A popular, Bethlehem-based Internet video artist has joined an online movement to cancel a F- Jerry, a viral Instagram account with more than 14 million followers, over allegations that it uses content from celebrities, comedians, and regular folks on the internet without attribution or compensation.
Vic Berger, who rose to prominence thanks to viral Vines and satirical political video compilations for the now-defunct site Super Deluxe, is encouraging Instagram users to unfollow @F-Jerry as part of the ongoing #F-F-Jerry movement.
Founded in 2011 by Elliot Tebele, the account initially started as a comedy-focused page on Tumblr that aggregated funny content from various sources online. That same year, Tebele moved the comedy aggregation formula to the @F-Jerry Instagram account. In 2016, Tebele and partner Elie Ballas expanded their reach by founding social media marketing company Jerry Media, which is currently making headlines for working with the disastrous Fyre Festival, as well as co-producing Netflix’s documentary Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, about the debacle.
Now, thanks in part to Berger, the company is back in the news for allegedly stealing its popular content.
Launched recently by Vulture reporter Megh Wright, the #F-F-Jerry movement has since grown to include high-profile supporters like comedians John Mulaney and Patton Oswalt, as well as Philly-bred comics like Paul F. Tompkins and Tim Heidecker (who wrote the movement’s theme song), plus dozens of other entertainers. Various comedians and creators, however, have been accusing @F-Jerry of stealing content since at least 2015, according to a report from the AV Club.
Berger became involved last month, when he posted an image to Instagram detailing a conversation from 2016 with Ryan Ohliger, chief content officer of @F-Jerry, who is known online as @KrispyShorts, about a piece of content Berger claims the site stole from him and re-posted. According to the image, Ohliger responded by telling Berger to “shut up,” and Berger claims he was later blocked.
Since then, the Bethlehem-born video artist has gone on the offensive, posting several more messages online encouraging others to unfollow the @F-Jerry account, and an op-ed for Rolling Stone detailing the company’s plagiarism. Berger also edited and uploaded a video detailing the situation, but it was taken off YouTube after Ohliger filed a copyright takedown request, according to a tweet from the artist. The clip has since been re-uploaded to various sites online.
“We are not shutting up any longer. Like in most situations of rampant corporate greed, people so often feel powerless to create change. But change has to start somewhere,” Berger wrote in Rolling Stone. He declined to comment further when reached by the Inquirer, but encouraged “people to seek out and support the actually funny comedians and artists who do incredible work daily.”
Founder Tebele, meanwhile, responded to the #F-F-Jerry movement last week in a post on Medium in which he admitted the company needs “to do better,” and will no longer post content where the creator is not clear “effective immediately.”
In his Rolling Stone writeup, however, Berger wrote that Tebele’s statement left something to be desired, as it “made no mention of whether or not they’ll be paying comedians or creators in the future.” He added that the brand regularly earns between $25,000 and $75,000 for posting sponsored content, and often allegedly uses stolen content for advertisements.
So far, it appears the #F-F-Jerry movement’s approach is working. Since its start, according to Vulture, the account has dropped from 14.3 million followers to 14 million followers, slowed its rate of posting, and archived hundreds of posts. Comedy Central has also dropped advertising with the account, saying in a statement that it has “no plans to advertise with Jerry Media in the future.”