Many people assume that any creative concepts they come up with have protection under the First Amendment, which allows people freedom of speech and freedom of the press. However, as some cartoonists and digital artists have learned the hard way, sharing certain kinds of creations online could potentially lead to federal prosecution.

Most people already know that sharing images of actual children in what seemed to be sexual circumstances or in a state of nudity can be enough to result in child pornography charges, even if the image was taken or shared in an innocent manner. Teens have even faced charges for sharing images of their own bodies in the past.

What many people don’t understand is that digital depictions intended to show minors in similar scenarios can also result in crimes even though no real child gets victimized by such an act.

Federal rules expanded child pornography to include drawings and digital art

There was a time when federal rules didn’t even specifically use the term “child pornography,” and the definition of acts/creations considered child pornography referred to images and video of real people, meaning that there were children victimized in the process of creating the image.

Although drawings and digital imagery may be the result of someone’s imagination and not a real situation, changes to the federal standard about what constitutes child pornography have since included digital art and drawings.

Any art depicting a nude, identifiable minor, including celebrities, as well as drawings or videos that show underage children engaging in sexual conduct, may fall under the umbrella term of child pornography and leave the artist, anyone who disseminates the image or video and those who retain such images on their computer vulnerable to federal prosecution.

If you are facing charges involving digital art or imagery, an experienced attorney can help you learn more about your legal options.