Not all of the fun-to-watch legal "fist n cuffs" are birfers running smack into some really good lawyering.
For your enjoyment, consider the Case of ... well, this needs one of those Perry Mason names. The players are Matt Inman, cartoonist who draws as The Oatmeal, a user-contributed content site called FunnyJunk, and Charles Carreon, attorney for FunnyJunk. A new character just on the scene is Venkat Balasubramani, former Perkins Coie attorney representing The Oatmeal, with the EFF now standing in the wings.
In summary, in June 2011 Inman complained about his work from The Oatmeal being posted on FunnyJunk without permission or attribution, being used as an advertising vehicle, and his inability to get them to take it down (FunnyJunk had no DMCA agent). It led to a discussion on The Oatmeal of the IP problem in general, and The Oatmeal posted this in its blog:
Here’s how FunnyJunk.com’s business operates:
1. Gather funny pictures from around the internet
2. Host them on FunnyJunk.com
3. Slather them in advertising
4. If someone claims copyright infringement, throw your hands up in the air and exclaim “It was our users who uploaded your photos! We had nothing to do with it! We’re innocent!”
5. Cash six figure advertising checks from other artist’s stolen material.
There were a few indirect back-and-forths between The Oatmeal and FunnyJunk via website posts, which included some pearl-clutching by FunnyJunk telling its users "the Oatmeal wants to sue FunnyJunk and shut it down!" (The Oatmeal never threatened FunnyJunk with legal action.)
Fast forward to June 2012, when a letter arrives out of the blue from Charles Carreon, FunnyJunk's lawyer. Poor FunnyJunk has suffered so greatly from defamation in The Oatmeal's description of its business, as Inman tried to get it to quit ripping him off, that Carreon wanted an apology from The Oatmeal and $20,000. (IANAL, but this sounds to me to be the equivalent of punching someone in the nose and then suing them because their nose hurt your hand.)
The Oatmeal responded, "we'll raise $20,000 by posting a picture of your mother romancing a Kodiak bear. And then we'll give it all to charity and send none of it to you! So there!"
So he posted the pic and fundraiser, and now has raised over $200K. http://www.indiegogo.com/bearlovegood
Carreon's fee-fees were hurt, and he has doubled down, and then doubled down again. Now, he's going to sue everyone even tangetially related, including subpoening Ars Technica
and other geek news sites for the identities of posters. Carreon is half-way to China now, and still furiously digging.
So if you have an interest, The Popehat will catch you up.
Be sure and also click over to the latest update, The EFF Steps in
, where we learn that Carreon says "oops, my client lied to me and I wouldn't have asked for $20k if I had known that" but continues his quest anyway (because this is about Carreon's ego now, and he'll gladly through his client under the bus if he needs another boost). The update has a link to Venkat Balasubramani's masterly response letter, which beautifully lays out the reason that Carreon and FunnyJunk will lose if they don't rethink their aggression.
I'm eagerly awaking birther smackdowns, of course (and it's Friday, so come on!). But following this lovely little slapfest has kept me amused in the meantime, and you may enjoy it as well. If you don't want to dive as deep as to read everything, do check out Ars Technica's
interview+article from yesterday, The Persecution of Charles Carreon
BTW, if the vulturous name Charles Carreon
rings a bell, he's best known (up until now) for the sex.com case, and for suing the City of Ashland on First Amendment grounds for no longer hosting his site after he posted photoshopped pornographic pictures of WaPo reporter Kathleen Parker.