Matthew Inman, known to all as The Oatmeal, is Seattle’s (the world’s?) greatest online satirical cartoonist.
He’s also, like so many of us, trying to make a living from his craft in an Internet world in which anything anybody posts is treated as fodder for reposting, revising, or just plain stealing.
Lately, commercial ad-supported dotcoms are using “social media” as their current excuse for taking, and making money from, other people’s creative work without paying those people for such work. “Hey, don’t blame us. We didn’t repost your work. It was one of our users (whom we merely encourage to repost stuff here).”
Inman publicly complained about one such “social aggregation” site, where dozens of his drawings had appeared. Some of his drawings had stayed up at that site, even after others were removed.
The site responded by suing him!
They wanted $20,000 in damages to the reputation of the site’s “brand,” or something like that. At the same time they sent a “cease and desist” letter, demanding Inman stop dissing them.
Inman’s posted response was hilarious; pure Oatmeal snark at its finest.
Inman vowed to start an online fund drive. (Yes, even though he’d already made a cartoon comparing such drives to street begging.)
Then, he vowed to take a photo of himself with the $20,000. The aggregation site’s lawyer would get the photo, plus an original cartoon of the lawyer’s mother (imagined as an unattractive slag) and a Kodiak bear.
The money, however, would be split between the National Wildlife Federation (hence the bear image) and the American Cancer Society.
The (real) fund drive’s title: “BearLove Good. Cancer Bad.”
The result: With 11 days to go, the drive has raised over $165,000!
The aggregation site and its lawyer picked the wrong funnyman to aggravate. (Though the lawyer says he’s thinking of responding with more suits.)
The Power of Oatmeal indeed.