Webcomics and comic theft on the internet

How easy is it to acquire someone’s work on the internet? Answer: very. It’s as easy as “Right Click, Save Image.” A more difficult question, though, is where do we draw the line between harmless reposting and outright theft? In a recent piece, the San Diego Reader takes a look at the reposting issue in light of the Oatmeal/FunnyJunk lawsuit.

Phil McAndrew, proprietor of, is another comics artist based in San Diego. He found success on the web when a development executive stumbled on his comics online. Now he has a project in the works at Cartoon Network, and he curated an event at Space 4 Art in East Village as a run-up to Comic-Con. He was surprised to find that one of his comics had been posted to FunnyJunk, naturally without crediting him. McAndrew’s stuff tends more toward mustache-related humor, prime material for digital theft.

McAndrew accepts that theft is in keeping with the nature of the internet. “If I were to sit there and try to hunt down all the websites that repost my comics without my name on them,” he says, “I wouldn’t have any time to draw new stuff. So most of the time I just shrug my shoulders and keep on drawing.”

That seems the predominant response among comics artists who put their work out on the web. [David] King, McAndrew, and Matthew Inman — if his response to the lawsuit threat from FunnyJunk is any indication — appear to agree that simply being credited, and having their respective sites linked to, would be sufficient compensation. King said via email that “comics shared online aren’t public domain material, and they aren’t free for the taking.”


McAndrew summarizes this link between contemporary internet culture and artistic content: “The internet is just where a lot of things happen now, and the entire world can see or read or experience those things and react. It’s just easier to share things. And if you’re doing something really terrific, it’s going to spread like a wildfire.”

So there you go, folks. If you’re going to post a webcomic anywhere, have the courtesy to post a link. It’s the least you can do.

(h/t Robot 6)


Posted on August 15, 2012, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. It is ashame that people have a habit of being so lazy when it comes to that.

    • It’s not even about laziness. It takes more work to save an image, open it in another program, crop the attribution off, then upload the edited version than it is to just save it and reupload it. I’ve also seen people paste ragefaces over the original comics, and compile multiple images from multiple sources (all with the attribution cropped) to make one massive post to paste on sites like 9gag and FJ. Part of me thinks the real reason is to get credit for “discovering” or making the material themselves and leaving any attribution on undermines that.

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