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  (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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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.


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