Shia LaBeouf Could Face Legal Action for Using Daniel Clowes' Work

Image: Shia LaBeouf Could Face Legal Action for Using Daniel Clowes' Work

Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 01:50 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Actor Shia LaBeouf may face legal action after he admitted to using artist Daniel Clowes' work without acknowledgement.

LaBeouf's short film "Howard," starring Jim Gaffigan, debuted online Monday. It depicts the life of a troubled online film critic and bears a striking resemblance to Clowes' 2007 graphic novella "Justin M. Damiano," The Associated Press reported.

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Clowes' publisher, Fantographics' Eric Reynolds, told the AP that Clowes "is exploring his legal options."

"LaBeouf changed the name of the main character, but he used the comic as a direct script and storyboard," Reynolds said. "Clowes has a real melodramatic voice that is very idiosyncratic and LaBeouf just used the dialogue word for word. There is no ambiguity. There is no way that anybody wrote this but Dan Clowes. It just defies any kind of logic or good sense. This was so blatant and inexcusable that it was as baffling as it was appalling."

After making the rounds at various film festivals starting in 2012, LaBeouf's film was posted online officially on Monday, and BuzzFeed noted the similarities between the two works.

"The first I ever heard of the film was this morning (Dec. 17) when someone sent me a link," Clowes told BuzzFeed. "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."

Using the Twitter name @thecampaignbook, LaBeouf apologized in a series of tweets.

"Copying isn't particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work," LaBeouf said. But even those words turned out to be copied nearly word for word from Yahoo Anwsers post.

"In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation," LaBeouf added. "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."

LaBeouf, 27, is known for his role as Sam Witwicky from the "Transformers" films. He also starred in "Disturbia" and "Surf's Up."

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