The original creator of the “Pepe The Frog” cartoon image won an ownership battle in the courts when Infowars, an Alex Jones company, lost a judgment and has paid 15,000 in damages.
Matt Furie wanted to gain back the integrity of the cartoon which had been lost when white supremacists and neo-Nazis began co-opting the cartoon. Many trump supporters had been using the cartoon on social media to reflect support for then-candidate Donald Trump.
Somewhere along the line, this gesture took a life of its own, and even though right-wing social media personalities fought back against the racist labeling given to the cartoon, the stigma could be washed away.
Infowars, headed by Alex Jones, had featured the frog in posters alongside figures like Roger Stone, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Diamond and Silk. The company made about $14,000 off of sales of such posters and agreed to pay that back to Pepe’s creator, Matt Furie, after he filed a copyright lawsuit.
The Pepe meme, created in the mid-2000s, has become a frequent image used in memes supporting President Trump. But some white supremacists and neo-Nazis also began co-opting the cartoon amphibian.
Furie has pushed back on the use of his frog in hateful memes. His lawyer, Louis Tomporos, told the Washington Post that Furie wasn’t trying to make money, but rather a point.
“From [Furie’s] perspective, the goal of this was not really about making money and certainly not about going after Alex Jones,” Tompros said. “The goal is to make sure the use of Pepe in association with hateful images and ideas stops, and if anybody thinks they’re going to make any money by selling Pepe hate merchandise, they won’t.” [Washington Examiner]
Furie’s lawyer, Louis Tomporos, said, “From [Furie’s] perspective, the goal of this was not really about making money and certainly not about going after Alex Jones. The goal is to make sure the use of Pepe in association with hateful images and ideas stops, and if anybody thinks they’re going to make any money by selling Pepe hate merchandise, they won’t.”
Even with the judgment win, Tomporos said his client will continue to fight against those using his cartoon for purposes other than it’s original intent. “Matt [Furie’s] going to enforce his copyrights aggressively to make sure nobody else is profiting off associating Pepe the Frog with hateful imagery,” Tompros added.