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Pepe the Frog's Creator Is Sending Takedown Notices To Far-Right Sites (vice.com) 332

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie has made good on his threat to "aggressively enforce his intellectual property." The artist's lawyers have taken legal action against the alt-right. They have served cease and desist orders to several alt-right personalities and websites including Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, and the r/the_Donald subreddit. In addition, they have issued Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown requests to Reddit and Amazon, notifying them that use of Pepe by the alt-right on their platforms is copyright infringement. The message is to the alt-right is clear -- stop using Pepe the Frog or prepare for legal consequences. Furie originally created Pepe as a non-political character for his Boy's Club comic, but Pepe later became an internet meme and during the 2016 U.S. presidential election the alt-right movement appropriated the frog in various grotesque and hateful memes.
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Pepe the Frog's Creator Is Sending Takedown Notices To Far-Right Sites

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  • Sorry (Score:4, Informative)

    by negRo_slim ( 636783 ) <mils_orgen@hotmail.com> on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @07:19PM (#55228601) Homepage
    Sorry I'm not familiar with Mr. Furry's work but the times I've seen his Pepe it has appeared fairly different from the one most commonly in use online.
    • Parody (Score:3, Informative)

      by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      Also, in nearly all of the renditions I've seen, it's been used in a satirical sense, mostly to poke fun at anti-fascists, and, even more hilariously, at fascists themselves.

      • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @07:32PM (#55228683)
        when they tried it with "American McGee's Strawberry Shortcake" and it won't work here. The thing is you can Parody Pepe the Frog all day long if you want. But that's not what you're doing. You're parodying the Anti-Fa movement _using_ Pepe.

        Parody is only fair use when the thing you're using is what you're making fun of. Otherwise you're just borrowing other folks work/art/ideas because you couldn't get your point across with your own. Either try harder or come to terms with the thought that your ideas don't have a strong enough foundation to stand on their own.
        • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

          > when they tried it with "American McGee's Strawberry Shortcake" and it won't work here

          IIRC Penny Arcade didn't actually go to court in any fashion.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AvitarX ( 172628 )

        That's Parody, not Satire (in the legal sense).

        Parody, using a piece to make fun of something else, is less protected than people realize

        https://www.techdirt.com/artic... [techdirt.com] (discusses a 1997 ruling).

      • Re:Parody (Score:5, Informative)

        by Theaetetus ( 590071 ) <theaetetus.slash ... S.com minus city> on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @12:01AM (#55229617) Homepage Journal

        Also, in nearly all of the renditions I've seen, it's been used in a satirical sense, mostly to poke fun at anti-fascists, and, even more hilariously, at fascists themselves.

        Ironically, your post includes the answer to why this is irrelevant. Notice how your subject line was "parody", but in the body, you say "satire" (well, "satirical")? Those are different things under copyright law. [americanbar.org]

        The short version is that:
        (i) parody makes fun of the thing it's copying. Think Weird Al's "Smells like Nirvana", which explicitly makes fun of Nirvana and Smells Like Teen Spirit, or his "Perform That Way" which makes fun of Lady Gaga and Born that Way. Parody falls under fair use because, since you're making fun of the thing you're copying, there's no way to do so without copying it.
        (ii) satire makes fun of something else.Think Weird Al's "Eat it" or "I'm fat", which make fun of obesity, but do not make fun of Michael Jackson or those songs, except stylistically. He could have made fun of obesity with countless other songs, so the copyright on those songs do not limit his expressive rights. That's why satire does not fall under fair use.

        So, if those renditions you've seen are making fun of, say anti-fascists or Hillary Clinton or what not, they're satires. They are not parodies of Pepe the Frog, and therefore are not protected by fair use, unlike if they had actually been parodies.

        As an aside, Weird Al always gets permission from artists before he copies their songs, and while it's primarily because he's such a nice guy, the above satire/parody divide is another significant reason.

        Disclaimer: I am an IP lawyer. I am not your IP lawyer, and this is not legal advice.

    • Looks spot on [fantagraphics.com] to me. Matt Furie's an amateur, so he doesn't always draw his characters perfectly, but the overall design of the character is surprisingly easy to recognize. Which is probably why the alt-right jumped on him. Making an easy to recognize character that's not also generic is surprisingly hard.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @07:29PM (#55228665)

    Haven't those poor people been through enough already without you taking their memes away too?!?

  • Lets just hope the Kekistani [wikia.com] that have come here to anonymously maintain their cultural practice of shitposting aren't too traumatized by the ordeal.

    • by Boronx ( 228853 )

      Hmmmm...maybe we should raise the voting age.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        Hmmmm...maybe we should raise the voting age.

        Maybe we should cap it. Then open it to children as young as, say speaking age loaded up with all the responsibility for running society that you can't escape until about 40, maybe 50 years old at which time you are subjected to all of the consequences of your own decisions for the rest of your life.

        It sounds crazy however that's how the free Kekistanis promote the values in their society. What most don't realize is because frogs can change their sex, not using an individual's gender pro-noun is consider

  • Probably not a good idea to send a legal threat to someone who is a trained and bar'd attorney. Furie is going to quickly discover the mistake he made.

  • But you can't silence someone because you think their humor is in poor taste.

    That said, I can understand why the creator is upset. Bill Watterson was pretty pissed off about "peeing Calvin", but I don't know offhand how his lawsuits turned out. In his case, people were selling counterfeit merchandise, so there's a financial aspect not present with Pepe.

  • Although it hasn't been to the Supreme Court yet, some lesser courts have forbidden the use of copyright law to forbid use by a disfavored faction. The reasoning is that copyright is in the context of earning money for the holder, and stopping that does the opposite.

    Now theze cases were music being played at potical events, and music has ways to pay for its use in the matter of course, independent of who uses it. There is no such thing for Pepe here. Also, use by right wing could devalue the value, but o

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