By: Chris O'Shea
Let the record show that Matthew Inman, the creator of the popular online comic site, The Oatmeal, is not one to be messed with. About a year ago, Inman found out that the site FunnyJunk was ripping him off, so he decided to write a scathing blog post about it, and show how the site had used his images and comics without crediting the Oatmeal.
In the post, Inman openly wondered what the best strategy would be. "I realize that trying to police copyright infringement on the internet is like strolling into the Vietnamese jungle circa 1964 and politely asking everyone to use squirt guns," wrote Inman. "I know that if FunnyJunk disappeared fifty other clones would pop up to take its place overnight, but I felt I had to say something about what they're doing." He then urged his fans to let the creators of FunnyJunk know just how wrong they were for doing what they did.
Eventually the site's creators took down some of Inman's work, but then, on Monday, Inman was hit with something quite unexpected: A letter threatening a lawsuit from FunnyJunk. "The owner of the site responded and some of the comics were taken down," explained Inman, "[But] He still had a ton of my comics hosted without credit, but the energy it would take to get him to take them down wasn't worth it. I thought the issue was done and over with so I let him be. A few days ago I was served papers informing me that the owner of FunnyJunk is going to file a federal lawsuit against me unless I pay him $20,000 in damages."
Instead of getting angry, Inman got clever. He posted the full letter from the lawyer on his site, along with several examples of how it contained incorrect information. Then he announced plans to raise $20,000 and donate that money to charity. Along with, we should note, a fantastic drawing of the FunnyJunk's alleged mother in a bikini, begging a bear for love. He said that if he raised the money, he would take a picture of the cash and send it to FunnyJunk's founder, along with the bear love drawing. We told you this guy was not to be messed with.
In what he dubbed, "Bearlove Good, Cancer Bad." Inman raised that $20,000 in one hour. Then he raised some more. And then some more. As of this posting, Inman's pledge drive has raised over $113,000, and there is still 15 days remaining. Inman closed his rebuttal with this: "FunnyJunk. I don't want to write retorts like this anymore. I don't want to spend the next year tied up in legal bullshit with you. I just want to make comics. Consider this my philanthropic, kind-spirited way of saying f*ck off."
Now that's how you win an online feud. A clever approach backed up with just the right amount of bluntness.
[Pic via Flickr - Cheetah100]