If the children’s section of your local book store suddenly seems a little less hate-filled and Islamophobic, you have Matt Furie to thank.
Cartoonist Matt Furie, the creator of Pepe the Frog, has taken legal action to shut down distribution of the children’s book “The Adventures of Pepe and Pede,” according to WilmerHale, the firm representing him in the action.
According to WilmerHale, the book by Eric Hauser, “featured a character named Pepe the Frog, espoused racist, Islamophobic and hate-filled themes, included allusions to the alt-right movement and was deliberately targeted at children.”
After being threatened with litigation, Hauser “admitted infringement. He agreed … to stop distribution of his book in all forms.”
Furie, who created the Pepe the Frog character in the early 2000s, is entitled to the profits from the book, but the cartoonist insisted that the profits go to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), described by WilmerHale as “the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.”
While Furie created Pepe as a “peaceful frog-dude” who uses the catchphrase “feels good man,” the character was later co-opted by the alt-right movement, and the character began appearing “in hateful depictions associated with the alt-right, including alongside white supremacist language and symbols and other offensive imagery.”
In the past, Furie has made efforts to disassociate his creation from the alt-right movement, including a #SavePepe campaign. However, this was the first time that he threatened litigation to enforce his intellectual property rights, WilmerHale said.
Since then, Furie has made attempts short of legal action to counteract the spread of Pepe the Frog’s association with the alt-right, including initiating the #SavePepe campaign to restore Pepe as a character representing peace, togetherness and fun. Hauser’s book is the first instance in which Furie has threatened litigation to enforce his intellectual property rights.