When Is It Ok To Sue For A Bad Online Review?

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As an author, when I read a bad review online, it stings. As I’m sure for most businesses, criticism about something you put your heart into has to sting. But when does it go to far?

There have been many examples of people getting sued for bad reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and others. Then there are the ridiculous ones (Thanks Stephanie).

There is a fine line between protecting your product and creating the Streisand effect, bringing attention to something most people didn’t even know about.

Recently, a McMaster University Librarian was sued by Edwin Mellen Press for $3,000,000 for his scathing review of their books and really, their entire business.

Initially I sided with the reviewer, thinking that the publisher was over-reacting, then I read the actual court filings and saw how badly he beat them down.

Everything from the quality of the book materials, to the company themselves. A lot of blogs are saying this is an attack on academic freedom, etc. I’m not so sure.

I want to know what you think. Was the publisher right in doing this? Have you ever wanted to sue someone for libel online or been threatened with it?

Friends of mine have been on the receiving end, and it’s not pretty. (see his comment below)

My non-legal advice? When giving a review, stick to the facts, versus smearing the company. I’m not the best example of that, but take the higher road :)

Will we get to the point where people are afraid to leave a restaurant review because of the lawsuit potential? Where is the line between transparency and libel?

I look forward to your thoughts in the comments.

And as always, please sign-up for future blog post updates below. I only post when I think you need to read something, not a “forced schedule”. It’s free, unless you plan on suing me. Then it costs $3,000,000 to subscribe.