Matthew Inman, founder of a popular webcomic called The Oatmeal, is responding to controversy with charity.
After being threatened with a lawsuit and damage charges when he accused another website of stealing his content, Inman went ahead and started a campaign to raise money for the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society instead.
It all began last year when Inman published a blog post on his website, TheOatmeal.com, detailing how his comics had been stolen, rehosted and monetized on the FunnyJunk website. The comics had allegedly been posted on FunnyJunk without credit or a link-back. Some of the comics were subsequently removed, however, others remained. Inman accused FunnyJunk of having practically stolen my entire website and mirrored it.
FunnyJunk claimed that The Oatmeal wants to sue and shut down the website, claiming they are nothing more than dirty content thieves. Inman, however, said that he never had plans to sue FunnyJunk or to get the site shut down. He simply wanted his stolen comics removed.
Nate Anderson of Ars Technica explained The Oatmeal versus FunnyJunk issue further, writing:
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FunnyJunk is not a small site; according to its posted stats, it serves 10 million page views per day. The idea is that the site's many users create funny images, videos, and animations, then upload them to the site where other users vote on their quality. Reputation on the site comes from creating funny, original work, so it's not hard to see why so much of Inman's material ended up on the site and why the attribution was so often removed. The site suffers from some of the issues that plagued YouTube in its early days-a decent chunk of its traffic appears to be built on the back of unauthorized copyrighted content.
Just days ago, Inman of The Oatmeal received a letter saying that FunnyJunk would file a lawsuit against Inman unless he paid $20,000 in damages.
You want ME to pay YOU $20,000 for hosting MY unlicensed comics on YOUR sh---y website for the past three years? asked Inman.
1. I'm going to try and raise $20,000 in donations.
2. I'm going to take a photo of the raised money.
3. I'm going to mail you that photo, along with this drawing of your mom seducing a Kodiak bear.
4. I'm going to take the money and donate one half to the National Wildlife Federation and the other half to the American Cancer Society.
Since initiating the campaign, The Oatmeal via Indiegogo has raised over $100,000. In the first seven hours, over $70,000 was collected. The campaign will close on Tuesday, June 26. Inman's site receives about 20 million page views a month and has more than 600,000 Facebook fans.
The Oatmeal's Facebook fans have voiced their support for the charitable campaign.
Great googly moogly! The total just broke $99K. Matt, who else could you piss off so that The Oatmeal community can get behind another fundraiser next year? asked Roger Adams.
It has been said that when Life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I think this has been achieved here. Kudos, wrote David De La Torre.
As for Matt Inman of The Oatmeal, he is just hoping to put the issue to bed.
I don't want to spend the next year tied up in legal bulls-t, wrote Inman. I just want to make comics.
Consider this my philanthropic kind-spirited way of saying, F-k off.