Ars Technica Finds the Mystery Man Behind FunnyJunk


Thu, Jul 26th, 2012 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

You may have heard by now the legal stand-off between The Oatmeal's Matt Inman and the website Funny Junk. In a nutshell: Funny Junk was running The Oatmeal's content without permission, not giving him any of the credit and -- insult to injury -- with banner ads all around the work.

The Oatmeal called them out on it and Funny Junk asked $20,000 for defamation. The Oatmeal, in response, raised more than $20,000 from donations, took a picture of it, mailed that photo to Funny Junk and donated the money to charity.

Ars Technica's Nate Anderson decided to investigate who really is the mysterious person behind Funny Junk, a website that has been running for over a decade and manned by a single person. A great read behind some remarkable detective work.

Our search began with a 2003 federal copyright infringement case in Madison, Wisconsin?one so old we had to pay to have the archived paper file shipped up from Chicago and scanned by the court. A photographer named David Flad had snapped a picture of a dripping wet cat and called it "Bert's Bath"; a number of comedy sites were hosting the picture, and Flad sued them all. One of these sites was FunnyJunk, which Flad traced to an apartment on Highland Road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana?but he had no owner's name. (At the time, FunnyJunk's registration address seems to have been public.) The case against FunnyJunk was eventually dismissed.

After this, FunnyJunk got harder to find. WHOIS data for the site had the true owner obscured. An old WHOIS entry for the domain shows a Baton Rouge location that appears to be a UPS Store. It also provided a phone number, but our attempts to call it produced no response. (Other old WHOIS data lists the owner's address as "North Korea, Pyongyang, NK 90210.") The FunnyJunk site now uses a Florida-based WHOIS privacy protection service to completely obscure even this information.



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