Animation Collective’s Larry Schwarz Sends Us Cease and Desist

Larry Schwarz

Animation studio owner Larry Schwarz (pictured above in the sombrero) wasn’t pleased with our story from a couple days ago that reported about a lawsuit against his company Animation Collective. His lawyers sent us a cease and desist letter. Here’s the letter:

Cease and Desist Letter from Larry Schwarz
(click for larger version; the reason for the black bar is that they sent the letter to the wrong email address)

Cease and Desist Letter from Animation Collective
(click for larger version)

This was Cartoon Brew’s response:

Dear Mr Feldman,

We are using the photo of Larry Schwarz and the republication of information from the Wall Street Journal in the context of news reporting and critical commentary, which are uses that may not be authorized by your client, but which serve the public interest. For this, and other reasons, we believe our use is fair. We further do not accept that we have broken any criminal laws in publishing it, and in any event, there are multiple inaccuracies in your complaint. For example, the image of Larry Schwarz was not private; it was posted in a public, unsecured website and made accessible to everybody.

We therefore believe that we are entirely within our rights to publish the photo and the news, and as such we cannot comply with your removal request.

Sincerely,

Amid Amidi
Owner, Cartoon Brew LLC


  • http://www.striposcope.com striposcope

    I think you should blur out his armpits as well.

  • Kyle

    wow, this guy is something else, but THANK YOU–THANK YOU AMID AND JERRY for facing up to these goons and not removing the post. This is vital news for our industry and it is great knowing that at least one place in this animation world is looking out for us.

  • alysonius

    Un-beee-leee-vah-bull.

    I don’t envy your jobs.

  • http://www.leonanimationstudio.com Reynaldo Leon

    If I were photographed drunk and doing horse rides on a friends back, I’d be suing too. Go go Gadget, Lawsuit!

  • http://www.animationinsider.net/ Aaron H. Bynum

    What do they mean by “the comments thereto”?

    Court cases have noted time and again as of late that site owners and ISP serviceholders are excempt of responsibility from the commentary or information published by anonymous, third-party sources to their openly accessible sites.

  • Nillin

    Is “acting at your own peril” a legal phrase? It sounds more like a bad comic book than professional legalese.

  • http://2dwannabe.blogspot.com robcat2075

    You should put a via carrier pigeon and paper airplane heading on that.

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    Does every law firm use the same font for their letterhead??

  • Mark

    Looks like a drunk version of Andy Dick.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/william_joseph_dunn/ William Joseph Dunn

      couldn’t you have just said “Andy Dick”. isn’t “drunk version of Andy Dick” redundant?

  • http://bensvideogamereviews.blogspot.com/ Ben

    So, they object to the photo, but not their actions. Just shows that something is a little fishy over there. Maybe just a bit of megalomania?

  • http://pgpattison.blogspot.com/ Palmer G. Pattison

    Note to self: Avoid prospective employers who value their lawyers more than their artists. (Do you think Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler & Feldman, Inc., would continue representing their client if THEY went unpaid for their work?)

  • http://www.npccomic.com/ Mary Varn

    Wow, Cartoon Brew really has it in for Animation Collective, huh. If Larry looks dumb in a picture, he MUST be trying to cheat artists out of millions of dollars.

    This is bordering on yellow journalism. You’ve decided your side of the story without bothering to contact Animation Collective, and now you’re just trying to humiliate the guy with dumb pictures. Now let’s all march on their studio with pitch forks, right?

    • amid

      Mary – We never decided anything. We were only reporting what was already reported in the Wall Street Journal story. You can choose to read more into the story if you want, but cheap attempts to distort our position (which is neutral) won’t work.

      As to Schwarz “looking dumb” in a picture, we also had nothing to do with that, and neither did he. That’s how the guy was made.

      • http://www.npccomic.com/ Mary Varn

        It’s obviously an unflattering picture, which you deliberately chose for that reason. Larry may be eccentric, but he doesn’t typically walk around in a sombrero, sweating profusely, and making that face. Your assertion that “That’s how the guy was made” is insulting.

        That, along with your “It remains to be seen how this will play out in court, but Animation Collective’s poor reputation amongst artists and its shady history of how it treats employees lends credence to Denato’s suit.” quote, along with your other only-negative stories on Animation Collective certainly doesn’t seem neutral.

    • Stephan

      I agree Mary, this is just embarrasing.

  • http://www.npccomic.com/ Mary Varn

    Oh, and why are you bothering to blur the other guys in the picture, Amid?

    Also, can I write you whenever any studio is late on paying me so you can crucify them for me in your blog? Thanks.

  • http://www.onanimation.com Daniel Caylor

    “at your own peril”? Please…

  • http://invaderpetblog.blogspot.com Brandon Pierce

    Just what I’d expect from a guy who looks like Woody Allen’s alcoholic brother.

  • http://jessicaplummer.blogspot.com Jessica Plummer

    In b4 slew of internet fight meme responses. Oh who am I kidding…Hello? Whine-one-one? We need a whaaaambulance!

  • http://crinkum-crankum.blogspot.com/ Brandon Waltman

    Fantastic picture choice. He looks glorious.

  • MichaelDair

    What a Maroon

  • http://farleftside.com mike stanfill

    It’s the sad measure of this man that his primary means of debate is to reach for his lawyer’s phone number.

  • NYanimator

    This guy must be Dennis Kozlowski of Animation.

    I say post all of Larry’s photos, including the ones of him doing shots off of ice sculptures (they used to be available to the public). He clearly doesn’t take himself, or the industry we work in seriously. He shouldn’t bother starting.

  • http://www.fortaxreasons.com MC Burnett

    I hope this doesn’t read as one of the “Stop posting gossip!” comments that pop up on Cartoon Brew from time to time, but it will be in that GENRE of comment.

    I worked for Animation Collective back in 2006-2007. Though some of the product I worked on was never going to make it onto my reel, I can’t say anything truly bad about my time there. I was paid and met some really cool people.

    The Kelly Denato lawsuit isn’t a story we can or should ignore. It’s an opportunity to discuss the importance of contracts and the legal side of the industry, and educate the animation community about protecting artists’ rights.

    But the road this story is actually going down is unfortunate. Things have gone from reporting the facts (of which there are very few we really know) in defense of the artist to jumping onto the offense and trying to shame an individual that clearly some people aren’t fans of. The pictures of Larry Schwarz in both articles are not necessary. You can play innocent and tell me you’re just using the public images of Schwarz you had available, but then you’re treating me like I’m dumb. Because I know Amid and the rest of Cartoon Brew’s contributors aren’t dumb. We can all read the story and figure out our positions on it. We don’t need these childish digs at individuals in the industry.

    I like talking smack as much as the next guy. But I keep most of it behind closed doors, and anything I say publicly, I make sure its professional and addresses the relevant issues. Making Larry Schwarz look like a silly party boy is not relevant or important. What’s important here is the actual story and the broader conversation about protecting your rights as an artist. But of course that’s a difficult conversation to have, so the comments will default to rooting for the guy you don’t like to fail.

    Let’s not go for the easy joke here. Let’s try to challenge ourselves and discuss what’s actually worth discussing: artists’ rights and that terrible Yogi Bear poster.

    • woozlindemon

      To bring it back to said relevant subject, I worked there for a period of time myself and am familiar with the Ellen’s Acres project. While the show was redesigned heavily from the original contracted source material (Ms. Denato’s work) I can see the argument. However, I don’t believe there was real profit made from the program. It was only on the air for a couple of weeks before it was canceled, and beyond the recent ipad application, I don’t believe there has been any merchandise made from it. While Ms. Denato may be owed some amount of money still, I’ll agree with someone who earlier posted that it is probably in the hundreds of dollars, not thousands, and certainly not millions.

      • http://www.sexymecha.com Hal

        The thing few people seem to be considering is NOT whether she’s going after the profit the show MADE AFTER IT AIRED, but whether Denato is LEGALLY DUE a portion of the money made from the sales of the character she helped create to Cartoon Network and international outlets where AC seems to make a sizable income.

        When I worked on KAPPA MIKEY I was amazed to learn it was the #1 kids show in Spain for a while. So while we may be joking about that App, if the show was sold for a sizable sum to foreign markets before it aired there’s a sound argument she is due 25% of it if the alleged contract is legal and real.

        Most artists are painfully ignorant of the financial deals that go on at studios – Hundreds of Thousands of dollars will easily be spent on projects that are DOA.

      • woozlindemon

        You have a point about the international marketing rights. I hadn’t considered that.

  • Roberto Severino

    Wow. Larry Schwarz’s pitiful plea to remove that picture is even more humiliating than the photo itself.

  • Warhead

    This somewhat reminds me of what happened to the Nostalgia Critic. He did a review of the infamous film “The Room”. Just hours after it was posted, it was taken down due to a Copyright Claim. Of course, it was a review, and it was protected under fair rights. I find frivolous claims like this stupid and a sign that they can’t take crticism.

  • Butternut

    Somebody please tell Larry about the Steisand effect:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

  • Bill Field

    Ahhhhh, people just hate being known for what they are in fact known to be guilty of, a questionable track record.

  • Tom

    Go Amid! I’ve got to say I agree with you and support you in this one hundred and ten percent. This guy is really coming off like a little sleazebag, and CB will be instrumental in bringing him back down to the gutter where he started. Kudos and golf claps all around.

    • Dana

      Of course you agree with them and of course he’s coming off like a sleazebag. What do you expect when CB reports one-sided stories and articles based off of hearsay and rumors?

      And who cares if this so-called “news reporting” costs many struggling artists potential long term work, as long as we stick it to the man, right?

      • Karl Hungus

        No one is stopping Mr. Schwarz from presenting his side of the issue. He could even do it through his attorney. Your take on this is intellectually bankrupt, and borderline hysterical.

      • http://www.wardjenkins.com Ward

        Dana, since when have articles from Wall Street Journal become based off of “hearsay and rumors”?

      • John H

        The article has factual inaccuracies. Regardless Amid didn’t just say look: article. He added a personal photo and his own commentary while posting to a link of an old smear posting and an editorial from a disgruntled personal assistant he labeled an ‘artist.’

        I think Karl is out of line with his attack on Dana.

      • Dana

        I was talking about the article they make reference to about AC not paying its employees.

        But Amid’s reporting on the WSJ article also shows an obvious bias against AC, despite his claims otherwise.

      • Tom

        The fact is, you can’t force someone to remove public photographs or links to news articles or their opinions about news articles. Even attempting to do so paints them as bullies with something to hide, yes?

        I’ve been furious with Amid in the past, and have even popped off once or twice for what I considered to be insults thrown from a bully pulpit, but that is clearly not the case here.

  • http://www.inthebalcony.com Laughing Gravy

    Thank you for printing that lawyer’s letter, which is a hoot and a half. Not only that, but it reminds us all of a very valuable truism, as valid today as when it was coined more than 50 years ago: do NOT hire legal counsel based on their Craigslist resume.

  • http://deleted OtherDan

    All I can say is that her contract should be honored. And, good for you Amid for standing tall. It’ll be interesting to see this one play out.

  • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ Mick

    i don’t think there is anything wrong with these pictures. Surely this is about his actions. Anyone in animation ‘without’ a party picture like this I would regard as suspicious. It’s a cheap shot of a few comments here that they are having a pop at him for these rather average photos of someone at a party… i often wonder why humourless cartoons get made then i come on here and read a bunch of stiffs moaning and realise why. It is impossible to say ‘he is a douche’ after looking at these pictures… his actions maybe… but come on folks. i have no doubt there are snaps of him to which the only reaction would be ‘what a studious fellow he appears’

    I am not defending him at all but let’s ease up on judging the lad over a couple of photos. It’s these baseless opinions that lead to the homogenous face of acceptability we are surrounded by

    • amid

      Mick – Thank you for pointing this out. Indeed, the photos we posted are average images of the guy and representative of what was available to us. Why he got so bent out of shape over an image used to represent him in a story is beyond comprehension.

      • badonkatonka

        Amid,

        I must agree with Mary Varn on this. While I appreciate the Brew’s consistent theme of trying to stand up for artists and their rights–particularly in an industry where people are often exploited–I think you do the Brew a disservice by posting that second photo. It does suggest to me that you hope to to exacerbate the conflict–a conflict that you concurrently insist is without merit–or, at the very least, inflame the passions of the other party.

        I too have rarely heard positive things about Animation Collective, nor have I heard good things about the way it treats its artists, and I am not among those who has any cause to disagree with your previous post; however, I think you make a much stronger case by allowing their letter and your written response to speak for itself.

    • http://deleted OtherDan

      Maybe I didn’t read all the comments thoroughly; but, I think they are calling him a douche because he allegedly screwed over this woman. I didn’t read it as a criticism of these photos. Who cares about the schwetty pictures other than him?

  • http://www.sexymecha.com Hal

    After studiously reviewing all these pics Amid posted, Larry actually looks like a pretty fun guy to party alongside.

    To anyone who thinks these lawyers are being stupid: They are, but that’s their job. These cease and desists may appear unnecessary, overbearing and idiotic BUT its their job to cover the asses of large corporate entities, whether or not you approve. Likewise, Amid was 100% on the ball to respond as he did and put them in their place. As a result, two sides had to send unnecessary emails to simply cover their own asses.

    Animators really need to take more business classes; I once had to read over a licensed property agreement and was APPALLED someone had signed a deal that essentially effed themselves in the A, and they had NO IDEA they were getting themselves into the mess they did by signing it.

    • http://www.fortaxreasons.com MC Burnett

      “Animators really need to take more business classes; I once had to read over a licensed property agreement and was APPALLED someone had signed a deal that essentially effed themselves in the A, and they had NO IDEA they were getting themselves into the mess they did by signing it. ”

      Quoted for truth. Know exactly what a contract means before you sign it, even if it means hiring a lawyer.

      You might feel awkward doing this, since I know a lot of artists feel so gracious to get any work they don’t want to cause a problem, but do not be afraid to ask that the language of contract be re-worded so that it reads exactly as you understand it. If there is a confusing section full of legal jargon that, on paper, you can’t make out, ask your employer what it means. They’ll probably give you a much easier to understand explanation. If they do, ASK THAT THE CONTRACT BE REWRITTEN TO MAKE THAT EXPLICIT. It requires some back and forth to figure out the language, but I’ve done this a number of times.

  • RODAN

    Somebody needs to introduce that skinny guy to the Old Spice dude…
    What’s with the stains! GROOOOOOSS!!!!

  • dr Anomaly

    Cartoon brew is being more than disingenuous claiming that these photos of Larry Schwarz were chosen from “what was available” to them. Anyone doubting my statement can do a google image search and see all the photos that they passed over before cherry picking the ones that seemed most ridiculous.

    For a blog that claims to support animation, you sure seem to revel at the thought of a company owner having to squirm, regardless of the fact that this person has employed well over 200 animators or artists during the run of his company.

  • Stuart

    Touche, C.B.!

  • pat

    Cartoon Brew:

    Thank you, thank you for showing us business dealings that could be secret traps for others to find out the hard way. Rude choice of picture or not, it’s great for individuals to know when we deal with companies.

    • John H

      I’m sorry where can you learn anything from what they published here? The little big of sense us coming from the commentors. Since they didn’t bother to learn what the contract or timeline information actually is all they’ve done is speculate and color things with a bias under the guise of “whoa. just repeating what we read elsewhere.”

      The response to the c&d is disingenuous at best, obviously amid has an opinion on the matter. That’s fine, as long as you don’t claim to be a neutral reporter/restated of ‘the facts’

      • http://www.fortaxreasons.com MC Burnett

        Seriously. There are so many missing pieces of information here, and the little we have has come from one side, it’s straight up stupid to jump to a conclusion. No one has seen the contract to back up the allegations. And if the claim of “25% of profits” is true, what did the contract define as profits? Any sales related to the work? Or literal profit, money that put the production into the black?

        And under no circumstance should anyone expect Animation Collective to come out and publicly defend themselves. No company in the world conducts business like that. If Pixar was slapped with a lawsuit, guilty or not, would you expect John Lasseter to personally lay the company’s private business out on the table for snide internet commenters, who have already displayed a total lack of knowledge about business and legal proceedings, to pick through?

        If you honestly read this story and found evidence of “secret traps”, you need to check yourself. Because either you’re in need of some remedial reading comprehension classes, or you’re letting personal bias, be it against an individual or the general paranoia of “big studios” putting artists down, seriously undermine your intelligence.

  • MattSullivan

    What a butt-hurt little b***h

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    I’m not sure I even heard of Animation Collective before this latest round of Cartoon brew articles, but I love these crap-flingin’ discussion threads.

  • zowie

    watch out for the peril!

  • Geneva

    The photos were great. I can’t believe people are making such a fuss about them. Unflattering/decontextualized photographs are funny and a fact of life.

  • http://bruandboegie.co.za Mike

    That picture is epic.

  • http://robtheanderson.blogspot.com Rob Anderson

    I wonder if these folks will also get a lawyers letter?
    http://www.animationmagazine.net/article/11821

  • thomas

    No Justice, No Rights, No Lawyers In Plaid Tights!

    So…what ever happened to freedom of speech, eh?

  • Matt

    Bravo brewsters! Nice cool reply to such a heavyhanded attempt at legal bullying.

  • Caresse

    I’ve heard many rumors about AC and Larry Schwarz so this whole fiasco doesn’t really come as a surprise.

    But it was refreshing to hear some of the positive aspects of AC brought up by some former employees as the result of this entry. It’s great that an animation company has been able to employ so many people over the years and give chances to young, emerging animators.

    In a perfect world, we’d all get the money and credit we deserve, but it’s no secret that animation is an under-appreciated industry. We do it because we love it, and because we’re all slightly masochistic.

    And also, I think Amid is behaving appropriately. I don’t know why everyone’s always mad at him. As professional as we have to be to make money – don’t forget that cartoons have a long tradition of being inappropriate, offensive and immature. Why then, should we expect the people who make and/or discuss cartoons to be these wonderfully polite, politically correct individuals? It makes no sense. I LOVE Amid’s posts, they’re always so colorful and entertaining.

    Of course Schwarz is going to be the subject of great disdain – like many owners of animation companies he reaps the financial benefits of animation without ever touching a light box. But that’s whatever, he’s a business man, that’s what business men do. If we animators were less shy, and more ruthless, perhaps we could all have companies too. But our skill-set lies elsewhere. So, if you’re going to be mad at Schwarz – don’t stop there. Be mad at Capitalism. Be mad at money. And unite in revolt to bring back the bartering system so that we could pay our bar-tabs in drawings.

  • psychomar

    Cartoon Brew done goofed. Consequences will never be the same :-(

  • cougar

    To me, the big story is “WHO THE $&@% GETS CONTRACTS LIKE THAT?!?!?!”

    I’ve been working in animation for 10 years and have NEVER seen a contract promise royalties on an artist’s work. The only royalties I’ve ever heard of have been for musical scores. And unless anyone on this forum has read the specifics of the contract under dispute, it’s impossible to make a judgment one way or the other.