How Serious Are Cease and Desist Letters?
They certainly can be threatening and imposing. Hyperallergic’s Cat Weaver has a fun and informative article on cease and desist letters (C&Ds) and the irony and hypocrisy to them. She takes on the recent Jeff Koons balloon-dog fiasco, as well as the hypocrisy behind Shepard Fairey’s use of C&D letters.
The balloon dog debacle is just the latest in a string of increasingly ridiculous cease-and-desist cases in the art world. In March of 2009, Shepard Fairey’s lawyers took designer Larkin Werner to task for using the trademarked word “OBEY” on some of his Steeler Baby merchandise. …When Werner began marketing Steeler Baby items on CafePress, he used the word ‘OBEY’ on some of the items. That’s how he caught the eye of Fairey’s legal team, which then sent its cease-and-desist letter to CaféPress. CaféPress then removed the offending items and informed Werner of the embargo.
Weaver’s article is not a commentary on dismissing C&D letters; rather, it serves as a reminder that although artists should take such letters seriously, the absurdity lies in the hypocrisy underlying their aggressive — and at times baseless — use by contemporary artists who themselves make a living stealing other artists’ ideas and art works.
Weaver’s article, in full, here.