As Ricochet’s Tom Meyer points out, the third-degree charges—which constitute a majority of the total charges—actually stem from the pictures Copening had of himself. The implication is clear: Copening does not own himself, from the standpoint of the law, and is not free to keep sexually-provocative pictures, even if they depict his own body.None of the charges really make a lot of sense, since the other pictures were of his girlfriend and she willingly took them herself and sent them to him, in return for the pictures of himself he sent her. This business of transmitting naked photos of yourself to potential suitors is an odd practice, and I would advise against it if we have any teenage readers. It is not a great idea for a host of reasons, even where you won't face felony charges for doing it. And I would certainly advise you that if a young lady does send you naked photos of herself, you should immediately remove them from your phone and under no circumstances ever transmit them to anyone else nor allow them to fall into anyone else's hands. A gentleman's discretion is never better exercised than where a lady is concerned.
But consider this: North Carolina is one of two states in the country (the other is progressive New York) that considers 16 to be the age of adulthood for criminal purposes. This mean, of course, that Copening can be tried as an adult for exploiting a minor—himself.
Still, as inadvisable as the practice certainly is, it is also rather clearly different from the child pornography that I assume was the real point of the NC law. In any case, the 16 year old girl also faced charges for taking a photo of herself, and plead guilty to them. The charges the young man is facing, however, are felony charges that could send him to prison for up to a decade.