2.04.2014

Can You Be Sued Because of Your Negative Review?

According to this article on Yahoo, you sure can be!!

This seems like it might set some sort of precedent and I can only imagine that this is only the beginning. As a blogger who like to share my own insights about my personal experiences with certain products, I definitely worry about this a bit.

It seems that as long as the review is based on fact and personal experiences, you will not lose a suit but at what financial expense? What's there to stop the threat from big companies with a lot of money behind them from threatening suit? Not sure....

Thoughts?

19 comments:

  1. It means don't lie about stuff...

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    1. Yes...I said that in the 4th sentence. The big question is how far will big names take it? The threat of litigation, even if you are in the right, is a very scary/expensive one.

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    2. I agree, it is very scary for the little guy. I can't even imagine litigation cost, especially since you pay defense attorneys by the hour… I do both positive and negative reviews, but feel I am very balanced and don't make frivolous claims. That said, it sure does produce a little anxiety when you think about the "what ifs". Thanks for the write up, thought provoking to say the least.

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    3. I think in general that your approach is the right one. Be balanced, truthful, and willing to put it all out there. Chances are slim but articles like this always make think.

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  2. You are allowed to insert your opinion in anyway you see fit. You aren't allowed to purport what you write to be fact, when it is in fact opinion. You can say that you think xxx rod or yyy reel is a pile of trash if that was your experience and that is your opinion. At least as much as I understand the law.

    Did you follow the Trout Underground case? Not sure it applies directly, but I think the basis of the law is the same.

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    1. I did not...what was that one about?

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    2. It was a libel case regarding a well know journalist from the San Francisco area. This journalist did not like what Tom Chandler (author of Trout Underground) said about him and sued for libel, saying it was defamatory.

      I think the issue with the Yelp review was that she said as fact, things that may not have been fact. If I say that a business stole something from me, and they in fact did not, that would be defamatory. If I say that I didn't like the business, they treated me bad, and were very unprofessional, that would not be defamatory.

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    3. Thanks for the follow up. I think the biggest threat is not actually winning or losing but the amount of bullying this could open up.

      The T.U. thing was interesting and I am sort of bummed that it didnt get to play out but was tossed because of a statute of limitations. I think it could have helped bolster the freedom of speech thing for bloggers

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    4. I do agree, bullying is cause for concern. I don't, however, think this will lead to bullying.

      I can not say for certain what the circumstances were behind that Yelp review. Had some of what the reviewer said been untrue, then I think the business owner had every right to sue (and probably should have won had the business owner not subsequently defamed the reviewer).

      You, as a fishing blogger, shouldn't be too concerned about product reviews, in my opinion. Any product review is made up entirely (or almost entirely) of opinion. Defamation cannot occur through opinion, only incorrect assertion of fact. I know this does not guarantee that a suit would not be brought. I think there are plenty of business reasons, particularly in the fishing industry, why a suit would not be brought ,though.

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  3. good reason to keep your last name off off your website

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    1. Im not sure that would really help. I'd imagine that it wouldn't be able to figure out who owns a site if you know how to look?

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  4. Liable has been on the books for a while and it is a good thing it exists. There is a difference between a negitive review and lying to sway people's opinions.

    Last names do not matter in this Blake as they can track you back to your email. It is just better to keep honest.

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  5. Replies
    1. This is a great idea.

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  6. I don't worry much about this stuff. As long as you state that it is your opinion, nothing can be done legally. Of course anyone can sue but they wouldn't have a prayer of winning based on opinion. Just be careful about what you state as fact.

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  7. Hi, Nick. I think Howard is spot on with his comment. Just be sure that you "signify" in your review that this is based "souly" on your opinion. Besides that, anything I ever reviewed didn't have much of a kickback for the business owner, in the first place. Do appreciate the link to the Yahoo article and the thoughts that it provoked.

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