While curled up in bed fighting the flu, I came across Ashley Carman’s TheVerge.com article: Comedians are coming for one of Instagram’s biggest joke aggregators. The tagline: #fuckfuckjerry is spreading piqued my interest. I had recently binged the Hulu and Netflix Fyre Festival docos and was familiar with Fuck Jerry Media and their not-so-savory involvement in the elite music festival fiasco.
So, what exactly is the #FuckFuckJerry movement all about? In order to understand #FuckFuckJerry, one needs to understand FuckJerry. The @FuckJerry Instagram Account is primarily an aggregator; meaning, they source material rather than creating their own original content, and it’s the nature of their ‘sourcing’ that is fundamental to #FuckFuckJerry.
The easiest way to explain the controversy is to use this comparison. Imagine that instead of sending out a call for entries, America’s Funniest Videos (AFV) scoured the web and found already published funny videos, broadcast them for all to watch, stopped offering Bobble-Heads, T-shirts, flights, accommodation and prizes for winning videos, while continuing to make money on advertising revenue. Under this new model, AFF would be slapped with multiple copyright infringement lawsuits.
Instapages like FuckJerry may seem innocent enough—a place to go for a bit of laugh. But the truth is, they are money making machines. The whole point of Copyright law is to protect the artist from unscrupulous business folk. #GramPirates like FuckJerry use Memes, Tweets and Videos created by others to build a following then sell advertising without remunerating the copyright owners. In some cases, they have permission to use the content, but historically, their model has been more of a pirate’s approach: take now and only ask questions later if someone comes after me.
Since the start of the #FuckFuckJerry movement, which is only about 2-3 days ago, FuckJerry’s following has dropped from 14.3 million follows to 14.1, and the company seems to be taking note. In a follow up article on TheVerge.com by Nick Statt: Fuckjerry founder apologizes for stealing jokes and pledges to get creator permission, Nick writes, “Elliot Tebele, founder of marketing firm Jerry Media and creator of the popular Fuckjerry Instagram account, said today that his company will no longer post content without being able to identify its creator and without that creator’s express and advance consent.”
In short, Fuckjerry is lowering its Skull and Cross Bones, but only to half-mast. They’re still making money and not compensating the creators.
I am not opposed to giving art away for free. I’ve done several promotions for my YA/Fantasy, Cecilia that have involved giveaways. What I am opposed to, is giving art away to a company that is making a profit off of my work.
The only way to squash #GramPirates is to say, “no”. If sites like @FuckJerry want to stay in business, force them to figure out a payment model. I applaud Comedy Central for saying #FuckFuckJerry and pulling their ad dollars from the site
I support #FuckFuckJerry and I hope you will too.