Ripps Ryder Claims His Bored Ape NFTs Are “Artistic Criticism”

According to Ripps’ filing on Monday, the artist has asked a federal court in Los Angeles to stop a trademark lawsuit against him by the BAYC creator. He further argued that his NFTs of the monkeys were a type of “appropriation art” intended as criticism and protected by the First Amendment. His NFTs of Bored Apes reportedly aimed to bring Yuga Lab’s attention to alleged racism. He also called it an “act of protest” against the NFT giant.

For context, Ripps has been a vocal critic of BAYC. The popular digital creator went on to launch his own NFT collection branded as – RR/BAYC. This contained identical Bored Ape images which he did not buy. Yuga Labs then hit back with a class action lawsuit for allegedly tricking consumers into buying fake Bored Ape NFTs.

His attorney, Louis Tompros, on the other hand, argued that Ripp’s ‘artistic criticism’ is “exactly the kind of artistic expression that the First Amendment protects.”

Rip’s allegations against Yuga Labs

Ripps accused Yuga Labs and BAYC creators of racist undertones in their projects in January this year. As such, the artist alleged that the BAYC founders have Nazi connections and compared the BAYC logo to the Nazi Totenkopf emblem, saying they looked quite similar.

On his official RR/BAYC website, Ripps stated,

“Since December 2021, I have been investigating the most prominent NFT project, Bored Ape Yacht Club, and its creators, Yuga Labs. Through months of intensive research, I and other members of the community have discovered extensive connections between BAYC and the subversive Nazi troll culture on the internet .”

Ripps then went on to say that RR/BAYC uses satire and appropriation to protest and educate people about BAYC and NFT. He also explained that the work is “an extension of and in the spirit of other artists who have worked in appropriation art.”

He also claimed that the existing applicable ownership terms set forth by Yuga Labs to BAYC token holders lack clarity and do not meet applicable copyright standards.

After the lawsuit, Ripps accused BAYC NFTs of containing coded racist imagery and called the creator’s lawsuit an attempt to “tam an artist who used his craft to call out a multi-billion dollar company built on racist and neo-Nazi dog whistles.”

Yuga Labs’ response to the Nazi claims

Ripps’ claims about the BAYC founders’ alleged Nazi connection had sparked a controversy. While rejecting the claims, NFT Markets called it a “crazy disinformation campaign” and “crazy far-fetched.”

Its co-founder Gordon Goner detailed that the founders of the platforms are a group of Jewish, Turkish, Pakistani and Cuban friends and argued that it would be ridiculous to think that the members have anything to do with the Nazi movement.

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