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The Oatmeal vs FunnyJunk and Charles Carreon, via Dear Author

Cross posted with full permission from Dear Author

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The Oatmeal is a satiric cartoon site run by Matthew Inman. About a year ago, he noticed that his content was being uploaded without attribution to a site called “The FunnJunk.” The FunnyJunk is a site that contains user generated content. This means that account holders post things that they like from all over the internet. Maybe a pre-Pinterest sort of site. The Oatmeal writes to the FunnyJunk requesting that the information be removed.

FunnyJunk took down the comics but proceeded to create a mirror image of The Oatmeal’s website. The Oatmeal responded by asking his readers what to do.

The FunnyJunk responded with a call to action to its own users asking them to inundate The Oatmeal’s inbox and facebook page. The FJ’s users responded in droves using their arsenal of retorts such as gay slurs and incoherently misspelled sentences to insult The Oatmeal and his biological predecessors for having the gall to procreate and, I guess, learn how to spell and draw.

According to Ars Technica, after the furor died down, the FJ admin acted somewhat responsibly, possibly realizing that its site could be in jeopardy due to all the copyrighted material illegally reposted there.

When the flame war finally died down, the FunnyJunk admin issued an unsigned note saying, “We’ve been trying for the longest time to prevent users from posting copyrighted content” and “I’m having all content, comics, comments, etc. with the names of your comics in them deleted/banned by tonight… The site barely affords to stay alive as it is and has enough problems.”

The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk could have died there in November of 2011, only to be a footnote in internet flamewar history. But no.

The FunnyJunk for some reason came into contact with Charles Carreon, Esq., an attorney who came into national prominence during the sex.com domain name lawsuit. Carreon penned a letter on behalf of FJ, threatening The Oatmeal with a lawsuit for the post where The Oatmeal points out that the FJ has copied his website. Carreon, on behalf of FJ, wants the post to be taken down and $20,000 in damages.

The Oatmeal gets a lawyer and responds back with well worded, backed by research, rebuttal. The Oatmeal also goes on to decide to raise money off this ridiculous situation because so many of his readers want to help but the money isn’t going to Inman, instead he raised money for charity. Initially, he only thought to raise $20,000 for charity but the donations came in thick and fast and in the end, Inman raises over $200,000 which is donated to The American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation.

The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk could have died there on June 12, 2012, only to be a footnote in internet flamewar history and with its own Wikipedia entry. But no.

The situation gains the attention of the mainstream media and Carreon begins to make personal threats. He expresses wonderment and dismay at the internet’s reaction (he calls it bullying) toward his legal demands of Inman and The Oatmeal. He suggests that there might be other legal problems for the Oatmeal such as the fundraiser being violative of IndieGoGo’s term of service.

The internet continues to make fun of FJ and Carreon. Other attorneys make public statements about Carreon’s actions which include statements like “Holy fucking shitballs inside a burning biplane careening toward the Statue of Liberty, Captain! I hope that the reporter merely got the story wrong, because if not, that’s more fucked up than a rhino raping a chinchilla while dressed up in unicorns’ undergarments. ”

The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk could have died there later on June 12, 2012, only to be a footnote in internet flamewar history, with its own Wikipedia entry, and a few mainstream media mentions. But no.

Charles Carreon’s pride has been wounded. In his delusionary state, he must see that the only way out is to double down on the Jack and the Six (i.e., worse blackjack hand in the deck). He takes the situation to DefCon 5. Last night, Popehat was alerted by another legal watcher that Charles Carreon has filed a lawsuit against The Oatmeal, IndieGoGo, American Cancer Society, and National Wildlife Federation.

He transcended typical internet infamy when he filed a federal lawsuit last Friday in the United Sates District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland. He belonged to the ages the moment he filed that lawsuit not only against Matthew Inman, proprietor of The Oatmeal, but also against IndieGoGo Inc., the company that hosted Inman’s ridiculously effective fundraiser for the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society.

But that level of censorious litigiousness was not enough for Charles Carreon. He sought something more. And so, on that same Friday, Charles Carreon also sued the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society, the beneficiaries of Matthew Inman’s fundraiser.

Popehat is a site run by a bunch of lawyers and they are offering Inman pro bono legal work and they are asking the internet the following:

1. Kevin and I have offered pro bono help, and will be recruiting other First Amendment lawyers to offer pro bono help. It’s not just Mr. Inman who needs help. IndyGoGo does to. So do the charities. No doubt the charities already have excellent lawyers, but money that they spend fighting Carreon (whatever the causes of action he brought) is money that they don’t have to fight cancer and help wildlife. That’s an infuriating, evil turn of events.

2. You could still donate through the IndieGoGo program The Oatmeal set up. Or you could donate directly to the American Cancer Society or the National Wildlife Federation. I like animals, and I loved my mother who died at 55 of cancer, but I have no qualms whatsoever about encouraging people to donate to those causes as part of a gesture of defiance and contempt against Charles Carreon and the petulant, amoral, censorious douchebaggery he represents.

3. Spread the word. Tell this story on blogs, forums, and social media. Encourage people to donate as part of a gesture of defiance of Charles Carreon and entitled butthurt censors everywhere. Help the Streisand Effect work.

4. Do not, under any circumstances, direct abusive emails or calls or other communications to Mr. Carreon. That helps him and hurts the good guys. I don’t take his claims of victimhood at face value — not in the least — but such conduct is wrong, and empowers censors.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part IV from Popehat.


  • Mireya
    June 18
    8:48 pm

    I think I am going to share this with my husband (he’s a litigating attorney). This is way too crazy not to.



  • Holy batshit craziness, Batman!

    I feel like I just fell down the rabbit hole. Is there a drug I can take to understand how a thief is suing the victim from whom he stole?

    I’d say this is the litigious American nature, but I know there were cases in England where thieves successfully sued their victims because they hurt themselves after breaking into their victims’ homes.


  • FD
    June 19
    6:13 pm

    @Ann Bruce: Actually, the vast majority of thief suing homeowner stories are urban legends. What is true is a specific case where someone who was up on the roof of a warehouse, and presumably up to no good, successfully sued after he fell through the roof. However, he was only successful because the warehouse owner was maintaining the warehouse in an illegal state of disrepair, and not maintaining statutorily required safeguards and warning notices – which means that he de-facto lost the case, just as he would have done if say, a legitimate worker, or a non-thieving trespasser fell through the roof.

    As to the above – way to go to the Oatmeal for classiness in the face of batshit levels of absurdity from Carreon.


  • I keep reading further comments at Popehat, and Ken has promised a new post on Carreon’s complaint/suit tomorrow.


  • Throwmearope
    June 20
    1:12 pm

    @ FD

    There was a case where a burglar successfully sued a homeowner after breaking a leg. He tripped on a skateboard which was left on the stair landing by the homeowner’s son.

    The homeowner was found negligent (in not maintaining a home safe enough to burglarize).

    A lawyer buddy of mine explained in agonizing detail what a great case this was for precedent establishment. Not just for lawyers, mind you, but better for the world in general.

    That one is not an urban legend, at least.


  • Throwmearope
    June 20
    1:13 pm

    Ooh, I didn’t pick the Avatar, but I like it.


  • FD
    June 21
    5:25 pm

    @Throwmearope: Interesting – d’you think you have any more idea of the details because it’s not coming up in any of the tort law databases I have access to? Party names, year, etc?


  • Throwmearope
    June 22
    2:42 pm

    Nah, I’m a doctor. But this is happened in *cough* California *cough, cough* so it might be just an aberration. The lawyer buddy of mine said the appellate court let the decision stand to establish precedence for negligence findings where people hadn’t been directly invited into the home. Or something like that. She thought the case was a wonderful thing, greatly to be admired.

    But after taking that lawyer’s advice, my whole house was posted with warnings about my vicious (i.e. might lick you to death) dog, and no skateboarding on the driveway, etc., etc., etc.


  • FD
    June 23
    8:29 pm

    @Throwmearope: Ah, I was looking in the UK databases. No wonder we had our wires crossed! Yes, liability works differently in the US in general. And, IRRC, differently state by state as well, which makes my head hurt just thinking about it.
    Over here, if you signpost for a vicious dog, and it bites someone, you’re actually increasing your liability, not decreasing it – best just to signpost that there is a dog.


  • Throwmearope
    June 24
    1:03 am

    @FD: Here in the wild, wild West we give you a warning. If you don’t pay attention, well, nobody’s fault but your own.

    It’s even worse in Colorado, where I moved home to, than it was in nutty Cali.


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