Infowars to pay Pepe the Frog creator $15K in copyright dispute
Right-wing conspiracy theory website Infowars has agreed to pay $15,000 to the creator of the Pepe the Frog cartoon to settle a copyright suit.
Infowars, the media company headed up by broadcaster Alex Jones, used an image of Pepe the Frog in a poster sold on its website during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Matt Furie, the creator of Pepe the Frog, sued Infowars for copyright violation in March 2018. His cartoon character started life as an innocent figure, but was later appropriated as an unofficial mascot of the alt-right.
“Happy to announce the folks suing Infowars over Pepe the Frog have agreed to settle, and accept a licensing fee of $15,000,” Robert Barnes, a lawyer for Infowars, said in a statement.
“We were originally sued for millions,” added Barnes. “Some people thought we wouldn’t fight the case. We did. We would only pay an honest licensing fee, and nothing more.”
Louis Tompros, a partner at WilmerHale, the law firm representing Furie, rejected this interpretation.
“Infowars’s characterization of the settlement is at best misleading, and in many ways just wrong,” Tompros told CNN via email.
In a press release, WilmerHale detailed how Furie has enforced his intellectual property rights since 2017, ending the use of Pepe the Frog by a series of alt-right and neo-Nazi websites.
“If anyone thinks they can make money selling unauthorized Pepe merchandise, they’re wrong,” Tompros said in the press release.
“Mr. Furie will continue to enforce his copyrights, particularly against anyone trying to profit by associating Pepe with hateful images or ideas,” he added.
Jones has for years used the Infowars website and his radio show to peddle conspiracy theories, suggesting to his audience that the end of civilization is near.
He then used these platforms to hawk survival gear, nutritional supplements and other products as the solution to the problems he describes on his show.
Pepe the Frog was included as part of the poster sold by Infowars, which shows the cartoon alongside controversial internet figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos.
Jones and Infowars has been banned from social media outlets including Facebook, which labeled the conspiracy theorist as “dangerous” earlier this year.
Furie has tried to rescue his frog from use by alt-right and neo-Nazi trolls, even going as far as “killing” the character in a 2017 cartoon.