Shia LaBeouf Apologizes for Plagiarism, Daniel Clowes Is “Exploring His Legal Options”

Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf tweeted a lengthy apology for plagiarizing his short film, but Daniel Clowes' publisher says the artist is "exploring his legal options." Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Saying he's "sorry" may not be good enough. For the past two days, Shia LaBeouf has been apologizing on Twitter for plagiarizing artist Daniel Clowes' 2007 graphic novella, Justin M. Damiano, for his short film, According to Clowes' Fantographics publisher, Eric Reynolds, however, the 27-year-old filmmaker could be facing legal action.

Reynolds told Us Weekly on Wednesday, Dec. 18 that Clowes "is exploring his legal options" after learning of LaBeouf's film on Monday, when it debuted online.

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"No, the apology was not enough. Even aside from his possibly plagiarizing the apology, it rang insincere. He refused to own up to his transgression and intimated that he just got caught up in the moment, as if some kind delirious artistic fog erased his memory of ever reading 'Justin M. Damiano,' implying that the theft was unconscious even though the script is almost verbatim. C'mon," Reynolds told Us. "He's on record as being a Clowes fan. He said he was sorry if anyone 'assumed' he was the author of his film's script, yet the film's credits actively imply, if not explicitly state, that LaBeouf was the writer of the film (to any reasonable viewer, the lack of a proper screenwriting credit, combined with 'A Film By Shia LaBeouf,' certainly would suggest the filmmaker's authorship)."

"Furthermore, he has given interviews where he has had every opportunity to pay his respects to the source material, but instead he continues to position himself as the sole creator," Reynolds continued. "So, no, a half-a–ed, insincere and plagiarized apology on Twitter is probably not enough, and Dan is currently exploring his legal options."

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In Twitter messages on Dec. 17 and 18, LaBeouf apologized for using Clowes' work in his film, which stars Jim Gaffigan and has since been removed from online.

"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 naivete as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation," the Nymphomania actor admitted. "I'm 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. I f—ed up."

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The actor continued sharing his regrets the following day by apologizing to his family and fans as well. "I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I was wrong, terribly wrong," he wrote. "I owe it to future generations to explain why. It starts with this . . . I'm sorry @danielclowes. I want to thank all of you who have written in and created groups and protested. Even though I wish I hadn't made so many of you angry. I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment & I do take full responsibility for my actions, which were mine alone." 

According to Gawker, Twitter commenters are accusing LaBeouf of plagiarizing the beginning of his apology from a Yahoo! Answers user named Lili. Earlier this year, LaBeouf was accused of plagiarizing an apology email to his Orphans costars for leaving the Broadway show. In the note, the actor used a direct quote from Tom Chiarella's "What Is a Man?" essay without crediting.

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