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Ciara hits Future with $15 million libel suit over tweets

Plus, the blurry ethics of mining a relationship for art

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Ciara is suing her ex-boyfriend Future (born Nayvadius Wilburn) for $15 million, TMZ reports. The lawsuit claims Future's recent tweets and statements made about Ciara and the couple's son, Future Jr., constitute libel and slander. In addition to the $15 million, Ciara wants Future to delete specific tweets and be barred from saying anything publicly about their family in the future, according to TMZ.

Since Future and Ciara's breakup in August 2014, Future has been fairly vocal about the split, a tactic which included repeatedly denying rumors that he had cheated. The Atlanta rapper has also commented several times on Ciara's current relationship with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, despite subtweets that contradict his desire to talk about it, like "I wish I cared." Last month, the couple's custody battle came to a very public head last month when Future tweetstormed that Ciara was making it difficult for him to see his son. In a now deleted tweet, he wrote, "This bitch got control problems..." before discussing child support payments.

Twitter libel lawsuits are notoriously difficult to win

Twitter libel lawsuits are notoriously difficult to win. Courtney Love has had to fight multiple lawsuits in the past several years over her sometimes-regrettable tweeting decisions. Following a six-year legal battle, Love recently settled two separate defamation suits raised by fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Simorangkir first sued Love over a series of tweets in which Love called her a drug-dealer and a prostitute. That suit was settled for $430,000. But Love continued to harass Simorangkir on Twitter by, according to Spin, making fun of her Pinterest follower count. That lawsuit was settled for an additional $350,000 last year.

But Courtney Love hasn't always been on the losing side of these "Twibel" lawsuits. In 2014, she won a landmark $8 million Twitter libel case brought against her by her former attorney, Rhonda Holmes. After Holmes refused to help Love bring a fraud case against the people managing Kurt Cobain's estate, Love tweeted, in part, "I was fucking devestated [sic] when Rhonda J. Holmes esq. of san diego was bought off," Poynter reports. The jury found there wasn't sufficient evidence to prove that Love was aware this since-deleted statement was false.

This past summer, actor James Woods filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against an anonymous Twitter user who called him a "cocaine addict," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Woods tried to subpoena Twitter to reveal the user's identity, but because of California's anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) statute, Woods will have to first show he has a chance of winning the case before it can move forward in court.

Future's lyrics raise interesting questions about mining breakups for art

But Ciara's lawsuit against Future brings another, more personal element with it. Since the couple's breakup, Future has consistently mined his relationship with Ciara for lyrical content. Obviously, a broken heart often brings with it a wellspring of creative inspiration — just ask Taylor SwiftEminemJustin BieberConor Oberst, or Nas, who have all written songs about breakups with other famous people — but Future's references to Ciara in his music have been frequent and specific.

In "Just Like Bruddas" he raps,"Shit ain’t been the same / They talkin’ ’bout me on the ’gram / They say I turned my back on my baby mama." Then there's the petty, self-explanatory "Pussy Overrated," and the theories that the entirety of Future's 2014 mixtape Monster, released just a few months after the split, is about Ciara. These same songs are often discussed with a fawning admiration by fans and critics, who sometimes give little weight to what Future is actually talking about. While it's true that having songs written about you probably comes with the territory of dating a musician, some have argued that Future doesn't deserve all the breaks we've given him.

In order to win this lawsuit, Ciara's lawyers will have to prove that Future's statements were made maliciously, and with the knowledge that they were false.