Steam Purged Of Pepe Emoticons After Creator Files Copyright Claim

Steam Purged Of Pepe Emoticons After Creator Files Copyright Claim

If, for some godforsaken reason, you’ve been trying to collect every achievement and emoticon featuring Pepe The Awful Meme Frog on Steam, I have some bad news for you: Many of them are gone.

Image credit: Sweater? OK!

Yesterday, Steam users began to notice something odd. According to a thread on the Steam subreddit, Pepe emoticons began disappearing from inventories and profile showcase boxes. The listings were still there, but the imagery was invisible. Before long, icons stopped showing up in chats and posts as well. Now Pepe images that players could earn by playing games such as Fergus The Fly and, tellingly, Make America Great Again: The Trump Presidency have been replaced with a simple message: “Emoticon art currently unavailable due to DMCA takedown notice submitted on behalf of Matt Furie.”

Pepe the Frog was originally a goofy character in Furie’s comic “Boy’s Club”, but then became a 4chan meme in 2008 that was ultimately co-opted by the alt-right in 2015. Fun fact: White nationalist Richard Spencer was explaining Pepe to a reporter right before he became famous for getting punched in the face. Furie has spent 2017 attempting to reclaim Pepe from Nazis and other awful people through a number of methods ranging from copyright claims against bigoted children’s books to a new crowdfunded comic of his own.

Back in August, Louis Tompros, an IP lawyer representing Furie, told Gizmodo that the children’s book copyright claim was intended to reclaim the cartoon frog. “The point we are trying to make with this case is that Pepe the Frog does not belong to the alt-right,” He added: “They thought they could claim him as their symbol. But they can’t.”

I reached out to Tompros to ask why Furie went after Steam specifically, and he explained that they don’t target individual platforms so much as they receive notice that someone is using Pepe in association with hateful speech or content and then take action against that. “That is what happened with Steam,” Tompros told Kotaku in an email. “A Steam user let us know that there were Pepe images being sold on the site, and that they were being used on that site by people in connection with hateful speech. We asked Steam to take those down, and it appears that it has done that.”

On Steam, some developers and users aren’t super pleased to see their precious Pepes go poof.

“Apparently, even though our Rare Deplorable commando frog and Donald Toad emoticon (CLEARLY a toad and not a frog!) are our own original art & characters, just filing the claim means Valve must take them down,” wrote the developer of Make America Great Again in a news post, adding that they will be able to put their emoticons back up if they sign “a thing” that says Furie can sue them and not Valve. They do not intend to, because “going to court is… bad even if we’re right.”

Fergus The Fly is ostensibly a game about a puzzle-solving fly, but reviews suggest that people mostly buy it to unlock Pepe emoticons. The game’s Steam discussions section now features a couple of threads about it, one of which sports the colourful title “Matt Furie is a dumb♥♥♥♥♥♥.”

Some instances of Pepe on Steam seem to have at least temporarily evaded Valve’s DMCA laser, however. Puzzle game Sweater? OK! prominently displays Pepe (and other meme characters) on its store page, but so far it’s unaffected. Also, user-uploaded images of Pepe continue to be fine, likely because different rules apply to them.

Still, tough times for alt-right tough guys, who are now throwing comment temper tantrums about “snowflakes” because somebody made it so they couldn’t use a cartoon frog in an incredibly specific way. Feels bad, man.


  • Feels bad man.

    Actually, I had no idea there were Pepe emoticons. Kinda fucking stupid to use something you don’t have the rights to! Memes aren’t inherently public domain; just ask anyone who tries to sell merch with that stupid trollface on it.

  • Can’t we just purge all all this faux political bullcrap….

    There is no Left and No right, just the same old tiresome habit of defining ourselves by what we stand against rather than what we stand for.
    It’s politics for dummies, fighting over which of their chosen idols are less corrupt than the other.

    • I’m pretty sure that people outside your middle class privilege bubble are quite aware that there are indeed differences.

      • Ho man, me with privilege, that would be a bloody gas!
        Seriously though, aside from any outside perceptions of my gender, I don’t tick any other boxes in the old privilege department that I can think of.

        I’m not saying folks aren’t smart enough to figure this nonsense out, many do.
        Though it’s fair to say that many choose to succumb to the base simplicity that politics at any level can be reduced to or even works with two distinct sides.

        I don’t think you shouldve got a down vote for the comment, I loved it, honestly, not in a bad way man.

        • You’re posting on the internet, not from Manus Island or a women’s shelter, or under a bridge. So yeah, you’re pretty darn privileged. I understand you may think you have it hard but I guarantee within a minute or two of your current physical location you will find plenty of people doing it harder than you.

          And the fact you’re not in any way being directly affected by the policies of right wing governments is the demonstrating aspect of that. If you were doing it truly hard, you’d know precisely how much worse they are than the alleged ‘left’ – noting that in Western democracies ‘left’ is now ‘mild right’.

          Don’t worry about the downvotes, that’s what people do around here to stifle free speech. Ironically the people doing it are the ones who are always burbling about MAH FREEZE PEACH, but then again it’s not like we don’t expect hypocrisy as a matter of course from the Kotaku alt-right patrol, is it?

          • There is a significant problem with identity politics in my view, in that it has shifted dialogue from empowerment, to victimisation. Part of that is a direct contributor to the rise of the Alt-right.

            I am more than aware that there are many people doing it much harder than me, immediately around me, and I recognise that. But that’s not going to fix it. There’s also a lack of meaningfulness in a political arena and in terms of actions and measures. Beyond recognising privilege, nothing gets achieved. It doesn’t even raise awareness because it tends to be combative, leading to greater disagreement and division.

            By all measures I am a left wing progressive. I’ve done my fair share of activism and have directly worked on progressive causes.

            But when it comes to identity politics, i’m incredibly critical, it doesn’t result in meaningful measures and change, and I blame the focus on identity politics in the US for resulting in the election of Donald Trump, and allowed their government to further reduce their role, away from universal public services too….. lining the pockets of their friends and the industrial military complex.

            Identity politics only results in people being told to recognise that they are worse or better off than others. It also shifts the civil rights movement away from empowerment to victimisation and blaming, which is incredibly unproductive.

    • And lets not forget the so called ‘Contradictory’ people who have views that fit on both ‘sides’….

      • Ha ha, exactly.

        That’s what I’m getting at by saying the voter spectrum is majority centrist, slightly leaning with opinions cherry picked from either side.

        It’s basic political science and yet isn’t the politics that are sold to the people.
        It’s a joke.

    • Huh? It’s useful to have vague political categories. It let’s you give the general idea of what your views are without having to go through every single issue in every conversation. Tribalism is a big problem right now but saying that “there is no Left and no Right” is straight up wrong. These categories obviously exist. Similarly, being willing to say that you lean left or right politically isn’t defining yourself by what you stand against – it’s just giving a very general comment on your overarching political views. There are also a lot more issues at play than just corruption, although that’s certainly an important topic.

      • No, that is a fair call, it’s a bit soapboxy to declare there no LvsR outright.
        Especially when I’m criticising the use of that very paradigm lol, touché.

        It exists, but it’s now how politics actually works, the line dissects a spectrum that’s really looked at as predominantly centrist, with ever decreasing populations as it moves left or right.
        There is no functional line in the sand, it’s seen as a window that’s being constantly extended and reduced in two directions

      • I’d disagree, people having a set of values and applying it in a nuanced way to individual topics is probably more meaningful than someone blindly saying they are left or right, and just grabbing the handful of whatever that might mean at the time, depending on how the political winds are blowing.

  • Pepe the frog only really became an alt-right thing when the left started saying it was….. It was just a general meme prior to that.
    Funny that people are getting so worked up over a fucking meme. Just goes to highlight how pointless identity politics is, but I suppose in the US where the role of government is funding the military, they need something to go on about.

    • I mean, how triggered does an artist have to be; trying to protect his work like that? Does he think he owns his own shit, or something?!

      • I have no problem with him protecting his IP, I just find it amusing that he wouldn’t need to if it wasn’t made into something more than it originally was. It’s Streisand syndrome all over.

    • Yeah I’ve found the alt right connection to be quite strange. Of politics, the only real use I’ve seen has been from center left and liberal left commentators. But then confusingly apparently the definitions of liberalism and centrism are both now “far right fascism”.

      So odd…

      • That’s because you’re talking about internet Libertarianism, which most certainly is a far right ideology. And pretty much anyone who identifies as libertarian or ‘centrist’ is simply a right winger who lacks the courage of their convictions – so tries to claim ‘reasonable centrism’ to cover up their basic ‘I GOT MINE’ ideological stance.

  • Pepe the Frog was originally a goofy character in Furie’s comic “Boy’s Club”, but then became a 4chan meme in 2008 that was ultimately co-opted by the alt-right in 2015.

    Except it never was co-opted. He looked like trump, so they made trump memes. That was basically it. Then the left wing shit string media got hold of it, and proclaimed it to be ‘alt right’ with no evidence at all to back up anything they have ever said about it. Its like saying the left ‘co-oped’ Pokemon Go when Hillery said ‘Pokemon Go To The Polls’. Its just dumb.

  • The creator doesn’t do jack shit with the character, it gets political, and then tries to salvage something that’s basically public domain
    And he’s trying to turn Pepe into some children’s character apparently?
    He’s a stoner ffs
    Honestly it feels more like because the alt-left have called it “the symbol of the alt-right” Matt Furie is trying to capitalise on this faux outrage

    • That’s not how public domain works. The artist owns the character and controls who can use it for monetary gain. A lot of people using it doesn’t mean the artist owns it any less.

      You can think he’s an idiot for how he’s trying to pursue it, but that’s his right.

  • I’m just glad that this joke might be finished being run into the ground. At this point, Pepe has breached the Earth’s mantle.

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