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The case against The Oatmeal; lawyers speak out against Carreon
Casey Johnston (writing on ArsTechnica) has one of the best plain english pieces on why Funky Junk attorney Charles Carreon has named Indiegogo, National Wildlife Federation and to the American Cancer Society in his suit against Matthew Inman.
The charges against Inman’s fundraising may be the most serious, but they’re also the oddest. Carreon says that Inman and his chosen charities had to take several steps in order to act within California law. Those steps include registering with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts and making a written contract for inspection by the California Attorney General. Without those preliminary activities, all three parties are violating the law, says Carreon. The measures are meant to protect citizens from bogus fundraising attempts, and to keep commercial fundraiser from misrepresenting the charities or acting on their behalf without their input. The suit names the NWF and ACS because neither “have acted to disavow their association with the Bear Love campaign, thus lending their tacit approval to their use of their names to the Bear Love campaign.”
She also goes on to explain that Matthew’s campaign may not fit the definition of commercial because he’s indicated that all the money was going to charity and wasn’t keeping any of it for himself. This explains why Carreon donated to the fundraising campaign so that he’d be an interested party if any of the money didn’t go where Matthew said it would go.
Elsewhere on the web, lawyers are speculating on the merits of the case. One of the legal bloggers watching this case is Marc Randazza, a first amendment attorney who also deals with intellectual property, internet and entertainment law. Randazza has written a post called “Carreon Triples Down — Sues Matthew Inman” in which he says he’s an acquaintance of Carreon and even tried to talk him out of filing the suit. The comments include several attorney’s speculation on the motivation and likelihood of success. One attorney, Jonathan Corbett, posted an open latter to Carreon stating he intended to file a complaint with the California Bar based on Carreon’s conduct.
It read, in part:
In short, congratulations on making a name for himself as the man who sues charities, legitimate and lawful Internet content publishers, and anyone else who doesn’t bow to you. As a human being, you should know better, but as a lawyer, your conduct has departed frmo (sic) the minimum professional standards requried (sic) by you. I will be filing a formal complaint with the California Bar regarding your conduct.
For the legal aspect of this bizarre suit, watch Popehat (who broke the news that Carreon was suing The Oatmeal) and Randozza’s blog.