Monday, June 18, 2012

The Oatmeal Battle

So I'm back from my week in Las Vegas, and will on Thursday be posting some of the photos I took out there in the desert.  It was my second time in that city and overall it was splendid.

Today, though, I'd like to bring my readers up to speed on the latest bizarre thing circulating the internet.

I'm a fan of the Oatmeal, a humor site which lays emphasis on things like grammar and punctuation, but also on more absurd things like how to tell if your cat is trying to kill you or how good your chances are of surviving a zombie attack.  About a year ago, Matthew Inman, the curious individual behind this website, expressed his irritation with a rival site called FunnyJunk, which had a habit of reposting his material in order to benefit financially.  Other things happened, FunnyJunk removed some of the reposted comics, and Inman decided to let the matter drop.  All was quiet.

Suddenly, earlier this month, he was contacted by a lawyer on behalf of FunnyJunk demanding - I don't quite understand this either - recompense to the tune of $20,000.  I really don't get it.  The website that stole stuff is requesting damages from the guy they stole it from?  This is straight up there with the Cooks Source debacle of 2010 for sheer weirdness and audacity.

I'm honestly not sure what I would do if I were in Inman's shoes, with the possible exception of panic.  What he did, however, was to refuse to pay.  Instead, he announced that he would establish a fundraiser to collect the $20,000.  He would photograph the money and send that to Charles Carreon, the lawyer in question, along with a crudely drawn illustration of the gentleman's mother behaving inappropriately toward a bear.  He would then divide the money and give half each to the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society because, as he says, bears are good and cancer is bad.

The fundraiser went live on the internet a short time later.  In less than two hours, the goal was reached. Now, several days into the effort, the goal has been exceeded some 900%.  Inman has become even more internet-famous than he already was, which is quite a bit.

And now comes the second half of this crazy scenario.  Carreon, who currently tops my list of lawyers I would never hire for traffic court much less anything else, has decided to sue not only Inman, but also the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society.  First, as he told an MSNBC journalist, he attempted to shut down the fundraiser; when that didn't work, he launched this improbable lawsuit.

There's no possible way that this will not get thrown out of court, but that doesn't make it less annoying for Inman, who laments how much this all cuts into his time spent being profitably funny.  I wish I could be half so profitably funny.  Since I can't, though, I will support him in his efforts to get back to that day job he does so well.  Because the sooner we shame Charles Carreon into dropping his frivolous lawsuit, the sooner we can all get back to enjoying brilliant comics like my personal favorite, Cat Vs. Internet.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen an article or two about this. One thing I've heard is that California has some sort of frivolous lawsuit laws that would require Carreon to pay for the defendants legal fees.


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