Actor Shia LaBeouf plagiarized his new short film HowardCantour.com, THEN plagiarized his own apology.
UPDATE: Shia LaBeouf has apparently retired from all public life according to a series of tweets this morning. Whether this is a true retirement or simply a moment of heated tweeting, we will see. LaBeouf ended his series of tweets with the hash tag #stopcreating. This is somewhat ironic considering the matter that got him into trouble was his plagiarizing of someone else’s creative work.
You can see our original story on the matter below.
After gaining critical acclaim on the festival circuit, LaBeouf’s 2012 short film HowardCantour.com was released online yesterday – except it turns out it is a note-for-note copy of a 2007 comic “Justin M. Damiano” by writer & artist Daniel Clowes.
Reported on BuzzFeed last night, Clowes responded
The first I ever heard of the film was this morning when someone sent me a link. I’ve never spoken to or met Mr. LaBeouf. I’ve never even seen one of his films that I can recall — and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work. I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind.
LaBeouf was then called out publicly on Twitter by comedian Patton Oswalt:
Clowes Publisher also responded to Wired stating:
My first reaction, before I even watched it, was basically that as much as the plot sounded like the Justin M. Damiano, I presumed that LaBeouf would be smart enough to change everything just enough to make it his own thing and shield himself from any legal liability, even if it didn’t excuse him from being a weasel. Which is why, when I actually started watching it, I almost spit out my coffee when I realized he lifted the script, word for word.
LaBeouf was quick to apologize for “failing to follow proper accreditation”; but totally missed the point that it’s not simply about crediting the author; typically an author is paid for the rights to develop their work – which also means the author has the right to choose whether or not they want their work adapted to screen in the first place.
Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work. In my excitement and naïveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation. Im embarrassed that I failed to credit @danielclowes for his original graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration. I was truly moved by his piece of work & I knew that it would make a poignant & relevant short. I apologize to all who assumed I wrote it. I deeply regret the manner in which these events have unfolded and want @danielclowes to know that I have a great respect for his work.
But it turns out that even La Beouf’s apology itself closely resembles a four-year-old entry on Yahoo! Answers by a user named “Lili”:
Merely copying isn’t particularly creative work, though it’s useful as training and practice. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work, and it may even revolutionalize the ‘stolen’ concept.
When again called on his plagiarism LaBeouf finally tweeted “I fucked up.” and for now his movie has been taken down.