Shia LaBeouf may have issued a public apology for plagiarizing the plot and some dialogue used in "HowardCantour.com," a short film that he directed, but that does not mean he is completely off of the hook. According to an Associated Press report on Dec. 19, 2013, the copyright holder of the original work is "exploring legal options."
"Howard Cantour.com" has screened at some film festivals (including the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival) since 2012, but the plagiarism didn't come to the public's attention until after LaBeouf posted the movie online on Dec. 16, 2013.
According to the Associated Press, the plot of "HowardCantour.com" "examines the life of an anguished online film critic [played by Jim Gaffigan]. That was also the story line of a 2007 graphic novella by artist Daniel Clowes titled 'Justin M. Damiano.' Clowes declined to comment directly, but according to his publisher, Fantagraphics’ Eric Reynolds, 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. 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.”
In response to the controversy, LaBeouf posted these statements on Twitter on Dec. 17, 2013: "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. I’m embarrassed that I failed to credit (at)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.”
If LaBeouf wants this matter to go away and avoid a lawsuit, it sounds like he will have to make a settlement out of court.
This isn't the first controversy that LaBeouf has been involved in this year. In October 2013, he was reportedly assaulted in London because he was video recording a woman vomiting in the street outside of a nightclub. When LaBeouf refused the woman's requests to stop filming her, he was assaulted by a man who came to the woman's defense.
LaBeouf is best known for starring in the first three "Transformers" movies. After leaving that franchise behind, he has starred in mostly little-seen independent films such as 2013's "The Company You Keep" and "Charlie Countryman."
LaBeouf also stars in the controversial movie "Nymphomaniac," which is written and directed by Lars von Trier. For the most sexually explicit scenes, body doubles were used for LaBeouf and the other stars of in the film.
"Nymphomaniac" is due out in the U.S. on March 21, 2014.