Pepe the Frog DMCA Takedowns

Pepe the Frog DMCA Takedowns

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Updated Jul 11, 2018 at 01:24PM EDT by Don.

Added Sep 19, 2017 at 10:14AM EDT by Don.

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Pepe the Frog DMCA Takedowns refer to a series of Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedowns sent by the American law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP to various conservative and alt-right websites while representing Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie.


In late August 2017, Furie took Texas-based assistant principal Eric Hauser to court for copyright infringement for published a book titled The Adventures of Pepe and Pede for using a likeness of Pepe the Frog without permission. The case was settled for $1,521.54, which Furie announced he would be donating to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). On September 18th, Motherboard[10] published an article by staff writer Matthew Gault titled "Pepe the Frog’s Creator Goes Legally Nuclear Against the Alt-Right," reporting that Furie's lawyers, representing the artist pro-bono, sent cease and desist orders to Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, Baked Alaska and the /r/The_Donald subreddit to remove all images of Pepe the Frog.


Online Reaction

That day, the Motherboard article was submitted to the /r/EnoughTrumpSpam[1] subreddit, where it gathered upwards of 3,600 points (88% upvoted) and 380 comments within 24 hours. Other posts supporting the DMCAs were submitted to /r/fuckthealtright[7] and /r/gamerghazi.[8][8] That day, several posts featuring Pepe the Frog reached the front page of the /r/The_Donald[3][4][5] subreddit, many of which taunted Furie for sending the takedowns. Also on September 18th, Twitter user @BakedAlaska[12] tweeted a screenshot of a Pepe the Frog trademark details page, indicating that Furie's trademark had been marked as abandoned for "failture to respond" back in October 2016 (shown below).[11]

PEPE THE FROG TRADEMARK INFORMATION Mark Identification: PEPE THE FROG Last Applicant/Owner: Furie, Matt 844 1/2 S Mariposa Ave Los Angeles, CA 90005 86848125 December 14, 2015 Serial Number: Filing Date: Status: Abandoned-Failure To Respond Or Late Response October 26, 2016 Status Date:

Meanwhile, Several posts speculating that the DMCA takedowns would cause Pepe the Frog memes to dramatically rise in value were submitted to /r/MemeEconomy[13][14][15][2] (shown below, left). Additionally, others predicted a Streisand Effect would erupt in reaction to the takedowns in a thread on /r/KotakuInAction.[9] The following day, /r/dankmemes[6] mod comebepc stickied an announcement for readers to "Help us save Pepe. Pepe is NOT a hate symbol," along with an image of Pepe says "be nice man" (shown below, right).

The Daily Stormer

On July 10th, 2018, the Vice technology news site Motherboard[16] reported that the neo-Nazi news blog The Daily Stormer had removed many images of Pepe from the site. The article included an interview with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr lawyer Louis Tompros, who speculated the law firms legal actions had caused the removal of the images. Additionally, Tompros revealed why websites like The Daily Stormer were sometimes difficult to enforce copyright on:

"The problem was that they would be up and then their entire site will be down and move somewhere else and reorganize. The reason it takes us longer on this and some of the others is the way their website moves around a bunch."

In the coming days, additional articles about the takedowns were published on The Verge[17] and The Daily Dot.[18]

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