Last week I told the story of how The Oatmeal, one of the primary reasons God and Al Gore invented the Interwebs, was being threatened by a lawyer who claimed it had defamed his not-quite-aptly named client, FunnyJunk.com. (Junk, yes. Funny, not so much.)
The story was weird to begin with, and now it's entered the realm of Python-like farce.
[ Before the case turned ludicrous, Cringely suggested it was a good example of why we need a code of ethics for the Web. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]
The background, if you're not yet familiar with it: Attorney Charles Carreon sent a letter to Matt Inman, creator of Web comic The Oatmeal (NSFW), saying he'd defamed FunnyJunk by suggesting it had republished without permission hundreds of Inman's own copyrighted comics. FunnyJunk had, in fact, republished hundreds of Inman's comics, without attribution or a link to the originals.
Grudgingly and with a lot of juvenile cussing and shuffling, FunnyJunk removed some of those comics, but Carreon demanded $20,000 from Inman in shut-up money or he'd find himself on the wrong end of a lawsuit. Instead of paying, Inman launched a charity drive, the proceeds of which would go to the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Foundation.
That story went viral, donations came pouring in, and now Inman has more than $210,000 to hand over to these two charities, as well as two more he's added.
End of story, right? Avaricious attorney slinks away in defeat, never to raise his sorry head again on the Interwebs. Another victory for the forces of Web goodness. Yes?
No. Instead of admitting he'd been beaten like a gong, Carreon doubled down. He filed more charges, claiming Inman had incited hordes of Netizens to harass him and create a fake Twitter account in his name. He claimed that Inman had defamed both him and his mother, whom he says Inman depicted in a Ralph Steadman-esque drawing as an obese woman in lingerie attempting to seduce a Kodiak bear. And he claimed that Inman's crowdsourcing had violated California statutes on commercial fundraisers. He's now suing Inman, the fundraising site he used (Indiegogo), the American Cancer Society, and the National Wildlife Fund.
In other words, Carreon wants to keep $210,000 from going to cancer research and bears just to prove he is right and Inman is wrong. And this guy wonders why the Internet hates him?
Carreon told Forbes' Dave Their:
"So someone takes one of my letters and takes it apart. That doesn't mean you can just declare netwar, that doesn't mean you can encourage people to hack my website, to brute force my WordPress installation so I have to change my password. You can't encourage people to violate my trademark and violate my Twitter name and associate me with incompetence with stupidity, and douchebaggery," he says. "And if that's where the world is going I will fight with every ounce of force in this 5'11 180 pound frame against it."
Of course, Inman did none of those things. He even blacked out Carreon's contact information in his response to FunnyJunk and has since politely asked people to stop harassing the man. No, that was the Internet responding all on its own. And, Inman adds, that obese woman in the slinky underwear was supposed to represent FunnyJunk, not Carreon's mom.