An American woman has been sued after posting a scathing online review of a building contractor. While the story obviously isn’t directly related to ebooks, it does serve as a reminder that reviews can be seen as a form of libel if the reviewer makes false claims. How long before a reviewer on Amazon faces a similar fate?
In the case in question, the woman was apparently unhappy with the work that was done. Her review also apparently included a number of other accusations, including one regarding missing jewelry. She stands by the claims she made, but she’s being sued for $750,000 and her case is just one of a growing number where online reviewers are being taken to court over online comments.
There are clear free speech implications in any case where someone is being sued for expressing on opinion. At the same time, if a reviewer makes false claims, shouldn’t the subject of the review be entitled to restitution? It’s a complex area where there could be considerable trouble over the next few years; after all, an online review can do serious damage to a retailer’s reputation.