An Open Letter To Charles Carreon

Dear Mr. Carreon,

I've written some harsh things about you here in the course of covering the dispute that erupted when you sent a cease-and-desist letter to Matt Inman of The Oatmeal. You, in turn, have had some strong language about me at various locations including your site "" You accuse me of a "reign of terror" on this blog against people I criticize. You also assert that there should be a tort of "Distributed Internet Reputational Attack" allowing plaintiffs to sue when they experience a sustained online attack on their reputation.

I propose an online public debate on these topics.

May I suggest the following:

1. We will each pick one nominee, and those two nominees will agree on a moderator.

2. The moderator will choose where online to post our respective input in the debate.

3. Once a week, for six weeks, one of us will pose a question to the other, or make an assertion. The other will then have a set time to respond — shall we say four days? — and then the initiator of that cycle may reply within two days.

4. We will trade off on initiating questions or assertions. You may go first if you want.

5. We will email our input to the moderator, who will post it and have sole control over it, so that neither of us might fear a biased forum.

6. We can allow comments, or not, at your option.

7. The moderator can be empowered to delete personal attacks, or not, at your option.

8. We will agree not to pose questions that would require the other to breach attorney-client confidences or otherwise interfere with professional duties. So, for instance, I would not ask you to reveal communications between you and your client, FunnyJunk, nor would I seek your evaluation of a ruling against you in a pending case.

9. We will agree that the topics will relate to the intersection of free speech, reputation, online culture, and the role and duties of an attorney. If you agree, the permitted subjects may also include the statements we have made about this public dispute.

10. I will offer two examples. The first is this: "Submitted: the tort of Distributed Internet Reputational Attack, as proposed by Mr. Carreon, cannot be reconciled with the First Amendment as interpreted by modern courts, nor with the value of freedom of expression." The second is this: "Mr. Carreon: on your web site, you list 'David Blade,' Craig Brittain, and Chance Trahan as 'victims' of my 'reign of terror.' Can you explain in what sense they are 'victims,' and in what sense my writing about them is a 'reign of terror?'

Mr. Carreon, I would be happy to entertain proposals from you for amendments to this debate procedure.

Very truly yours,

Ken White

In Which I Offer Apologies

It has been brought to my attention by Charles Carreon — the attorney of Oatmeal v. Funnjunk fame — that I have victimized the following persons and entities in a reign of terror:

Thomas Menino, Mayor of the City of Boston
The Legislatures of Arizona and Connecticut
Michael Meehan, Chief of Police of the City of Berkeley
Meghan McCain
The Federal Trade Commission
Imaginary Lawyer David Blade

. . . . and many others.

In these depredations I have been aided by persons and entities identified by Mr. Carreon as "rapers," including but not limited to PZ Myers, Marc Randazza, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the University of Reading Atheist, Humanist & Secularist Society.

This is because of Plato.

I would like to apologize sincerely to everyone I have tyrannized1

Charles Carreon Encounters Actual Legal Consequences

All of my coverage of the saga of Charles Carreon, his threats against Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal, and his dispute with a satirical blogger are collected here.

When I write about prolonged bad behavior in the legal system, I often get angry comments from people who say "when will the system impose consequences on people who act this way?" Take heart, I respond. The wheels grind slowly, but they grind. "Bullshit," comes the response. "Prove it."

Very well. How about an order requiring Charles Carreon to pay $46,100.25 in attorney fees?

Charles Carreon became infamous when he rashly threatened Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal, leading to infamy and spectacle. Later he made very foolish and extravagant threats against a satirical blogger, leading to a declaratory relief action against him. He evaded service for a while, then capitulated in that case, but has been fighting over whether he should have to pay attorney fees.

Today a federal judge in the Northern District of California granted the motion for fees by the satirical blogger, granting $46,100.25 in fees to the blogger's attorneys, Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen and attorney and blogger Cathy Gellis. They had been seeking a total of $77,765.25.

Judge United States District Judge Richard Seeborg's order awarding fees is devastating to Carreon. Judge Seeborg rejects Carreon's arguments one by one, and finds Carreon's litigation conduct rendered the case exceptional, justifying a partial award of fees under the Lanham Act:

While defendant’s threatened claims were not “exceptional” at the outset of this case, defendant’s actions throughout the litigation certainly transformed this case into an “exceptional” matter, deserving of an award of attorney fees. The Ninth Circuit has stated that “bad faith or other malicious conduct satisfies the exceptional circumstances requirement.” Boney, 127 F.3d at 827. Evidence supports a finding of malicious conduct during the course of this case. Defendant first went to great lengths, imposing unnecessary costs on plaintiff, to avoid service. Then, in response to this motion for attorney fees under the Lanham Act, defendant engaged in unnecessary, vexatious, and costly tactics in preparation of his opposition to the motion. The Ninth Circuit discourages major litigation with respect to attorney fees. See, e.g., Camacho, 523 F.3d at 981; Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 437 (1983) (“A request for attorney’s fees should not result in a second major litigation.”). Defendant’s serving of interrogatories and taking of plaintiff’s deposition amounted to a mini-trial on plaintiff’s motion for fees. Indeed, plaintiff incurred an additional $37,650.25 in fees and costs after his motion was filed. Despite this additional discovery, defendant has presented no evidence to support his initial contention that plaintiff’s attorney is on a mission to “turn Internet gripe sites into profit centers for him and
Public Citizen Law Group.” Doc. #45, at 4. Defendant has failed to show that his additional discovery efforts led to anything other than additional frustration for plaintiff and his attorneys. Accordingly, plaintiff’s efforts to respond to defendant’s litigation tactics merit the imposition of a fees award.

Judge Seeborg rejects Carreon's argument that the settlement precluded an award of attorneys fees. Carreon drafted his own offer of judgment. He could have made it clear that the offer precluded fees. He didn't.

Defendant cannot now escape the consequences of his inartful drafting.

Charles Carreon could have escaped with a much lower award, or no award at all. The court declined to award fees for the filing of the declaratory relief suit itself, or for the brief litigation of its substance, finding that Carreon's initial threats did not render the case exceptional under the Lanham Act. The bulk of this order — $37,650.25 — results from Carreon's bizarre discovery demands in response to the motion for fees itself, which the court described as "unnecessary, vexatious, and costly." Most of the rest of the order — $8,450 — results from Carreon's evasion of service. So, instead of facing a costs bill for a few thousand dollars at most, Charles Carreon is facing a bill for $46,100.25. Character is destiny.

There are consequences for bad behavior. They come slowly. But they do come.

Note: I was going to wait for Paul Alan Levy to write about this first, since it's his win based on his work. But Adam Steinbaugh and Mike Masnick scooped me.

Edited to add: Paul Alan Levy offers his thoughts, plus some very kind words for which I am grateful.

In Which Charles Carreon Says Mostly True Things About Me In A Footnote

Last year I blogged quite a bit about the saga of the saga of attorney Charles Carreon's disputes with Matt Inman of The Oatmeal. I have an update. It is a minor one.

You may recall that Carreon uttered extravagant threats against a satirical blogger, only to settle the case in the blogger's favor when the blogger — aided by Public Citizen — sued for declaratory relief.

That case is now embroiled in a dispute over the blogger's request for attorney fees. Mr. Carreon, resisting any award of fees, served me with a subpeoena for communications with the blogger and the blogger's attorneys of record. I objected. Mr. Carreon has now filed his opposition to the motion for fees; you can read about his arguments at Techdirt or Adam Steinbaugh's blog.

I write not of the substance. I confine myself to noting footnote one of Mr. Carreon's brief:

White, a criminal defense lawyer with a Libertarian following, derides other lawyers at as “Censorious Asshats.” White conceived a special dislike for the Lawyer, recruiting readers to play a “Twitter hashtag game: #charlescarreonnewcareers,” and recruited them as an “Army of Davids” to “take a screenshot or print … to pdf [any] web page” showing that the Lawyer had made “an inconsistent statement [or] shows hypocrisy.” (Carreon Dec. ¶ 5; Exhibit 1.) When served with a subpoena for documents in this case, White responded with the disclosure that he had exchanged over 200 emails with the Gripesite Operator, and refused to produce anything, claiming that the Lawyer possesses “animus” towards White. (Carreon Dec. ¶ 5; Exhibit 2.)

Much of the footnote is true. I am a criminal defense attorney. I have a libertarian following. I deride attorneys, including Mr. Carreon, as censorious asshats. I conceived a special dislike for Mr. Carreon. I made up a hashtag game about him, and recruited people to point out where Mr. Carreon and his wife had engaged in rhetoric that was inconsistent with his contrived pearl-clutching horror over the contents of Mr. Inman's blog.

But Mr. Carreon's last sentence suggests that I refused to produce documents a subpoena in a federal case on the grounds that the lawyer issuing it had animus against me.

That is, at the most charitable interpretation, misleading.

Here are the objections I filed to Mr. Carreon's subpoena. As you can see, I objected to the subpoena, and declined to produce documents, on the grounds that (1) some of the communications Mr. Carreon sought were protected by the attorney-client privilege, or by the attorney work product doctrine, and (2) some of them didn't exist and never, so far as I knew, had existed.

The only mention of animus came in the paragraph in which I refused to produce a privilege log. A privilege log is a time-consuming document that would identify each email, its date, its subject, its sender, its recipient, and the basis for the assertion of privilege. It is a burdensome task. In my objections, I refused to produce such a log, on the grounds that Mr. Carreon had no good faith basis to demand the documents, and that the demand was likely made to harass, in light of his animus against me. The point about animus is located in the discussion of the privilege log, after I have refused to produce the documents based on the privilege.

Mr. Carreon's suggestion that I refused to produce documents based on an argument about his animus is, therefore, misleading at best. At worst, it is a deliberate lie to a United States District Judge. Or perhaps it merely represents a failure of even minimal reading comprehension. Mr. Carreon attaches my objections as an exhibit, as the footnote quoted above suggests; whatever this is, it's clumsy.

I leave the decision about which one it is to the reader — and to the judge.

The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk, Part XII: Brave Sir Charlie Ran Away

[All of our coverage of Charles Carreon's journey from relative obscurity to justifiable infamy is collected under this tag.]

Charles Carreon continues to be Charles Carreon, only more so.

Back in Chapter Eight I describe how the blogger behind "Censoriousdouchebag — a satirical diary about Charles Carreon" sued Carreon for declaratory relief in federal court in the Northern District of California. That was the most effective way to deal with Carreon's censorious threats to the blogger, which amounted to "I'm going to sue you at some point, in as inconvenient a location as possible, in as expensive a way as possible." Here's a reminder of that threat, directed to the blogger's pro bono attorney, Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen:

As far as when and where I will sue your client, be certain that it will occur if your client does not cede the domain, and advise her of ten things:
1. That there is essentially no statute of limitations on this claim, and the prima facie laches defense [ed. note: that's an equitable defense that asserts "you waited too long to file this."] would not kick in for at least three years.
2. That venue in this action can be validly laid in at least three places, maybe four, if she doesn't live in Arizona, Florida, or California.
3. That I am capable of employing counsel to handle my claim against her, who will incur attorneys fees and seek recovery of the same. I filed pro se against Inman simply for the sake of convenience and the need for speed, and not from a lack of resources.
4. That the law in this area cannot be predicted with certainty, will evolve substantially over the next three years, during which I will be using digital forensics to establish actual trademark damages in addition to seeking the maximum cybersquatting penalty of $100,000.
5. That a judgment that recites that the domain was obtained by fraud upon the registrar, in the form of a misrepresentation that she did not know of my trademark on the name, might well be non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.
6. That a judgment can be renewed indefinitely until collected, and that California judgments accrue 10% interest, which can compounded once ever ten years by capitalizing the accumulated interest.
7. That you cannot guarantee that Public Citizen will provide her with free legal services on June 1, 2015, when I may very well send the process server 'round to her door.
8. That I have the known capacity to litigate appeals for years (check my Westlaw profile, and of course, the drawn out history of Penguin v. American Buddha, now in its third year, having passed through the Second Circuit and the NYCA, and still hung up in personal jurisdiction in the SDNY).
9. That the litigation, being of first impression in virtually every Circuit, grounded in a federal question, involving a registered trademark, and dispositive of many open issues in the field of Internet commerce and speech, might very well continue for a decade.
10. That Public Citizen might well be unable and/or unwilling to provide her with representation until the resolution of such an extended course of litigation.

Despicably thuggish.

Once the blogger sued him, Carreon could have stood up — he could have come to court to defend his belief that he has a valid claim against the blogger. Instead Carreon has been doing what he can to hinder and delay the lawsuit by cowering and evading service. The blogger — ably represented pro bono by Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen and Cathy Gellis — has been attempting to serve Carreon, and Carreon has been going to ridiculous lengths to avoid being served. You can read Paul's brief describing Carreon's evasions here, and Paul's supporting declaration here. Or consider the judge's summary in an order from this week:

Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that his satirical website does not infringe the trademark defendant has in his own name. Prior to filing a complaint, plaintiff’s counsel was in contact with defendant via email. After filing the complaint, defendant and his wife publicly discussed the pending litigation. Plaintiff’s counsel mailed defendant a request for waiver of summons to his address in Tucson, Arizona, which defendant did not execute. Instead, the entire envelope was mailed back to plaintiff, unopened, inside a second envelope. This same sequence of events was repeated after plaintiff filed an amended complaint. At plaintiff’s request, the Court issued a summons, and plaintiff hired an Arizona process service company to serve the summons at the residential address. On the first visit, the server announced himself and was told “No thank you,” and left with the papers. On the second and third visits, nobody answered. The process service company then tried to serve the summons and complaint by certified mail, but the package was never claimed.

During this time, defendant contacted the general counsel of Walgreens, plaintiff’s employer, stating plaintiff had used Walgreens’ computer equipment or internet access to create the allegedly actionable website, and implying he might make Walgreens a party to the litigation under a theory of respondeat superior. The demand letter sent to Walgreens contained the same Tucson, Arizona address and email address that plaintiff had been using to attempt service on defendant.
On September 25, 2012, plaintiff’s counsel again emailed defendant a copy of the summons, complaint, and amended complaint using both the address listed on defendant’s letterhead and the gmail address defendant had used to correspond with counsel for both plaintiff and Walgreens.

Plaintiff’s counsel requested defendant meet and confer about plaintiff’s intent to file a motion to declare service effective. Defendant has not responded.

Regrettably, even though Carreon knows about the lawsuit, has written about the lawsuit, has threatened the blogger's former employer about the lawsuit, has refused to accept service from a process server, and has returned the lawsuit unopened, the Court has ruled that the blogger must make further efforts to serve Carreon:

Because of the due process and personal jurisdiction concerns that arise with respect to proper service of a defendant, substituted service by email is not granted out-of-hand. While defendant is apparently making service of process difficult for plaintiff, in accordance with our traditional notions of due process, plaintiff must redouble efforts at traditional service of process before resorting to this Court for authorization of substituted service.

So: now the blogger must pay to have process servers hang out and try to catch Charlie the Censor to serve him. That's an expensive proposition — about $60 per hour, in an effort that can easily take tens of hours if Carreon continues to work to evade service.

The blogger doesn't have a lot of money. Though Carreon will eventually be ordered to reimburse his service costs, right now those up-front costs are a huge barrier to him being able to get justice. This is exactly how censorious lawyers like Carreon can abuse the system to suppress criticism.

Therefore, I'd like to ask for a favor. If you've enjoyed reading this series, please consider making a modest donation to Public Citizen for the purposes of paying costs in this case, including the cost of serving Carreon. Levy's post with the donation link is here. I understand that any excess funds will be used to pay litigation expenses in other Public Citizen online free speech cases. That's a worthy cause.

Perhaps you'll say, "Ken, why don't you put your money where your mouth is?" I'd answer like this: I believe strongly enough in this case that I donated the filing fees and other initial expenses — more than $700 — out of my own pocket. Please step up and throw in a few bucks yourself to help a blogger protect himself from censorious thuggery.

The Oatmeal v. Funnyjunk, Part XI: What Remains

[All of our coverage of Charles Carreon's journey from relative obscurity to fading infamy is collected under this tag.]

It's been a while since we visited the strange world of Charles Carreon's claims against Matthew Inman and The Oatmeal, hasn't it?

There's been nothing new on the direct confrontation between Charlie the Censor and Inman since Charlie slunk away braying that he had prevailed. Inman has done his level best to troll Carreon by raising more than $1.1 million for a Nikola Tesla Science Center, but Carreon has not risen to the bait. There hasn't even been so much as an effort to tie Tesla to the Freemasons or Rosicrucians or something.

If the Carreon/Inman battle has ended, Charlie the Censor's battles with his detractors have not. You may recall that in Chapter Seven I described how the author of the satirical blog Censoriousdouchebag, aided by Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen and attorney and blogger Cathy Gellis, took the initiative by filing a declaratory relief action against Carreon. This allowed the blogger to preempt Carreon's contemptible and censorious threats against him by asking a federal judge to rule upon the threats without Carreon himself filing suit.

The suit proceeds — more about that later — but the most notable action has been outside of court. As the blogger himself describes, in July Carreon sent a letter to the blogger's employer, Walgreens. Ostensibly the letter asks Walgreens to preserve digital evidence based on Carreon's unsupported presumption that the blogger must have used Walgreens computers or internet connections to blog about Carreon. The context and content of the letter, however, suggest that Carreon's true motives are retaliation and intimidation. Carreon hopes to get the blogger in trouble with his employer and thus impose a high cost upon his decision to exercise his First Amendment rights to criticize and ridicule Carreon. Remember — Carreon has spent much of his career styling himself as a free speech lawyer.

Now, "please preserve digital evidence" letters can have a legitimate purpose, and are not uncommon. I've sent a few myself (for instance, when a stalker used CraigsList from work to post fraudulent "looking to trade sex for a room" advertisements in the name of a romantic rival.) But they are also a favored tool of legal thugs. Charles Carreon is not himself a convicted domestic terrorist, but by sending this letter he's using a tactic akin to what convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin used in an effort to intimidate critical bloggers. Carreon's history of conduct in this case suggests his purpose in writing the blogger's employer in this manner. Stay tuned.

[Disclosure: I provided limited legal assistance to the blogger, mostly including helping him find suitable pro bono counsel. Since then, though I have not appeared in the case, I have continued to offer limited pro bono advice. Consider my words accordingly. Nothing in this post reveals attorney-client communications between the blogger, the legal team, and me.]

The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk, Part X: Philanthropy > Douchebaggery

[All of our coverage of Charles Carreon's transformation from an obscure attorney to a figure of internet-wide ridicule is collected under this tag.]

It's time for some updates, boys and girls. I'm at an undisclosed location vacationing with the family, so I will by necessity be brief.

Money Talks. In This Case It Says "F.U.": Matt Inman has, as promised, posted pictures of the money he raised for charity. The pictures are beautiful. The triumph of good over evil usually is.

Forget It, He's Rolling: Charles Carreon, having dismissed his suit against Matt Inman, IndieGoGo, and two national charities, has now declared victory. Carreon apparently believes he prevailed because Judge Chen asked Mr. Inman to submit proof that he had written checks to the two charities. But Judge Chen did so in the context of requesting the basis he needed to deny Carreon's application for a temporary restraining order as moot. This is roughly like crowing that you dominated the captain of the firing squad by making him offer you a blindfold and a cigarette before shooting you.

Or perhaps Carreon believes he achieved victory because the cash Mr. Inman photographed was technically his own funds, not the funds he raised and forwarded to worthy charities. If this is what Mr. Carreon needs to live with himself, I say we let him cherish it. Oh, very well done, Mr. Carreon.

The Law Should Be What I Say It Is: Stinging from his recent infamy, Mr. Carreon has started a website called Rapeutation. Because being ridiculed based on your bad behavior is equivalent to sexual assault, you know.

The purpose of Rapeutation — aside from scrawled-on-the-asylum-wall poetry and disturbing videos — is to advocate for a new, rather ill-defined cause of action to address something called "Distributed Internet Reputation Attack":

Distributed Internet Reputation Attack (DIRA): noun, an attack against the reputation of an individual that harnesses the distributed efforts of large numbers of both human and digital Internet zombies to proliferate unmanageable quantities of disparaging information in an effort to alter the conduct of the individual or entity.

The use of the word "zombies" is always a signifier of serious and credible legal analysis.

[T]he frequency of DIRAs makes it apparent that old laws concerning defamation need reforming to take account of the pernicious effects of allowing Internet mobs to run riot, placing meaningful limits on what is fair play in the realm of social media. Suggestions will be made for ways to deal with the problem that will protect publishers from being required to play censor, including the creation of a new DIRA tort.

Even in lashing out, Carreon is unoriginal. Entire-internet-suer Joseph Rakofsky already offered the ass-damp tort of "internet mobbing," which in his case meant multiple bloggers criticizing him for making his very first trial an attempt to defend a man accused of murder. Rakofsky's fawners — the sort who figure that being an underdog is automatically a sign of having a defensible argument — have rushed to promote (in notably ambiguous terms) this supposed tort. And now comes Charlie the Censor.

But I must ask — why is a new tort necessary?

If anyone has uttered false statements of fact about Mr. Carreon, the law provides a remedy through the tort of defamation. That's still true in the internet age – it doesn't matter if the false utterance is made by blog, twitter, or cartoon on Facebook. What change could Mr. Carreon be suggesting?

Unless . . . Mr. Carreon, through the Trojan horse "fair play," is suggesting a major revision of fundamental First Amendment concepts solely to protect his own wounded pride and the feelings of his ilk. Will Mr. Carreon seek to change the familiar, crucial, and exquisitely American concepts that satire and parody are protected speech? Will he seek to erode the rule that statements of opinion cannot be defamatory if they do not imply false statements of fact? Will he seek to overturn the decades of precedent that speech does not fall outside the aegis of the First Amendment simply because it hurts somebody's feelings? Will he offer some insipid and unprincipled volume-based exception to the First Amendment, under which one or two people may criticize him, but ten thousand may not? Is Mr. Carreon foolish enough to imagine for a moment that such exceptions to free speech principles would not be abused — or is he too enraged to care?

People I respect — people I trust — say that Mr. Carreon was in the past a decent man who defended free speech. For such a man to stoop to undermine one of his own principles, and one of the most important principles of American society, is nothing short of tragic.

Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk, Chapter IX: Charles Carreon Dismisses His Lawsuit

[All of our coverage of Charles Carreon's big day in court is collected under this tag.]

On July 3, 2012, just short of 4 P.M., Charles Carreon filed a notice of dismissal of his lawsuit against Matt Inman, IndieGoGo, the American Cancer Society, the National Wildlife Federation, and (as a party to be joined "if feasible") the Attorney General of California. As drafted, the notice dismisses all parties, including Does.

Mr. Carreon's filing is here.

Some initial thoughts:

1. Mr. Carreon can dismiss the case without leave of court because no party has yet answered.

2. Dismissal is, without court intervention, without prejudice, meaning that Mr. Carreon could re-file if he wanted. Will he? Who knows.

3. Based on some quick research, it appears to me that Mr. Carreon's voluntary dismissal of the action does not preclude Mr. Inman from seeking attorney fees and costs under the Lanham Act. Cooter & Gell v. Hartmarx Corp., 496 U.S. 384, 394–95 (1990). That doesn't mean that Mr. Inman will, or should, seek fees, for practical reasons too lengthy to discuss in this post. [Edited to add: behold the dangers of "quick research" — a kind term for "talking out of your ass" or, more popularly, "blogging." This is probably wrong, for reasons I may address in another post. But I leave it up as an example of ass-dampery.]

4. Mr. Carreon could walk away from this particular set of opponents. But somehow I doubt he will. I predict that he will crow that he achieved a victory by "forcing" Mr. Inman and IndieGoGo to handle the charitable contributions differently than they otherwise would have. And I suspect he will continue threatening and suing others. Time will tell.

Edited to add: here's the Electronic Frontier Foundation's statement.

Second, Bizarre Update: Just got a message from a twitter account in the name of Jonathan Lee Riches — who, as Adam Steinbaugh points out, is a vexatious serial litigant who is either crazy or some sort of performance artist. He filed two frivolous motions to intervene in Carreon's case in NDCA.

The purported Jonathan Lee Riches Twitter account said "@Popehat @oatmeal carreon dropped his lawsuit because inman is suing him in another case , # 4:12-cv-00490-rcc , district of arizona tuscon." I checked the Arizona docket and there is, indeed, a pro se lawsuit filed in the name of Matt Inman, using the bizarre and farcical style of Riches. Whether this is actually Riches or someone else doing it for the lulz is unclear.

However, whoever did it, I submit they've crossed a line they may regret. Filing a frivolous and farcical lawsuit as performance art in your own name is one thing. Filing it falsely under someone else's name is a false statement to the courts. It is very arguably a federal felony under 18 U.S.C. section 1001. I often write here about abuse of 18 U.S.C. section 1001 by the government, but I'm going to have to chew over whether or not this ought to be charged as a crime or not.

Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk, Part VIII: Charles Carreon Gets Sued, Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen Joins The Fray

[All of our coverage of Charles Carreon's legal voyage of self-discovery is collected under this tag.]

Everyone knows what you do when someone like Charlie the Censor sues you. You lawyer up. If you're very lucky, you have funds to hire a good lawyer, or you can get the backing of extraordinary advocates like those at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

But what do you do if someone like Charlie the Censor just threatens to sue you at some unspecified future time or place, but doesn't yet? Do you simply wait and see? Do you live your life under that cloud?

Well, you could. But that's chilling. Fortunately, once someone like Charlie the Censor utters frivolous censorious threats, the law offers a remedy to the bold.

You lawyer up, and you take it to him.

[Read more…]