If you like that self righteous, angry feeling that comes from learning about acts of misguided social conservatism, Lynn Powell's Framing Innocence is a pretty good read. I've been plugging away at it for the past few nights, growing more pissed and incredulous with every chapter.
The basic true story is that a mother in Ohio photographed her naked 8-year old daughter privately at home, then sent the negatives to be developed at a processing facility (near here) where they were flagged as suspicious. She was arrested and charged with child pornography, suspended from her job, racked up thousands in legal bills trying to defend herself, and nearly lost her child to protective custody. Scary!
It may be too easy to dismiss this situation at first by saying it could only happen in some smallminded Midwestern backwater, but the truth is in today's social climate this could happen anywhere in America to any parent. And indeed, Powell notes several similar cases in various parts of the country.
For me the most entertaining parts are the court dissections of the suspicious photos, in which lawyers conduct a legal art critique. What does this photo mean? What is depicted? What was the artist's intent? What if someone interprets it differently? Does the intended audience change the photo's meaning? What qualifies a photo as pornographic? They're the sort of questions that might pop up in an MFA seminar, but approached from a strictly legal perspective. I'm afraid lawyers are no more likely than artists to settle these issues, but they try.
Framing Innocence isn't just a primer on pornography law. It's a well written pageturner. If you're a photographer and you've ever taken nude photographs of your children at any age, I'd recommend it. I warn you though, do not read if you have high blood pressure, because this book will likely send it through the roof.