There’s a lot of reasons why you might have heard about FuckJerry. In addition to being a popular Instagram account, it’s also come under fire for playing a big hand in promoting the ill-fated Fyre Festival via owner Elliot Tebele’s social media agency Jerry Media. It’s also notorious for building its success by stealing jokes from comedians, creators, and the internet at large. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one creator is biting back by suing the company for stealing one of his memes to promote a tequila brand.
Olorunfemi Coker, a self-described comedian and content creator, filed a suit Tuesday in the Southern District of New York, against FuckJerry, Jerry Media, and Tebele for stealing his meme to promote Jaja Tequila. Below is the tweet Coker alleges FuckJerry stole:
Which suspiciously looks a lot like the one FuckJerry posted to Instagram sometime “in or about January 2019,” according to the complaint. The filing alleges that Tebele personally had a hand in stealing the meme, as well as profited from it as Jerry Media derives most of its profit from “curating” content that it then monetizes through advertising.
In the lawsuit, Coker alleges that FuckJerry used his name in connection with the meme, thereby “caus[ing] confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive the public that the Defendants’ goods or services are authorized, sponsored, or approved by, or are affiliated” with him.
The filing also reveals that Coker at no point gave FuckJerry permission to use his joke and that his attempts to message the company about the issue went unanswered.
That runs counter to FuckJerry’s ‘revised policy’ that Tebele published on Medium on February 2. The post is also linked in the @fuckjerry Instagram profile as an “updated content policy.”
“I know I’ve made enemies over the years for using content and not giving proper credit and attribution to its creators,” writes Tebele. “Effective immediately, we will no longer post content when we cannot identify the creator, and will require the original creator’s advanced consent before publishing their content to our followers. It is clear that attribution is no longer sufficient, so permission will become the new policy.”
Representatives for FuckJerry did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent by Gizmodo but a spokesperson for the agency characterized the lawsuit to Buzzfeed News as “frivolous” and said they “intend to defend it vigorously.”
It appears the post in question has since been deleted from the @fuckjerry account. The cover letter of the lawsuit indicates that Coker is demanding $150,000 in damages.
Technically, Tebele’s statement came after the meme was allegedly stolen from Coker. But given the fact that the company’s self-admitted history of stealing jokes has spawned the #fuckfuckjerry movement, that argument is probably not going to win much sympathy from the rest of the internet.