Alex Jones and InfoWars has decided to settle with Pepe creator Matt Furie instead of going to court. Jones and InfoWars are accused with appropriating the use of the cartoon frog in merchandise sold by the site.
The image was used in a poster sold during the 2016 election. The two were set to go to trial next month but instead InfoWars has agreed to pay Furie $15,000. The poster depicted right-wing personalities such as Jones, Roger Stone, and Donald Trump.
Furie has been aggresively enforcing his copyright of the character going on the offensive ever since it was co-opted by the alt-right.
The fight began in 2017 when a Texas school administrator released an islamophobic children’s book featuring Pepe which then landed him a deal with Simon & Schuster distributed Post Hill Press. Furie stopped the publication and donated profits from the book’s sale to the Council on American-Islamic relations.
Jones was sent a cease and desist letter and a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Notice but continued to sell the posters. He is the only individual who has tred to fight Furie’s lawsuit claiming fair use.
InfoWars has attempted to spin their settlement as a “licensing fee” and it’s some sort of win because they didn’t pay out “millions.”
Louis Tompro, one of Furie’s lawyers, said:
InfoWars had said it planned to ‘free Pepe once and for all,’ but it backed down rather than face trial and lose. If anyone thinks they can make money selling unauthorized Pepe merchandise, they’re wrong. Mr. Furie will continue to enforce his copyrights, particularly against anyone trying to profit by associating Pepe with hateful images or ideas.
The whirlwind controversy around Pepe the Frog might be one of the strangest things about the 2016 Presidential campaign. Created by Matt Furie, the character has been appropriated by racists and far right.
Fantagraphics Books and Furie have released a statement condemning the use of the character’s use by them.
Check out their statement below.
Fantagraphics Books and Matt Furie, the creator of the eternally chill comic book character Pepe the Frog, condemn the illegal and repulsive appropriations of the character by racist fringe groups linked to the alt-right movement and the Donald Trump presidential campaign. Furie’s character has been categorized as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League as a result of these uses, creating significant emotional and financial harm for the creator.
Most media reports now routinely default to a narrow description of Pepe as a representation of white supremacy, ignoring the mellow, positive-vibed frog that he is in the hands of his creator, Matt Furie, within the pages of Furie’s Boy’s Club comics (as collected by Fantagraphics Books). Yet the myriad copyright violations of recent weeks have resulted in Furie’s name now turning up in Anti-Defamation League database search results.
Having your creation appropriated without consent is never something an artist wants to suffer, but having it done in the service of such repellent hatred — and thereby dragging your name into the conversation, as well — makes it considerably more troubling.
Fantagraphics Books wants to state for the record that the one, true Pepe the frog, as created by the human being and artist Matt Furie, is a peaceful cartoon amphibian who represents love, acceptance, and fun. (And getting stoned.) Both creator and creation reject the nihilism fueling Pepe’s alt-right appropriators, and all of us at Fantagraphics encourage you to help us reclaim Pepe as a symbol of positivity and togetherness, and to stand by Matt Furie.
We encourage reporters and others citing Furie as the character’s creator to also note that he condemns these illegal representations of his character. Matt is available for interviews through Fantagraphics. We encourage fans and others who support Furie to block, report, and denounce the illegal uses of the character by individuals and groups pirating him to foment hatred.