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More Fun With Cease And Desist Letters — Now Featuring Celebrities!

The past year or so has been an epic period for snarky responses to cease and desist letters. We’ve seen hilariously irreverent responses to C&D letters telling off the likes of Starbucks, the American Bankers Association, and the Township of West Orange.

And now Hollywood celebrities are throwing themselves into the mix. Which “seriously out of control” young actor just got saucy over Twitter in response to a lawyer’s letter?

Here’s a hint: Is this kid Lawless?

Yup, it’s Shia LaBeouf (no relation to Dewey & LeBoeuf; note the different spellings). Here’s a report from Eriq Gardner of the Hollywood Reporter:

Last month, LaBeouf landed in a rough patch after word surfaced that his short film contained scene-for-scene similarities as Justin M. Damiano, a 2007 comic from Daniel Clowes. LaBeouf apologized — sort of — but the mea culpa seemed cribbed from the Internet. Since then, LaBeouf has been digging his hole deeper and deeper with stunts like commissioning a skywritten apology and making faux apologies to the likes of Lena Dunham and Taylor Swift.

In case his sarcastic apologies, lifted from other celebrity mea culpas, left any room for doubt, LeBeouf took to Twitter to mock the C&D letter that his lawyer, Brian G. Wolf of Lavely & Singer, received from Clowes’s counsel, Michael Kump of Kinsella Weitzman:

[In a tweet issued late yesterday, LaBeouf] provided a copy of a cease and desist letter sent by attorney Michael Kump at Kinsella Weitzman. The letter describes LaBeouf as “seriously out of control” and adds, “We have been waiting since December 27 to hear how Mr. LaBeouf intends to make right, but all that has happened is further wrongful acts… and more foolishness such as Mr. LaBeouf’s New Years’ Day sky-writing frolic that exposed Mr. Clowes to further ridicule.”

…. [O]n Wednesday morning, LaBeouf took out his shovel again. He not only reposted the cease and desist communication, but also a re-delivered a tweet that had triggered it: A photo of a storyboard for what LaBeouf said would be his next short — “Daniel Boring,” described as “Fassbinder meets half-baked Nabokov on Gilligan’s Island.”

As Kump pointed out in his letter, “David Boring” is the title of a comic series and graphic novel by Clowes. “LaBeouf must immediately take down this tweet,” the attorney demanded.

Instead, LaBeouf has now posted it twice, along with a rant about “now our stories are owned for profit.”

Shia LeBeouf

I’m sorry, but it seems a bit rich — pun fully intended — for a millionaire celebrity like LaBeouf to be getting on a high horse about our nation’s system of intellectual property rights. If there’s anything wrong with the current entertainment-industrial complex, it’s that it produces films like Transformers.

(And now I have the theme song for the TV show stuck in my head. Thanks for nothing, Shia.)

Irreverent responses to cease and desist letters often end up making the controversy go away, which is what happened in the three C&D situations mentioned above. But in one of those cases, the Starbucks one, the response writer — despite being snarky — actually complied with the demand letter (a response that satisfied Starbucks).

In this situation, in contrast, Shia isn’t shying away. So we might end up with an actual lawsuit on our hands.

Who would prevail in any such litigation? Flip to the next page to read the original C&D letter, which explains Daniel Clowes’s beef with LaBeouf.

(hidden for your protection)

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