Ferber (defendant) owned an adult bookstore in New York and was arrested after he sold two films depicting minor boys masturbating to an undercover police officer. Ferber was convicted in state trial court of violating a New York criminal statute that prohibited persons from knowingly promoting sexual performances by children under the age of sixteen by distributing material depicting such performances. The intermediate appellate court affirmed Ferber’s conviction. The New York Court of Appeals reversed the conviction, however, on First Amendment grounds. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.