Pepe the Frog, or rather his creator Matt Furie, has filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against the far-right news site Infowars. Allegedly, Infowars creator Alex Jones and company are using Pepe’s likeness on a poster they have for sale on the site without the artist’s permission.
The poster pictures the “heroes of the 2016 anti-establishment revolution,” like President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Matt Drudge, Kellyanne Conway, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Pepe the frog. The ever-present MAGA, Trump’s slogan, plastered across the bottom in fitting blood red slasher type lettering completes the effect.
“Furie did not authorize the use of the Pepe image or character in this poster, and he does not approve of the association of Pepe with Alex Jones or any of the other figures shown in this poster, or with the ‘MAGA’ slogan,” is written in the complaint that was filed Monday in the Central District of California.
Pepe was never meant to be a symbol for the far-right. Indeed, it first became a meme around 2008. At the time, he was used as a stand-in for bad behavior, much like evil Kermit is today. He even made it to his entry on Know Your Meme in 2009.
He Was Never Meant For This
Around 2015 things took a dark turn for Pepe when white supremacists, using the website 4chan, launched a campaign to “reclaim Pepe” for the neo-Nazis to use as their very own. As Trump’s campaign heated up, the frog became a favorite among his supporters going out in memes all across social media.
“I had never heard of the alt-right or the white supremacist thing,” Furie told the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t know who their leader is, it just seems like a loose network of nihilistic guys posting white power symbols.”
Finally, in 2017, Furie started aggressively fighting back. He issued cease-and-desist orders to Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and the subreddit called The_Donald. He even started a Kickstarter campaign to attempt to create a new Pepe comic and attempt to revive the frog’s reputation.
For his part, Jones defends his use of Pepe as fair use because it is political speech. He says these lawsuits are attempts by the left to stifle free speech and shut down his news program through one “frivolous” lawsuit after another.
Oh, and you can still purchase the poster on Infowars’ website for the low price $29.95 plus tax, as Jones refuses to take it down.
Image via Infowars.com