Matthew Inman, the cartoonist behind popular US website The Oatmeal, wrote about a website that was stealing his images a year ago.
His blog post about FunnyJunk.com received a response and the subsequent removal of Inman’s images was welcomed, even though not all of them were taken down. Eventually, Inman decided it wasn’t worth the energy to continue to pursue the remainder and he let the matter lie.
To his surprise, this month, he was served legal papers informing him that the owner of the FunnyJunk.com site was filing a federal lawsuit against him alleging defamation and false advertising. It also asked for a payment of $20,000 as a remedial act.
In response, and after taking his own legal advice, Inman wrote a new blog post, featuring the legal letter in question, and offering to undertake the following:
To raise $20,000 in donations, to take a photo of the money, to post the photo, along with a deliberately crude cartoon of the website owner’s mom seducing a Kodiak bear, below, and finally to give half the donation to the National Wildlife Federation and the other part to the American Cancer Society.
Cartoon © Matthew Inman at theoatmeal.com
The campaign, which he has dubbed “Bearlove Good. Cancer Bad” was set up on the fundraising website Indiegogo with a 15-day deadline to raise the money. Within the first hour it had raised the $20,000 target, and now stands (at the time of writing) at $142,753, with 14 days still to go.
The lawyer acting for FunnyJunk.com, Charles Carreon, is reported by MSNBC to be “bewildered” by this response.
Of course, websites that use cartoon artwork without consent are nothing new – Procartoonists.org member Royston Robertson recently tweeted about an article on Citizen Journalism that uses a cartoon of his stolen from the CartoonStock website. Matthew Buck had a similar experience with the Guido Fawkes political blog and the US cartoonist Mike Lynch reports this story from 2009. There are doubtless many more examples. Please tell us about them in the comments if you would like to share your experience.
Inman has been drawing caricatures of his contributors’ avatars on Twitter as a way of saying thank you to those who chose to donate to his successful fundraising.