As most people know, the cartoon character Pepe the Frog has long been used by the “Alt-Right” as their so-called mascot, and the cartoon frog is now widely associated with racism, anti-Semitism, white nationalism and the like. Pepe’s creator, Matt Furie, has finally had enough.
Not only did he “kill” Pepe, trying to stop the misuse of his laid-back character, he then tried to save him with a new ‘zine. Now, he is going one step further and sending a strong message: stealing someone’s creation to use for your own purposes is against the law.
Here is Furie, pictured with his creation:
Pepe The Frog Creator Matt Furie Named One Of The 25 Most Influential People On The Internet. Loved it. pic.twitter.com/uBo1JvKiGc
— Paulo Smith (@pecunia55) June 26, 2017
Furie’s lawyers, who represent him pro-bono, recently succeeded in forcing a former assistant principal at a Texas middle school to withdraw a children’s book he had written which used the character, Pepe. The former assistant principal, Eric Hauser, who lost his job because of the book, has said that it is not racist. Furie’s lawyers, however, had a different opinion, stating that the book “espoused racist, Islamophobic and hate-filled themes, included allusions to the alt-right movement and was deliberately targeted at children.”
After threatening Hauser with litigation, Furie’s lawyers were successful in getting Hauser to withdraw the book and – at Furie’s insistence – donate all profits to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
It seems that Mr. Furie has tasted blood, and his lawyers are now going after the “Alt-Right,” serving cease and desist letters to leading persons in the movement. One such person, Tim Gionet (also known as Baked Alaska) took to Twitter to complain:
The creator of Pepe the Frog has officially sued me. What a time to be alive. pic.twitter.com/v7jtnfAxYp
— Baked Alaska™ (@bakedalaska) September 18, 2017
As replies to his tweet began rolling in it was very clear that people weren’t there to offer sympathy:
Did you cry again?
— Joe Hill (@Blasarius25) September 18, 2017
Using someones art for profit without their permission to sell Nazi propaganda is wrong? Who knew?
— Rich Havener (@Acrasial) September 18, 2017
Note that actual litigation hasn’t begun (yet). Besides “Baked Alaska”, Richard Spencer and Mike Cernovich have also been served cease and desist letters threatening litigation if they don’t stop using (and profiting from) Pepe the Frog. DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) requests for takedown have been issued to Reddit and Amazon, so it certainly looks like Mr. Furie and his lawyers mean business.
It will be interesting to follow this “case” as it develops. It probably won’t be as easy to get “Alaska”, Spencer, and Cernovich to fall in line as it was with Hauser. These people are seasoned internet veterans, and they have a large number of fanatical followers who will most likely mass post Pepe memes just to spite Mr. Furie if they are asked to do so by their “leaders.”
Watch this space.
Here is the video from Furie’s Kickstarter to “save Pepe”:
Featured image via Twitter, fair use for reporting