FunnyJunk's lawyer vows revenge on The Oatmeal and Matthew Inman

Charles Carreon, the lawyer whose threat-letter to The Oatmeal comics creator Matthew Inman ended with he and his client being ridiculed far and wide, and a small fortune being raised by Inman for charity, continues to demonstrate a fundamental lack of good sense and understanding of Internet dynamics. In an interview with Forbes, he threatens to comb through California's statute book until he finds something he can use to ruin Inman ("California code is just so long, but there’s something in there about this.")

Ken at Popehat -- a former federal prosecutor -- has some sound advice for Mr Carreon, Esq. As he points out, Carreon's proposed course of action is incredibly risky, and may result in professional censure and financial ruin:

Oh, Mr. Carreon, indeed there is. There's California's magnificent anti-SLAPP statute, under which you'll be paying the attorney fees of anyone you sue. There's California's judgment debtor exam law, under which you can be interrogated about your income and assets in preparation for garnishing your income and, if necessary, seeking liquidation of your assets to satisfy a judgment for attorney fees against you. There's California's sanctions statute, under which you can be sanctioned for bringing suit to harass or without adequate legal or factual basis.

Read them carefully. And think. Think hard. Step back from the precipice. This can get better, by you letting it go. Or it can get worse. Much, much worse.

[Note: Mr. Carreon asserts that his site was hacked. I don't know whether that is true or not. If it is, it cannot be attributed to The Oatmeal standing up for himself. But if you are doing anything illegal -- like hacking, or making true threats -- you are a foe, not a friend, of the First Amendment. If anyone has any information on another person hacking or making true threats, you should turn them in to face criminal or civil consequences. On the other hand, bear in mind that "your criticism led to my site being hacked and me getting death threats!" is now the cry of nearly every person who becomes the internet's asshole-of-the-week, and the claim should not be accepted without proof.]

The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk, Part III: Charles Carreon's Lifetime-Movie-Style Dysfunctional Relationship With the Internet (via TechDirt)


  1. WOW!!

    These guys really need to just walk away from this fight.

    They caught red handed exploiting an artist’s work without permission and they first try to charge the artist for hosting his work, when he obviously didn’t give a squirty squat if they did or didn’t.

    Then, second they sue him when he exposes their pathetic little game.

    At this point, no crime has been committed.  No legal action is necessary.

    Funnyjunk should walk away from this p***ing contest and let it be.  

    Then maybe go off into a quiet corner and die.

  2. Also, gotta wonder about that lawyer FJ hired.  And not just because of that picture.  

    How can anyone with a degree in law support this?

    If I were him, I’d bail.  If this goes to court he’s going to look like he’s totally incompetent.  Good luck getting a client after that.  He’ll forever be known as that guy who represented Funnyjunk in the dumbest lawsuit in internet history.

    There will be whole pages at memebase and 4chan erected to his epic fail.

  3. “your criticism led to my site being hacked and me getting death threats!” is now the cry of nearly every person who becomes the internet’s asshole-of-the-week

    To be fair, it is probably true most of the time.

    Every site on the Internet is constantly under attack by bots, 24/7. I run a personal-use $21/month VPS that has never been advertised or linked to anywhere and I log–and block–scores of SSH login attempts every single day on that box.

    Still I wouldn’t claim my site was “under attack” in any exceptional way, unless the nature and quantity of attacks increased markedly. Which is exactly what would happen if the site became suddenly more popular for any reason (good or bad). Drawing attention to an IP address on the Internet, for any reason, increases the malicious attention drawn to it. It’s like having an open cut, that’s where the infection will attack.

    1. Also who’s to say their admins were even looking for attacks until this happened?

      I’ll bet they were relying on their software’s built in security and they weren’t even checking the logs until their boss was “suddenly” under “attack”.  

      It’s like that first time you run Malware Bytes and you get about a dozen or so hits on your first scan.

      OMG internet scary!!!

      Then later you realize that that’s just the way things are.  

      With guys like this, we can’t dismiss serious incompetence as a contributor to their recent anxiety. 

    2. The site was “hacked” by someone taking control of his WordPress installation.
      Anyone care to hazard a guess if he’d bothered to keep it up to date?

      He sent a threat letter, like many he admits to sending before, to someone who didn’t immediately fall into the “He’s a lawyer he must be right” mindset.  Instead he publicized the attempt to shake him down for money.
      Not happy with being made to look the fool on the internet, he doubled down by threatening a charity fundrasier that was setup and funded to rub his nose in the money he would not be extorting.
      The internet is not a forgiving place and someone who claims all of this knowledge of the internet seems massively clueless about how the ‘net reacts to stupitiy.
      He then claimed that the person he threatened commanded his army to send him emails mocking him, and hacked his site because he was getting massive traffic as people went to look at this fools website.
      Then he claims he lost control of his WordPress and that the person he tried to shakedown was responsible in the press, except he has no proof that Innman was even aware of what was happening let alone commanding it.

      Are we surprised to learn that he sent threats like this in the past to Google for delisting his wifes crappy website that was nothing but scraped content with no backlinks?
      Are we surprised that he has faced charges and lost the right to practice in the past for violating the law?
      Are we surprised that someone has taken to defending him using his wifes name and posting rambling posts that match her style perfectly defending him in the face of the mockery?
      Are we surprised that someone opened a paradoy twitter account mocking him and his first response was to blame Innman and offer a reward for the persons name so he could sue them, showing blissful ignorance of the 1st Amendment?

      I think he is shocked that his “peace offering” of a free copy of the book about his one claim to fame, the lawsuit, fell on deaf ears.  Here take this book that shows how awesome I was that one time in the history of the internet and ignore how I tried to shake someone down for cash.

      Christ what an asshole.

        1. From hurting myself by reading part of the filing, the “hacking” was someone put in for a password change, and he got the email and blocked it from happening.
          It is AMAZING how widely one can stretch the definition of “hacking”.

  4. I love how Carreon describes himself as a heroic Cyrano de Bergerac personality yet he comes across more as a clueless Walter Mitty living in his own little fantasy realm.

  5. Christ, what an asshole.  (I hope I don’t get sued for that.)
    “You can’t… associate me with incompetence with stupidity, and douchebaggery” Wait a minute, I thought he was doing that to himself with his own actions?  Will he proceed with legal action against himself?
    The irony that he’s doing more damage to his client than The Oatmeal ever did is delicious.
    Edit: Oh, and that link that someone dug up in the comments on Forbes, that shows Carreon attacking Youtube in a now-deleted blog post for doing exactly what FunnyJunk does? Extra delicious.

  6. I wonder if this guy is familiar with Jack Thompson, who acted pretty much the same way in regards to critics and ended up a disbarred laughing stock. I’m reasonably sure that there are ethical standards within the legal profession that discourage or ban this kind of thing. 

    1. Quick wiki check.

      Sorry, didn’t remember him until the article mentioned Howard Stern.  Only stuff I remember about him is his portrayal in that Howard Stern movie.

      Turns out he was disbarred because he lied in a court of law.

      You’d think that last thing a person who devoted his life to interpreting and upholding the law is tell lies in court.

      Then again, I’m a bit of a country bumpkin when it comes to legal stuff.

      Maybe a lot of lawyers tell lies.  

      1. No, your thinking is spot on. Dishonesty of any sort by a lawyer in the course of work is a fast-track to sanctions. Lying to a tribunal is asking for the harshest discipline. Not that it always gets exposed, or punished.

        1. Yeah my point was that the the tenor of Carreon’s actions remind me of Thompson. Who was eventually disbarred for lying in court. But was sanctioned, fined, barred from filing suit in multiple states, and suffered multiple attempted disbarments and warnings over the years. Most of which related to the extremely unethical ways he sought to silence/punish critics. Carreon’s approach bears a striking resemblance to Thompson’s, even the initial dubious threat letter. He’s a bit less fire and brimstone though. 

      2. The whole point of being a lawyer is to mislead people without technically lying. Actually lying indicates being a total failure at your profession. 

    2. Wow that’s the same guy who tried to sue Facebook!

      Apparently for what someone on FB said about him.

      Yeah, starting to see the similarities.

  7. Does anyone else get the feeling that The Oatmeal is the victim of a very effective trolling campaign by a site that most people had never even heard of until now?

    Yeah. Me neither.

      1. I still haven’t and refuse to click any links to see it. Though I’d like to see someone set up a website called and scrape all of FunnyJunk’s content – I’d click on that.

      2.  Any time a redditor discovers a friend who uses 9gag and funnyjunk, it’s pretty much a lock that they’ll make a rage comic about it and post it on reddit to try and get karma… so, yeah, everybody seems to have an ex-friend of a reddit friend who did go to funnyjunk before this.

        Or does that make them too close to an urban legend?

      3.  I hadn’t heard of The Oatmeal (nor FJ) before this.  I did go to the FJ website, they were getting it both barrels in their own comments section.  Oh, my eyes. My poor beautiful eyes.

  8. Inman is in Washington state. How would California law even apply? (or maybe his business is based in California?) I’m confused. But, then again, I am easily confused.

    1. Matthew, California law might not apply.  But, Washington has an even TASTIER anti-SLAPP statute than California.  (Theoatmeal is based in WA). That said, there might be ways to haul TheOatmeal into court in California, but as Ken mentioned, there are a lot of reasons not to do that.

      1.  It’s not clear at all that California law applies.  The reason I talked about California law in that paragraph is because in the quote that preceded it Mr. Carreon talked about combing through California statutes.  Plus, I understand that he’s admitted in California.

      2. Yes it is a terrible thing when a lawyer sends a demand letter with a twisted concept of the law demanding payment, then continues to pursue it when the evidence clearly doesn’t support the case. 

        Where have I seen this before…. Ohai marc.

        1. Whether he had evidence or not, it’s irrelevant. Oatmeal has a duty to prevent Internet from overreacting. In 1932, tugboat operator…  

    1. And (to cite TwilightNewsSite below) any lawyer who calls himself ‘carrion’ needs to be given a prize.

  9. This case is like a slow motion car wreck that many of us can’t quite turn away from.

    In my opinion, what Charles Carreon, Esquire, appears to be doing is quite obvious. Of COURSE he won’t back down; that would mean refusing (more of) his client’s money. Well, what used to be his client’s money. There’s a saying among lawyers that goes something like this: “The best client is one who is rich, angry, and wrong.” Enter funnyjunk. Ka. Ching.

    So, I think that Ken’s clear advice — that this suit will end up costing you, personally, (a lot of) money — is the best, most kind advice that Mr. Carrion could possibly receive.However, I expect that the “but my client will give me more money if I bill more hours on this” will eventually win out any mental struggles he may have.

    Ruin awaits, a sad thing to behold. Which is the final irony. I suspect Carrion thinks we’re all simply attacking him, rather than trying to offer what amounts to some friendly (good) advice.

  10. So does Carreon own funnyjunk? or were they just stupid enough to listen to some “stick with me kids, we’ll reap millions” sort of lawyer-crap from the guy. 

    I guess I am wondering when Carreon will start suing funnyjunk if the choose not to continue funding his bizarre battle against cartoon bears, pterodactyls and irony in general.

    1. More like a cheesy ’80s movie.  You know the good guy is going to come out on top, but he’ll walk through hell to do it.

      And then the lawyer gets tossed out the window of a fifty story skyscraper.

    2. It’s not even millions, it was 20,000 for the extortion fee he was offering. Which means even if he got half of that (unlikely!) from whoever hired him, he’s putting his reputation on the line for 10k. Or really that he lost his reputation for an attempt at 10k, hoping that it would just be paid because lawyers and threats are super scary! (it’s been working for the RIAA right? That genie got put back in the bottle and the music industry got saved because of the threat letters right?).

      The guy’s rep is basically trashed now, thanks to his unfortunately not really greedy enough attempt at shaking down a moderately successful website cartoonist with a poorly conceived letter and amazing lack of comprehension about how the internet basically exists.

      1. Carreon’s practice should have been toast already, given his history of quixotic lawsuit attempts. Maybe he’s offering a service at a very discounted price, or FJ wasn’t paying attention when choosing a lawyer.

      2.  As Mr. McElroy, commenting on the Forbes article, notes, Carreon has already had his license to practice suspended once for 60 days (plus 2 years suspended sentence) for practicing law without a license in Canada and failing to keep customer funds in trust. Here’s the bar association link.

  11. Every jackoff on the net running and hiding while screaming libel is getting old fast.

    The main problem is though most people freak out and back down whenever one of these idiots screams libel.

    When this happens enough times you start getting uber jackoffs like this guy.

    1. Slippery slope there for sure.

      In the states we have pretty weak libel laws, so it’s a good thing Inman is here.

      If he’d been in Britain he might have a serious problem.

      Not saying FJ’s case would have any merit there either, but over there they’d take two or three years to sort that out.

      We smell bullshit right away here.

      1. Unfortunately the UK courts still can be involved. The libel tourism is pretty much hated here but it makes money for the lawyers so it still goes on. 

  12. So Carreon has gone on the record to state his intention of committing barratry? A misdemeanour in California *and* Washington? This will not end well.

  13. “Walk away. Just walk away, and live.”

    When Lord Humongous can provide better advice than your lawyer, it’s time for a new lawyer…. 

  14. > “your criticism led to my site being hacked and me getting death threats!” is now the cry of nearly every person who becomes the internet’s asshole-of-the-week

    If you poke a bear with a stick, it will tear your arms off and nobody will feel sorry for you, because anybody dumb enough to go poking at bears doesn’t deserve to have arms.  In a lot of ways, the internet is like a bear.  Don’t poke it, dummy.

  15. I’m mildly interested and distressed to wonder what the trophy for Internet Asshole Of The Week would look like.

    1. Fake Santa Clause…
      Walt Disney lynch mobs…
      OMFG, nuclear holocaust!?

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