Some of you may be following the dispute between web content aggregator FunnyJunk and popular webcomic theOatmeal. Basically, last June, theOatmeal creator, Matt Inman, posted a blog complaining that a number of his comics were posted in their entirety on FunnyJunk without attribution. “I know that if FunnyJunk disappeared, 50 other clones would pop up to take its place overnight, but I felt I had to say something about what they’re doing” he said.
FunnyJunk responded by telling it users that theOatmeal was threatning to sue and “shut down” their website and that they “contact Oatmeal anyway you can.” Inman of course, had simply delivered a “Cease and Desist” letter as is customary with Digital Millennium Copyright Association procedure. Nevertheless, his Facebook was “trolled” by fans of FunnyJunk. Eventually, FunnyJunk removed some of the material (albeit only the correctly attributed ones) and the situation was thought to be over.
That all changed on June 10th, when an attorney representing FunnyJunk contacted Inman, claiming his blog post was defamation and that he had to pay $20,000 or risk a lawsuit. This of course, after FunnyJunk profited off of stolen theOatmeal comics.
Attorney Charles Carreon alleged that theOatmeal had maliciously manipulated SEO in order for his blog post to come up whenever FunnyJunk was searched on Google, and that he had intentionally misled readers to believe that FunnyJunk hadn’t yet removed the links (even though there is another blogpost refuting this).
Inman responded by saying that he “(didn’t) want to get tied up in courtroom nonsense.” Instead, he started a donation drive on Indiegogo to raise the $20,000, promising to send one half to the National Wildlife Federation and the other to the American Cancer Society. Inman said he would also send FunnyJunk a photo of the raised money and a picture of the lawyer’s mother seducing a Kodiak bear.
The operation, dubbed BearLove Good Cancer Bad, reached its goal within a mere 64 minutes, and had raised roughly $100,000 at the 24 hour mark. As of this post, it has raised $127,776 with 14 days left of the drive.
The incident has sparked debate over the effectiveness of DCMA policing and the morality of user upload based websites. Even now, Viacom is engaged in a lawsuit with Youtube over the very same accusations. Although according to Inman, all FunnyJunk had to do was correctly attribute the comics to him, “Just proper attribution; just give me a link!” he told Arstechnica.
Whatever the case, FunnyJunk now has a lot more controversy than it originally banked on.
Edit: MSNBC got in contact with Anthony Carreon, the attorney representing FunnyJunk.
Apparently he has removed his contact information because of a high level of “obscene” letters. “I really did not expect that he would marshal an army of people who would besiege my website and send me a string of obscene emails,” he said
“I’m completely unfamiliar really with this style of responding to a legal threat — I’ve never really seen it before.” “I don’t like seeing anyone referring to my mother as a sexual deviant,” he added.
But perhaps most amusing, is MSNBC’s treatment of the FunnyJunk postcard (our header image).
Finally, Carreon sent a C&D letter to Indiegogo, because the drive is technically not allowed on a investment website. Considering the 100K is going towards charity, that’s kind of a dick move.