Tommy Wiseau ordered to pay $750K to Canadian filmmakers

'Best F(r)iends.' Tommy Wiseau, 2017. Fathom Events / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.

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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.

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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.'”

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"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." The plaintiff is #TommyWiseau. The defendants are yours truly, #RoomFullofSpoons. WE WON! Thank you, everyone, for all of your support over the years. To our incredible legal teams at @dentonscanada and @tomllawyers: Thank you all for having faith in our case, and bringing your best. There's a lot to get sorted of course, especially amidst our current pandemic-apocalypse situation. If we can ask a favour: please give us a bit of time to get everything in order. We absolutely want to get this film out ASAP, but please understand we want to do it the right way, which sometimes takes a moment. We'll keep our supporters in the loop as we move forward. For everyone who enjoys reading legal documents… click the link in the bio to access the official judgement, all 53 pages of it. #justice #documentary #theroom

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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.

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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).

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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.

(L-R) Tommy Wiseau and James Franco attending the premiere of ‘The Disaster Artist’, as part of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival in the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. CP Images Archive

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.

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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.”

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Hello friends, in our last update, we told you the Ontario Superior Court of Justice had ordered all parties to attend mediation in April 2019. A few weeks before the April 10th mediation session, Tommy Wiseau’s lawyers asked to be removed as counsel of record for the plaintiffs. TW was nonetheless ordered by the Court to attend mediation, which he did in person, with new counsel (retained only for the purpose of mediation), in Toronto. Unfortunately, the matter did not resolve. Even though mediation was unsuccessful, we have tried to move this matter to a final resolution expeditiously. We are scheduled to go to trial in early January 2020. The judge case managing this matter observed TW’s delay tactics in one of his recent directions on trial timetables: “ […] The presence of a lawsuit imposes inhibitions on the ability of the defendants to distribute a documentary they have created. […] While the presence of the lawsuit is not quite effective as an injunction would have been, it accomplishes very much the same ends for the plaintiffs. As a result, the plaintiffs have little interest in advancing the litigation and have not done so since it was commenced. The plaintiffs have created roadblocks to scheduling matters on almost every attendance before me […]” (Direction of Koehnen J. dated June 4, 2019) Tommy is now on his third set of counsel. We do not anticipate any further delays in getting this to a head because our case management judge has provided that all of the deadlines in this proceeding are “peremptory” on Tommy. This means that even if he changes counsel again, the deadlines remain. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing lawyers at Gilbert’s LLP (pictured above) and Taylor Oballa Murray Leyland LLP for all the hard work they put into this. Without them we’d be dead in the water. Again, we thank you, our supporters, for your support and patience.Although we are not always able to give you play-by-play updates, know that we are working hard behind the scenes to move this project forward, not only for you and our team, but also for the documentary film industry. – Four fans that one day decided to make a movie

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“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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“This case was very frivolous. [It was] is a very big deal for any creatives or documentary filmmakers here in Canada,” filmmaker Harper told Variety on Monday.

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