The battle between the provocative Ryder Ripps and the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection continues. Ripps and Jeremy Cahen, creator of apemarket.com, filed an Anti-SLAPP motion to counter Yuga Labs’ lawsuit against them. The term “Anti-SLAPP” stands for Anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, and Ripps and Cahen might have a case after all. Even though they both benefit or will benefit from your Bored Ape Yacht Club scam NFT collection.
Before we begin, you should know that Ripps alleges that the BAYC contains coded racist and Nazi iconography. Bitcoinist analyzed the case when the accusations came out, and then they were published not just onebut two denials from Yuga Labs‘ creators. So, we have been more than fair to Yuga Labs. The other relevant information is that the provocateur then created a collection of NFTs titled RR BAYC that is identical to the original, and sells those separate NFTs and profits from it.
Lawyers for Ripps and Cahen speak out
In an email received by Bitcoinist, attorney Louis Tompros of WilmerHale claims that Yuga Lab’s lawsuit is a “baseless effort to silence artistic criticism of Mr. Ripps.” He then proceeds to explain:
“Mr. Ripps art denounced racist and neo-Nazi imagery in the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection. That is exactly the kind of artistic expression that the First Amendment protects, and lawsuits like this are precisely why the anti-Nazi statute exists. SLAPP We have asked the Court to vacate Yuga’s complaint, and we look forward to seeking attorneys’ fees and costs.”
Why are Kali Yuga Labs and their fans so quiet about our response to their lawsuit? filed the lawsuit against us, you’d think they’d be gloating!… well here it is, read it and let us know why you think they’re scared to tackle it… https://t.co/jhmy5poqdj
— RYDER-RIPPS.ETH 🔜 (@ryder_ripps) August 17, 2022
To further clarify matters, attorney Alfred Steiner of Meister & Steiner adds:
“Yuga Labs has confused attribution with infringement. Ryder couldn’t have created an NFT project critical of Bored Ape Yacht Club without using some of the same terms in his title. Rather than openly engage with the NFT community over Ryder’s criticism, Yuga filed this pretext lawsuit to squash them. The First Amendment should prevent Yuga from using trademark law to silence his most effective critic.”
Are your claims convincing? Let’s explore the text of the Anti-SLAPP motion before coming to any conclusions.
Inside the Ryder Ripps anti-SLAPP movement
At first, the attorneys ignore the fact that their client is profiting from the “satirical” NFT collection scam. This paragraph introduces his argument:
“Mr. Ripps drew attention to Yuga’s conduct in creating the satirical NFT collection called “Ryder Ripps Bored Ape Yacht Club” (“RR/BAYC”). Although Yuga never took action against any of the dozens of commercial NFT collections NFT “apes” without warning brought this action against Mr. Ripps and his business partner, Jeremy Cahen. Yuga’s purpose was obvious: to intimidate Mr. Ripps and Mr. Cahen into silence. But precisely because That is why anti-SLAPP statutes exist.”
The attorneys then explain how the RR BAYC collection came to be:
“Mr. Ripps later posted on Twitter that he would create his satirical NFTs for anyone who requested one for the price of 0.1 Ethereum (currently about $190). He explained to his followers that “Ryder Ripps Bayc’s vision is to create an army of educators” regarding Yuga’s connections to neo-Nazi and far-right culture.
This is where your case starts to make sense. Apparently:
“RR/BAYC NFTs quickly became popular, and Mr. Ripps eventually created the website https://rrbayc.com. The website assured that collectors understood the satirical message of the project and that they were not buying a BAYC NFT.”
Not only that, the website contains a disclaimer that “requires buyers to acknowledge that RR/BAYC NFTs are” a new currency of BAYC images, recontextualizing them for educational purposes such as protest and satirical commentary.
if YugaLabs didn’t sue @pauly0x and simply because they are threatened by our speech, then why don’t they sue these people as well… who are not making any statement and it’s just a “copycat” scam project…? https://t.co/j2KImxV5m7 pic.twitter.com/jEqXdIpfSI
— RYDER-RIPPS.ETH 🔜 (@ryder_ripps) August 17, 2022
There is also the fact that there are countless collections of BAYC scams throughout the NFT space, and they have not been sued by Yuga Labs. “Why don’t they sue these people too…that they’re not making any statements and it’s just a scam ‘copy’ project…?” the artist asks in the tweet above.
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BAYC Racist Accusations Enter Public Record
One of the strategic moves behind this Anti-SLAPP motion is that it records Ryder Ripps’ allegations in court records. The text discusses Wylie Aronow’s aka Gordon Goner’s relationship with “high-profile neo-Nazis, including white supremacist Richard Spencer,” and how Aronow is thanked in the book A Thousand Lies.
As anticipated, this case is much more about the first amendment than anything else. Brilliantly, lawyers have presented the merits of @ryder_ripps accusations in his defense. The accused will discover the truth of the accusations that Yuga whistled at a Nazi dog.
— ‘The NFT Lawyer’ on YouTube (@The_NFT_Lawyer) August 15, 2022
The attorneys also allege that “Yuga quietly embedded his company’s trademarks, artwork, and products with these coded ‘dog whistles,’ inspired by neo-Nazi culture and racist communities.” In addition, they include this gem:
“The BAYC collection itself also contains clearly racist messages and images. NFTs show anthropomorphized apes in an act of simianization, disparaging ethnic or racial groups by depicting them as apes.”
And that is just what we are willing to publish. The text contains even worse accusations. It is as NFT’s attorney wrote in the tweet above: “As anticipated, this case has much more to do with the first amendment than anything else. Brilliantly, lawyers have presented the merits of Ryder Ripps’ accusations in his defense. The defendants will discover the truth of the accusations that Yuga whistled at a Nazi dog.”
The Ryder Ripps Side of the Story
in a previous denial from Yuga Labswe quote “Guy Oseary, a veteran talent manager who represents Madonna and U2” as saying:
“At first, I was really offended. I even approached [Ripps]. I thought that by talking to him, he would know that I would never be affiliated with something like that. You know, I’m Israeli, I’m Jewish.”
The defendants’ version of the story paints an entirely different picture:
“Yuga has been on a campaign aimed at silencing Mr. Ripps’ artistic expression and criticism related to Yuga’s connections to neo-Nazi and far-right culture. For example, when Mr. Ripps started talking about the BAYC collection, Yuga’s talent manager, Guy Oseary, called Mr. Ripps to make vague threats. Oseary stated that “I may or may not be a good guy” and that he might make life difficult for Mr. Ripps if he kept calling Yuga.
That doesn’t prove anything, but it’s curious.
So do Ryder Ripps and Jeremy Cahen have a case? Does the “RR/BAYC use satire and appropriation to protest and educate people about The Bored Ape Yacht Club and the NFT framework” as the website alleges? Or are they just trying to cash in on the second most successful NFT collection? The American judicial system will decide.
Featured Image: RR BAYC disclaimer, taken from the Anti-SLAPP motion | Charts by TradingView