The Strange Case Of Pepe The Frog Ends With Settlement, Key Legal Questions Unresolved

By on June 19, 2019

June 19, 2019

A benign cartoon character named Pepe the Frog got morphed into an alt-right symbol, of exactly what it isn’t clear, but the character’s creator, Matt Furie, alleged in a copyright lawsuit, targeting the website Infowars, that it was a ripoff. Infowars, the right-wing fantasy site run by Alex Jones, used Pepe in a “MAGA” (Make America Great Again) poster alongside such leading alt-right figures as Jones himself and Milo Yiannopoulos, as well as President Trump. Among the legal questions left unanswered by a recently announced settlement, per an account in The Hollywood Reporter, is whether Furie could be said to have abandoned his copyright when for a period of time he was saying publicly that he didn’t mind that Pepe had a life of his own. There is also the lingering question of whether Infowars usurpation of the image constituted fair use. The judge in the case, while allowing it to go forward, did rule out the possibility of statutory damages and attorneys’ fees, which may account for the modest settlement figure: $15,000. Furie said he’s going to donate it to a save-the-frogs conservation group.

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Hollywood Reporter

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