Cover of Eric T. Hauser’s book illustrated by Nina Khalova
Matt Furie warned the author of a children’s book that he would take legal action for copyright infringement. In addition, according to Furie’s lawyers, the book uses the Pepe the Frog character to deliver ” racist, Islamophobic and hateful”messages.
Under threat of litigation, Hauser admitted to the infringement and agreed to a settlement in which he would halt distribution of his book in all formats. He must also donate all profits from its sale.
Eric Hauser, a teacher who works for Rodriguez Middle School in Denton, Texas, self-published a book titled“The Adventures of Pepe and Pede” about a frog and a centipede and offered it for sale on Amazon.(Capture).
Post Hill Press , which according to its own mission statement claims to publish Christian and conservative-themed books, became interested in Hauser’s book and bought the rights.
Hauser said he wrote the story to fill a gap in “conservative” children’s literature and that he is a conservative, but denies belonging to or sympathising with the “alt-right”.
Following Furie’s complaint, Eric Hauser resigned from his position as assistant director.
Matt Furie’s lawyers reached a settlement with Hauser that not only halted the sale and distribution of the book, but also forced Hauser to donate all proceeds from the sale of the book to the Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organisation in the United States.
The amount is $1,521.54.
Many reasonable resemblances
Hauser stated to the Dallas Morning News who was unaware that Pepe the Frog was associated with slogans of the white supremacist movement until the book was published and who he believed it was a conservative meme. Also said that he wrote the book “as an attempt to break down the barriers of political correctness.”
The frog in Hauser’s book bore a more than obvious resemblance to Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog. In fact, Houser admitted early on that he had violated Furie’s copyright.
More than a few people saw the resemblance to Pepe the Frog, even pointing out that the centipede was another symbol as a nod to the alt-right
“Centipodes”, as some Trump supporters call themselves, has its origins in a series of YouTube videos called“Can not Stump the Trump“, some of which use footage of Trump in a debate with audio from a nature documentary about a centipede killing a tarantula.
Taking Hauser apart
Matthew Gault, in an interesting and comprehensive article in Motherboard, for which he contacted the illustrator, receives documents showing that some of the character designs are based on religious stereotypes.
According to documents provided to Motherboard by Ukrainian illustrator Nina Khalova, who commissioned the images, Houser specifically asked the artist to copy Furie’s drawing and attached images from a website tutorial on “how to draw Pepe the Frog“, and insisted that the character should wear a blue T-shirt.
How to draw Pepe the Frog. Dragoart.com
Even the names and appearance of the animals suggest references to Muslim stereotypes, for example, the crocodile is christened“Alkah“.
Hauser wrote in the document with the instructions sent to Khalova:
“As for the crocodile, can he wear a white tunic and I want him to have a beard to be more complete” (See other sketches of the crocodile)
Image: Matthew Gault on Motherboard
And in the instructions to Khalova, Eric Hauser writes:
“As for your minions, I would like them to be mud. Almost black mud, and I’d like them to have eye holes to look like these guys:”
And he attached this image for reference:
Image: Matthew Gault on Motherboard
However, Hauser denies that his book contains racist or Islamophobic messages. And he claims the characters are based on his daughter’s nightmares.
“The crocodile was based on a recurring nightmare of my daughter’s. She used to describe this crocodile. She used to describe this crocodile with a beard and dressed in a wizard-like robe.”
The illustrator told Motherboard’s Matthew Gault:
“I’m from Ukraine and I don’t know anything about symbols, people and political tendencies in America.” “Actually, I don’t like Donald Trump as president, but it’s a choice of the American people.”
Eric Hauser went on to defend that his intentions were unrelated to the winks that many understood in his book.(Source)
“I’m not worried about using those characters because there’s nothing wrong with them, they’re not evil” . “I don’t agree with the “alt-right or white supremacist” label.
I think those labels were put on Pepe in an attempt to silence conservatives, when Pepe the Frog is not that.”
Anthony Ziccardi, publisher of Post Hill Press, told the AP that the publisher bought the book after noticing it was trending online, butdeclined to disclose the amount it paid Houser for the rights.
“I don’t see any reason why, if you’re a Trump supporter, you can’t write a children’s book that shares President Trump’s law-and-order mandate message. We think there was a movement on the internet to turn these characters into something they are not.”
Ziccardi also added that he was surprised by the fallout it had caused in the school district. (Source)
Post Hill Press described Hauser’s book at the time as a tale in which children “will find a thrilling battle of good versus evil and adults will find clever parallels in the conflict between truth and ignorance facing America’s leaders.”
The Denton school district said in a statement that the publicity generated by Hauser’s book had become a “distraction”. The district added that Houser had been reassigned from his position as assistant principal to another unspecified position.
It’s not about money
For Furie, this is not about money, and he said as much in a press release from the WilmerHale law firm.
“Furie wants to make one thing clear: Pepe the Frog does not belong to the alt-right.
Furie will enforce its intellectual property, through legal action if necessary, to stop the misappropriation of Pepe the Frog by anyone who uses it to advocate racism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Nazism, or any other form of hatred.
It will ensure that no one profits from the use of Pepe for alt-right propaganda and in particular that aimed at children”.
27 September 2016 Pepe was officially deemed a symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation League.
October 2017. Its creator started a campaign called #savepepe denouncing that Pepe had been appropriated by white supremacists, racist movements and others linked to the “alt-right” .
July 2017. Matt Furie“resurrected” him.
Furie already announced it then, he would try to somehow prosecute unauthorised uses of the frog. His character has ended up being stamped on all sorts of products.
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