June 11, 2019
Infowars has been ordered to pay $15,000 in a copyright infringement lawsuit for unauthorized use of Pepe the Frog.
On Monday, Infowars head and host Alex Jones signed Infowars’s settlement agreement with Matt Furie, creator of Pepe the Frog.
Furie said he didn’t grant Infowars permission to sell “MAGA” (Make America Great Again) posters using his character Pepe, which was featured besides Jones, President Donald Trump, and far-right gay British provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, among other right-wing figures.
Louis Tompros, an attorney for Furie, said that the $15,000 settlement amounts to more than the $14,000 Infowars made from selling the Pepe posters, and that Furie intends to donate $1,000 to a California conservation organization called “Save the Frogs!”
Tompros said, “This was more than we would have gotten at trial, and it saves the expense of a trial.”
Infowars has posted an article calling this settlement a “strategic victory” for Jones. Marc Radazza, an attorney for Jones, said Furie’s lawyers initially sought over $1 million from his client but ended up settling for just a fraction of that sum after undergoing a costly legal battle.
Randazza said, “That ought to be a message to anyone who wants to file a politically motivated, anti-free speech lawsuit against him [Jones].”
Months prior to the settlement, U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald limited the amount of money Furie could recover from Infowars.
Lawyers for Infowars argued that use of Pepe the Frog was “fair use,” but Fitzgerald said that question must be decided by a jury.
The settlement agreement requires Infowars to destroy all remaining copies of the poster they currently possess and prohibits the site from selling them. Infowars has agreed to also stop selling anything with Pepe’s likeness without proper licensing from its creator.
In September 2016, the Anti-Defamation League labelled certain incarnations of Pepe the Frog as a hate symbol for its use by right-wing and right-leaning, mostly internet-based figures in the presidential election to support candidates such like Trump in “meme warfare.” A fake religion “KEK” was created with the frog as its deity. Some prominent internet personalities who have used and continue to use Pepe for that purpose said it was just a joke.
– MK. III