Print 32 comment(s) - last by Belard.. on Jun 26 at 10:35 AM

  (Source: The Oatmeal)
Supposedly "funny" site, can't take a joke, tries to block $210,000 donation to charity

A website called Funny Junk has gained in popularity in recent years as a place for people to post random images they find on the internet.  Its owners profit off ads placed to monetize their site's role as a repository of funny.  The only problem is that many of the images posted (thousands) were web comics stolen (taken without permission) from hard-working artists' sites.

The Oatmeal, a rather famous web-comic took the site to task, which led to Funny Junk admins posting a frantic forums post last year that somehow jumped to the conclusion that The Oatmeal artist Matt Inman was planning to sue.  Subsequently an email/Facebook flame war erupted between fans of the two sites.

Then in a shocking twist Funny Junk "lawyered up", hiring celebrity lawyer Charles Carreon.  Mr. Carreon sent Mr. Inman a legal threat demanding $20,000 USD and an apology -- all for calling out Funny Junk for its infrigement.

Matt Inman responded by founding a charity campaign entitled "Bear Love Good" and promising to give not a single red penny to Mr. Carreon, but $20,000 instead to charity.  But he promised, "I'm going to take a photo of the raised money.  I'm going to mail you that photo, along with this drawing of your mom seducing a Kodiak bear."

The Oatmeal threat
The Oatmeal received a threat letter from Funny Junk's lawyer. [Image Source: The Oatmeal]

Mr. Inman quickly collected the $20,000 used charity open community platform IndieGogo, with the proceeds going towards the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation.

This outraged Funny Junk's owners and Mr. Carreon.  They filed a lawsuit against IndieGogo, Mr. Inman, the American Cancer Society, and the National Wildlife Federation, seeking to prevent the charity donations from going through.  Mr. Carreon claims the charity was not properly registered with the state of California and should not be allowed to operate.

He also claims Mr. Inman defamed him and his clients, commenting, "I think satirical content is fine, but him accusing my mother of bestiality is revolting, and I will not forgive it."

But apparently Mr. Carreon thinks its okay to post crude, explicit Photoshop cartoons of George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice having sex [NSFW].  He and his wife and posted this and several other images.  And for the record, Mr. Inman never specified the ursine seduction to be sexual in nature, and for the record he says the picture was of the Funny Junk administrator's mother, not Mr. Carreon's mother.

And Mr. Inman now has some high profile help defending himself from Funny Junk and Mr. Carreon in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).  The Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced it will be joining Mr. Inman's lawyers.  

Cancer Patient
Funny Junk and its lawyer are suing to try to deny the ACS $100,000 to try to cure cancer.
[Image Source: Stage Mom]

EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry calls the lawsuit "bizarre" and comments, "This lawsuit is a blatant attempt to abuse the legal process to punish a critic.  We're very glad to help Mr. Inman fight back."

This type of lawsuit is commonly referred to as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), according to the EFF, and is a well known censorship tactic.

As publicity for the case has exploded the charity's collections have soared to $210,000+ USD.  A donate link can be found here.  The Oatmeal/Mr. Inman urges his fans and readers to donate to charity if they're upset about the case, not take their rage out on Funny Junk or Mr. Carreon.

Sources: Bear Love Good, The Oatmeal [1], [2]

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Using HIS pics without HIS permission
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/24/2012 10:11:54 AM , Rating: 5
And they want him to pay them? BUHAHAHAHAHAh

RE: Using HIS pics without HIS permission
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/24/2012 10:14:48 AM , Rating: 5
Also, to add, that lawyer isn't very bright....

RE: Using HIS pics without HIS permission
By Schadenfroh on 6/24/2012 10:30:29 AM , Rating: 5
Never underestimate the foolishness of our legal system, he might have a software patent or two.

RE: Using HIS pics without HIS permission
By Flunk on 6/24/2012 6:19:08 PM , Rating: 5
The US civil court system is a joke to all us foreigners. People like Carreon would have been disbarred years ago, although in your country that wouldn't be a big problem because the crook could just move to the next state over.

Reforms are sorely needed to stop wasting money on frivolous lawsuits and to eliminate all of the needless duplication.

By Schadenfroh on 6/24/2012 11:50:35 PM , Rating: 5
Not going to happen, most of our politicians are lawyers and they protect themselves.

We continue to elect them because one side promises us free things and the other side promises to persecute groups we do not like.

RE: Using HIS pics without HIS permission
By StevoLincolnite on 6/24/2012 11:50:30 AM , Rating: 2
When it comes to lawsuits, lawyers win every time, even if they loose.

By swagmonkey on 6/24/2012 2:32:05 PM , Rating: 2
...Except when they're representing themselves.

A valid point for a lawyer with a client, though. :-p

By Schadenfroh on 6/24/2012 6:42:59 PM , Rating: 2
This is why we need more lawyers that are also medical doctors, think of the possibilities in a malpractice lawsuit when your doctor is also your lawyer.

By MrBlastman on 6/25/2012 1:34:05 PM , Rating: 2
He's practically properly named, too. Mr. Carreon rhymes with Carrion.

What a vulture, preying on the carcasses of honest working individuals when in fact he himself works for a pack of coyotes.

By amanojaku on 6/24/2012 11:58:01 AM , Rating: 2
They filed a lawsuit against IndieGogo, Mr. Inman, the American Cancer Society, and the National Wildlife Federation, seeking to prevent the charity donations from going through. Mr. Carreon claims the charity was not properly registered with the state of California and should not be allowed to operate.
You're right, the guy's a dumb @$$. IndieGogo has been around for five years, has collected millions (if not billions), and is well known throughout the country. If it wasn't properly registered the feds would have been on it already, if only to collect taxes.

By marraco on 6/25/2012 3:45:47 AM , Rating: 2
Just wait until the lawyer patents "absurd lawsuits".

RE: Using HIS pics without HIS permission
By chµck on 6/24/2012 1:05:05 PM , Rating: 5
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/24/2012 1:13:31 PM , Rating: 3
Wow, some people just aren't right in the head....

RE: Using HIS pics without HIS permission
By rs2 on 6/25/2012 12:42:32 AM , Rating: 2
Not quite "using". As I understand it, the site simply hosts images uploaded by various third-party users. So the user that uploaded the images was using and infringing upon the copyrighted comics. The hosting site itself is in a bit of a gray area. They didn't put the content there, they're not actively using it for their own purposes (presumably), and they had no practical way of knowing that it was there prior to receiving notice from the copyright holder (and validating that person's identity and claim to copyright).

Of course, once a hosting provider has received such notice, they are generally required to take the necessary steps to verify the infringement claims and remove the hosted content if the claims are true. Hosting providers who don't do that risk losing their immunity to prosecution for hosting infringing third-party content.

So they've certainly dug themselves into a nice little hole. But at the same time they never actually "used" the content in the first-party context. They just allowed it to be hosted on their server on behalf of some third-party user.

RE: Using HIS pics without HIS permission
By JediJeb on 6/25/2012 3:36:47 PM , Rating: 2
But if the content was not there would people still visit the hosting website to either read or post the infringed work, which generates income from advertising due to the page views of those reading or posting said content?

If this content does attract viewers and posters then it is being "used" to bring income to the hosting site.

By Rukkian on 6/26/2012 9:23:55 AM , Rating: 2
The advertising to me is the issue, as that means they profited from the copyrighted material. I am no legal expert, however that may give the copywrite holders a legal edge.

talk about full retard
By lagomorpha on 6/24/2012 3:31:35 PM , Rating: 4
Sueing the American Cancer Society: when you absolutely must have a judge unsympathetic to your side.

RE: talk about full retard
By nomagic on 6/24/2012 3:38:22 PM , Rating: 2
This is so true. It is definitely not a smart move to make.

The sad part is
By sprockkets on 6/24/2012 11:25:02 PM , Rating: 2
The comic with the ugly lady wanting "love" from the bear is about funnyjunk, not the lawyer, but the lawyer took it that way anyhow.

ArsTechnica interviewed the lawyer on a multiple page article. It's quite funny.

RE: The sad part is
By sprockkets on 6/25/2012 12:35:33 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, it's even worse than I thought, I didn't see this article...

OK, so not sure about the whole woman being funnyjunk vs. the lawyer.

This guy is nuts.

By Belard on 6/26/2012 10:35:51 AM , Rating: 2
The drawing of his mother seducing the bear is right on. Its amazing how he capture her character.

Poor bear.

Check out the link, read the WHOLE later that Oatmeal posted. Its worth a read.

Never heard of either of these sites until today.

Late as usual
By mydogfarted on 6/25/12, Rating: 0
It's all a scam...
By Adam M on 6/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: It's all a scam...
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/24/2012 5:58:39 PM , Rating: 2

Just to correct a few errors
By Tali on 6/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: Just to correct a few errors
By amanojaku on 6/24/2012 1:05:39 PM , Rating: 2
1) Excellent point. IndieGogo allows for the creation of fundraising campaigns, per specific guidelines. The money is collected by IndieGogo and quickly dispensed to the recipients if the goal is met, with IndieGogo taking a percentage. If the goal is not met the money can be returned to donators, or dispensed with a different percentage cut to IndieGogo. That's why ACS and NWF are being sued, because they are the recipients.

2) Carreon isn't operating on his own, his client is hiding on purpose. Carreon's own words, which FunnyJunk doesn't deny.

4) Carreon is paranoid, Inman never incited anything. People hate his guts, pure and simple. In fact, Inman told people to leave Carreon alone.

Here's another nugget: Carreon admits he was lied to by FunnyJunk.

FunnyJunk wouldn't return calls from the Guardian to tell us about its own policies, but Carreon has now effectively abandoned the threat of a FunnyJunk lawsuit, stating that he was misinformed by his client. His letter claimed that all the comics had been removed from FunnyJunk, but Inman pointed out dozens that were still there.
Ironically, the threat of the first lawsuit [Funnyjunk suing Inman] never materialized. Carreon admits he was misinformed: Before demanding the $20,000, which was based on FunnyJunk's "estimate of advertising losses sustained due to the taint of being accused of engaging in willful copyright infringement," Carreon was told that all Oatmeal comics had been taken off the FunnyJunk site, even though they hadn't. "If I had known... no demand would have gone out," he says.

RE: Just to correct a few errors
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/24/2012 1:23:09 PM , Rating: 2
"I did not know those links were there. According to my client, he didn't know about it and there was no way for him to discover it," said Carreon, still smarting from a torrent of abusive mails from angry netizens.
How could you NOT know the links are STILL on your site? Liars....

RE: Just to correct a few errors
By chµck on 6/24/2012 1:38:53 PM , Rating: 5
The same way I didn't know there was a human trafficking ring going on in my basement.

By Cheesew1z69 on 6/24/2012 1:41:05 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Just to correct a few errors
By swagmonkey on 6/24/2012 2:38:14 PM , Rating: 2
How could you NOT know the links are STILL on your site?

By choosing not to look. Now, one could say in some cases that it would be unreasonable to expect FunnyJunk to search its entire archives for anything that came from elsewhere, especially if they wouldn't recognize all of it. However, in the case of an ongoing legal battle, any reasonable person would check for Oatmeal comics carefully before making a claim that they were gone. If he's ignorant, he's willfully ignorant.

By Cheesew1z69 on 6/24/2012 3:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
If he's ignorant, he's willfully ignorant.

RE: Just to correct a few errors
By rs2 on 6/25/2012 9:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
But how do you check for them "carefully"? For instance, suppose that the site hosts a relatively modest archive containing 10 GB of images. Assuming an average size of 250 KB per image that would mean that there are 42,000 images to sift through (with more being added constantly). How would you go about finding a few dozen Oatmeal comics within that haystack, if you don't have someone pointing out exactly where they are? Keep in mind that these images are probably sitting around on some headless Linux box (as regular files in the filesystem if the guy is lucky, or as BLOBS in some database if he is not), so it's not like you can just pull them up as thumbnails and skim through them (you'd have to export the entire dataset to some local box first). And that probably wouldn't be a practical way to sift through tens of thousands of images anyways.

And how do you keep your site operating while at the same time preventing troublemakers from re-uploading the offending content? Perhaps you switch to a moderated-content model where every upload needs to be reviewed and approved before it goes live. But that's impractical for larger sites, and provides a poor experience for end users as well.

So I don't think the guy's task is as easy as you imply, or that it's a foregone conclusion that he's being willfully ignorant. Does Google know where to find every potentially infringing video on Youtube? Probably not. Does that make them "willfully ignorant" of infringements that occur on Youtube? Not really. To be willfully ignorant they would have to get a complaint that says "the video at this specific URL infringes upon my copyright, please take it down" and then not even bother looking at the URL. There's no other practical way for them to find infringing videos inside of their giant mountain of content.

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