Matt Furie, the artist behind, began a legal battle last year using images of his character.
Last week he and his lawyers celebrated a win against neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, which removed all images of the comic frog on July 3, according to his attorney Louis Tompros.
Pepe has had a tumultuous journey, beginning as a character in Furie’s Boy’s Club in 2005 before becoming a meme on 4chan and Tumblr. He was ultimately co-opted by white nationalists in 2015.
Leading up to the 2016 presidential campaign, Pepe was used to promote racism and anti-Semitism. He was repurposed as a KKK member, a Nazi stormtrooper and Adolf Hitler. The Anti-Defamation League soon added Pepe to a database of hate symbols.
In 2017, an alt-right children’s book called The Adventures of Pepe and Pede was published. Furie fought back with the help of lawyers and got the book pulled. They also pushed white nationalist Richard Spencer to drop Pepe as a podcast logo with a cease and desist letter.
Furie and his lawyers have now forced the Daily Stormer to remove images and references of Pepe with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests. The site, which has been called the “top hate site in America,” has been online and offline repeatedly lately. It wasfollowing protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. It reappeared under a new Russian domain but went offline again after internet security provider Cloudflare dropped support for the site. A version of the site then moved onto the darknet.
That made sending DMCA takedown requests to the Daily Stormer difficult, said Tompros, one of Furie’s lawyers at law firm WilmerHale. By the time their letter had gone through one web host, he said, the Daily Stormer was on to another one.
Tompros said they identified about 25 instances in which Pepe was used on the site. The lawyers never heard back from the Daily Stormer after sending their takedown requests, but kept checking the site to see if the posts were taken down. On July 2, they noticed some of the images were down. By the next day, he said, they were all down.
“Everything that we identified was taken down,” Tompros said. “It may be that there are new things or things that popped up more recently that were not on our list. It’s a little bit like a game of whack-a-mole.”
The Daily Stormer didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
Furie and his lawyers have successfully had somewhere between around 30 to 50 entities take down infringed Pepe material, according to Tompros.
There have also been a few lawsuits. Last year, Furie sued an artist who used images of Pepe in her work. In March, he filed a lawsuit against Alex Jones and Free Speech Systems LLC, claiming Jones and his “Infowars” show.
As part of his fight to wringing back Pepe from white supremacists, Furie even killed off the character last year. He later launched a Kickstarter campaign to.
Tompros says he’s optimistic.
“We’ve made a whole lot of progress in eliminating uses of Pepe for commercial profit that are associated with hateful ideas and images,” he said.