Shia LaBeouf Accused of Plagiarism (Again) and Apologizes

Published 1 year ago by , Updated February 16th, 2014 at 9:25 am,

Actor Shia LaBeouf made it rather clear that he didn’t want his career defined by his lead role as Sam Witwicky in Michael Bay’s first three blockbuster Transformers movies when he decided to leave the franchise and pursue smaller, more personal projects. It’s a safe bet he doesn’t want his career defined by what has transpired this week, either.

It all began last year when LaBeouf, a self-proclaimed amateur filmmaker, premiered his short film at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. That short debuted online Monday and some viewers quickly noticed that it was shockingly similar to an uncredited comic book; he’s since been accused of plagiarism on two different accounts.

Justin M. Damiano is the name of a 2007 comic written and drawn by Daniel Clowes. It’s also the source material of Shia LaBeouf’s short film, although LaBeouf neglected to ever credit said source in the film, or while promoting it during or since its releases at both Cannes and online.

…Until today, that is. After he got called out for it.

Shia LaBeouf Official Still Photo Nymphomaniac Office Shia LaBeouf Accused of Plagiarism (Again) and Apologizes tells the story of an online film critic named Howard (played by Jim Gaffigan) and is almost identical to the Justin M. Damiano comic, down to many of its visuals. LaBeouf not only never credited original author Clowes, but never even spoke to him about adapting the book. Clowes tells BuzzFeed:

“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.”

The film was quickly blocked from public consumption last night (initially with password protection, and now it’s gone entirely) and Shia LaBeouf took to Twitter to being explaining and apologizing, with these six tweets:

LaBeouf admits to being inspired by Daniel Clowes’ comic and to failing to credit him appropriately. It’s especially odd considering LaBeouf’s years in the industry and coming off working in a massive film trilogy based on a licensed product. We should note that isn’t the first project LaBeouf directed, wrote or produced. This is where we get to part two of the alleged plagiarism surrounding this project.

LaBeouf was previously accused of plagiarism back in February when allegedly copying paragraphs from an Esquire article from 2009 written by Tom Chiarella in letters he wrote to the cast of the broadway show Orphans, when he dropped out of the production. At the time, it was widely-publicized that LaBeouf had a falling out of sorts with castmate Alec Baldwin and shared some of his emails to Baldwin and the cast via Twitter for followers to see, emails that included paragraphs straight from that Esquire piece about what it means to be a man.

A similar thing happened with LaBeouf’s tweets last night as the first one – as several Twitter folk picked up on – seems to have been lifted from a Yahoo! Answers response from 2009 by a user named “Lili” about the idea of copying and stealing art. Note the identical phrasing and capitalization between the two.

Lili (2009):

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…

Shia (2013):

Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.

The differences come from the 140-character limit on Twitter but the words and repeated situations the star finds himself in speak for themselves, and understandably, there’s quite the outrage and buzz online about the entire situation. Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt took a particular interest in the matter and has been rather outspoken with his Twitter responses on the matter.

Patton Oswalt Shia LaBeouf Tweets Shia LaBeouf Accused of Plagiarism (Again) and Apologizes

This is going to be a tough topic to dance around while promoting his upcoming projects Nymphomaniac and Fury, and one where studio publicists (and his own) will have to step carefully. Unfortunately, plagiarism isn’t new or uncommon.

Even on Screen Rant we found ourselves dealing with a plagiarism issue recently – albeit a hilarious one – when another site copy-and-pasted one of our entire articles about Full House returning to television. Thing is, that was one of our April Fools joke posts and linked several times to imaginary sources with images revealing the prank. It didn’t stop outlets including Yahoo TV and Perez Hilton from picking up the fake news as real and not checking the original source (us). Read all about it here. That was funny. This Shia LaBeouf situation isn’t.


Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Sources: BuzzFeed, Esquire, VultureYahoo! Answers

Follow Rob Keyes on Twitter @rob_keyes
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  1. And Shia gets properly owned by Patton.

    Kudos to Patton.

  2. Ah finally, my dislike for this annoying a**hole has now been justified.

    • wow — his entire film career preceding this debacle wasn’t enough?

      • Well, he WAS good in “Holes”… ;)

  3. I feel bad for Shia, now I’m not excusing him for what he did but c’mon at the least the dude is passionate about Mr. Clowes work. Besides he is just a amateur filmmaker he’ll learn and so I think the media should give him a break I mean he is embarrassed as enough. Its not like hollywood projects rip off other people’s work as well recent example: R.I.P.D (and it had source materiel to follow and it still ripped off from ghostbusters and men in black even more so than the comic, at least the comic had the general premise of both movies and put there own spin on both of them.

    • I didn’t have an opinion either way on Shia before today, but if he had any kind of brains or professionalism he would realize the difference between being inspired by and copying. It’s great if he’s passionate about someone else’s work, but as an amateur writer and illustrator, I’d be very upset to find that someone who already has a name for themselves in the entertainment industry was using text and images straight from my work without my permission, without crediting me, and without my knowledge! That seems like stealing rather than a mistake!

    • If he was so passionate about Clowe’s work, you would think he would have wanted to include him in the project. This is a talentless hack, stealing someone else’s hard work and trying to profit, while at the same time presenting themselves as talented. Shia Lebouf is a scum bag.

  4. i don’t know whats more embarrassing, Shia getting caught or hearing Patton Oswalt say True Dat!

    • word!

  5. Oh this is so good, it HAS to be fattening!!

    That was a joke from Family Guy. No that hard to credit other work, is it Shia?

  6. He’s basically making fan films like millions of people do on youtube or Vimeo. But he’s making the mistake of not acknowledgeing that it is a fan film. If you are gonna be inspired by something, fine. But if you have the exposure and contacts to get your film made , promoted and sold, you can’t blind yourself to the truth and assume nobody will notice.

    The least he could have done was realize he needed permission and acknowledge the original scource and creator.

    Could LaBeouf be more irritating?! He’s on a par with Justin Bieber to me.

    • He submitted it to Cannes so it’s much more than a fan film. Once you start reproducing copyrighted material for a commercial purpose without proper credit or permission, you’ve violated copyright laws.

      All those fan films you’re talking about are going to fall under fair use. Copying an author’s comic book directly onto film and submitting it to Cannes as though you created the story and characters and imagery is not fair use.

      • I’m not defending him, but it’s not really any different that someone making a short fan film. Some are very proffessional. It really is no different except he is passing it off as his own and getting more exposure because of his celebrity.

        • The biggest difference being that he stands to make money off this endeavor.

  7. he apologized with a plagiarized opening…

    from Buzzfeed…

    Lili answered 4 year ago
    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.

    Yeah, no redemption for this guy. sorry.

    • It’s like as soon as he got wind that people had noticed, he immeadiately googled up some words to justify himself/apologise. That’s a sure sign of creative talent right there. (^-^)

    • Nicholas,

      Did you read the entire post by chance? :p

      • I had not read the entire post, but i just did and now i can retract my comment -.-

    • Totally agree with you. The sad thing about this, is… happens a lot in hollywood; and because the studio has the power; they’d probably settle with the original artist/writer.

  8. This turd cannot disappear from all forms of media fast enough.

  9. Maybe it was a joke that he apologized for plagiarizing by plagiarizing again, and nobody got it? Maybe.

    • Ok… I was thinking that too. Though, I don’t believe it, that would be funny.

  10. I wanna make a film…I really like to adapt the lee bermejo joker book to film…that would be amazing

  11. LOL He even plagiarized his apology. The balls, I’m not even mad.

    • +1

  12. Did Nolan have to credit Frank Miller etc for The Dark Knight?

    I kinda thought Shia is a prick when he had a brawl with Tom Hardy, now I am justied, I think

    • It’s a different situation since with the Batman movies, Nolan (and Warner Bros and DC Entertainment) made them with the license since the studio owns it.

      • It’s a different situation since with the Batman movies, Nolan (and Warner Bros and DC Entertainment) made them with the license since the studio owns it.

        • Wow.

        • LOL!

        • Hey, he just got wrapped up in the commenting process!

          • Commenting isn’t always particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s comment to produce something new and different IS creative work.

            *props to Lili

      • Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.
        T.S. Eliot Me

        • What is originality? Undetected plagiarism :P

  13. It’s a different situation since with the Batman movies, Nolan (and Warner Bros and DC Entertainment) made them with the license since the studio owns it.

    • Best.^ ;)

    • It’s an effing shame that you had to emulate even an apology ! Shia before you step up in the movie business, better learn how to credit people and how to apologize in YOUR own words in case you fail to follow the former :facepalm:

  14. Oh come on !!! The guy has been in the business for a while now; he probably never had intention of giving the credit were credit is due. Like most; he got caught and is now trying to repair the little reputation he has.

    • Yeah, he has been involved with television/film for a looonnng time, LaBeouf has. Even Stevens, Transformers, Indiana Jones. I’m not sure that he can pass himself off as a naïve amateur, even if directing his own films is something relatively new to him.

      This kind of makes me think of this film that I saw part of, starring Hayden Christensen as a guy who did some journalistic plagiarizing. Different situation…but somehow it comes to mind.

      • another film that makes me want to punch HC in the throat, but, he was playing the part of a guy who makes you want to punch him in the throat, so i guess he played the part perfectly. seriously, it was a good film.[shattered glass]

  15. Optimus would be so disappointed.

  16. What a weenie

  17. For once, Shia LaBeouf provides entertainment.

  18. I don’t get how this guy is getting work in Hollywood, he just comes off as a creep on-screen and off much of the time.

  19. I didn’t realize he is a dick in real life now I see why I found him to be so annoying.

  20. Oh Shia, you have always been a world class turd in my eyes! Even back in the day when you were on that show “Even Stevens” I knew you were just an enormous goober. On a slightly different note, can someone please tell me if he really punched out Dan Hardy? If he did…… wow I guess that little booger has some major rage issues.

    • I don’t know who Dan Hardy is but, I know there is a video going around of Shia getting smacked by some guy he got into a bar fight with in Vancouver of all places…..

      • *Tom Hardy… my bad

        • I looked up Dan Hardy and that guy happens to be an MMA fighter, so if Shia punched him it would have been in the obituary section of the newspapers. As for him hitting Tom Hardy, unless Tom is a pacifist and a gentleman I don’t see Shia trying to fight him without a stunt man. Tom Hardy looks like he has a few pounds on Shia and might be able to take care of himself.

  21. My guess is that Patton Oswalt will never work for Steven Spielberg now.

  22. I’ll never understand how people think they can get away with plagiarism in this day and age. I remember when one of Dream Theater’s album came out, and one guy noticed the lyrics to one song was very similar to a comic book he had read… turned out Petrucci ripped off said comic and thought no one would notice… it only takes one guy to notice.

  23. Plagiarism is always the biggest thing in Hollywood.
    -Clint Eastwood Me

    Originality is undetected plagiarism.
    -William Ralph Inge Also Me

    I am willing to be a literary thief if it has so been ordained; I am even willing to be caught robbing the ancient dead alongside of Hopkinson Smith, for he is my friend and a good fellow, and I think would be as honest as any one if he could do it without occasioning remark; but I am not willing to antedate his crimes by fifteen hundred years. I must ask you to knock off part of that.
    -Mark Twain Me again

  24. This kid is pathetic. He’s so desperate for approval that he has to stoop to plagiarism to try and be taken seriously. I think he’d save face in coming to terms with the fact that he won’t be more a than a b grade actor.

  25. When I first heard of this yesterday I thought Mr. LaBeouf had simply made a stupid mistake and the whole thing was probably overblown.
    After reading this article though I realize I was wrong and Mr. LaBeouf is just a tool.

    So IMO I like he should do 3 things.
    1. Sincerely apologize publicly. Not on Twitter.
    2. Either offer to pay the author directly the money he would have received through licensing or donate the money to the charity that the author chooses.
    3. If this short film makes one dime. heck, even a penny repeat option #2.

  26. He should have led with his last tweet.

  27. Shia is a doushbag ….his arrogance and big ego are going to be his downfall…”he didn’t want his career defined by his lead role as Sam Witwicky in Michael Bay’s first three blockbuster Transformers movies” (yup copy and pasted to what level of talent do you put yourself on there mr. La beouf ? In all of your comedic movies you play the same sarcastic character…. All you did was give up a big pay check…for me I could never understand why they used you for Sam in the first place….and now your defining your filmmaking career as a copy cat who can’t come up with s*** on your own….so now you screwed yourself and fade away and in a few yrs ppl who forgotten your name all because of your ego…. Good luck man …

  28. Shia LaThief!