Dr. Phil will sue Gawker Media as a result of leaked footage from the syndicated TV program’s interviews with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the hoaxer who said he was in love with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. Phil McGraw’s Peteski Productions filed the lawsuit for copyright infringement Tuesday in Texarkana, Texas.
The 22-year-old Tuiasosopo came clean in a series of interviews with Dr. Phil, the host of the eponymous show, in January. He confessed to the good doctor that he was in fact the real person behind the fictional Lennay Kekua, the girlfriend of Manti Te’o that the player never actually met.
In September, the supposedly indomitable Fighting Irish player was celebrated for playing through the pain of learning that his grandmother and his girlfriend had died on the very same day. His award-winning play ultimately made him a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.
Trouble was, of course, that the girl was never real in the first place. Tuiasosopo told Dr. Phil that he decided to kill off the Lennay Kekua persona because keeping up with the hoax was starting to take over all of his time and energy.
Part one of the much-discussed interview ended on a cliffhanger. Viewers were left to wonder whether or not Tuiasosopo could do Kekua’s female voice well enough to fool Manti Te’o into believing he was a woman.
According to the legal filing today, Gawker’s Deadspin.com released the second part of the footage early, effectively scooping Dr. Phil’s interview by putting the key video online hours before 98 percent of his viewers could watch his show.
For you backseat lawyers out there, the court filing has been posted online here.
So far, Gawker hasn’t commented but there’s some speculation that they’ll try to argue that they were making fair use of the three minute clip in question.
The Dr. Phil Show suit seeks unspecified damages.