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This section covers the rights and risks associated with various types of controversial material. Despite First Amendment protections, different types of material can be regulated or restricted in different ways.

Sexual Content

  • Nudity and depictions of sexual activity in art are protected under the First Amendment, unless they are obscene.


  • Except for highly specific incitements to violent action, violent imagery is protected under the First Amendment.

Political Speech

  • Political speech is the type of speech that receives the most protection under the First Amendment.

Hate Speech

  • The First Amendment prohibits the government from banning expression under "hate speech" laws.

Depictions of Real People

  • Using images of public figures in your art is generally protected under the First Amendment.

Sampling and Appropriation

  • Licensing and "fair use" are both ways of legally incorporating another person's work into your own art.