The Oatmeal Lawsuit Part 2: The Rebuttal

Yesterday, I posted about Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal’s fight against Funnyjunk.com, who allegedly misappropriated some of his work without proper credit.  In short, their lawyer has now expanded the fight against Inman to include several charities Inman directed his supporters to in an effort to shunt their expected ire someplace constructive.

This article on Forbes.com gives more information from Charles Carreon regarding his lawsuit.

I sent a letter (a bit heated but still I tried to be respectful–see it in yesterday’s post) to Mr. Carreon and received this reply:

Thanks for your notes.

 Regarding the facts of the FunnyJunk / Oatmeal dispute, you’re completely misinformed.

  1. Inman never served a DMCA notice
  2. FunnyJunk has a DMCA agent (me) but the Copyright Office hasn’t posted the registration yet
  3. Inman’s cartoons aren’t registered, so he could not sue in copyright until he gets a registration
  4. A registration takes about a year to get
  5. An expedited registration could be obtained for $785, but
  6. Even so, since the “infringement” already occurred, Inman could not recover attorneys fees or per-incident damages;
  7. Therefore, he will not sue and would not even have been able to mount an effective countersuit if FJ had chosen to sue him, which it has not.

As a trial lawyer and litigator with 26 years experience, I generally don’t argue unless there’s a judge who can declare me the winner.  There’s just no point in it.  You can read the complaint on the front page of my website, and consider the merit of the allegations.

 As to how the Internet works and all that, I say pishposh.  I won Sex.Com because even though others couldn’t understand how, I knew that six letters and a dot could be worth millions, and therefore were property under California law.  It took five years to establish that legal truth, that Judge Ware did not accept, that the Ninth Circuit split 2-1 against and referred to the California Supreme Court for an advisory opinion, that the Cal Supremes declined to provide, resulting in the Ninth Circuit finally ruling our way.

 Similarly, bribing charities to endorse a campaign that is not charitable in purpose by using their names without permission, then raising enough money that the charity will be induced to endorse a mean-spirited campaign that contravenes charitable motives is unlawful.  End of story.

 Finally, people don’t hire me to cave in to threats from cartoonists or bullies of any sort.  I too am an artist, and will have my artistic response.  Let me know what you think when you hear and see it.

 No disrespect to you, but if you want to spend your time opining about my qualifications as a lawyer – be me guest.  Your time would probably be better spent writing about something you actually comprehend, but it’s your time.  As far as your not hiring me – no problem.  I have plenty of work.

 ——

I’m sure you do, darlin’.

It’s my understanding that you don’t need to register something to copyright it.  I don’t need to register all my blog posts, do I?  They are published under my name, and I have a notice on my website that the content is my property.  Of course, for drawings, there may be different rules.  I would imagine Mr. Inman is aware of them.

I replied:

Mr. Carreon,

Thank you for your response.  If I’m misinformed, then it should be easy for myself and my readers to check everything out, per your provided notes.  My remark about the Internet was referring to the Streisand effect, which, if you have plenty of work, should then be no problem for you.

If you read my blog post, you’ll see I encouraged people to NOT flame you or anyone else they disagree with.  That is actually a rule in my comment policy.  I still feel that it was wrong for you to be harassed, and my opinion of that will not change.

I usually don’t spend my time opining about other people’s issues.  This is a writing blog, not an industry blog, or one devoted to current events.  Inman’s issue struck home to me, however, because of the potential for abuse by websites such as Funnyjunk and others who can afford to mount a defense against their alleged copyright infringements.

You claim you’re an artist.  Should this happen to you, you’re certainly in a good position to do something about it, whereas the average person might be screwed.  Whether that is right or not, it’s certainly not fair.  Whether Inman sent a DMCA notice or not doesn’t make the initial infringement go away.  If someone steals my work, and they respond to a takedown request with threats, that doesn’t mean my work is any less stolen.

I’ll be posting this rebuttal, and you’re welcome to comment on the blog if you like, per the comment policy’s rules, of course.  Since I don’t actually have a dog in this fight, other than concern about copyright issues, I shall withdraw my involvement after this post.  Perhaps this case will serve to educate writers, artists and other creative people on the importance of both respecting others’ work and protecting their own.

——

The Oatmeal Lawsuit is going to be watched very closely in the blogosphere, and by Internet artists and writers of every persuasion.  I sincerely hope it is worked out to the benefit of others who might face this issue.

I post the rebuttal and my reply here for one purpose:  to show that you can disagree with someone, without flaming them or engaging in harassment.  It’s a pet peeve of mine on blogs and in forums when people get stabby in the comments.  We’re writers.  We should use our words to get information and express our displeasure.

I’m backing off.  The charity involvement is getting crazy.  I’m just going to watch and listen, and hopefully we’ll all learn something.

 

 

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