If you frequent the internet for any greater amount of time, you may have seen Pepe the Frog around. You may have also seen a merger between Donald Trump and the meme frog enter image description here

My question then is, are these variants similar enough that the creator of Pepe the Frog, Matt Furey, owns the rights to them/ do they count as infringement on his copyright for Pepe?

EDIT: At what point does the variant become its own separate character/intellectual property?

  • The issue is not degree of similarity, it is whether it is covered by "fair use". Furie has apparently declined to pursue infringers (which is what it means to be a 'meme'): this raises the interesting question of whether this is effectively a grant of permission to make derivatives.
    – user6726
    Feb 22, 2017 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


No he doesn't own them

As derivative works he has ownership of only the original content, the derivative artist owns the derived content.

However, as the original owner he has the right to decide by whom and under what conditions derivatives may be made (subject to fair use/dealing). So the derivative may breach his copyright and give him remedies but appropriating the other artist's work is not one of them.

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