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Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie has long been fighting the appropriation of his character by the US far right, and he just won a minor battle, Motherboard reports.
A children’s book that touted Islamophobic and anti-immigration views has been pulled from Amazon after Furie sued him for copyright infringement, and the profits (US$1521) will be donated to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim-American advocacy group.
The book, written by former Texan assistant principal Eric Hauser, told the story of two friends — Pepe and Pede — who fought to keep evil alligator Alkah out of their home, Wishington Farm. Alkah — just one letter off Allah — sports a long beard and has an army of cronies each covered in mud that resembles the burqa.
Furie’s case was an easy one to win: Hauser had sent messages to illustrator Nina Khalova asking her to directly copy a picture of Pepe, and he did not contest his infringement.
Pepe was initially created for Furie’s comic series Boy’s Club — filled with satirical single-page comics in which anthropomorphic characters got high and embarked on adventures. He eventually became an innocent meme, but during the 2016 presidential election fell into more sinister hands.
Users on the likes of 4chan and reddit used the meme to spread racism and white supremacy. Now, US President Donald Trump supporters sport his image to prove their loyalty — and even call themselves “centipedes” online.
Furie’s lawyer Louis Tompros — who worked this case pro bono — says the comic writer will continue to fight anybody who looks to profit off the misappropriation of his character.
“Furie will aggressively enforce his intellectual property, using legal action if necessary, to end the misappropriation of Pepe the Frog in any way that espouses racism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Nazism, or any other form of hate,” he told Motherboard. “He will make sure that no one profits by using Pepe in alt-right propaganda — and particularly not by targeting children.”
Featured image: Know Your Meme