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The Oatmeal vs. Content Aggregator FunnyJunk

I'm sure this is a self-portrait of artist Matthew Inman.

This is one of those real head scratchers. A humor site that is a content aggregator FunnyJunk is suing the creator of the online comic The Oatmeal. Why?

Because the author/artist of The Oatmeal wrote this post expressing his frustration with FunnyJunk using his images without permission. A YEAR AGO.

Here is what he said:

Most of the comics they’ve stolen look like this [sample provided]  – no credit or link back to me. Even with proper attribution, no one clicks through and FunnyJunk still earns a huge pile of cash from all the ad revenue.

And this is how FunnyJunk responded: by suing The Oatmeal for $20,000 in damages, claiming that the post is a “false accusation of willful copyright infringement.”

Naturally, The Oatmeal fired back. First, he shared a scanned version of the papers he was served, and then went ahead and highlighted what he calls, “an adorable little fiction” and then offers a list of what looks like hundreds of original comics hosted illegally by FunnyJunk (although as of this writing, those links are all no longer valid).

Then Mr. Inman went ahead and decided instead of giving FunnyJunk $20,000, he would instead launch a fundraiser for the $20,000 to then “take a picture of the money” and then “mail you that photo, along with this drawing of your mom seducing a Kodiak bear” (I don’t condone the misogyny of that drawing; sad choice, Mr. Inman!) and then split the money he raised between the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation.

As of today, the fundraiser has raised $192,476.

So how does FunnyJunk respond?

By suing Indiegogo (the host of the fundraiser) and the two charities involved. Mashable lays it out here, and quotes this bit from the uploaded complaint, courtesy of Lowering the Bar:

 “Trademark infringement and incitement to cyber-vandalism. Defendants Inman and IndieGogo are commercial fundraisers that failed to file disclosures or annual reports. Inman launched a Bear Love campaign, which purports to raise money for defendant charitable organizations, but was really designed to revile plaintiff and his client, Funnyjunk.com, and to initiate a campaign of “trolling” and cybervandalism against them, which has caused people to hack Inman’s computer and falsely impersonate him. The campaign included obscenities, an obscene comics and a false accusation that FunnyJunk “stole a bunch of my comics and hosted them.” Inman runs the comedy website The Oatmeal.”

Oy. It should be noted that the owner of FunnyJunk is actually representing himself in this lawsuit, so maybe we should all offer him a bit of a pat on the head, because that almost never ends well. Even so, this sort of thing bears attention as the web moves closer and closer to being known for curation rather than original content, yes?

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