Pepe the Frog will no longer be a go-to symbol for the white supremacist far right, if creator Matt Furie has his way. Motherboard reports that Furie’s legal representatives have sent DMCA takedown notices to “alt-right”-affiliated sites and figures using the symbol, including white nationalist Richard Spencer’s Altright.com and the r/The_Donald subreddit, which still features the cartoon frog prominently on its front page. The legal team also takes credit for getting Amazon to pull a book by far-right personality Baked Alaska (also known as Tim Gionet), who used Pepe in the cover art, among several smaller victories.
Louis Tompros, one of Furie’s lawyers, tells Motherboard that the goal is simply to “get the misuse of Pepe to stop,” but that his team is ready to file lawsuits if necessary. This summer, they sued the author of a children’s book that used Pepe’s likeness in a thinly veiled anti-Islam allegory, reaching a settlement that sent all proceeds to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The team promised to “make sure that no one profits by using Pepe in alt-right propaganda,” and now, they’re taking on the alt-right more broadly.
These takedowns echo a similar case from last week, when game studio Campo Santo issued a takedown notice against entertainer PewDiePie in response to a racist slur. As with PewDiePie, an alt-right site could claim that they were using Pepe under fair use rules, taking the case to court. But Tompros hopes that things won’t go that far, and that eventually, their takedowns will deter people from using the symbol altogether. “I'm hopeful we'll reach a place where this stops, where the alt-right realizes it's too much trouble dealing with us to be misappropriating this character and they move on.”
Furie’s legal threats mark a new step in his attempt to reclaim Pepe from white supremacists. After initially saying the meme would run its course, he attempted to positively rebrand the character as “a force for good,” then killed him off earlier this year. Now, it seems, he’s taking the fight more directly to the people who coopted his creation.