After officially “killing off” Pepe the Frog and realizing that the Internet doesn’t give a fuck, Matt Furie, the creator of the original Pepe the frog character, has concluded that the only way to ensure that no one makes an edit of Pepe that he dislikes, is to take legal action against anyone who does.
To fight against what he deems as the “alt-right” co-opting his meme, Matt and his lawyers have served cease and desist letter to several right wing online personalities like Mike Cernovich and Richard Spenser. That’s not all, the brave fellow has also served similar letters to the administration of online communities like Reddit and Amazon, urging them to take down edits of his meme or face legal action (Via Vice):
The artist’s lawyers have taken legal action against the alt-right. They have served cease and desist orders to several alt-right personalities and websites including Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and the r/the_Donald subreddit. In addition, they have issued Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests to Reddit and Amazon, notifying them that use of Pepe by the alt-right on their platforms is copyright infringement. The message is to the alt-right is clear—stop using Pepe the Frog or prepare for legal consequences.
What makes Matt think any court would enforce this, you ask? He recently took legal action against a man who had written and published an anti-Islam book using Pepe as one of the book’s characters (Which is technically copyright infringement, since the author of the book earned financial compensation for it) and won. Matt is convinced that if he can stop someone from using his art in a book and selling it, then he can also stop people on the Internet from using it:
At the end of August, Furie’s lawyers reached a settlement with Eric Hauser—the former assistant principal in Texas who appropriated Pepe’s image for use in an Islamophobic children’s book. Furie’s lawyers forced Hauser to stop selling the book and made him donate his profits to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
When Hauser agreed to settle out of court, I spoke with Furie’s lawyers who told me they would use the Hauser settlement as a springboard to go after anyone else who profited from or misused Pepe. It appears they’ve made good on that promise.
He’s not done folks. Our brave warrior is also going after the largest Donald Trump community on Reddit, r/The_Donald, accusing them of “copyright infringement”, and warning them to stop the “misuse” of Pepe or face legal action:
If Reddit or r/the_donald’s moderators don’t police the use of Pepe in the subreddit, Furie’s lawyers are prepared to file lawsuits and fight to free Pepe from the clutches of the alt-right in a court of law. “If necessary, we expect to bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement,” Tompros said. “I want to make sure that people have enough time to comply. The goal here is not to initiate lawsuits. The goal is to get the misuse of Pepe to stop. I’d rather do that through people complying with the cease and desist notices. But we’re certainly ready, willing, and able to bring suits to follow up for the folks who do not comply.”
So to summarize, this guy won a case in court against someone for selling his art without permission, so now he thinks he can police the internet in a similar way. Its almost as if there is a difference between using someone’s work and earning financial compensation for it (Copyright infringement) and using someone’s working for satirical purposes (Fair use). I’m sure the alt-right will be happy to do as he says and this won’t result in more Pepe edits or anything.