‘Pepe the Frog’ cartoonist closes $ 4 million NFT collection on frog copyright
Artist Matt Furie is best known for creating âPepe the Frog,â the well-meaning cartoon frog who, after being co-opted by neo-Nazis online, quickly became a right-wing meme and mascot.
Fury drew the green character for an innocent online comic in 2015, but it quickly gained traction on MySpace and 4Chan for more sinister purposes. By 2015, Pepe had become one of the most popular memes on the internet, primarily used to symbolize the alt-right movement and white supremacy.
A frustrated Fury took legal action in 2017, when a former educator published a right-wing children’s book using Pepe’s image. With the help of a volunteer lawyer, Furie succeeded in stopping the distribution of the “racist, Islamophobic and hateful” book, forcing the author to donate all profits to organizations defending Muslims. Two years later, Furie won $ 15,000 in a legal battle with InfoWars for their misuse of its artwork.
Now Pepe the Frog has appeared in the form of an NFT, as reported Vice. The anonymously managed collection, called “Sad Frogs District,” contained 7,000 NFTs of various illustrated frogs and generated a transaction volume of $ 4 million, but has since been deleted at Furie’s request.
Fury and his team reached out to Sad Frogs ahead of its launch to request that it be discontinued, or at the very least, move away from its use of Pepe, but met with little cooperation, it is claimed. âWe’re a little worried that you will walk into our server and cause chaos and panic,â âLambo Frogâ replied. Fury was then blocked.
Sad Frogs moderators claim they were unaware they had spoken with Fury and are upset with the way the artist handled the situation.
The moderator said they were “disappointed that Matt and the developers couldn’t find a way to work together and come up with a solution that would have allowed the project to move forward in a way that respects the artistic integrity of both parties. and the cultivation of frog memes. in general. “
Sad Frogs officially fell when Furie sent a request to remove the Digital Millennial Copyright Act (DMCA) to OpenSea, the platform on which the NFT was hosted. OpenSea immediately responded to the request and the collection was quickly removed, leaving the Sad Frogs team and their investors dry.
âThe worst part of the DMCA was the mental burden it took on some members and some mods that helped the community go to great lengths in the first week of being a project,â one told Vice. moderator known as “old_frog”. Another, who bought 121 sad frogs for a total price of $ 24,870, said the incident had pushed them “to the brink of death.” They also said they were losing sleep and were considering selling DFTs to get a return on their investment.
âDude, you don’t know the impact this has on people’s lives. Has the collection been verified ?! I lost $ 4K, and I bet a lot of others lost a lot more. I am officially out of the NFT game now. It’s really horrible, I don’t know how I’m going to handle this “, a Twitter user, who identifies as” Crypto Gambling Addict [money bag emoji]”, tweeted to Furie.
Dozens of other self-identified Sad Frog investors tweeted at the artist, lamenting the pullout that has since left them bankrupt.
Sad Frogs, who claims they did not tear off Pepe’s image, sent Fury a “counter-advice” – but that’s sadly unrecognizable in the US rule of law. The counter opinion was signed by “Vladimir Vladimirovich”, and they did not provide a mailing address. Furie’s attorney said U.S. copyright law does not recognize anonymity in cases like this.
Yet the Sad Frogs team remains loyal to their collection. âWe all believe that Sad Frogs are sufficiently distinct from Pepes and, therefore, [Furie] does not deserve any compensation. Maybe if he helped with the art or creative direction then yes, but clearly he didn’t, âa moderator told Vice. “I think these memes are all derived from actual frogs and no one is allowed to meme just an entire natural species.”
Although Fury’s lawyer seems to understand this concern, he remains unable to contact Sad Frogs. âUnder normal circumstancesâ¦ you would contact them thenâ¦ and determine if this is something that could be resolved,â Tompros said. “[But] we cannot do that because we are dealing here with someone who claims to be Vladimir Vladimirovich.
âI didn’t think I would ever talk to a reporter about the money from cartoon frogs,â he continued. “This whole Pepe saga has been a strange and strange road.”