FunnyJunk threatens to sue Oatmeal creator

FunnyJunk is threatening to sue Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, for $20,000 in federal court. His offense? Criticizing FunnyJunk, and making fun of it for its relentless, unauthorized monetization of his and others' work.

Inman first lampooned FunnyJunk last year, after discovering its users had scraped most of his own website; in return, he received a sneering response that exhorted FunnyJunk's fans to "contact" Inman. But the boot was soon on the other foot: The Oatmeal's comic retort was so widely linked—because it was funny—that it is now among the highest-ranking results when you search for FunnyJunk itself.

You want ME to pay YOU $20,000 for hosting MY unlicensed comics on YOUR shitty website for the past three years? No, I've got a better idea.

1. I'm going to try and raise $20,000 in donations. 2. I'm going to take a photo of the raised money. 3. I'm going to mail you that photo, along with this picture of your mom seducing a Kodiak bear. 4. I'm going to take that money and donate half of it to the National Wildlife Federation and half of it to the American Cancer Society.

To this day, Inman points out, FunnyJunk maintains a substantially complete scraping of his site. But the funniest thing about FunnyJunk is, of course, that nothing there is funnier than the Streisand Effect.

The fine gent pictured to the top right is FunnyJunk's lawyer.

The Oatmeal responds to Funnyjunk [Reddit]

Update: The Oatmeal's pretty much dead from the traffic! Here's a mirror of Inman's response [NYUD]


  1. i admit that i find the oatmeal’s humor a bit tiresome, but i also admit that in this case he’s a golden god, and i hope he raises $20k for EACH charity, and that funnyjunk goes down in a ball of flames.

        1. It’s nearly $80,000 now… Lol, those funnyjunk asshats REALLY screwed themselves here… Their lawyer looks like a clown, too funny….

  2. I think this screencap is enough demonstration of how worthless and shit Funny Junk, its staff and its regulars are:

    PS: Can you please sue them!?! Pretty please?

    1.  Oatmeal Dude said that he’d really rather be drawing comics than hassling with lawyers, and good for him.  Taunting them sufficiently in public may have more impact anyway.  Hopefully they’ll go away and he won’t have to taunt them a third time.   (I wonder if The Internet Archive saved the pages they’ve now taken down?)

      1. FJ is not on the Wayback Machine.   Maybe the Internet Archive spiders didn’t like the taste.

  3. Wouldn’t it be great if that donation was just enough to cure cancer?  Two tumours, one stone.

  4. All those links of the stolen Oatmeal comics are now mysteriously 404ed. Well that’s one way to get them finally taken down.

    1. the DMCA can be a joke. The IP holder has to scour every single website for infringement, and funnyjunk can blacklist their search terms so this scouring isn’t as easy as searching for “theoatmeal”. By the time a comic is caught, funnyjunk has made their money off of ads.

      1.  I think it’s rather funny that a search for “oatmeal” on funnyjunk currently returns no results.. while just to the left side of the page, under “top funnyjunk”, there is one titled “Oatmeal vs. FJ”.

        It would be interesting see them defend the search term blacklisting in court.  I’m pretty sure “make it more difficult for artists to find infringement of their copyrights” is not an appropriate action under the DMCA.

    2.  I’m not entirely sure that destroying evidence is the best way to begin a lawsuit…

      1. One gets the strong impression that this was a simple extortion-is-legal-if-written-on-legal-letterhead job.

        Anybody who seriously suspects that they are going to court would have to be one hell of a n00b to start out with trivially verifiable malfeasance…

  5. I love Oatmeal and felt I should contribute, but Paedagogo, or whatever its name is, called my Paypal account an unauthorized credit card. I spent 20 minutes on it but couldn’t convince it, so sorry, Oatmeal guy. 

  6. Great job, BB! Their server is underwater now!
    …I’m upset because he’s gonna have to be pretty damn funny with this when the rest of the world gets to see it. Comments are promising here, glad you guys got to see it….

    1. His server’s been down for hours, long before the BB post. I think it got eaten by Tumblbeasts, hungry for new prey.

      1. Fair enough. I wanna see this play out, and I don’t know as much about the situation as I’d like to.

  7. It’s a damn shame that there’s a pointless fat-phobic, slut-shaming Yer Mama joke spoiling an otherwise perfect response.

  8. ohwait… funnyjunk::ebaum as theivingassholes::theivingassholes.

    It took me a while, life comes with a security rock.

    Sue them with extreme prejudice, that is all.

  9. …I admit the FJ Admin is pulling a dick move, but I tire of people thinking the “scraping” of the Oatmeal is Admin’s fault. One site with 2 moderators and thousands upon thousands of users…It’s going to happen and Innman would be better off trying to find everyone who reposted his comics and sue them individually

    1.  When your business model is based on having thousands of people scrape other sites and upload this “content” to your site so that you can make money from it, then you deserve all the crap you get.

      1. By that logic, I fail to understand all the hate for FunnyJunk and all the love for MegaUpload.

        1. And some of us hate both.

          Today you learned that not all people are the same. (said in as annoyingly sarcastic voice you can imagine)

        2. MegaUpload didn’t feature content scraped from other sites; it featured content scraped from DVDs. There’s a difference.

    2. It is the administrator’s fault if, when they’re confronted about it, they’re sarcastic and dismissive, instead of admitting it’s a problem and attempting some degree of remediation like an adult.

      Aggregator sites have a great deal of difficulty policing content, this is true. However if they respond to this by acting like rude, entitled teenagers, then screw them they obviously don’t want nor deserve the sympathy.

    3.  Matthew actually let FunnyJunk off the hook for this, after one initial round of complaints and some reluctant takedowns. He knew it was virtually impossible for FunnyJunk to police everything all the time, and let it go (while ridiculing their handling of the situation) instead of hounding them with hundreds of DMCA notices. Their response, much later, is to sue him because of some unflattering Google rankings.

      1. How dare my reputation catch up with me in a way that hurts my search ranking! TO THE LAWYER PEN!

          1. Really? After a lawyer has spent six sweltering months in the pen, with no room to turn around or lie down, fed through a tube, their excretions falling through the grated floor, their sweaty bodies hosed off perhaps once a week, their tenderized flesh swelling with succulent lawyer juices…. you want the PEN?!?!?

            Fire up the BBQ, we’re having lawyer steaks for dinner.

          2.  Ugh.  No thanks.  I can’t think of a worse way to ruin dinner than having lawyers involved.

        1. oh please, oh please tell me LAWYER PENS sound like the pen from Bill Cosby’s Picture Pages!!

  10. FunnyJunk finally managed to involve themselves in something that makes me laugh. Congrats, douchebags!

  11. I think not all of the members of FunnyJunk deserve to be called douches. I go on both sites and I still see nice, funny, and original comics by honest FunnyJunkers. It is really just a site that wants to share laughs. Problem is there are some people who have power there that kind of screw things over. Heck I wasn’t even aware that this lawsuit was happening until I saw the post today. I’m sure most of the other people on FunnyJunk still aren’t aware of all this law stuff going down. They are still posting comics and their own creations on there not aware of this legal thing going on. They just want to share their laughter, just like finding a really good restaurant and inviting their friends over to share that awesome food.  I do hope that FunnyJunk and the Oatmeal continue on doing what they do best and bringing laughs out of people. The best thing I think we should do now is to cause as little damage as possible and learn from our mistakes, letting the little things slide. Or else at the end of the day no one will be happy, and no one will be laughing.

    1. But they can be called douches if they keep using a site that enjoys making money from other peoples work, and when Google rankings shift them down below one of the people they rip off send a letter demanding to get paid.
      They made outrageous claims and demanded money, Oatmeal backed up his claims and never demanded money.

  12. It’s a clever move on the part of ‘FunnyJunk’.  Imagine their conversation: “We’d like to get Reddit & Boing Boing to post a big advertisement for us about how we have a lot of funny stuff – including an archive of Oatmeal’s site.  But they want money for an ad.  What can we do?”

    “I’ve got an idea – why not get Oatmeal to  write a funny letter with all that information in it, and use the Streisand effect to get the letter posted all over the web?  Sure – they’ll call us douches – but that’s OK .. as long as they include the vital information – where we are and the fact that we have a lot of other people’s content on there.  After all – Pirate Bay gets a lot of  publicity because of people complaining about how they are a good source of illegal content. This should work just as well!”
    (PS: Yes – I’m aware the technically Pirate Bay doesn’t host etc etc etc.  But I’m assuming that everyone who donates to Oatmeal’s cause is swearing off pirated material – including new release films etc. .. which is a good thing. 

    Someone who pirate another person’s material is a douche.  )

    1. Doesn’t work like that. Pirate Bay links to things people want to get illegaly. FunnyJunk ripps off content people want to support via the original source (becasue they already provide it for free). They only end up looking bad rather then getting more audiance.

      And the reason people think it’s okay to ripp off big media rather then an indy content provider like The Oatmeal is in the way they are treated and how the content is provided.
      Treat your fans well and they will reward you, treat them poorly and they will pirate your goods.

    2. But… who has been clicking on their site?  This would only work if it meant a rush of traffic to them. Seems like most people are following the link to the oatmeal and donating money there. So… not so brilliant an advert. Good for wildlife and cancer research though.

  13. That letter isn’t threatening to sue for $20,000.  It demands $20,000 right now, apparently as a condition to AVOID a lawsuit.  Basically, a cease-and-desist-and-cough-up-the-dough.

      1. IANAL but I am pretty sure you cannot use your position as one to demand money from someone “or else”.  As already mentioned, it is blackmail. The lawyer could be disbarred for this. Hope someone who knows what they are doing can follow up on this with some action. Raising money is nice, but nicer still would be to get this douchnozzle lawyer disbarred.  C’mon Lawyer people, this guy is making your profession look bad – don’t give money, give some time and get rid of this guy.  THEN we will stop with the lawyer jokes. I promise.

        1. My understanding is that this only applies where the threatened action is legal rather than civil. (i.e. one cannot use evidence/ threat of legal prosecution to further a civil suit or extort money, however when done so in relation to a civil suit it is seen merely as a settlement)

  14.  He was hoping to raise $20,000 in 15 days, and instead raised almost $100k in 24 hours?  Holy crap.

    Oh, and Funnyjunk’s reputation is pretty much dead  in the water at this point.  Was it worth it?

    1. FunnyJunk had a reputation? This is the first I’ve heard of them. Who actually uses these crap aggregator sites? I’m consistently amazed at how different a place the internet seems to be for some people than it is for me. Makes me worry about the “filter bubble” effect more and more, especially during an election year (what if I’m wrong and Romney actually does have a chance of winning? It’s downright terrifying to think of just how wrong my perspective of the current state of the world might be).

    2. I guess I am terribly anal retentive, but I think raising a neat $20K would have said “look at this money you can’t have” better than a giant heap.

      I guess it does say “people really love The Oatmeal” though.

  15. Of course, by live linking all those urls on from his site to theirs, he’s raising their Google rep.

    1. Most of those links go to 404s now that they’ve started taking content down.  Google will just think they have a bunch of crappy broken content.

  16. I hadn’t heard of “funnyjunk” before, so I assumed “he” was some kind of white hip hop artist, like eminem… and I was also thinking why would a hip hop artist sue the Oatmeal. The pieces JUST DIDN’T FIT. So I clicked the links and wow. 

    That’s a lot of money! Good job, The Oatmeal!

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  18. Withnail, s’it just me or s’that you?  
    Can’t wait to see the photo of monies.  Do you think oatmeal is thinking, ok i said 20K to bears on chemo, canz the rest be for me please?

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