ONTD Political

Don't Mess With The Oatmeal

3:55 pm - 06/13/2012
Matthew Inman, who runs the hilarious and extremely popular site The Oatmeal, announced the other day that he had been threatened by a lawyer representing FunnyJunk.com over this post in which he noted that FunnyJunk had reposted hundreds of his original comics without giving him any credit whatsoever or linking back to his site. Its response was to hire a lawyer to threaten him with a lawsuit for defamation on the theory that the post was false. Unless, of course, Inman agrees to pay $20,000 in "damages."

That was a bad move.

As you can see here, not only is Inman not someone who is likely to back down, he is about infinitely times more creative than whatever drone is running FunnyJunk.com. He has reposted the letter, annotated it and illustrated it, and included an enormous list of links to pages on FunnyJunk.com where his work was even then being displayed without credit.  (They have since taken those pages down, because they're sneaky like that and also probably don't know about the Wayback Machine.)</p>

He also declared that rather than pay the drone and/or his lawyer $20,000, he would try to raise that much money through donations, "take a photo of the raised money" and "mail you that photo, along with this drawing of your mom seducing a Kodiak bear" before donating the money to charity.

As of today (Tuesday) at 2 pm Pacific time, he had raised $120,414. [$156k at the time of this ONTDP post]

Those are a few reasons why you should not mess with Matthew Inman.

The lawyer making these threats needs to do some more research, also, assuming he does any of that. Truth is a defense to defamation claims, for one thing, and there are also First Amendment issues involved here. Rather than rambling on about that, though, let me direct you to a post by another guy not to mess with, namely Ken over at Popehat.  He also posted on this event today, and has previously written in detail about California's "anti-SLAPP" law, which is designed to allow the target of a lawsuit like the one being threatened here to move to dismiss at an early stage and (usually) to recover attorneys' fees.

It looks like Inman is located in Washington, and Washington has an anti-SLAPP law much like California's. My guess is that FunnyJunk will just quietly fade away, or at least they will if they have any sense at all. If not, they'll likely get slapped around a little more.

Lowering The Bar

ellonwye 14th-Jun-2012 01:04 am (UTC)
Now THAT‘s some funny junk!
nicosian 14th-Jun-2012 01:27 am (UTC)
Moments like this make me take the alien invaders off speed dial and think "yeah, humanity, you've earned yourself a reprieve."
sakuraberries 14th-Jun-2012 01:57 am (UTC)
robintheshrew 14th-Jun-2012 02:00 am (UTC)
I suddenly love Oatmeal even more!
hotcement 14th-Jun-2012 02:05 am (UTC)
lost it at "Do you actually believe that if I repeat a word a bunch of times on a web page it'll show up first in Google's search results? So if I put "porn porn porn porn porn porn porn porn porn" in my website I would rank number one for "porn" at Google? SHIT YES! I'm switching careers."
alryssa 14th-Jun-2012 02:30 am (UTC)
I was all for this, and it's shitty of Funnyjunk to do this to someone, but then I got to the part about sending a drawing of "your mom seducing a Kodiak bear."

Really? Do we have to go there?

* edit for typo

Edited at 2012-06-14 02:30 am (UTC)
oceandezignz 14th-Jun-2012 03:36 am (UTC)
Well if FunnyJunk wad going to be an immature clod and say things that were not true on top demanding twenty g's for their own lies and fifty shades of lame business model... I think an obviously absurd pic of some bear loving can slide just this once.

Especially since the money for this BS is hoing to charity.

But just this once!
little_rachael 14th-Jun-2012 05:19 am (UTC)
That's pretty typical of him. Here's just one example (massive trigger warning for hatred and violence against sex workers): http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/08/26/collective-support-for-the-dehumanization-of-sex-workers/
brookiki 14th-Jun-2012 06:40 am (UTC)
Thank you! I saw this elsewhere, complete with all the "I <3 The Oatmeal" cheering and all I could think was "Wait...did we just read the same thing?" And this is apparently not out of the ordinary for him. So, yeah, as much as I love to see people who pull this garbage get put in their place and as glad as I am that money was raised for charity, I still think he's a disgusting human being and no, I can't jump around and squee about how awesome misogyny is.
ms_mmelissa 14th-Jun-2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
That made me really uneasy as well and then I saw that degrading cartoon about sex workers and that just confirmed that he's a total asshole.
rufinia 14th-Jun-2012 02:33 am (UTC)
....I'm not clear what the "First Amendment" issues are- the government isn't trying to make The Oatmeal shut up, so....?

Also not thrilled with the mocking of the lawyer's mom- that's pretty fucking misogynistic.


The rest of this is pretty awesome.

Edited at 2012-06-14 02:55 am (UTC)
brookiki 14th-Jun-2012 09:31 am (UTC)
Since the lawyer is threatening a defamation claim, he's effectively saying that he's going to get the government to make The Oatmeal to shut up (and to pay damages to FunnyJunk), so that would bring the First Amendment into play. That said, I'm not exactly sure that I see the First Amendment issues, but I've also had two Zomig and a phenergran tonight.
aviv_b 14th-Jun-2012 02:46 am (UTC)
Uh, its not defamation if its true. Just saying.
bnmc2005 14th-Jun-2012 03:42 am (UTC)
Holy shit! With that crappy logo, how does "Online Media Law" expect to be taken seriously? Is that for real?
alryssa 14th-Jun-2012 06:48 am (UTC)
Someone was really digging around the very bottom of the clip art barrel for that one, wow.
ceilidh 14th-Jun-2012 04:27 am (UTC)
do not fuck with the Oatmeal.
zhiva_the_mage 14th-Jun-2012 05:15 am (UTC)
Inman is a misogynistic asshole who can't even write a letter without putting a misogynistic, fat-shaming, ageist, slut-shaming "joke" in there.
little_rachael 14th-Jun-2012 05:18 am (UTC)
Fucking agreed!
circumambulate 14th-Jun-2012 06:35 am (UTC)
erm, he's probably going to lose this if it actually goes to court unless he can prove that the owner of the site posted the content themselves, and not site users, or that the owner ignored takedown requests.

Of course I don't know how the plaintiff would quantify damages, either.
brookiki 14th-Jun-2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
Pretty much my thoughts. I think the letter was incredibly ill-advised, but I also think that some of the claims Inman is making are pretty ill-advised, too.

The thing is that Youtube and other sites that are most likely used and enjoyed by Inman and his fans are doing exactly what he's condemning FunnyJunk for: Allowing users to upload potentially infringing content and profiting from it. The MPAA and RIAA would love for us to agree that what FunnyJunk is doing is wrong and horrible and should be stopped because that's exactly what they've been trying to argue with Youtube and similar sites.
lafinjack 14th-Jun-2012 04:28 pm (UTC)
...or that the owner ignored takedown requests.

That's his argument. They took some down, most they didn't take down, some they apparently altered so they wouldn't say "oatmeal" after the fact.
brookiki 14th-Jun-2012 02:44 pm (UTC)
This is interesting. I found it odd that he redacted the information on the lawyer's stationary since I figured the information would be freely available on his website, so I checked the contact info. If you click "Contact" at the top of the site, you get this: Home / Temporarily Unavailable
Due to security attacks instigated by Matt Inman, this function has been temporarily disabled.

I have a feeling that "security attacks" means "angry phone calls and emails," since I have no idea how removing contact info would prevent an attack.
drownanddive 14th-Jun-2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
I saw this on reddit the other day and cracked up. How much money is he up to now? Last time I checked it was over 100,000.
drownanddive 14th-Jun-2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Never mind. I just read it in the article.
mirhanda 14th-Jun-2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
I'm glad he has raised all that money for charity :D
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