Webcomic Beacon Newscast Special Report: Additional Perspective on Carreon vs The Oatmeal

Eric Kimball was fascinated by the turbulence between Charles Carreon, The Oatmeal, and the internet (as discussed in the Webcomic Beacon Newscast for June 24, 2012); so he went out and did a few interviews with lawyers and people who have had experience with such lawsuits.

On this special report: Attorney John Dozier (Dozier Internet Law, P.C.), Attorney Kennith White (Popehat), and Entrepreneur Jeremy Bernal (SexyfurNSFW).

Kennith White also gave us some additional information:

  1. The Citizen Media Law Project has an excellent legal guide.
  2. The Public Participation Project has a great guide that outlines anti-SLAPP laws in different states.
  3. No discussion about the legal protections given to satire is complete without a reference to Hustler v. Falwell.
  4. This is my explanation of what anti-SLAPP statutes are and how they matter in getting rid of a frivolous case quickly.

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My friend deals with spam sites stealing his content by reporting them to Google and to any advertising services they’re using to make money, after requests to remove the stolen content don’t work. He says it’s usually effective at getting the website shut down. I guess it’s a more complex issue with these big networking sites, though.

You know, if these letters are basically crap… you could almost consider them harassment in and of themselves. If it’s not a real legal document, one could consider it trying to bully someone into negotiation, for which there may not even be real precedent.

Well my understanding from talking to Dozier and White is that the law sort of works by bullying. The whole system is based on intimidating your opponent to back down. Because the alternative to one of the parties backing down, going through the courts is costly and time consuming for everyone involved.

The initial letter is supposed to scare the other party into getting a lawyer of their own. From that point the lawyers negotiate down to a settlement that is reasonable. Each side starts off bullying the other and then work their way down to a reasonable solution.

The Law is a system of word where the original meaning of those words have been striped and replaced with something else. What we read as an attack really is just a frendly invitation to engage in negotiation. The internet throws a wrench into the legal method of doing things two ways:

1) We don’t talk kindly to bullies in these parts. Lawyers who are not used to the way the internet does things are often shocked by the viciousness of the responce to a letter that just part of the normal way they do business.

2) If every knows that cease letters are bullshit then people wouldn’t get lawyers when they receive them. This mean the client of the lawyer has to invest more time and money to actually initiate legal proceedings and if the case is weak they will probably end up wasting a lot of money. The fact that people are publishing these letter and the fact that nothing usually results from them makes a lawyers job more difficult.


This was hands down one of the best episodes on the beacon in quite awhile. You did an incredible job or representing all sides professionally, of being informative and letting the guest do most of the talking. I can’t give you enough kudos. This was great to listen to while working and has left me with a ton to think about. You should be damn proud man, and yes, I would love more shows like this one.

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