Update, 4:01PM ET: The lawsuit has been voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff. In a statement, a lawyer for Jerry Media said they believed the plaintiff “was almost certainly not the original creator” of the content and did not have standing to bring the suit. “We are pleased to see that this lawsuit has been dismissed — only two days after it was filed,” the attorney said. A lawyer representing the plaintiff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The business behind the popular Instagram account @fuckjerry is being sued for allegedly stealing a meme for an ad.
The suit, filed this week in federal court, alleges that the company violated copyright law by taking an image and using it to promote its tequila brand, JAJA Tequila. The suit names FJERRY, LLC, the parent company of Jerry Media, as well as founder Elliot Tebele. Law360 reported on the suit yesterday.
According to the suit, a Nigeria-based social media personality owned the image, which included a text message conversation about drinking. One person in the conversation messages the other, “don’t worry i called an uber,” as the other person responds, “we drank at your place.” @fuckjerry’s post appended the caption, “Me after my 6th glass of @JAJA.”
Versions of the meme were already being posted to social media before the plaintiff’s January tweet. But the suit maintains he held the copyright on the image Jerry Media ultimately used in its tequila ad, which, apart from the texting conversation, contains text used in the tweet. “This is a frivolous lawsuit and we intend to defend it vigorously,” a spokesperson for Jerry Media said in a statement.
Jerry Media has gained renewed scrutiny recently for its role in promoting the disastrous Fyre Festival. After controversy over how the @fuckjerry account was crediting others’ work, Tebele also said last month that the account would no longer post images if the original creator couldn’t be identified.
“In the past few years, I have made a concerted, proactive effort to properly credit creators for their work,” Tebele wrote in a Medium post. “We have also updated our policies to make sure we are responsive to creators whenever they have reached out to us about posts.”
The suit requests unspecified damages, to be established in a trial.