained.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Public Good

If a person is publishing the obscene material for the public good, then this person may not be convicted of the offence of obscene materials. For example, where the person is a law enforcement agent creating copies of the obscene material to preserve as evidence, they may not be convicted of the offence of obscene materials.

Unknowingly Publishes or Exhibits

Where the person does not realize that they have distributed an obscene material or does so unintentionally, they may not have completed the offence of obscene materials. For example, if person A is using person B’s phone to post a picture of the two of them, but accidentally posts an obscene video they did not know was stored on person B’s phone, then person A may not have completed the offence of obscene materials.

Not Obscene Material

Where the material does not meet the definition of “obscene,” the person who publishes it will not have completed the offence of obscene materials. Explicit sex without violence that is neither degrading nor dehumanizing is not obscene where only adults are depicted. Non-violent degrading and dehumanizing material showing explicit sex is not obscene if it depicts acts tolerated by the community.

Legal Information on Demand:

  • 6 Modules
  • 1 Hour of Video
  • 3.5 Hour Audiobook
  • 125 Pages
  • Instant Access

  • Affordable

More Legal Information

Law Newbie™ is a free legal assistant developed by our criminal lawyers to help you understand the law.


In criminal cases, there are very strict rules governing what evidence can be used and how it can be used.

The rights enjoyed of all those within Canada are contained in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Criminal procedure is the process by which an accused person is arrested and brought through the justice system.

Sentencing refers to the punishment that is ordered when an individual is found guilty of a criminal offence.

Firearm Smoke

Offences in Canada are listed in the Criminal Code. They include crimes related to people, vehicles and weapons.