Wiseau Studio, LLC et al. v. Harper et al.,, 2020 ONSC 2504


Read full decision. Summary prepared by Alan Macek:

This is a copyright trial decision relating to the documentary "Room Full of Spoons" about the film "The Room" and Tommy Wiseau who wrote, produced, directed and starred in the film. Among the many issues considered were breach of copyright, fair dealing, moral rights, misappropriation of personality, passing off, and intrusion upon seclusion. The defendants counterclaimed for damages arising from an ex parte interim injunction (see 2017 ONSC 6535). "In my view, Room Full of Spoons does reproduce a 'substantial part' of The Room within the meaning and intent of s. 3 of the Copyright Act. While the amount is not large compared to the length of the film, the documentary would not be the same without the number of clips used, and this amount of use cannot be regarded as 'trivial' ... My discussion of the requirements for fair dealing ... leads me to conclude the fair dealing exception to copyright infringement applies in this case. ... In this context, a documentary about The Room, which is critical of it and its maker, is just like every other reaction to it, and cannot be said to have harmed the honour and reputation of Tommy Wiseau. ... The defendants led expert evidence from Doug Bania that had the documentary been released in 2017, around the time of the release of The Disaster Artist ... and his conclusion that the defendant corporation Room Full of Spoons Inc. would have earned, conservatively, US$660,000 ... This evidence is compelling, it is uncontradicted, and I accept it. ... Having regard to the factors set out in Whiten, quoted above, I conclude that an award of CDN$200,000 [in punitive damages] is appropriate to punish the plaintiffs for their egregious conduct.”


Canadian Intellectual Property