The Oatmeal vs. FunnyJunk represents everything right and wrong with the Internet

Lawsuit: FunnyJunk wants The Oatmeal to pay it $20,000 for hosting Inman’s unlicensed comics for three years.

On the one hand you have The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman’s fantastic cartoon site, which is one of the true rags-to-riches stories of the digital age. Talented guy uses new platform to reach fans who adore him. This isn’t happening often enough. It’s great. More of this, please. On the other hand you have FunnyJunk, a content aggregator that Inman publicly blasted awhile back and is now being sued by. (Heads up: The link might not work. The site has been slammed all day. Try this cached copy if the other one isn’t working.)

FunnyJunk Vs. The Oatmeal an outrageous lawsuit. In a nutshell, as retaliation for asking FunnyJunk to remove The Oatmeal cartoons from its site, FunnyJunk is suing Inman and wants him to pay $20,000 for hosting his unlicensed comics. If you can see the logic in this, you might want to consider a career in law.

So, as I said in the headline, it’s everything right (creativity, risk-taking, making people happy) with the Internet vs. everything that is wrong (thievery, bullying). It’s hard to believe that there is a lawyer in the world who thinks this is an actual case. Which, of course, maybe it’s not an actual case. Maybe it’s a publicity stunt. But is this really the publicity you want, FunnyJunk? For everyone to hate you?

I think Inman’s response has been perfect. You don’t dignify something like this. You mock it. Today Inman raised $20,000 in 64 minutes. (As of Monday night, the amount had pushed past $60,000.) He plans to send a photo of the money to FunnyJunk along with this drawing.

Then he’s going to donate the money to some worthwhile causes because that’s what the good guy in this situation would do.

I’ve never met Inman, but I admire his work. I’ve even featured it on this site before.

You will note, FunnyJunk, that I linked to it.

UPDATE: FunnyJunk’s lawyer is completely baffled by the response.

UPDATE: The Oatmeal’s lawyer responds.

UPDATE: Some guy tracked down FunnyJunk’s lawyer and interviewed him.

UPDATE: The lawyer who filed the original suit, Charles Carreon, is now suing the charities Inman raised money for and IndieGoGo.

UPDATE: Carreon’s wife calls critics ‘Nazi scumbags’ (like there is any other kind)

UPDATE: Operation BearLove Good, Cancer Bad raised $211,000

UPDATE: Carreon drops lawsuit, claims victory

UPDATE: Photo of the money, and sexbear, The Oatmeal is mailed to Charles Carreon

Joe Donatelli is a journalist in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


Author: Joe Donatelli

Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles. He publishes The Humor Columnist.

  • I gotta say though, what Inman is going to do with the $20,000 is freaking classic. A drawing of your mom seducing a Kodiak bear, that’s just sprinkles on the cake

  • Agreed. Legally, I couldn’t tell you how to handle it. But as far as his site goes, he nailed it. His response is perfect.

  • Moot

    I was a regular on FunnyJunk and I assure you that the most of the site is going apeshit right now. The Admin of funnjunk messed up big time and everyone realizes that…well…off to reddit!

  • I should hope so. The admin pretty much assured that anyone with a little taste or class will boycott that site now. Just a dumb move. Are you going to talk about working at FJ on Reddit? You should!

  • Tuggeranong

    There is another legal issue here – counsel for the complainant should be disbarred. It’s this kind of shenanigans that make the law an ass.

  • Can you get disbarred for bringing up a frivolous lawsuit? Seems to me we’d have a lot fewer lawyers if that was true, no? 

  • Japanesedragonslayer323

    It might be a publicity stunt but bad publicity is still publicity

  • Yeah, but it’s not sustainable or advertiser-friendly. I can’t see this being an effective strategy.

  • kurato

    …well…off to reddit! ”  
    oh hell, we foresee this, those FJ kids better go off to 9gag. Unless they mature enough, then we’ll welcome them.

  • rfarrell

    Hi Joe, What do you mean it’s not an effective strategy? in terms of revenue for theoatmeal? Or something else

    If you gauge it as purely a link building or grass roots viral marketing strategy (Inman has backgrounds in both) then we are looking at possibly the most successful instance of either that I’ve ever seen. 

  • It’s not an effective strategy for FunnyJunk. It’s a disaster. For The Oatmeal, it’s brilliant. I agree. Sorry if I was unclear.

  • rfarrell

    Agreed, thanks for the clarification! 

  • We’re sending Carreon an indulgence for being a petulant, amoral, censorious douchebag. Hopefully it’ll help his immortal soul, though we suspect it won’t do much good for him in the here-and-now. Please note, we’re sending this as a gift, no strings attached.

  • Ha. How nice of you.

  • Chris Recouvreur
  • Keep up the good work,, which is clearly fake, but makes more sense than the real version of the guy.