InfoWars Agrees to Pay Pepe the Frog Creator £12,000 in Copyright Settlement
Rather than go to court, Alex Jones has decided to settle with Pepe creator Matt Furie for appropriating the use of his cartoon frog in InfoWars merch.
Image: Alex Jones via InfoWars, Pepe via Matt Furie
This article originally appeared on VICE US.
Pepe the Frog will no longer face Alex Jones in court.
Jones and his lawyers have settled with Pepe creator Matt Furie. Furie sued Jones for copyright infringement because InfoWars used an image of Pepe in a poster it sold during the 2016 election. The two were set to go to trial next month, but reached a settlement Monday. InfoWars agreed to pay Furie $15,000 (£11,809).
The poster depicted a group prominent election personalities—including Roger Stone and Donald Trump. Pepe hovered over Jones himself and to the right of YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson.
“InfoWars had said it planned to ‘free Pepe once and for all,’ but it backed down rather than face trial and lose,” Louis Tompros, one of Furie’s lawyers, said. “If anyone thinks they can make money selling unauthorized Pepe merchandise, they’re wrong. Mr. Furie will continue to enforce his copyrights, particularly against anyone trying to profit by associating Pepe with hateful images or ideas.”
Furie and Pepe’s journey through the legal system began in August, 2017, when a Texas school administrator released an islamobhobic children’s book starring Pepe that landed him a publishing deal with Simon & Schuster distributed Post Hill Press. Furie successfully stopped publication of the islamophobic book and donated profits from its sale to the Council on American-Islamic relations. Since then, Furie has aggressively enforced his copyright when the far right has tried to make money using Pepe. Even Daily Stormer, a Neo-Nazi website, stopped using Pepe.
Jones is the only person who tried to fight Furie’s lawsuit. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, the law firm representing Furie, sent InfoWars cease and desist letters and a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Notice, but Infowars wouldn’t stop selling the posters. So Furie sued them, and Jones vowed to fight the lawsuit on the grounds that memes were for everyone, Pepe was fair use, and—according to court documents—that Furie had abandoned his copyright on Pepe the Frog in media interviews.
It was going to be the trial of the century—a battle for the soul of memes. Instead, some cash will end the case prematurely.
InfoWars did not immediately respond to a request for comment but published its own article on the news.
“Happy to announce the folks suing Infowars over Pepe the Frog have agreed to settle, and accept a licensing fee of $15,000. We were originally sued for millions. Some people thought we wouldn’t fight the case. We did. We would only pay an honest licensing fee, and nothing more,” Robert Barnes, InfoWars’s attorney, said in a statement posted on InfoWars. “The other side may have spent over a million in legal fees themselves. They wanted millions. They thought we wouldn’t fight. They thought we wouldn’t win in court. They thought wrong.”
Tompros said Furie planned to donate a portion of the InfoWars profit to a charity that helps real frogs. “It’s called 'Save the Frogs!'” Tompros said. “The real point here is that InfoWars doesn’t get to keep these profits. It’s not legal fees, it’s profits that Mr. Furie is entitled to as the owner of the copyright.”
WilmerHale and Tompros will continue to help Furie enforce his copyright. “I don’t think it will ever completely end,” Tompros said. “But [InfoWars] was very much the last big target.”