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The term species refers to any type of animal or other living being.

In biology, a species refers to a basic unit of biological classification, or taxonomy, to identify types of living beings who are able to mate and bear children with one another.

Species and furry[edit]

In the furry fandom, the term is used more loosely to mean any type of animal that is used to identify a character or fursona. It may be an actual species (e.g. a lion), or may encompass multiple species (e.g. a mouse), or in some cases be a type within a species (e.g. a husky). It may also refer to hybrid species, or a mythical, fictional, or genetically engineered species.


Phenotype is a borrowed term used by therians, biologists and geneticists, and to a lesser extent furries, to decribe a person's animal affiliation. Because phenotype has a specific scientific meaning (see Phenotype in Wikipedia) that can confuse those not familiar with this contextual use, Theriotype has been suggested as a replacement in the were community.

Closed species[edit]

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Species is also a term used in the furry/adoptables communities in which someone claims copyright to a fictional (and usually unique) species that they created, bought, hired someone else to create; or a combination of those methods, with art, literature, and a name for which the species is called. Usually, the same lines are reused for new designs. The art of the creatures is normally tied to literature in the form of lore, maps, canon stories, etc, and a coined name by which they’re called. A species can be dubbed closed, semi-closed/open, open, or regulated. This refers to the extent of permissions via the specific resources of art, literature, etc.

  • Creation items, usually called MYOs (make-your-own), are usually bought with real/digital currency, won in events or competitions, traded for, or given freely. Characters created from these are often called customs.

Closed Species - refers to that the creation of new characters is limited and usually only the owner(s) approves them. Additional items are received from activity or buyable.

  • The organizers of a closed species will usually create and sell new characters or will review character submissions. Sometimes, new characters will be offered for free, but who gets it is determined by competition or raffle. Some will allow anyone to make a character, so long as they own a MYO item. Others will require the item owner to commission an approved artist to create their character.
  • Closed species vary in their TOS, but it’s common for rule breakers to be excommunicated and not allowed to participate in group activities after committing a serious offense. This can include stripping their ability to sell the characters that use the species' trademark name.
  • Communities of this type are usually more active than the rest. This includes events, changing prompts, and largely having a variety of specialized things you can do with your characters to make developing them easier. This type of hyperactivity can be a double-edged sword though, and the amount of this has caused a stigma to the term Closed Species. It is a word of caution to get your feet wet in a community first before you go all-in in the species. All Closed Species communities are not the same, though it may be hard to find a community to your ideals.

Semi-Closed/Open Species - refers to the creation of new characters is somewhat limited and usually, staff, in general, approves them. They usually offer new users a MYO or more to get them started. Additional items are easily received from the activity.

  • The organizers of a semi-closed/open species will usually create new characters to adopt out, sell, or for others and also review character submissions. MYO items are usually still needed, but they’re more plentiful than in Closed Species.
  • Semi-closed/Open Species vary in their TOS. Serious offenders are usually excommunicated as well, but offenders in this sense are usually more related to the community / selling things for real money than other things.
  • Communities of this type are usually only semi-active. Staff activity may be hit and miss at times as well as activities and general community activity. Not a complete ghost town though.

Open Species - refers to the creation of new characters is not limited. All items are usually free to use for whatever you’d like to create.

  • The organizers may occasionally create new adopt or help others create their characters. There are either no items needed or all items are free to use whenever.
  • Open Species TOS varies, but mainly consists of not claiming what you didn’t create.
  • Communities of this type are usually very sleepy. Activities are spare with a lack of active staff to keep things fresh.

Regulated Species - refers to fictional species similarly claimed to be owned by someone but rather than the creative process being controlled design aspects or characteristics are. With a regulated species one would have to comply with certain design guidelines. Controlled aspects of a regulated species may be sexual organs, hybrids, or skin/fur patterns. Regulated species may also control how the community may act, they may limit how many posts an artist can make of the species, the buying/selling of art containing the species, etc.

Validity to copyright claims. There is a strong debate on whether these fictional species are copyrightable under US law, with fair points on both sides of the community. Regardless if someone’s entire creature/race can be copyrighted or not, there are other legal considerations.

  • The art/lines are copyrighted, and using them without permission in any way, other than satire* or teaching, is a copyright infringement and also art theft. You can always create your own lines that are different enough though.
  • Lore, maps, etc are copyrighted, and using any portion without permission in any way, other than satire* or teaching, is a copyright infringement and also plagiarism. You can create your own lore that is different and doesn’t use anything specific from the original lore, or not even create any if you don’t want to.
  • The name owners create to identify their species with, and use when conducting services/sells, is protected under common law trademark** against competing businesses if it’s unique enough on its own. The owner can legally stop you from using their brand (as that’s what the name is like Nike is a brand of shoes, Sushi Dogs is a brand of a fictional canine species), or anything that is obviously meant to mimic it. Trademarks can be coupled with art to make them even more distinctive. If the name is a new name, then it’s a coined name, making it even more unique and a stronger case for a trademark. So just avoiding using that name would be wise to avoid possible legal action.
  • Individual traits alone have been established as not copyrightable. It is the account of the whole that determines the copyright. So, you can create your own unique lined character in your style that contains slightly different styled traits (welcome those illegal traits/combinations), that doesn’t use the lore and the coined name (forget about specifically calling it an off-brand as that can be ruled as antagonizing), and there won’t be a need to any fear of legal recourse.
  • *Satire: There is a misconception about the parody protection act, spread around by at least one person. Using the parody protection act as a loophole to commit art theft, plagiarism, copyright infringement, trademark infringement, slander, and harassment (as those last two will most likely be added too) as an ongoing personality for your own personal/commercial use is not going to fly in any legal battle. SmartBlogger.com defines satire well. “Satire offers political and social commentary, using exaggeration, irony, humor, allegory, and more to make a point” Satire is more like a one-shot throwaway character, and not an ongoing character.
  • **Common Law Trademark: A trademark does not have to be registered to receive protection. Under common law, there is protection for a symbol, logo, product name, or other words or marks that identify the source of goods or services before it is registered with the state or federal government (aka brand). Registering a trademark only offers additional protection. The original owner of a trademark can legally stop anyone else from using it. The record of commercial use is enough to contest anyone else trying to register it as theirs. Which, falsely registering a trademark can result in federal legal action at the least.

There are other real-world examples that can help solve the matter, and it follows the same points made above. Star Wars, Blizzard, and Star Trek. Each of these has aspects of IP (Intellectual Property) that they own and seriously protect. This is from brand names (like Klingon) to how they specifically portray races, and it’s all protected. Without permission, you cannot create a Klingon character, especially for sale without expecting some legal notices to come your way. Same thing if it’s a dwarf character just like a Blizzard dwarf, or using any of the specific places in Star Trek. This does stand to reason, and further supports, owners of species having a legal right to their IP (lending to copyright & trademark of the brand) and their species being copyrightable.

Though as mentioned in some of the above points, owners cannot stop you from creating your own IP characters/species/race that is reasonably different. An example of this i Owner X has a species with a distinctive face visor as a trait. Person A creates a character similar in species/race with a face visor that is reasonably different. If person A doesn’t use any literature or the brand name (nor an antagonizing off-brand name) of owner X’s species, then person A has no need to fear legal notice/action and you can claim harassment if owner X tries to bully them.

See also[edit]

Puzzlepiece32.png This stub about a term could be expanded.