The artist who created Pepe the Frog settled a lawsuit Monday against right-wing figure Alex Jones and his website Infowars, which agreed to stop selling images of Pepe and to turn over money earned from previous sales.
Infowars will have to pay out $15,000, said Louis Tompros, who represented Matt Furie, Pepe’s creator. Mr. Furie will donate some of the money to Save the Frogs, a charity aimed at amphibian conservation efforts.
The website had been selling a poster with Pepe, glassy-eyed smile and all, sitting amid images of President Trump, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, Trump ally Roger Stone and Mr. Jones.
Mr. Furie said the poster violated his copyright and that he was irked that his creation has become a right-wing trope.
Mr. Jones argued Mr. Furie had failed to defend his copyright and that Infowars was using it as political commentary, which is a protected use.
The case was slated to go to trial next month but Marc Randazza, Mr. Jones’ attorney, said it was cheaper to reach the agreement.
He said Mr. Furie originally asked for $1.2 million, but was told “no deal.”
“They kept begging us for a settlement,” he said, noting they offered to settle for $15,000 because that would have been the cost of plane tickets, hotel rooms and meals in Los Angeles during the trial.
“So, rather than spend that on steaks and nice bottles of wine, we tossed it out to them and they picked it up like a homeless person scrambles for a half a pack of cigarettes,” Mr. Randazza said, calling the lawsuit “politically motivated” against his client.
The posters earned Infowars about $13,000.
Pepe first appeared in comics in 2005 and by 2008 was an internet sensation. Eventually, pop culture figures such as Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj were sharing images of the bulging-eyed, red-lipped frog.
But after Pepe popped up in alt-right use, Mr. Furie figured it was time to reclaim him.
The artist has been able to get conservative provocateur Mike Cernovich to take down a video from his Twitter page that had an image of Pepe mocking 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and he stopped Missouri artist Jessica Logsdon from using the frog in any of her oil paintings.
“If anyone thinks they can make money selling unauthorized Pepe merchandise, they’re wrong,” Mr. Tompros said. “Mr. Furie will continue to enforce his copyrights, particularly against anyone trying to profit by associating Pepe with hateful images or ideas.”
Mr. Furie doesn’t have any other lawsuits currently pending, but his lawyer said they are actively monitoring any misuse of Pepe.
“The number of Pepe misappropriations seems to be decreasing over time, presumably due in large part to the efforts Mr. Furie has gone to [in order] to stop them,” he said.
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