Robot 6

LaBeouf’s apology draws criticism as Clowes mulls legal options

Shia_LaBeouf_Cannes_2012Following the discovery that Shia LaBeouf’s 2012 short film HowardCantour.com is a nearly exact adaptation of Daniel Clowes’ 2007 comic Justin M. Damiano — minus the credit or permission from the actor — the Transformers actor took to Twitter Monday night to offer an apology and respond to rapidly growing accusations of plagiarism.

In a series of tweets, LaBeouf wrote (slightly edited for format), “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 naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation. 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.”

About an hour later, the actor wrote succinctly, “I fucked up.”

LaBeouf’s words didn’t sit well with many observers, including comedian and occasional comic book writer Patton Oswalt, who called the apology “bullshit.”  As has been pointed out, LaBeouf’s apology appeared to indicate what he believed missing from the short film was credit to Clowes, when in fact he did not have any legal right to adapt Justin M. Damiano. As Clowes told BuzzFeed, not only did he not give permission for the film, he was not aware of it until this week.

Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds, who has worked with Clowes on multiple projects, told BuzzFeed that LaBeouf’s tweets are a “non-apology,” and that Clowes is pursuing legal options. “No one ‘assumes’ authorship for no reason,” Reynolds wrote to the site. “He [LaBeouf] implied authorship in the film credits itself, and has gone even further in interviews. He clearly doesn’t get it, and that’s disturbing. I’m not sure if it’s more disturbing that he plagiarized, or that he could rationalize it enough to think it was OK and that he might actually get away with it. Fame clearly breeds a false sense of security.”

The apology prompted further scrutiny — and general befuddlement — when it was reported by outlets such as Vulture that it appears it was copied, as well, at least in part. A four-year-old thread on Yahoo! Answers contained a very similar response to the start of LaBeouf’s statement, with a user named “Lili” writing about the “good artists copy but great artists steal” quote attributed to Pablo Picasso: “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.”

CBR News contacted the manager of HowardCantour.com star Jim Gaffigan, who responded, “Jim was an actor for hire on this project and had no creative input.  We were all as surprised by this news as everybody else.”

Following the apology, The Wrap reported that LaBeouf is hoping to “work out a deal” to give Clowes proper credit, which “may include a monetary settlement of some kind.”

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42 Comments

He needs to have his talentless ass sued off.

Legal options? Just because LaBeouf’s a douche doesn’t mean Clowes should be one. Treat this the same way we’d want Marvel, DC or any other comic company to treat any fan film. As long as Labeouf puts some acknowledgement that it’s inspired by Clowes work and isn’t making money off it, just let it be.

Shia should have kept the fro, he seemed a lot more liable during the Even Stevens/Holes era and I think the hair helped.

How would Clowes be a douche for pursuing legal options? This wasn’t a fan film. It was a film made by a major Hollywood actor, who has previously produced movies, that he showed at Cannes and tried to get distribution for. In any other adaptation of that sort, the original author is paid for the rights to the source material, and would have been during the pre-production process. As such, Clowes payment wouldn’t have been based on whether Shia made money off it after. He then went around and gave interviews in which he not only didn’t give credit, but openly implied that he had drafted the screenplay through an organic process and by trying to get inside the mind of a critic.

This is theft, plain and simple. To imply that Clowes would be wrong for pursuing legal action if he just gets “some credit” is baffling, as is acting like this is some fan film posted to youtube.

Yeah, this was not some fan film on youtube. Not even comparable.

He deserves to be sued, but then he would have to work harder and make more movies to pay it off. I just want him to go away.

LeBeouf should be held accountable for theft of Daniel Clowes’ intellectual property rights. Any individual, corporation or other entity with a copyright is entitled to pursue legal remedies, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, from the misappropriating thief through civil litigation. Clowes is not behaving unreasonably or vindictively in considering legal action and with regard to LeBeouf’s pseudo-apology in not properly accrediting Clowe for the “inspiration”, this is an absurd minimization of the misdeed as the actor did not merely pen a review or critique of Justin M. Damiano which might involve “fair use” or “newsworthiness” arguments. In point of fact, LeBeouf created an unlicensed adaptation of a copyrighted comic book. This is unjustifiable

I’m convinced this fuck-nugget is the Anti-Christ.

AndyB: This is an entirely different situation than a fan film. This is one writer stealing the work of another as his own. Just crediting Clowes isn’t sufficient–he never gave permission for his work to be filmed. And that absolutely warrants a lawsuit. The law was broken.

that anyone would be an apologist for lapuke is beyond me.

he presented it at canne as an original work, not an adaptation

he put it online, as an original work, not an adaptation

he can and should be sued by the creator

all who appeared in the film and have had their reputations sullied, should sue

the person who actually wrote the non apology, should also sue

the fake monkeys who were forced to swing on vines in the same scene with the jackass…should sue

Now everyone knows and realizes what I have been saying for quite some time. Shia LeBeouf is a douche and talentless. He kept getting work despite a lack of acting ability. I hope Clowes pursues all legal options available to him.

I wouldn’t hold it against Daniel Clowes for pursuing legal action. For me it wouldn’t be about money but the principle of the thing. If someone made a movie taken word-for-word and shot-for-shot from my work and tried passing it off as his own work I’d be pretty mad. Especially since LaBeouf has been passing this off as his own work for over a year now. He even said writing the script for this short film was “an organic process” in one interview. That’s just wrong in my book. And then you “apologize” by stealing words from ANOTHER individual. That’s even more insulting. Truth is, even if the film is adapted from someone else’s work it still takes talent to turn that into a good film. According to those who have reviewed it, it IS a good film. So his reputation would have been no less favorably looked at if he had just done this the right way.

I know “Hollywood” likes to promote certain actors to be movie stars, but I have never understood why Spielberg and others tried to make Shia the next big star. He has never impressed me in any way in any of his movies, and stealing a story and calling it your own just makes it worse. As Eddie Murphy learned the hard way, plagiarism is one of the big crimes among writers, and this will makes things worse for Shia.

On the flipside, I’m surprised more producers and studios haven’t talked to Daniel Clowes. His comics are amazing and original. I know the industry is into sequels and reboots (Gilligan’s Island??? Really?!?), but I think with the right director Clowes stories would make good movies.

He’s a shallow hollywood phony pretending to be deep through other peoples works and ideas.

Too bad that LaBoeuf wasn’t inspired by Harrison Ford when he was in the fourth Indy movie.

I hope clowes sues Go get some of that transformers money!

“which “may include a monetary settlement of some kind.””

which SHOULD include, not MAY Include. That’s what they don’t get.

The story he ripped off is pretty great. It iis in The Daniel Clowes reader.

The bottom line is that Clowes should decide which of his works can or should be translated into film, TV, or coloring books. He should also have the right to choose the team that brings his stories to life, and if he wants final say on how the film looks, he should try to work that into the contract as well. If I were Clowes I would want the film completely destroyed and every copy of it destroyed, regardless of it’s quality. If Shia does things the right way, maybe Clowes would allow him to re-film it like a big boy for the right price.

What unbelievable arrogance, it boggles the mind. I wouldn’t be upset if this was the last we ever heard of LeBoof.

I don’t care about Shia Labeouf one way or another, but I do hope that Daniel Clowes WILL pursue this matter to the fullest possible extent, even there is “some kind of monetary settlement” being offered. Leabeouf is being way to flippant about the whole thing, and if he ends up getting away with it, that would set a very bad precedent — you’re not supposed to steal the creative work of other people and ask for permission only after you’re caught with your hand in the cookie jar. That’s just ridiculous. I sincerely hope that Clowes gets the movie yanked from distribution. In my opinion, that’s the first thing that needs to happen.

I think a public apology and reasonable compensation are in order. It sends a clear message that intellectual property rights is a serious matter, and will discourage would-be film-makers from being “sloppy” in the future. Anything more than that makes the pursuer of this matter to be a total douche. And anyone here who wants Lebeouf to go through the legal wringer, just because he’s “Shia Labeouf”, are even bigger douches, IMO. After all, Lebeouf, actor or not, is a human being that deserves equal protection under the law, like anyone else, something that many commentators here are forgetting.

Shia screwed up and made a stupid mistake. Granted a very amateur mistake. I know nothing about movies but before I would even think of making one I would make sure I actually had the legal right to use a story. That’s just common sense. But…..at least he admitted it, which is far better than many other creators/actor/producers do. Shia has admitted his fault and his admission will go a long way in resolving the matter whether it ends up being litigated or not. My guess is that the performance of the film will be determined and Shia will simply cut a cheque to the author (along with another apology).

The problem is though is that Shia didn’t just admit a mistake. He repped for this at multiple film festivals as his own work and in many interviews as a wholly original work. I have seen comparisons and i is literally panel for panel. He is admitting his mistake because he got caught. Clowes should absolutely sue and we as comic fans should be proud that once this “original short” hit the internet, we all said, “helllllll no! that is daniel Clowes’ work.”

His last tweet shows that he knows that he is a hack and tried to steal and get away with it. Days before it was released he was pumping it up on twitter and retweeting all of the great reviews it was getting. He is a hack and just as Patton said in a tweet “The guy has directed and produced multiple films.” Naivety my ass!

Sometimes you do not have to sue.

La Beouf knows he is in the wrong and should have known it from the get go. This should be settled easily without making lawyers rich.

If this goes to court someone is being a total bellend.

To paraphrase the great Tywin Lannister: LaBeouf needs a “sharp education.”

If there was any justice, this debacle will end up burying this useless piece of shit while blacklisting him from any major Hollywood productions.

LeBeouf is going to have to make a bunch of really bad movies to afford the settlement he’s going to have to sign after this debacle. He will be the new Nicholas Cage!

Those public persona responses… and those comments… goodness.

So, the proper, civilized way of dealing with a oerson that made a mistake is to humiliate him, gnaw at everything and anything that he does, did and will do; exaggerate things ( “plagiarism is disturbing” this calls for a lol, pedophilia is disturbing, pagliarism is just unfair, get a grip mr Eric Reynolds), dissect each and every word LaBeouf says to find something to add to his have-to-be-now bad image, and of course purposeflly misinterpet the guy’s statements; nice bullying right there public personas, way to behave; because it is so right to behave like a bully and kick a person when he/she is already down.

And similarly for the comments: “Transformers sucks, so good for suing Lebeouf,” “LeBeouf sucks at acting, so sue him,” “I have never seen anything that he made, but Transformers sucks, and LeBeouf is said to be a douche-although-I-don’t-know-it-myself-but-if-they-are-saying-it-it-must-be-true so sue him.” Such maturity…

But not as mature as the vindictive random people that try to justify LeBeouf getting sued pseudo-intellectually citing the law’s allowance. Yes, the law does allow for it. But the law is just a tool, to be used at people’ discretion, and with the good trust that it will be used in such a way; not vindictively, not out of greed. It’s about the right thing being done. And between adults, sensible adults, when a mistake is made, if the perpetrator apologizes and even more offers to make up for his error, that is it. There is no longer a problem.

LeBeouf did apologize, he clearly stated that it was a mistake. He made no non-apology. Stop twisting the guy’s words when everyone can see them. Trying to explain why ou made a mistake is not a non-apology, it’s a clarification. And since he did apologize, and is willing to compensate the author is any way the latter seems fit, that should be the end of it. Everything else, anything else, is just for show, for drama, for some real-life sopa-opera, and some random people to pass judgement on a situation they know very little of and concerns them even less that what they know; like old ladies chit-chatting. Nice work guys and gals, you are the epitomy of an ethical being. What you are doing is so not-bullying, oh no (and no, the “he did it first” excuse does not work, you are not five years-old, you are supposed to know and do better).

Talk about slow news day(s) and mob mentality. Lets find some more “disturbing” things to preach lyrical about. Or we could act us grown-ups, not pass judgement on things that we know next-to-nothing about, not oursue vindictive avenues of action, and let private matters be private, even if some traffic seeking news-sites try to convince us otherwise.

Gosh…what a weird story. Sounds like a good way to get your independent film noticed. It just seems odd in this litigious business that Shia would overlook this…I don’t believe it. He ought to fire whoever consulted him that this would be a good way to force a collaboration with Daniel Clowes.

Hey Drithien, since we’re already in a mob, I’m going to initiate a slow golf clap for your poignant speech and ethical study of human self-reflection.

This has given me more reason to pick up Clowes work. Hopefully some of the money goes back to Clowes and can help pay off legal fees to set up his case and satisfactorily win it

Drithien, no mistake was made on LeBouf’s part. Plagiarism is never a mistake. He thought he could get away with plagiarizing a slightly obscure comic. As it turns out, he could not get away with it, people noticed, and he was forced to lie about his lack of foresight.

If you had created an intellectual property, and um let’s say Channing Tatum stole your property, made a movie with it, promoted that movie extensively, then when he was called out on the theft, pretended to not have been aware that such theft amounts to plagiarism (or vice versa), you would not be upset? Give me a break. You would be slandering Channing Tatum with a shotgun right now. You are either a troll or you don’t care about your own property or you are hilariously not with it.

But you’re correct that I will not “oursue vindictive avenues of action” since “oursue” ain’t even a word etc.

Shia LeBouef looks so much like Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode it is untrue

Drithien, you smug, condescending apologist: He didn’t make a mistake. He knowingly stole someone else’s work and passed it off as his own. There’s a world of difference there. This is intellectual theft, pure and simple, and it’s wrong. Daniel Clowes’ work was stolen, and he has every right to be angry about it.

It’s not about being vindictive, it’s about justice. Clowes deserves credit and a cut of whatever LeBeouf makes from the film. Alternatively, if Clowes would prefer, he should be able to block the film from being screened or distributed at all, as it’s his work and he has a right to decide what’s done with it (unless he’s signed away that right, which he hasn’t).

@Drithien “LeBeouf did apologize, he clearly stated that it was a mistake. He made no non-apology. Stop twisting the guy’s words when everyone can see them.”
He only “apologised” because he was found out. Since, as you note, everyone can see his words, how about:
“Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.”
That’s not apologising, that’s making excuses. In addition, he wasn’t “inspired”, he copied. Nevermind that it appears he may have copied the words for the actual apology. Oy.

Read the above story again and think about what you’re saying. This is a case of someone stealing someone’s work and trying to sell it as their own. That’s not naiive, that’s underhanded. And he carried on doing what he was doing until enough people pointed out that the guy’s a clear rip-off, at which point he “issued” (i.e. wrote a few Twitter messages) an “apology” in which he doesn’t actually concede what’s really happened here.

I so hope Nick Simmons’ people are reaching out to LeBeouf for a possible collaboration.

Drithien,

You write:

“But not as mature as the vindictive random people that try to justify LeBeouf getting sued pseudo-intellectually citing the law’s allowance. Yes, the law does allow for it. But the law is just a tool, to be used at people’ discretion, and with the good trust that it will be used in such a way; not vindictively, not out of greed. It’s about the right thing being done. And between adults, sensible adults, when a mistake is made, if the perpetrator apologizes and even more offers to make up for his error, that is it. There is no longer a problem.”

I agree that there’s a lot of pseudo-intellectualism on the internet in regard to the law, but that includes your comment. I’ve been practicing law for 17 years, previously as a partner at a large law firm and now as corporate counsel for a 7,000-employee company, and I can tell you without qualification that the law is frequently used for vindictive and greedy purposes. Contrary to your assertions, the law isn’t about doing the “right thing.” Indeed, substantive law is less about morality and more about apportioning liability based on the prospective ability to avoid injury to another and the ability to punish the wrongdoer for his misconduct. Indeed, that is the entire purpose of punitive and treble damages. And even then, the law is overwhelmingly slanted in favor of monied interests, which is why the duration of copyrights keeps getting extended. Disney and Warner Brothers spend a TON of money to lobby for the protection of their intellectual property.

And in practice, people wield the law like a club all the time. It would be a fantastic world, in my opinion, if an apology, a handshake, and an offer to restore the injured party to his or her original position were sufficient to satisfy litigants, notwithstanding the fact that this kind of outcome would leave me unemployed. But it’s never going to happen because people are, at heart, selfish.

He didn’t apologize for his acts. He apologized for an entirely different set of actions. This guy knowingly appropriated somebody else’s material; took credit for it; and actually changed the name of the ‘story’ he was adapting to cover his tracks. He then took to twitter and claimed that he was naive and ‘inspired’ by Clowes’s work to create something new and different despite the fact that he just literally copied parts of the comic, including specific pieces of dialogue and even panel layouts. To justify this as “Gee, I didn’t know I had to talk to the person whose work I am ripping off” is ludicrous. This guy has literally grown up in Hollywood.

If he weren’t trying to hide his actions, why rename the work?

There are definitely times when a public apology should be enough. But this is not a case of, say, a celebrity saying something rude while drunk. This is a case where he tried to profit off of someone else’s work while cutting the original author out of the process entirely. As for whether it’s an apology or non-apology, well, he did copy and paste someone else’s material while apologizing for plagiarism. That alone might reasonably cause people to be a bit skeptical the about the sincerity of his apology.

What’s with the old thread from yahoo answers? Was he ‘Lili’? Did he do a google search for a good quote about creative work and that thread came up? The ‘IS’ is even emphasized in the same place, though that would be a natural place for emphasis.

I guess it’s just a coincidence?

Bizarre.

I’m not going to lie or apologize for it: I’ve been a fan of Shia for a long time. Pretty much since Even Stevens. I loved that show and he was the primary reason. I thought he was quite good in his first few movies. I think that Transformers reputation and his acting ability are not connected. He acts the role he’s given, and fairly well. There was so much more wrong with Indy 4, if you took him out it’d still be the worst of the series.

I’m just saying all of that because his acting ability and people’s personal feelings about him keep coming up. This story has nothing to do with his acting ability, other than acting like he wrote something that he didn’t. Whether you like his performances (I’m in the minority here) or dislike him, it doesn’t matter. In this case, he is clearly without any doubt in the wrong and should be sued for everything he personally makes off the film. The film should be given to Clowes to do with as he please, whether that be distribute it and make some more money (aside from the lawsuit money) himself or throw it in the trash and light it on fire.

Shia didn’t just forget to credit someone. He wasn’t “inspired” by someone’s work and come up with something similar. he didn’t create a fan film. he STOLE what someone else did and changed some things to make it slightly less obvious (main character’s name, for example) and then claimed it as his own. It wasn’t an accident. It was on purpose and it was intended toward the aim of making money from it.

I like him. SUE HIM.

Well there goes Shia’s chance of playing ‘Clay Loudermilk’ in a VELVET GLOVE film…

(Forget TRANSFORMERS and INDY-ino: I would’ve PAID to see The Beef propositioned by a Potato Girl!)

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