"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."
That's Shia LaBeouf apologising on Twitter for plagiarising graphic novelist and artist Daniel Clowes. He was responding to criticism that his new film, HowardCantour.com, pretty much lifts its entire plot from Clowes' 2007 comic, Justin M. Damiano, right down to the opening line.
LaBeouf's words are also the full text of this four-year-old Yahoo! Answers response to the question: "Why did Picasso say 'good artists copy but great artists steal'?" That's right – Shia LaBeouf seems to have plagiarised his apology for plagiarising from Yahoo! Answers. As one Twitter user notes, it is "word for word, including having 'is' in all caps."
It seems likely that LaBeouf did lift part of his apology from the site – it seems unlikely that he is Yahoo respondent Lili, who describes themselves as a "published non-fiction writer and a longtime, serious student of religious and socio-cultural history".
Or maybe the plagiarised apology is part of a daring meta-comment on the nature of artistic plagiarism? After all, Richard Prince once sold a photograph of a Sam Abell print for for $1 million, and everyone from TS Eliot to Oscar Wilde have stolen, borrowed or lifted other people's work. Although, perhaps, they were lucky enough to be plagiarising in an age before Google.