In a strange twist of events, the lawsuit against FuckJerry alleging that the Instagram account stole a meme to promote JAJA tequila has been dismissed. Mainly, because the guy they allegedly stole the meme from actually stole it from someone else.
The original suit was filed on Tuesday, and in it, the plaintiff Olorunfemi Coker alleged the @fuckjerry Instagram account, founder Elliot Tebele, and social media agency Jerry Media, had not only stolen his original joke but spread confusion by suggesting Coker himself was cool with it.
Just two days later, Coker’s legal team has filed to voluntarily dismiss the case. That’s because well, the meme in question wasn’t originally Coker’s, to begin with. Coker initially tweeted his version of the joke on January 23. However, you can find nearly identical versions of the meme both on Twitter and Tumblr on January 21, from accounts that apparently do not belong to Coker.
It’s all a reminder that memes, by their very nature, are collaborative experiences that build on one another and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing wrong with sharing stuff you find on the internet. But FuckJerry just straight up stealing jokes without giving credit and making money from it crosses a line. (The company has recently said it will get permission from creators from now on.) Apparently, Coker decided to give them a taste of their own medicine but blew it because the internet never forgets. Coker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Naturally, the folks at FuckJerry are stoked. “We are pleased to see that this lawsuit has been dismissed–only two days after it was filed,” said Jason P.W. Halperin of Mintz, FuckJerry’s counsel, in a statement sent to Gizmodo. “Our own investigation has revealed that Mr. Coker was almost certainly not the original creator of the Subject Content described in the Complaint and thus he had no standing to bring such a suit at all. Our clients are now considering taking their own legal actions, including for defamation, against the responsible parties.”
Okay, so maybe Coker’s case didn’t have any standing. Maybe the meme wasn’t actually his, to begin with. But the fact remains the agency still profited from a meme that was in no way a FuckJerry original. Actually, none of the memes that FuckJerry monetizes are original. And despite a letter penned by Tebele on February 2 stating the account would pivot to a ‘consent-based’ content policy, it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily share any of that sweet cash with the meme creators they profit from. Crowing about this like it’s a huge victory is as empty as the countless wallets of content creators FuckJerry ripped off.