The Oatmeal vs. FunnyJunk: webcomic copyright fight gets personal
Matthew Inman never wanted to be a hardass. He just wanted to write his unique webcomic, The Oatmeal, but only months after he started the project, he began to see his work showing up—often with all attribution stripped out—on user-generated content sites like funnyjunk.com.
He would e-mail site administrators asking them to remove his work, which they did, but users would immediately upload it once more. Playing copyright policeman wasn’t worth the time to talk, so Inman “just kind of ignored it for a year,” he told me… until he couldn’t ignore it anymore.
His readers kept e-mailing him, pointing out the wholesale copying of his work. Eventually, Inman looked into FunnyJunk more carefully. “I started searching around on their site,” he said. “My entire site had been mirrored on FunnyJunk.”
Hundreds and hundreds of (long) cartoons, much of Inman’s work for the last two years, littered the site. Inman couldn’t stay silent any more, so he took to The Oatmeal blog last week to rant against FunnyJunk.
Here’s how funnyjunk.com’s business operates:
Gather funny pictures from around the internet
Host them on funnyjunk.com
Slather them in advertising
If someone claims copyright infringement, throw your hands up in the air and exclaim “It was our users who uploaded your photos! We had nothing to do with it! We’re innocent!”
Cash six-figure advertising checks from other artists’ stolen material
His post concluded, “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. I know that if FunnyJunk disappeared, 50 other clones would pop up to take its place overnight, but I felt I had to say something about what they’re doing.”