The Oatmeal vs. FunnyJunk over pirated online comics

Matthew Inman

Seattle’s Matthew Inman, better known as webcomic artist The Oatmeal, is loved by fans for his funny and biting observations on such topics as the technology world, the end of the world, and cats. Turns out some people like his work a little too much.

Inman has recently become embroiled in a public struggle against site called FunnyJunk that has been republishing his work, en masse, without credit. But he hasn’t lost his sense of humor or perspective.

“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,” he writes. “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.”

Read his post on the rest of the saga here.

Photo by Randy Stewart via Flickr.

  • Guest

    Calm down, Matthew. You’ll live longer. The internet has changed what we have historically called “ownership” and “copyright.” It is perfectly all right to take another’s original work, make a few changes to it, and republish that as one’s own. This is known as “mashing up” content and it is an incredible new way of creating new content based on samples of the old. For example, see the attached YouTube video of Darth Vader mashed up with someone’s 4-year-old child.

    Consider hip-hop, a genre about which I am quite knowledgeable. William Smith recently took some samples from “Very Superstitious” by Steven Wonder and remixed them into a new track called “Wild Wild West.” If Mr. Wonder were more “oatmeally,” he would have thrown a hissy fit on his blog and demanded that Mr. Smith desist. Mr. Wonder is not, so our musical rainbow has been nourished by Mr. Smith’s action.

    • K3

      “Cropping author credit text” != “mashing up”. 

      • Anonymous

        Precisely.

    • http://twitter.com/michaelwolf Michael Wolf

      @Guest – so I guess I could take a newly released feature film from Hollywood, do a voiceover, and post it on the Internets as my own? 

      Ridiculous. Copyright is copyright, and blatant reposting w/o attribution of entire works is infringement. 

    • Anonymous

      I’m sitting here cracking up because I thought for sure “Guest” was trying to make a joke.  Was that serious?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=23932565 Matt Decuir

      The thing about sampling music is that there are protocols in place for that. You can’t just do it freely. 

      I’m no expert on this stuff at all. But I know It has to be properly attributed on album work, the original writers of the song have to be credited as songwriters on the sampled work, and the writers of the work that samples lose some or all of the publishing rights and money they’d get if it were an original work.

      You can’t just sample a song willy nilly and gain commercially from it.

      People, for some reason, fail to realize that.

      • Darren Harper

         He probably never heard the tale of Vanilla Ice…

        • http://twitter.com/steven2358 steven2358

          Or Black Eyed Peas…