An Ontario judge has ruled against Tommy Wiseau, ordering him to pay $750,000 to the creators of an unauthorized documentary about his 2003 cult-classic, box office failure The Room.
The eccentric actor and director attempted to block the release of Room Full of Spoons three years ago by filing an injunction against the Canadians who made it, accusing them of copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.
Room Full of Spoons not only utilizes an abundance of clips from The Room (69, to be exact), but it takes a much closer look into the mysterious life of Wiseau, 64 — an individual who is known well for keeping his personal life private.
Wiseau’s lawsuit was powered by the “outrageous” arguments that Room Full of Spoons was “too negative,” contained too many clips from The Room and revealed too much about his identity — including his Polish descent — as seen in court papers provided by the defendants Richard Harper, Fernando Forerero McGrath, Mark Racicot and Richard Towns.
On April 23, however, following a counterclaim filed by the four filmmakers, Ontario Superior Court Judge Paul Schabas deemed that Wiseau filed the lawsuit with the “improper purpose” of delaying the release of Room Full of Spoons.
Judge Schabas suggested that the documentary was simply “disliked by Tommy Wiseau” and that he likely found it uncomplimentary.
In regards to the personal information about Wiseau used in Room Full of Spoons, the judge said that the “information was available from public sources, which is how the defendants obtained and confirmed it.”
Judge Schabas continued: “Wiseau may be sensitive about this information because he has cultivated an aura of mystery around it, but disclosure of these facts is not, objectively speaking, something which can be described as ‘highly offensive.’”
Additionally, Wiseau’s copyright infringement claims were denied under the principle of “fair dealing,” meaning that a limited amount of copyrighted material is allowed if it is being reviewed, criticized, or reported on.
While the seven minutes of footage taken from The Room was not too little to be considered “trivial” by Judge Schabas, he said that it was “also not excessive” and therefore allowed.
Initially, the defendants planned to release Room Full of Spoons in conjunction with the critically-acclaimed James Franco-directed biographical comedy, The Disaster Artist (2017).
However, as a result of Wiseau’s complaint, it was delayed and as of this writing, still has not yet seen the light of day.
The Disaster Artist was based on the novel of the same name, which was written by Wiseau’s longtime friend and business partner Greg Sestero. The book documents the tumultuous making of The Room and Wiseau’s dictator-like behaviour as its director.
The difference between Room Full of Spoons and The Disaster Artist (film), however, is that the latter was fully authorized by Wiseau himself and even featured him.
Judge Schabas suggested that Wiseau attempted to “delay or prevent” the release of Room Full of Spoons in order to maximize the monetary value of The Disaster Artist — which he would have gained from financially.
In wake of their victory, the defendants took to the Room Full of Spoons website to celebrate while also providing an update on the film.
“The plaintiff is Tommy Wiseau. The defendants are yours truly, Room Full of Spoons. We won!” they wrote, before thanking their attorneys and sharing an excerpt from the legal filing. It read:
“The plaintiffs’ claim is dismissed. The counterclaim of the defendants is granted and the plaintiffs shall pay to the defendant Room Full of Spoons Inc. US$550,000 in compensatory damages, plus CDN$200,000 in punitive damages. The defendants are entitled to their costs.”
“Thank you, everyone, for all of your support over the years. Thank you all for having faith in our case, and bringing your best,” they concluded.
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