Academic Author Sues Journal Editor For Criminal Defamation Over Negative Book Review

from the which-hurts-your-reputation-more? dept

There are some people out there who appear to believe that anything they don't like is defamation -- or anything that makes them look bad, even if it's true. Fortunately, that's not the way defamation law works. But it doesn't stop some from trying to use the law that way anyway. Kevin Carson writes in to let us know of a lecturer/author named Karin Calvo-Goller, who recently wrote a book on The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. Another law professor, Thomas Weigand, reviewed the book for Global Law Books and didn't feel it lived up to its potential. The review is a pretty typical book review. Hardly scathing.

But Calvo-Goller was apparently upset by it, and contacted the editor of the journal (another law professor) asking for the review to be suppressed on the grounds that the review might "have a negative impact on her 'professional reputation and academic promotion,'" and that there were factual errors in the review that were libelous. The editor refused to take down the review, noting that he did not find the statements libelous (including detailed notes on why the statements were not, in fact, wrong), but did so in an extremely polite manner. He kicked it off with a very friendly opening to Calvo-Goller, agreeing how painful it is to get a negative review of one's book (and relating his own experiences dealing with negative reviews) and warning her directly that:
I think, however, that your reputation would suffer even more if you emerged as someone who tried to suppress a critical book review of the kind published by Globallawbooks.org. That is my advice to you as a friend.
He also suggested, politely again, that if she disagreed with some aspects of the review, he would allow her to write up a response, which he would post alongside the review -- something that almost no other book review sites would offer.

Calvo-Goller apparently chose not to heed this advice or accept the offer, and after a terse note demanding the review be taken down again, she sued the editor for criminal defamation in France, where the editor is now scheduled to stand trial later this year.

The editor, Joseph Weiler, has written up the whole saga (pdf), including the letters between the two. He concludes by pointing out how this lawsuit seems to go against all principles of academic discourse:
I believe that in the circumstances of this affair, her action of instigating a criminal libel case against me for refusing to remove the book review is misguided and inconsistent with the most fundamental practices of all academic institutions with which I am familiar and with traditional academic discourse.
It really is difficult to see how someone could think that a slightly negative review could do more harm to one's professional reputation than filing a criminal defamation lawsuit against the editor who published that review.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 10:27am

    YOUR BOOK SUCKS

    i hear the author like lil girls , now thats defamation and untrue of course but critiquing is not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    jjmsan (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 10:37am

    Baseless Lawsuits

    Once upon a time when I was taking a class in law it was stated that lawyers were officiers of the courts and were under an ethical obligation to not accept or file baseless lawsuits or ones that had no chance of winning. Wouldn't it be nice if that were true?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    DataShade (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 11:02am

    I suspect that Ms. Calvo-Goller is unfamiliar with the fall of Oscar Wilde.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 11:07am

    Locale

    Ah, suing a US citizen in France. I wouldn't even show up for the trial. Just ignore it.

    P.S. Karin Calvo-Goller is a skank.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 11:09am

    I'm a Vine reviewer for Amazon, and I've written less flattering reviews - I have a legal and IT background, and I've also written reviews for hundreds of books, because when they cost this much - $155 for Ms. Calvo-Goller's book, it's helpful to know what you're getting. Many times, I'm the only reviewer because the books are incredibly obscure specialty titles. You've probably never read The Socio-Economic Demographics and Legal Status of Etruscan Goat F--ers. Try finding that one on the shelves of your local Barnes and Noble.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous1, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 11:27am

    I don't know what's more pathetic, her case or the fact that there are criminal liabilities in France for defamation. I wouldn't show up for the trial either.
    I would then write an even more scathing book review at the same time as thumbing my nose at the French courts.
    Chances of extradition? Slim to none, IMHO.

    P.S.Karin Calvo-Goller is a horrible author, and nothing she writes is worth anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 11:28am

    "I'm a Vine reviewer for Amazon...bla bla bla.."

    Any point to your comment, other than self promotion?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Re: Etruscan Goat F--ers

    I take it that the F--ers isn't shorthand for Farmers? :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anony1, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    Any point to your comment, other than self promotion?

    Yes because anonymous self-promotion is so productive right?
    (hint: it's NOT!) Any point to your comment other than be a troll? Go suck on an egg...idiot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anony1, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    Any point to your comment, other than self promotion?

    Yes because anonymous self-promotion is so productive right?
    (hint: it's NOT!) Any point to your comment other than be a troll? Go suck on an egg...idiot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anony1, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    Any point to your comment, other than self promotion?

    Yes because anonymous self-promotion is so productive right?
    (hint: it's NOT!) Any point to your comment other than be a troll?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    vyvyan, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    Re:

    No extradition between France and US. Polanski stayed there for more than 20 years, didn't he.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    LM, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Another reason to hate the French.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 2:12pm

    Re: YOUR BOOK SUCKS

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jItz-uNjoZA

    Look! It's the author singing a song!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 2:50pm

    the next time my teacher gives me a bad grade on something I will consider it to be a negative review and sue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    Re:

    Did I give a link to my reviews? First, I wouldn't, because the law firm I work for doesn't want or need publicity, and second, the link would be useless to anyone who wasn't directly employed in our industry. My reason for commenting was to note that I write reviews for obscure legal books like Ms. Goller's every week, and the reviewer she's suing wrote a piece I consider to be factual and completely professional.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    T, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 4:17pm

    Calvo-Goller

    Amazon>>

    The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court: ICTY and ICTR Precedents by Karin N. Calvo-Goller (Hardcover - 2006)


    Currently unavailable

    Fitting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 12:20am

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    Your book sucks and now everyone knows it thanks to your own actions.

    HA HA HAH AHA HA AHAHAHA AHAHA AHA AH AHAHHAHA AHA AHa

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Burgos, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 5:31am

    How did this lunatic earn a doctorate?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Burgos, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 5:41am

    Re: How did this lunatic earn a doctorate?

    Ooops! I left the comment box empty. But as I was saying... from the author's complaint to the review's publisher:

    Prof. Weigend’s statement: ‘augmented by references to the scant English-language literature available at the time of her writing’ (emphasis not in original) is factually false, it makes abstraction of over 1,000 references to relevant books and articles, and to some 300 references to the ad hoc Tribunals decisions and judgments.

    The poor lady can't read!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 7:13pm

    Re:

    The lack of bathing, the smelly little basset hounds, and french cusine actually "RANK" higher IMHO.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2010 @ 4:49am

    He's lucky he's getting sued in France. That way he's less likely to get gunned down for defaming her character. That's not a troll; we just had a professor gun down six people (three dead)for being denied tenure, and the core issue was that whole 'professional reputation' thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2010 @ 1:58pm

    sheesh... Lawyers!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    known coward, Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 8:27am

    Re:

    Agreed this dispute needs to be taken to alabama.

    "He's lucky he's getting sued in France. That way he's less likely to get gunned down for defaming her character. That's not a troll; we just had a professor gun down six people (three dead)for being denied tenure, and the core issue was that whole 'professional reputation' thing. "

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    danny bloome, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 4:58pm

    There's more to come on this legal eagle story that has legs, as we say in the Adam Liptak one-sided newsroom. And Techdirt, Dr Calvo-Goller is a French citizen with a French passport, she is not Israeli. Please correct that quaint antisemitic punchy hed,

    There's more to come on this legal eagle story that has legs, as we say in the Adam Liptak one-sided newsroom. And Techdirt, Dr Calvo-Goller is a French citizen with a French passport, she is not Israeli. Please correct that quaint antisemitic punchy hed, can you? French, repeat, she is French. See below:

    quote unquote: "***As a French citizen, I am supposed to know this and to behave accordingly."

    Dr Calvo-Goller wrote: "Yes, I would like to speak to the Chronicle of Higher Education reporter Jennifer Howard about the case.
    I propose you ask me the questions by mail, I will answer promptly, if your questions reach me during the day. Should you have further questions, you can call me.

    My husband, Dr. Michel Calvo, posted a comment on the web www.calvolaw.org which contains more information.

    The filing of a complaint against Dr Joseph Weiler at NYU is not about trying to have only positive book reviews, it is about responsible book reviewing and about factually true book reviews.

    My mail box at the Academic Center of Law and Business, was flooded with an incredible amount of insulting mails and requests for information.

    Until a judgment is rendered, it is considered not to be good faith practice to try and influence the outcome through the web or the press. ***As a French citizen, I am supposed to know this and to behave accordingly. Not so for Dr Weiler who is not French.

    Looking forward to hear from you,

    Karin (Calvo-Goller)


    in response to:

    Dear Ms. Calvo-Goller,
    `
    Danny Bloome got in touch with me and passed on this email address for you. Let me know if you would like to speak with the Chronicle about the Weiler case. I've had no luck reaching you through your Academic Center of Law and Business email address.

    Thanks and best,


    Jennifer Howard
    Senior Reporter
    The Chronicle of Higher Education
    1255 23rd St. NW
    Washington, D.C. 20037

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    kevin (profile), Apr 8th, 2011 @ 12:15am

    I have noticed once more thing in addition to my comment above. The documentation process stops when it comes across a overloaded function. wood Pellet machine

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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