Alex Jones’s Infowars media outlet has agreed to pay artist Matt Furie to settle a copyright infringement lawsuit over Infowars’s unauthorized sale of a poster featuring Furie’s iconic “Pepe the Frog” character. Infowars made approximately $14,000 selling the poster, and has agreed to pay all of those profits and more to Furie, for a total settlement of $15,000.
Since 2017, Furie, under the representation of WilmerHale, has aggressively enforced his intellectual property rights, using legal action where necessary, to end the misappropriation of Pepe the Frog by the “alt-right.” He successfully stopped use of Pepe by Richard Spencer’s AltRight.com, Arktos Media, Baked Alaska, the r/The_Donald Reddit forum, and neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, among others.
In early 2018, Furie sued Infowars for copyright infringement. Infowars’s online store was selling a poster featuring Pepe alongside Alex Jones, President Donald Trump and other figures. Infowars eventually stopped selling the poster but refused to pay Furie for its infringement, vowing instead to fight the lawsuit on the grounds of free speech and “fair use,” claiming that Pepe’s fame as an internet meme made it free to use for anyone. In May 2019, a federal judge in Los Angeles, where the lawsuit was pending, rejected Infowars’s motion for judgment on its “fair use” defense, and set the case for trial in July. Furie expected to ask the jury to force Infowars to turn over all of its profits from its sale of the poster—roughly $14,000.
Rather than proceed with trial, Infowars agreed to pay Furie a total of $15,000—more than Infowars had even made selling the poster. In addition, under the terms of the settlement, Infowars must destroy all remaining Pepe posters, and must never sell anything featuring Pepe again.
Furie was very pleased with the result. “Infowars had said it planned to ‘free Pepe once and for all,’ but it backed down rather than face trial and lose,” said Louis Tompros, WilmerHale’s lead lawyer representing Furie. “If anyone thinks they can make money selling unauthorized Pepe merchandise, they’re wrong. Mr. Furie will continue to enforce his copyrights, particularly against anyone trying to profit by associating Pepe with hateful images or ideas.”
The WilmerHale team on the case was led by Tompros and included Don Steinberg, Nancy Schroeder, Will Kinder and Stephanie Lin.