I usually stay out of Internet battles as most of them are plain silly, and very few of them last longer than a rap battle. That said I am willing to make an exception for the recent spat between Charles Carreon and the Internet at large because, despite sinking at least five minutes into thinking about this problem from his point of view, I just can't rationalize his most recent arguments. He recently served papers to the creator of The Oatmeal for defamation and demanded $20,000 in compensation who, in turn, balked at the idea that he should pay money because people stole his work to post elsewhere. Rather than engage in a long, drawn out court proceeding that would have benefited only the lawyers, the creator of The Oatmeal changed the game and decided to raise the $20,000 only to donate it to two causes. There were some unforeseen consequences of this legal action, though. The Internet at large got very, very angry at Mr. Carreon.
The exact details can be read here, here, here, and here1, and it really does make for an interesting drama. The question, though, is whether his recent escalation and lawsuits against the American Cancer Society and National Wildlife Federation will actually hold water. Matthew Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal, has not incited violence towards Mr. Carreon from what I can see. Instead what we have here is a cartoonist who has used good humor and a sharp eye for detail who has clearly grown weary of the excessively litigious actions people take whenever somebody so much as glances at them the wrong way. The American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation are also innocent of any wrongdoing as they have done nothing2 to raise awareness of this little pissing match.
We all do very strange things when we are incredibly angry, and reflecting on these events at a later date usually let's us re-examine why we might have been so angry , as well as some better ways to solve the problem. Hopefully Mr. Carreon doesn't wait too long to reconsider his current strategy and reach a mutually beneficial arrangement with all of the affected parties.