The Weaponized Facebook Meme: A Lawsuit “Wrong On So Many Levels”

Dad jokes. Groaners. Puns. They have a bad reputation, but they’re here to stay. One practitioner of the art form, Matthew Bradley, got off a good one in December 2017. He took a picture of five levels (the carpentry tools), with the word “Wrong” written on each of them, and posted it on his Facebook page, along with the text, “This is wrong on so many levels.” Get it? The Internet did. It became a widely shared meme, on and off Facebook. Within a week he added a comment on Facebook: “Wow! I am stunned! Over 10K shares.” But over time, his excitement about his joke’s viral success took on a different form. In August 2019 he filed suit against Analytical Grammar, Inc., which designs language arts curricula and English instructional materials, claiming that it infringed his copyright by posting the meme photograph on its Facebook page back in December 2017.

On September 13, 2019, Analytical filed its answer to the complaint, listing its affirmative defenses and asserting counterclaims. Analytical contends that its use of the meme was allowed by Bradley’s license under Facebook’s terms of use; or by his acquiescing in the viral distribution; or by the doctrines of fair use or copyright misuse. As Analytical pleaded:

Bradley’s lawsuit is wrong on so many levels. He levels claims against Analytical for sharing his joke. He does his level best to take Analytical down a level. But his claims are not on the level. Analytical raises these counterclaims to level the field. 

Dan Booth Law is pleased to be representing Analytical Grammar, Inc. as its lead counsel in this ongoing matter. The complaint and exhibits, and Analytical’s answer, are attached below.

Bradley Complaint  Exhibit A  Exhibit B  Analytical’s Answer and Counterclaims

Medium, Well Done: Dan Booth Law Prevails Again

You can’t step in the same river twice, but you can win the same lawsuit again. On July 11, 2019, Dan Booth again secured a decisive legal victory for A Medium Corporation, a Delaware corporation headquartered in San Francisco, and its online publishing platform at medium.com. Medium was sued in Massachusetts state court in November 2018 over user-generated content, along with an unrelated insurance company. On behalf of Medium, Dan Booth removed the lawsuit to federal court, and then, after extensive briefing and oral argument, prevailed on a motion to dismiss based on personal jurisdiction on May 21, 2019. On May 23, the plaintiff had filed a motion asking the Court to reconsider. Such motions are rarely granted, and both defendants filed oppositions to reconsideration on June 5. The Court promptly denied the plaintiff’s second bite at the apple.

Dan Booth Law LLC Is Open for Business

We are proud to announce that this law firm has been willed into existence. Dan Booth Law LLC incorporated in Massachusetts in July 2019. The firm does creative work for creative people and businesses, led by Dan Booth, an attorney with a wealth of litigation experience and the perspective of an industry insider. This independent practice builds on his string of successes at Booth Sweet LLP from 2010 to 2019. Our goal is to continue providing critical legal services that meet our clients’ needs and exceed their expectations, while shaping a better world for creative and expressive works of all kinds.

Hard to believe, but it's 100% true.