Matt Furie is most known for designing "Pepe the Frog," a well-intentioned cartoonish frog that soon deteriorated into an alt-right meme and emblem after being co-opted by neo-Nazis online. In 2015, Furie created the green figure for a benign web cartoon, but it swiftly gained popularity on MySpace and 4Chan, where it was used for purposes that are more malevolent.
Pepe became one of the most popular online memes by 2015, mostly as an emblem of the alt-right and white supremacy. When a former educator used Pepe's image in an alt-right children's book, Furie became enraged and filed a lawsuit.
Pepe the Frog's inventor, who previously used copyright to fight neo-Nazis who converted the character into a mascot, is embroiled in yet another bizarre squabble. This time, his adversary is an anonymously operated NFT project, which Furie alleges plagiarizes Pepe but which the project disputes.
On Monday, Furie was successful in convincing OpenSea to deactivate the project Sad Frogs District, which had been featured as "fully verified" on the NFT marketplace since August 9. The project's website is also now unavailable, according to a message on the project's Discord channel. This is a "temporary" solution, according to the post. The takedown request only pertained to OpenSea, according to Furie's lawyers.
Sad Frogs District is a collection of 7,000 cartoon frogs with various characteristics. Because the contents of those photos, including, most importantly, the data of ownership, are registered on the Ethereum blockchain, they are NFTs or non-fungible tokens. Non-fungible tokens, on the other hand, are each unique and so collectible. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are fungible, which implies that one Bitcoin is equivalent to any other.
According to data from NFT Stats, the Sad Frogs District, which started last week, has generated $4 million in trade volume, with a median value of $450 in ether per sad frog. However, since Monday's shutdown, all of that trade activity has slowed. Furie is going into NFT sales and making millions because of the takedown. In April, he sold an early Pepe cartoon for 420 ETH (about $1 million), and he created PEGZ, an NFT enterprise that has gathered a trading volume of 3,000 ETH ($9 million) offering variations on the characteristic green frog and other characters.
Furie and his team approached Sad Frogs prior to the game's release to request that it be canceled, or at the very least, stop using Pepe, but were reportedly received with little cooperation. ‘Lambo Frog' answered, ‘We are a little scared that you will enter our server and cause havoc and mayhem.' Then Furie was blocked. The Sad Frogs moderators, on the other hand, claim they were unaware they were communicating with Furie and are dissatisfied with the artist's handling of the matter.
The moderator stated that they were "frustrated that Matt and the developers couldn't find a way to work together and come up with a solution that would have enabled the venture to move ahead in a manner that honored both parties' artistic integrity and frog meme culture in general."
When Furie issued a Digital Millennial Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice to OpenSea, the platform on which the NFT was hosted, Sad Frogs officially collapsed. The collection was withdrawn as soon as OpenSea received the request, leaving the Sad Frogs team and its investors high and dry.
“The worst aspect of the DMCA was the mental toll it took on some members and mods who helped the community come so far in the first week of being a project,” Vice said. Another buyer, who paid $24,870 for 121 sorrowful frogs, said the encounter drove them to "the verge of murdering myself." They also stated that they were having trouble sleeping and that they were considering selling DFTs to recoup their money.
“Dude, you have no idea how much of an impact this has on people's lives. Wasn't the collection verified? I lost $4,000, and I am sure many others did as well. I am no longer a member of the NFT. “I don't know how I'm going to deal with this,” a Twitter user who goes by the handle “Crypto Gambling Addict 💰” tweeted to Furie.