Funnyjunk Lawyer Being Mocked Mercilessly, Makes Things Worse By Trying To Shut Down The Oatmeal's Fundraiser

from the stop-digging dept

As the famous saying goes, when you are in a hole, stop digging. Someone might want to send that message to lawyer Charles Carreon, who has (legitimately) worked on some good cases in the past. However, for reasons that are confusing even his friends, he seems to be trying to respond to a big mistake by hinting at an even bigger one. As you have probably heard -- since it's all over the freaking internet -- there's a little fight going on between funny webcomic site The Oatmeal (and its creator Matthew Inman) and the not very funny aggregator of things that people claim are funny site, Funnyjunk. You can read our take on the mess, if you'd like.

The summary version is that Inman got annoyed at people posting his comics on Funnyjunk and spoke out publicly about it (to be honest, his statements seemed to be an overreaction and include lots of silly statements about "stealing" that aren't particularly accurate). However, he was clear that he had no interest in suing or using the law at all. He just wanted to speak his mind and shame the site. Funnyjunk overreacted back... and then waited a while before doubling (or perhaps tripling) down on its overreaction by hiring Carreon to send Inman a letter threatening a lawsuit on a bunch of claims, nearly all of which appear to be totally bogus (the defamation claim is the main one, which is simply ridiculous, but there's also an absolutely crazy trademark claim that seems to suggest that Inman's opinion of Funnyjunk is "false advertising"), as well as demanding $20,000. Inman then responded in true internet fashion, by posting the letter with his thoughts interspersed and (most importantly) setting up a fundraiser at IndieGogo to try to raise $20,000, not to pay off Funnyjunk, but to donate to charity. And it came included with a marginally NSFW drawing involving a mother (apparently "Funnyjunk's") and a bear. You've probably seen it by now.

Anyway, somewhere along the way the Streisand Effect took over, and the whole thing went viral. Now, as we've learned in previous Streisand Effect situations, this is the point at which the person who overreacted begins to recognize how badly they screwed up and how they've made things a lot worse. And then they apologize and grovel or something along those lines -- and we chalk up another hash mark on the big scoreboard on the internet showing how social pressure and the court of public opinion can keep excessive legal threats in check.

But, of course, there are always some people who can't stop digging. In fact, I would guess that the people who often find themselves on the wrong end of the Streisand Effect are probably slightly more prone to excessive-digging in response to said Effect, because the type of person who doesn't really know the Streisand Effect is about to hit them is likely the kind of person who doesn't realize that continuing to dig doesn't get one out of a hole.

And, here, it appears that Carreon has failed to stop digging. He spoke to MSNBC and said a few things so stupid that he might want to have someone who is more internet native act as a filter prior to talking to the press in the future about these sorts of things. Here's the big one:
He also explains that he believes Inman's fundraiser to be a violation of the terms of service of IndieGoGo, the website being used to collect donations, and has sent a request to disable the fundraising campaign. (The fundraising website has only responded with an automated message so far.)

"I don't think that what I did was unreasonable," Carreon says while discussing the initial demands sent to Inman. He tells me that while this situation is unique, he is typically open to negotiation. He ended the conversation with a promise to keep me updated on how things are resolved and on whether he takes any legal action against the folks who have been harassing him since Inman's "BearLove Good Cancer Bad" fundraising campaign started.
Yes. A large portion of the internet hates you... and your response is to threaten to shut down a massively successful fundraiser for the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society? Really? Is that really the smartest response to the situation?

Then there's this:
"I'm completely unfamiliar really with this style of responding to a legal threat -- I've never really seen it before," Carreon explains.
Indeed, I don't think anyone is quite familiar with the full extent of Inman's response, but for a lawyer who plays up his connections to various internet-related lawsuits, you would think Carreon would have, perhaps, spent some time on the internet. And the internet, in general, is not a fan of bogus legal threats. There's a pretty long history of that, and it shouldn't have been that hard to predict that this threat would backfire.

Either way, as another day goes by, one hopes that Carreon's more level-headed friends will suggest that it may be time to ditch the shovel.

Filed Under: charles carreon, matthew inman, streisand effect, the oatmeal
Companies: funnyjunk, indiegogo


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2012 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re: Re: What do you expect from the leeches?

    "Why do you swear so much? Can't find a legit word?"

    I said "fucking" twice. That is "swear so much" to you? Wow. Poor virgin eared, delusional bob.

    "And get a clue."

    bob, when you get one first then you can tell others to get a clue. Til then, just stay quiet.

    "Big Search is 10 times bigger than Big Content. The biggest Hollywood studios are tiny compared to the market cap of Big Search. Big Search is run by billionaires."

    Google and other tech companies might be bigger overall, but that's because they have a much bigger global audience to reach and because they also are pretty much fueling everything. Almost everything nowadays involves technology in one way, shape or form. Be it hardware or software. How is that their fault? They didn't orchestrate any vast globe spanning conspiracy to make people use computers or the internet. What they did do though was take a look at what people needed and wanted and then met those needs/wants.

    The biggest Hollywood studios might be tiny compared to the boogeymen you fear exist, yet they wield much more power and influence and have far more sinister intentions than the boogeyman ever has. Or should we discuss who wants the power to monitor everything any of us does on the internet to make sure we're not all thieving pirates? Because I'm pretty sure that is Hollywood studios wanting that, not Big Boogeyman.

    "This case shows how the creator is really the little guy in the whole ecosystem."

    I still don't know wtf you're talking about. Seriously.

    The Oatmeal's content was being used elsewhere with no credit given whatsoever, so they made a comic about it. FunnyJunk overreacted and then did so again when they were mocked for their reaction, thus making their situation worse. FunnyJunk in this case was not the creator and by waving their arms around and shouting hysterics and "defamation" and whatnot have only added fuel to the fire. That fire being them being mocked by the internet for overreacting.

    There, I believe I summarized the situation quite accurately and sensibly. Go ahead, read it. Then read it again. And realize nothing you've said so far has even remotely related to the situation at all.

    bob wouldn't your time be better off elsewhere? I know for a fact there are quite a few conspiracy theory websites and forums. Go amongst your people. Or start your own. You can rant about Big Search and Big Hardware and Big Piracy and whatnot to your heart's content and maybe find a few like minded (aka "completely delusional") people.

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