Once released, art belongs to the world. No one knows that better than Matt Furie. The Boys Club cartoonist has spent several years grappling with how the internet has coopted Pepe, turning his fun-loving stoner frog into one of the most prominent symbols of the alt-right.
Furie has launched campaigns, including a Kickstarter, aimed at taking back Pepe the Frog. Things finally came to a head when Alex Jones’ Infowars site began selling a poster using the amphibian’s likeness in 2017 and 2018. The case has become an important landmark in the fight for intellectual property online. The math of the issue clearly changes when one begins to profit using that art.
“What we asked for at the beginning of the case is for Infowars to stop selling the poster and to turn over all of their profits,” Furie lawyer Louis Tompros said in a statement. “Anyone who is going to make money using Pepe as an image of hate is not something Mr. Furie has ever authorized and is not something he is going to tolerate.”
The parties settled the suit this week, awarding Furie $15,000, $1,000 of which will be donated to Save the Frogs, an amphibian conservation charity. Not a small gesture from an indie cartoonist. Be nice, man, indeed.
Tompros noted that the deal is a settlement, not a licensing agreement. As such, Infowars has agreed to refrain from selling merchandise with Pepe’s image. We’ve reached out to Furie’s publisher for comment on the settlement.