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FunnyJunk v. the Oatmeal: Copyright Infringement Complaints As Defamation

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-ask-l-ron's-successors-in-interest dept.

Censorship 286

An anonymous reader writes "Funny as it might sound, FunnyJunk's threat of litigation against The Oatmeal raises a very important issue: the extent to which artists can complain in public about perceived or actual infringement of their works by user-generated content websites. Does it matter if the content creator accused the website of condoning or participating in the infringement?" The short story is this: Numerous Oatmeal comics were posted without permission to FunnyJunk; Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman lambasted FunnyJunk in the form of a blog post. FunnyJunk responded with a suit (or rather the threat of a suit) accusing Inman of willful defamation, unless he ponies up $20,000, which he doesn't plan to do.

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286 comments

For the two people who don't already know (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40294699)

Matthew is accepting donations [indiegogo.com] , will take a picture of all his monies to send to the FunnyJunk attorneys, and will donate it all to charity.

Right now it's standing at over $100k. Go internet!

Re:For the two people who don't already know (4, Informative)

Soilworker (795251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294725)

It's shitty ebaumworld all over again.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (-1, Troll)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294797)

I was going to donate but I didn't realise he's giving it to charity.
Just for once I wish one of these web guys would keep some or part of this kind of cash for themselves. Happy to donate to a down and out webcomic, not happy to donate to some poorly managed charity.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (4, Informative)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294877)

Both Charities seem pretty good in review of their operations:
I'd hardly call either "poorly managed".

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=10751 [charitynavigator.org]

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=6495 [charitynavigator.org]

Re:For the two people who don't already know (-1, Troll)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294921)

Charity in general, why does he need to give it to charity? This would've been substantially cooler had his readers donated just to him.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (5, Insightful)

Daniel_is_Legnd (1447519) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294941)

If you want to support him, go to to his store and buy prints/shirts/coffee mugs.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (2)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295049)

hell yes, this. His greeting cards, Christmas cards, Valentine's Day cards are freaking awesome.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (2)

a1cypher (619776) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295681)

Agreed. Purchased a new Nikola Tesla coffee mug for my desk at work. Great guy, great comics, shitty thieves.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (4, Interesting)

gorzek (647352) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294943)

What the hell is wrong with Slashdot? "People should keep the money, not give to charity!"

Did I miss a memo? When did charitable giving become a bad thing?

Re:For the two people who don't already know (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295005)

Charity is socialism and socialism is for lazy deadbeats and communists.

USA! USA! USA!

Re:For the two people who don't already know (0, Flamebait)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295705)

>>>Charity is socialism

No. Socialism is force & operates based upon fear of the government (jail time). Charity is voluntary, and a reflection of a person's true character.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (4, Funny)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295069)

I tire of everyone on the internet being a shining fucking beacon of light. It gets SO boring.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295159)

Yeah. Caring about other people is such a drag, man.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (2)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295353)

I'm being quite serious, everyone on the internet in this situation gives X to charity and does Y - and look some charity is good but just for once would a guy like this have us actually donate to him, directly and he take a photo of all the money his readers sent him to KEEP and he sends that photo to the guy. That would have far better effect.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295447)

But people are giving Inman money, knowing where it's going. Ultimately, it is his decision to give it to charity. If people don't like that, they are free not to give to him.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (0)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295747)

Absoloutely correct - that's why I made my post, just an opinion really. Expressing my ... I guess groaning disapointment at the move. Yet another white knight on the internet. Why can't people be straight up and keep the money? It's not that I hate charity, I just loved the feel good story of him making huge dollars, only to find he's giving it away.

Here look, someone paypal me, money for being a general douche.
scottylans@paypal.com - feel free to insult me with the donations!

Re:For the two people who don't already know (5, Informative)

grommit (97148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295459)

Simple answer, if "a guy like this" just took donations for his own personal gain, then he would not be "a guy like this" and would instead be an a-hole douchebag. As has been already stated, if you want to directly support him, buy his stuff.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295419)

Not all charities are good. These charities appear to be environmentalist charities. Environmentalist charities do not have a good track record of making intelligent decisions. Heck, lately one of the most famous environmentalist charities (The WWF--who already suck for fighting with the real WWF over the name) explained that unless the earth is in abject poverty we will all perish from environmental problems.

So, yeah, sometimes donating to charity doesn't help, it hurts.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (1)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295593)

Intelligent decisions are subjective, unless it's the running-a-red-light or sticking-your-fingers-in-a-light-socket variety. So you don't like environmentalist charities. Last time I checked The Oatmeal, Matt Inman wasn't holding a spear gun to a baby panda's head, threatening to shish-kabob it if you didn't donate.

Why is it that /. devolves into these forest-for-the-trees debates, losing sight of the larger fact, which is now we apparently have copyright trolls to go along with patent trolls?

Re:For the two people who don't already know (3, Insightful)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295525)

Atlas Shrugged [wikipedia.org] -- How middle/upper class white men convince themselves that doing anything for other people is morally wrong.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (2)

gorzek (647352) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295577)

Ugh. Quite familiar with that nonsense already. :-p

I have found the growing number of Randroids on Slashdot in recent years to be a little alarming.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (1, Flamebait)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295647)

"Atlas Shrugged [wikipedia.org] -- How heavily retarded, low IQ, sociopath morons, convince themselves that doing anything for other people is morally wrong."

I fixed that for you.

My favorite part is these same scumbags call themselves Christians.... Going against EVERYTHING Christ taught or said to do.

Re:For the two people who don't already know (4, Interesting)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294947)

Well, "poorly managed" is an unproven claim. Some are, it is true, but those that I have dealt with have less overhead than most businesses. Take women's health care: The Susan J. Komen turned out to be a vanity charity, but Planned Parenthood actually delivers a surprisingly efficient operation with much less going into bureaucratic and fundraising efforts.

So relax, just consider it giving Matt the money to blow on bears and cancer cures. You're just giving it to him to do with as he pleases, and it pleases him to give it to a couple of charities.

The truth: (-1, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294705)

buttfart -gouat - slikmeyfartbuttitalizan - moneys - the drrrrrrredrdrd - poopoopkm -you- 51~~~

$100,000 and counting (5, Informative)

davebarnes (158106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294709)

The Oatmeal was correct. All the offending links worked yesterday.
Now, FunnyFart has done some quick scrubbing.
The WWF and Cancer Society will be very pleased.

Re:$100,000 and counting (2)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294739)

Replacement pictures will be up inside of a week, because FunnyJunk's userbase are a bunch of unfunny, entitled morons and they did the same damn thing the last time legal sabers were rattled.

So Confused ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40294763)

Replacement pictures will be up inside of a week, because FunnyJunk's userbase are a bunch of unfunny, entitled morons and they did the same damn thing the last time legal sabers were rattled.

I'm so confused ... wasn't it them who was rattling legal sabers? So their MO is to threaten other people and then fix ... their ... copyright infringement?

Re:So Confused ... (5, Informative)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294843)

Ok, because you can't click links appently.

1. Oatmeal rattles dmca sabre asking for take downs of some comics, and points out many many many many many more than are infringing
2. Take down eventually occurs after much hassle
3. Oatmeal points out take down takes too long, but why not show readers whats happening anyway by linking to said site, while blogging about it
4. Google Ranks oatmeal highly due to incoming links / likes / everyone likes oatmeal!
5. FunkyJunk notice this, get lawyer.
6. FunkyJunk send nasty message asking for $20,000
7. Oatmeal posts saying, "yeah right, because you've removed all the infringing content, right?
8. FunkyJunk removes linked comics.

The question is, whos onus is it to report the infringing content when it appears to be uploaded again after being removed?

Re:So Confused ... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295081)

You forgot 3.5, in which the FunnyJunk admin sends an email [theoatmeal.com] to all FunnyJunk users and tells them that Inman is trying to shut the site down. He then encourages them to harass Inman via email and Facebook.

Re:So Confused ... (2)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295307)

Because it's sooo hard for FunnyJunk to implement something like:

if target_host == 'theoatmeal.com'
    do_nothing()
else
    post_content()
end

Re:So Confused ... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295563)

But nobody's even asking them to do that.

The point is, if your business model benefits from other people's material, then you really should accept that some people are going to accuse you of profiting from other people's material.

Slashdot tends to be pretty blasé about this sort of infringemtn. Most of us get upset when lawyers are called in.

Re:So Confused ... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295669)

You forgot Step 0 where he asked nicely to begin with and they said for him to go and stuff it in his rear.

Re:So Confused ... (5, Funny)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294857)

Welcome to the underside of the Internet, where 'LOL' is a mating call for people too stupid to find their asses with both hands and a haptic overlay for Google Maps.

Re:$100,000 and counting (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294885)

userbase = the retards running the site in this case.

user uploaded is their loophole they're using.

Re:$100,000 and counting (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294795)

IANAL or anything; but one would think that hasty, trivially-verifiable, scrubbing of that offending content that you oh-so-just-couldn't-keep-up-with-the-burden-of-policing-it-was-all-the-users'-fault right up until you send a '20k or a lawsuit' letter worded in outright extortionate tones seems like a bad strategy.

Given the DMCA safe-harbor provisions(much as team MPAA loaths them), it is entirely possible that the offending links did not subject funnyjunk to liability(since Oatmeal apparently didn't feel like playing DMCA whack-a-mole, so they hadn't necessarily received a takedown notice); but axing them after issuing a legal threat alleging that assertions of copyright infringement were defamatory sure smells like destruction of evidence... And courts tend to take a very dim view of destruction of evidence...

Re:$100,000 and counting (4, Interesting)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294831)

IANAL, but as far as I recall the DMCA safe harbour only applies if you're not aware of the infringing content. Since Funnyjunk couldn't plausibly claim not to be aware of it once they'd sent a letter threatening to sue for libel over The Oatmeal's discussion of it, they basically had to take it down.

Re:$100,000 and counting (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295009)

I am also not a lawyer; but I had the vague sense that there was a difference between 'knowing' in the sense of 'Yup, www.funnyjunk.com/infringingpicture.jpeg is an infringement' and 'knowing' in the sense of 'We have 100,000 plus images submitted by the bottom-feeding scum of the internet with no possibility of manual screening, the probability that there is some infringement in that collection might as well be 100%...".

The former flavor of knowledge might damage your safe-harbor status; but funnyjunk seemed to be following the (insane) plan of threatening to sue the Oatmeal for lampooning the fact that they unabashedly operated in the latter state of knowledge... The idea that anybody could seriously doubt that a large, user-submitted, collection of stuff is probably partially composed of infringing material is nuts. Scrubbing a few of the explicit examples(which doesn't negate the fact that they were valid when the statement was made, and rather looks like an attempt to conceal that validity), really doesn't change the obviousness of the broader premise. I'm a bit surprised that they managed to find a lawyer...

Re:$100,000 and counting (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295235)

I'm a bit surprised that they managed to find a lawyer...

Did you see the goofy (hand-drawn!) letterhead [amazonaws.com] that lawyer is using? I don't think this is a lawyer to take seriously.

Re:$100,000 and counting (4, Informative)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295125)

Indeed, it's the copyright holder or a nominee that can file a DMCA complaint. But it's of limited use as FJ's web host is in the Netherlands and is therefore not in the US jurisdiction. The Oatmeal could file a DMCA complaint with the major search engines, but it would be pretty pointless in that case I think.

You Missed a Part of the Strategy (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294971)

but axing them after issuing a legal threat alleging that assertions of copyright infringement were defamatory sure smells like destruction of evidence... And courts tend to take a very dim view of destruction of evidence...

So let's talk about FJ's strategy in this quagmire they've created. First it started out with a pretty innocuous (though informative) question post [theoatmeal.com] and there is no indication of an offensive attack between one party or the other. FJ's response to this is to respond by describing two completely different scenarios to everyone while destroying evidence. First, they contact all their users and alledge that The Oatmeal is suing FJ [theoatmeal.com] while in reality they fire a threat of slander and libel lawsuit at The Oatmeal. Meanwhile The Oatmeal is being harassed by FJ users who seem to be confused that this is about The Oatmeal doesn't believe FJ has any members and is really just a bot.

Basically the FJ admin and/or legal team is playing this like a money making entity would -- they're doing everything in their power to make users see one situation and the original content creators face another situation. And that's what happens when revenues are threatened, bad people get creative in bad ways and it usually has a very bad effect but is effective nonetheless. I hope The Oatmeal sticks to his guns on this one -- he's definitely in the right and he's definitely tackling a problem that persists on imgur, FunnyJunk and a number of other sites (yes, even YouTube).

Re:$100,000 and counting (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295135)

sure smells like destruction of evidence... And courts tend to take a very dim view of destruction of evidence...

Deleting the records that show these links existed (the site backups) would be destruction of evidence. Not preserving the backups that would otherwise be deleted in the normal course of business could be considered destruction of evidence once there is an expectation of litigation and discovery.

Removing the offending links? No, that's not destruction of evidence. You are not required to continue to commit wrongdoing to preserve evidence of that wrongdoing.

Mod Parent Informative (0)

WillerZ (814133) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295595)

I can't; don't have mod points today.

Re:$100,000 and counting (2)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295229)

Seems like some of the FunnyJunk users agree with theOatmeal (http://funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/3786053/Oatmeal+vs.+FJ/, http://www.funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/3786664/Oatmeal+VS+Funnyjunk/ [funnyjunk.com] ). I wonder how long that will stay up, and if the owner is investing personal time or has hired someone to make sure offending or problematic images (http://funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/1244988/BEARODACTYL/) stay off the site.

Re:$100,000 and counting (5, Insightful)

Calos (2281322) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294881)

Actually, it seems to be more than that.

I glanced over the original Oatmeal blog post. He mentions a bunch of other comics that are being ripped off. I followed a link from the blog post to the website, which is a query for "the oatmeal." No results found. So I tried a couple others - Cyanide and Happiness, Calvin and Hobbes... No results. Then I tried just "Calvin." Bunch of results, many of them Calvin and Hobbes, many of them with the name "calvin and hobbes" verbatim in the title and text.

Unless their search index is just behind from the scrubbing, it looks like they didn't even scrub. They're just gaming the search results.

Re:$100,000 and counting (5, Interesting)

littlebigbot (2493634) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295401)

"Cyanide"|"Happiness Cyanide" returns results with Cyanide and Happiness. "Cyanide and happiness"|"Cyanide happiness" returns nothing.
"Calvin" returns results with Calvin and Hobbes. Anything with "hobbes" in the search returns nothing.
"Side far"|"Far" returns Far Side Comics. |"Far side"|"Farside" returns nothing.

They are lazy.

Your defamation accusation constitutes defamation. (5, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294723)

Pay $40,000 in damages in order to avoid a suit; then I will comply with your demand for $20,000.

More comments (-1, Offtopic)

Aditya88 (1941500) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294745)

Hot topic waiting for more comments

Re:More comments (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40294807)

Hot topic waiting for more comments

Here's hoping they're more interesting than this one.
Oh, wait, you were just going for FP. Try to hide it better next time... or actually post something instead.

Easy to infringe, hard to fix (5, Interesting)

chrysrobyn (106763) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294771)

I've never been to Funnyjunk before, but after this blew up, I decided I'd test out their claim about how easy it was to take down infringing images.

Naturally, these sites make it wicked easy to upload any image, taking down an obvious one would be just as simple, no? Well, in 5 minutes I found a Cyanide & Happiness comic (explosm.net). I hit the flag button and found "copyright infringement" very simple to find. "Great!" I thought, "So simple to fix this problem." Nope, that takes me to a DMCA page where I have to type in a real name, e-mail address, phone number and supporting information.

Wow.

If it's so easy to upload an image, shouldn't there be a responsibility to make it just as easy to take one down? Of course, there would be a manual review process and some countermeasures to prevent someone from flagging the whole site (which may be mostly original content, that's a separate discussion), but it should be a whole lot easier.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (3, Informative)

chrysrobyn (106763) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294781)

Sorry to reply to myself, but I figured I should link to the easy to find copyright [funnyjunk.com] infringement.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (5, Informative)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294813)

I believe that to file a DMCA take down... you are supposed to be the copyright holder. AFAIK, the DMCA isn't intended for just any crazy yahoo to claim that something is copyrighted and should be taken down. They SHOULD be asking for your contact information, in order to ensure that it is a valid notice.

Of course, contracting out groups to file DMCA notices on your behalf is another topic...

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (1)

SirWhoopass (108232) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295285)

You are correct, a DMCA notice requires that the person filing is the owner of the copyright (or acting on their behalf, such as an attorney).

That is the point the GP is making, isn't it? Funnyjunk does not require contact information to upload images, although they certainly could require it. Why not? Their business model is based on loose copyright enforcement.

Craigslist makes it easy to post, and also easy to flag for removal. Facebook is at the other end. They generally know who you are when you post, and they know who is filing complaints.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295325)

Since the copyright holder is one person and the crowd is many, that it would make sense that the crowd should be allowed to flag something as a potential copyright violation as well (since they're allowed to upload infringing things en mass). Or one should have to attach one's name at both ends.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295627)

I hit the flag button and found "copyright infringement" very simple to find. "Great!" I thought, "So simple to fix this problem." Nope, that takes me to a DMCA page where I have to type in a real name, e-mail address, phone number and supporting information.

I believe that to file a DMCA take down... you are supposed to be the copyright holder. AFAIK, the DMCA isn't intended for just any crazy yahoo to claim that something is copyrighted and should be taken down. They SHOULD be asking for your contact information, in order to ensure that it is a valid notice.

Yeah, but having to fill out a DMCA takedown notice just to use the site's internal flagging mechanism? Kind of seems like they're discouraging users from notifying them of infringing content, does it not?

IANAL either, but I do know the definition of 'due diligence,' and what OP is describing is not it.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294815)

shouldn't there be a responsibility to make it just as easy to take one down?

It would be an interesting idea to try making a *chan where one click deletes any image or thread. See if there's anything at all left in there after a day.

Most likely it would quickly devolve to the exact same image being uploaded over and over and deleted immediately at an immense waste of bandwidth.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (3, Insightful)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294847)

If it's so easy to upload an image, shouldn't there be a responsibility to make it just as easy to take one down?

Not really. Otherwise you make it far too easy for groups like Scientology to take down material critical of them through untraceable false copyright claims.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (3, Insightful)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294997)

Hence the manual review process mentioned in the parent. Once it is flagged as copyrighted material, a moderator should check the claim and if the claim is correct, remove the offending item. That way copyright infringement is dealt with both quickly and efficiently, without nutjobs and vandals having the power to remove material for their own gains or agendas.

Crowd moderation in doing the grunt work - i.e. "I like the material by the author of this and it is being ripped off so I will report it as infringing" is also a fuck ton more fair than expecting copyright owners to police every shitty website on the internet to see if their creative works are being stolen.

E.g. I like the C&H guys. If I see somebody unfairly using their works, I would report as infringing material. I certainly don't expect them to have the time to police the Internet when they're providing me with entertainment on a daily basis on such modest income means.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (1)

BadgerRush (2648589) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295187)

The process as you describe wouldn't work, in the “manual review process” you described the admin can only check that the content is originaly from another site, but he doesn't know if the poster had or didn't have permission from the copyright owner to post it here. That would lead to things like the copyrigh owner posting something and it been taken down by his own fans.

Just because something can be found in more than one site doesn't mean all appart from one are infringing.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (1)

mblase (200735) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294993)

If it's so easy to upload an image, shouldn't there be a responsibility to make it just as easy to take one down?

That can generate just as many complaints. Recently, George Takei's Facebook page put up a funny photo which nevertheless contained a picture of an old man's naked butt. Complaints were made to Facebook, and Facebook immediately deleted the image. Not blocked, not hid -- deleted. Takei complained that it should be policy for Facebook to hold the image out-of-sight somewhere until a defense can be made by the one who posted it.

Admins can make it easy to remove stuff, or hard to remove stuff, but anything in between requires a lot of moderation which most admins are too easily bored by.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295739)

When you say "Facebook" most people get the idea that its zuckerburg or someother newly minted millionare sitting in his house somewhere in california doing the deleting, reality is its a guy in a third world country that gets paid a couple bucks a day. Does he even know who George Takei is? Probably not. He just sees butts and deletes them. Its pretty objective, really.

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (3, Interesting)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295007)

to a DMCA page where I have to type in a real name, e-mail address, phone number and supporting information.

Actually that's pretty much required. A takedown request is a legal request, and you need to confirm that you are the copyright holder and have the necessary rights to request the takedown.

For reference, see Google's takedown request page, which is actually *more* involved: http://www.youtube.com/copyright_complaint_form [youtube.com]

Click "Copyright Infringement" then click "I am!"

Re:Easy to infringe, hard to fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295231)

No. In order to request a work to be taken down for copyright infringement, you actually have to have the right to do so. Do you own the rights to Cyanide & Happiness, or have you been given permission to act on their behalf? Somehow, I doubt it. In which case, you should not be attempting to submit a legal document (the DMCA notice) in attempt to force them to take it down. If you read more about DMCA, you'll understand why.

That's exactly how Scribd does it. (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295289)

To make it hard for the fascist content creators to infringe on Cory's freedom to host anything he wants.

bearlove (2)

ostrand (2660505) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294773)

Howver, the story doesn't end there (as most /. readers already probably know.... Inman put up a fundraising website to raise $20 000 to donate to cancer research (and bear love) - http://www.indiegogo.com/bearlovegood [indiegogo.com] - where he has up til now raised - brace yourself - more than $ 100 000 !!!

Re:bearlove (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40294811)

as most /. readers already probably know....

.... you're missing a closing parenthesis.

Re:bearlove (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295271)

Story of my life... or at least a couple of hours while cursing at Visual Studio.

Re:bearlove (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295755)

At least you don't probram in lisp...

Re:bearlove (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295395)

)

closed it for you.

This is stupid. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294799)

I'm sick of hearing about lawsuits in response to blog posts.
Especially so in this case, when funny junk was in the wrong.

Re:This is stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40294961)

Because in grown-up world, you don't get to do whatever you want just because the other person did something wrong first or did something worse. Not agreeing with FunnyJunk here, mainly because some of their claims are out there (that they've suffered damages, that they removed the content in response to the takedown requests), but in general, yeah, slandering someone is going to be an actionable problem when you're making provably false statements of fact. Some of the things The Oatmeal posted do meet the definition of defamation per se. You hear about it a lot about blogs because bloggers are typically complete idiots when it comes to dealing with legal disagreements and separating statements of opinion from statements of fact.

Re:This is stupid. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295211)

> Especially so in this case, when funny junk was in the wrong

How were they in the wrong? This is the internet: if you do not want something to be copied, do not put it on the public web whose entire purpose is to copy data.

It is not FJ's responsibility to support Oatmeal's business model. Oatmeal was not harmed in any way, and if their business model depends on artificial scarcity, they need to find a new one.

di34 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40294827)

$20,000? Pffft (5, Funny)

denmarkw00t (892627) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294829)

So far he's raised just over $100,000 for Bears Good, Cancer Bad. Also, the writeup doesn't really sum up the whole situation:

> Oatmeal's content was on FunnyJunuk
> Oatmeal asked them to remove said content, they kind of complied but not really
> Oatmeal writes blog post
> FunnyJunk threatens to sue
> Oatmeal starts campaign to raise $20,000 for Bears Good, Cancer Bad; ignores FunnyJunk threat

Some of FJ's complaints, particularly about the "attacks in your source code" part are so laughable you'd almost have to assume that this, in itself, some "funny junk" they're pulling for the lols. Do they seriously consider an ASCII pterodactyl to be a threat against FunnyJunk? Do they seriously think that the word "FunnyJunk" on a web page is taking away their status in Google's search results? FunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunk Slashdot doesn't like too much repitition FunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunk at least let's see if I can break it up FunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunk with some text here FunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunk come on, Slashdot FunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunk I just *know* that this will bump FunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunk your Google search results when people FunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunk search for FunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunkFunnyJunk

Watch out Slashdot, FJ is coming for you next for knocking them down in Google's results ZOMGTHEINTERNETTHISISHOWITWORKS!

Re:$20,000? Pffft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295083)

Maybe it's all a hoax for a bit of free publicity and some cash for charity. Maybe the last laugh will be on the people who took it seriously.

Ulterior motive? (4, Interesting)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294863)

I strongly suspect that the Admin of Funnyjunk would know that he'd get a harsh reaction from fans of the oatmeal. I haven't been on funnyjunk in about 6 years but I visited out of curiosity and now I'm wondering how many people will be doing the same. How many more hits has FJ got because of this?
The admin must have known that the oatmeal would never give into blackmail.

This story is familiar. (5, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294895)

A Dallas photographer found his photo illegally being used on a bunch of websites. He filed the thousand-or-so DMCA notices to ask the photo be removed. Virtually all the websites complied except for ONE owned by Candice Schwanger, who is now suing the photographer.

Why do people like Candice/Funnyjoke think they have the right to sue people they are copying from? It's hilarious. I have the judge pounds these people into the dirt, punishes them of 50,000 dollars, and hands it to the Victim whose photos/comics were infringed upon.

Re:This story is familiar. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295173)

Information wants to be free. If you don't want something to be copied, then don't put it up in the public internet.

It is not up to everyone else to support failed business models.

Re:This story is familiar. (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295357)

I didn't think it was possible, but the FJ case is even more ridiculous than the Candice case. At least in Candice's case, all of her websites hosted by GoDaddy were completely taken down, so there was some provable degree of damage (whether fair or not is unimportant to my point of FJ being worse). In FJ's case, it's hard to prove there's been any damages towards the copyright violator (FJ).

Good job, FunnyJunk. You managed to make a Texas nutcase lawyer look more sane by comparison.

This is an 'important issue'? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294907)

"Funny as it might sound, FunnyJunk's threat of litigation against The Oatmeal raises a very important issue: the extent to which artists can complain in public about perceived or actual infringement of their works by user-generated content websites. Does it matter if the content creator accused the website of condoning or participating in the infringement?"

This doesn't seem like an 'issue' at all. The DMCA places limits on the circumstances under which a copyright holder can successfully sue a web host/file locker/user-upload thing; but the only limits on the rights of an individual to speak would be libel, defamation, slander, etc. Given how trivial it is to demonstrate that there is infringing content(and that the operators have historically been dicks about it, albeit within the bounds of the DMCA), any threat against somebody who says so is pure legal bullying.

Making grossly false statements ("Funnyjunk has no DMCA takedown process/doesn't properly respond to takedown notices") would be a bad idea; but trivially verifiable ("Wow, there sure is a fuckload of other people's stuff being hosted for ad money on funnyjunk") statements or subjective statements of opinion("It certainly doesn't seem like funnyjunk's management is terribly concerned about being a nest of scum and villainy") seem pretty harmless.

Re:This is an 'important issue'? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295443)

And really, if anyone is committing libel, then it's Funnyjunk - especially if it has the users convinced that The Oatmeal thinks FJ is a bot.

Lawyers are ruining the web (1)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40294911)

Nice to see more people fighting against the legal trolls.GIVE THEM NOTHING! [ted.com]

Re:Lawyers are ruining the web (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295029)

Relevance to this story? This is a clear case of a website stealing an artist's work. The artist has the privilege granted by the Constitution to demand his work either be removed, or paid for. To imply the artist does not have the right to hire a lawyer to protect his due income for labor performed, places you on the wrong side of the argument.

Re:Lawyers are ruining the web (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295223)

Relevance to this story? This is a clear case of a website stealing an artist's work. The artist has the privilege granted by the Constitution to demand his work either be removed, or paid for. To imply the artist does not have the right to hire a lawyer to protect his due income for labor performed, places you on the wrong side of the argument.

Actually, I think the Constitution only sets up the framework, with the specific privileges being added later. And the specific abuses even later. But that's just legal nitpicking.

If I ran FJ, and a situation like this had developed where someone's website was effectively being mirrored in its entirety and its author contacted me, I'd seriously consider making it an official mirror, put in a little Oatmeal advertising, and pay Matthew royalties. Everybody happy.

Lawyers are the last (first?) refuge of the incompetent (with apologies to Asimov).

Re:Lawyers are ruining the web (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295665)

What 'website' is 'stealing' anything when the content was user uploaded? You've now said this same message several times in these comments, but unless you can prove the site itself was the one uploading the copyrighted content rather than simply hosting it your claim is false.

Now they may be doing a less than thorough job of cleaning up DMCA takedowns, but that is separate from "a clear case of a website stealing an artist's work".

Goes both ways (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295071)

This, "we can post what we want," business goes both ways. FunnyJunk may not have any legal obligation to remove the offending content, but Inman was not lying when he posted his criticism of FunnyJunk. Everything he said was true. His opinion was that these facts made FunnyJunk unethical. He has a right to his opinion and he has the right to express it. FunnyJunk could have just left it at that, "Oh somebody on the internet doesn't like us, and that somebody has a large audience." Instead they decided to threaten to sue for defamation. Here's a hint guys. Defamation suits only work when someone is lying about you. It's like slander and libel. You can't sue somebody for laying out a set of facts and then expressing their opinion about those facts. That's not defamation. Somebody needs to go back to lawyer school.

Re:Goes both ways (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295735)

You can sue somebody for laying out a set of facts and then expressing their opinion about those facts, but that doesn't mean you're justified or that you'll win.

FTFY.

Not that I think it's right to sue someone for telling the truth, merely pointing out that it is possible.

what my mom would do (-1)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295087)

my mom would just give both web sites a 'timeout' and tell the boys to behave.

null route the dns of both domains for a month or until both decide to shake hands and get along, whichever happens last.

Re:what my mom would do (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295405)

Does your mom happen to seduce bears too? If so, The Oatmeal has a surprise for her...

Re:what my mom would do (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295457)

That makes the assumption that The Oatmeal never did anything wrong to begin with.

Facts:
FunnyJunk encourages users to upload content from elsewhere on the internet
FunnyJunk encourages users to violate the copyrights of content producers
FunnyJunk displays said content with all sorts of advertisment around the content to make money
FunnyJunk makes it difficult to take down the content
The Oatmeal creates funny content
The Oatmeal discovered that significant content of his was on FunnyJunk
Oatmeal requested from FunnyJunk to purge all of his infringing content from the site (A bulk DMCA request)
FunnyJunk drags their feet on the requests.
The Oatmeal puts their feet to the fire by publically shaming them (and pointing out the infringement FJ hosts of other popular properties)
FunnyJunk discovers that The Oatmeal is more "popular" than their site because of the shaming
FunnyJunk hires a lawyer to send out a threatining letter with a demand for 20,000 for the harm to their reputation

At this point the rest of the sequence has been covered. None of this would have happened if FJ had complied with the DMCA request at the rate that YouTube does. At this point it's snowballed to the point that Oatmeal could outright buy FunnyJunk, dismantle it, and then use the URL to host the proper "Funny Stuff" index he implemented called http://bearfood.com/

Re:what my mom would do (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295463)

I'm glad I have a mom who didn't punish me for being attacked by others. Mine would actually try to understand what happened and respond to each child appropriately, rather than lazily punishing everyone simply because there was an argument.

Re:what my mom would do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295479)

Excellent idea! Please, do that with USA vs Iran as countries (or China, Russia, Cuba, whatever happens to be on your sight at the moment) to solve international diplomacy quarrels.

Re:what my mom would do (0)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295515)

my mom would just give both web sites a 'timeout' and tell the boys to behave.

She'd also give them both a blow-job.

Cognitive Dissonance (4, Interesting)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295215)

It's an interesting claim.

If we swap out FunnyJunk and Oatmeal for YouTube and RIAA, most of the details stay the same.

Could YouTube sue the RIAA for saying that YouTube encourages piracy?

At what point is a site operator responsible for the content their users upload?

Re:Cognitive Dissonance (4, Insightful)

jiteo (964572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295707)

Hardly.

TheOatmeal: angry and funny blog post to vent about FunnyJunk stealing his and others' comics
RIAA: SUE ALL EVARYTHING!

TheOatmeal: no actual DMCA takedown notices filed.
RIAA: file ALL the notices!

FunnyJunk, to users: harass the shit out of TheOatmeal!
YouTube: K, I'm gonna take obey every takedown notice.

FunnyJunk: SUE THEOATMEAL!
YouTube: Shit, we're getting sued by RIAA Viacom. Oh hey, let's start Vevo.

TheOatmeal: WTF they want HOW much? BEARS AND CANCER AND CHARITY!
RIAA: Uh, we're still not making as much money as we want. Who else can we sue?

Re:Cognitive Dissonance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295717)

...

At what point is a site operator responsible for the content their users upload?

As soon as they start allowing users to upload?

Both sites could DIAF for all I care. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295291)

The Oatmeal quit being funny when Inman ran out of ideas and started doing graphical interpretations of widely-used troll topics (Hitler, Abortion, Religion). Not sure if he's doing it intentionally to get clicks, or what, but the content has really gone downhill in the past year.

Funny Junk on the other hand is an upload site? I guess? I don't think I've ever been there.

Threatening a defamation suit is not cool, and so I guess I'd side with Inman on this... I wonder if he's considered an anti-SLAPP motion? It might not work because he is sort of a public figure, but still, going to war with lawyers should be discouraged, and in many States is (I know Texas and California both have pretty strong anti-SLAPP provisions in law.)

Textbook American Morals (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295313)

As far as I can tell from this whole story, FunnyJunk "just" wants TheOatmeal to remove the negative talk about FunnyJunk from TheOatmeal and all sites under the owner's control, which - to an extent - I can understand.
The problem I have with that, is that in order to make such a claim, one must first ensure one isn't infringing the creator's rights in the first place - regardless of users carrying responsibility or not... Which, as TheOatmeal's latest post has revealed, they did not check for. Afterwards, all the content (as far as I could tell) was removed.
I checked cache with the webarchive and true enough, FunnyJunk had been infringing TheOatmeal's rights.

DMCA is not a defence in this case; It's a way for content creators and owners to enforce their right, so stating (as was done in the letter to TheOatmeal) that the site is subject to "rigorous" scanning is a load. The stuff was there for 3+ years. This is *not* what you'd claim to be a site subject to "rigorous" scanning.
Note that TheOatmeal doesn't sue; He permits FunnyJunk to use his hilarious work for their own profit. And now they're suing him for him slandering them?

Blackmail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295501)

has more severe punishments than defamation last I checked. Wonder how that'll go for FunnyJunk?

noname (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295615)

VietNam Student [tapchisinhvien.vn] Education [tapchisinhvien.vn]

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