The internet not only provides us with unprecedented, immediate access to almost anything we can think of, but it’s made it seem like we’re free to repurpose anything we can Google with complete abandon. As far right Pepe the frog fans are now finding out, that’s only because, for one reason or another, no one has come after them yet.
Pepe’s creator, Matt Furie, isn’t standing for it anymore. He already had to watch as his creation was deemed a hate symbol and became pretty good way to tell who’s a horrible racist, among other things, resulting in Furie eventually killing off the character. But fictional homicide isn’t the only way he can fight back, and the law may be on his side.
As reported by Motherboard, Furie and his legal team have launched a wave of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedowns, along with Cease and Desist orders, to those who coopted the frog for their hate. That includes people like Richard Spencer and Mike Cernovich, as well as the subreddit r/the_Donald, along with sites like Altright.com.
But perhaps most hilariously, it includes getting Amazon to take down the book Meme Magic by Tim Gionet/”Baked Alaska,” which didn’t sit too well with him. So, he dug up information on Furie’s lapsed Pepe trademark in an effort to call impending lawsuits (which Furie’s legal team will pursue if takedown notices/C&Ds are ignored), which Twitter users were quick to point out is not the same as copyright. He also seems to believe that having his own artist redraw Pepe means that it’s not Furie’s copyrighted material, which is also woefully mistaken.
It’d certainly seem like overkill, even if it were within his rights, for Furie to go after anyone who’d ever used a Pepe meme, but this is a very deliberate action against specific groups that have twisted his creation into something ugly. Copyright laws on the internet have been used in plenty of abusive, unnecessary, or simply self-defeating ways, so it’s nice to see them actually protect an artist and his work from some genuinely terrible misrepresentation, for once.
(via Motherboard, image: Matt Furie)
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