Matt Furie, the cartoonist who created the memorable meme Pepe the Frog, is suing the Infowars Conspiracy Theory website for the "MAGA" posters that the site is selling and that represent the green frog. Furie's lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles, states that the website used an image of Pepe on the poster without permission.
"Furie did not authorize the use of the image or character Pepe in this poster, and does not approve Pepe's association with Alex Jones or any of the other figures shown in this poster, or with & # 39; Make America Great Again & # 39; (Lema MAGA), says the lawsuit, Furie is seeking monetary damages and a court order against Infowars that sells products with the image of Pepe, the poster features Pepe grouped together with President Donald Trump, and divisive figures like Milo. Yiannopoulos, Kellyanne Conway and, of course, Alex Jones himself.
Infowars is selling the poster for $ 29.95 with a note that says the site will be "forced to remove it forever" in an apparent effort to sell the goose in response to the lawsuit. Infowars says the poster was created by "the renowned artist and patriot" Jon Allen, who "was born an artist but received formal training at the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute." Um, it's fine.
This is the second demand that Furie has filed for the unauthorized use of Pepe according to the Associated Press. In October, he sued a Missouri woman for paintings she allegedly sold. The paintings supposedly show Pepe holding a rifle in front of what appears to be the White House.
The poster. Image: Jon Allen via InforWars
InfoWars founder Alex Jones told the AP that Pepe, who has become a kind of mascot for the alternative right, is "stupid" and a "fool". Already about 1,000 copies of the poster have been sold, which Jones added just one of the most popular items on the site. "My listeners understand that all this is frivolous," Jones said. "We have no choice but to fight, and the law is on our side."
Interestingly, Infowars also sells a wide range of health supplements, which BuzzFeed News reports are too expensive and ineffective, and the same ones that are already sold in other stores.
Furie created Pepe in the early 2000s as a "kind of peaceful frog," and presented him in his Boy & # 39; s Club comic. But about a year before the 2016 US presidential election, the character became appropriate on platforms like 4Chan. Members of the "alt-right", neo-nazis and Internet trolls created images of Pepe with racist symbols and hateful images that proliferated rapidly, and Pepe partnered with those groups. In 2016, the Anti-Defamation League added Pepe to its online database of hate symbols. Our podcast Why & # 39; d You Push That Button deals with copyright memes in more depth.
Furie's lawyers have already sent withdrawal notices to websites affiliated with "alt-right" in an effort to stop co-opting the character. Furie also partnered with the Anti-Defamation League to recast the character as a "force for good", using the hashtag #SavePepe to post memes and positive Pepe messages. Furie has also tried to kill his creation, but as this latest demand shows, the Internet is forever.