- REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
- US conspiracy site Infowars has agreed to pay $15,000 to the creator of Pepe the Frog, after using the image in merchandise sold during the 2016 election.
- The case was due to go to trial next month but the two parties reached an agreement on Monday. Vice was first to report the news.
- Pepe the Frog is a small cartoon frog that first appeared in creator Matt Furie’s 2005 comic book “Boy’s Club” and became a popular internet meme. It was subsequently co-opted as a symbol of the alt-right movement and was used to convey racist and anti-Semitic messages.
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Conspiracy-promoting website Infowars has agreed to pay $15,000 to settle a copyright infringement case brought by Matt Furie, the illustrator who created Pepe the Frog.
Furie sued Infowars for using an image of Pepe in a poster it sold during the 2016 election. The case was due to go to trial next month but the two parties reached an agreement on Monday. Vice was first to report the news.
In a post on its site on Monday, Infowars dubbed this a “strategic victory.”
“The corporate press will undoubtedly frame this as a victory for Furie. It wasn’t. The result clearly represents a strategic victory for Alex Jones,” Infowars wrote. Alex Jones owns and operates Infowars, and is the main face of the site.
Jones’ lawyer Robert Barnes said in a statement that Infowars was originally sued for millions. “Some people thought we wouldn’t fight the case. We did. We would only pay an honest licensing fee, and nothing more,” he said.
One of Furie’s attorneys, Luis Tompros, said the settlement amount is more than the $14,000 that Infowars made from sales of the poster. Furie will donate the extra $1,000 to Save the Frogs!, a California-based conservation organization, according to the Associated Press.
Pepe the Frog first appeared in Furie’s 2005 comic book “Boy’s Club” and shortly after became a popular internet meme. In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, it became a symbol of the alt-right movement and was used to convey racist and anti-Semitic messages. The Anti-Defamation League declared it a hate symbol in September 2016.
In a column for Time in October 2016, Furie wrote: “It’s completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate, and that racists and anti-Semites are using a once peaceful frog-dude from my comic book as an icon of hate.”
“It’s a nightmare, and the only thing I can do is see this as an opportunity to speak out against hate,” he added.
Furie has been fighting to keep his creation off other sites that peddle hate, forcing neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormerto remove all images of Pepe from its pages last year.