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Within furry fandom, the term cub may be used to refer to all characters under the age of majority, including adolescents. This has particular relevance due to the prevalence of pornography in the fandom, which is often restricted using this criteria.
Legal issues regarding cub media
As of 2010 there are no laws in the United States, Canada or the UK that explicitly refer to sexual depictions of minors other than humans, and there is no known case of cub pornography being used to prosecute anyone in a court of law. If cub art were unambiguously classed as child pornography, it would be unlikely that a publication like Softpaw Magazine would have been available for purchase by the public. However there are laws in many countries which could be used to prosecute people if the issue was argued in court. These can include obscenity, bestiality and child pornography laws which rely on some interpretation based on opinion.
Also, because such drawings do not depict a physical person, it is impossible to determine their age, therefore some legal systems depend on analysis based on the psychical attributes of normal human development (breasts, pubic hair, muscle tone and size) for age estimation. This can be impractical for fantasy creatures such as taurs, griffons, and dragons, which display few human age-related traits.
There are however laws covering cartoon pornography depicting minors, and Australia has implemented laws strictly prohibiting any depiction of child pornography "even one which departs from recognizable human forms in some significant respects"; the UK has enacted a similar law. These laws have extended to pornography of real people who are over the age of consent but appear to not be. People have being convicted numerous times for possessing non-anthro cartoon pornography, although some of these cases have been overturned on appeal.
Cub pornography and furry
Cub pornography remains an extremely controversial subject within the furry fandom. Those on one side proclaim it as an expression of freedom of speech with no actual minors involved; those opposing call it a disgusting fetish that can lead to illegal activities. Due to the legal grey areas mentioned above, cub porn has been increasingly restricted, much to the chagrin of said artists and those who support them.
For example, in November 2010, popular furry art site Fur Affinity banned cub porn from its website, after payment processor AlertPay cancelled its donations account. Although the act was praised by those who resented cub pornography, this caused a major uproar within the cub community even after the sites owner, Dragoneer, had told everyone that he had no other choice; either it, or the site itself goes. So incensed was the cub community/supporters that Dragoneer received death threats over the matter. The move fuelled growth at Inkbunny, which had opened shortly before with a tag-blocking system allowing such material to co-exist with those not wishing to see it. SoFurry also permits such work, while Weasyl has forbidden it.
In 2008, a list of web addresses to be blocked in Australia was spread via Wikileaks; it included several images of cub porn hosted on e621. The spread of HTTPS, which conceals the URL being accessed, has led to both Fur Affinity and Inkbunny being blacklisted by Russia.
- Bart Simpson, Child Pornography and Free Speech - Jack Healy, New York Times blogs (December 8, 2008)
- Coroners and Justice Act 2009, Part 2, Chapter 2: Prohibited images - UK Parliament
- Fur Affinity loses AlertPay account, bans cub porn - GreenReaper, Flayrah (24 November 2010)