French Court Tosses Ridiculous Criminal Complaint By Israeli Against An American Over Book Review By A German

from the good-news dept

Last year, we wrote about a horrendous lawsuit brought by an Israeli author/law professor, Karin Calvo-Goller, who had written a book on The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. Another law professor, Thomas Weigand, in Germany, reviewed the book for Global Law Books, and didn't think the book lived up to its potential. I've read plenty of book reviews, and while this one is negative, it's hardly a scathing book review. Weigand just didn't think the book was all that good. It happens. Move on.

But Calvo-Goller did not move on. She claimed that the review was libelous, and contacted the editor of the journal -- an American named Joseph Weiler -- who responded quite reasonably to Calvo-Goller, pointing out that the review wasn't that bad and that he did not believe the review was libelous (and explained in detail why not), and then offered Calvo-Goller the right to write a response that he would publish as well. He also pointed out that her reputation would likely take a much larger hit from trying to suppress a negative book review, than from the review itself.

Rather than heed that warning, Calvo-Goller went to an extreme: suing Weiler for criminal defamation in a Paris court. You may notice that, until now, France had not been mentioned. That's because it has nothing whatsoever to do with this case. Despite questioning the jurisdiction, Weiler felt the need to respond to the lawsuit, which took place a little over a month ago, and Eric Goldman alerts us to the excellent news that Weiler didn't just prevail, but the court issued sanctions against Calvo-Goller. The court agreed with both of Weiler's arguments, that the jurisdiction was wrong and that the criminal complaint was an abuse of process by Calvo-Goller. Weiler posted an excerpt of the court's ruling, which indicates that the court recognized the ridiculousness of the situation. It says that the review was a standard book criticism, not raising nearly to the point of defamation, and also highlights that Calvo-Goller more or less admitted to forum shopping to find a court that would be most receptive to her arguments. It finds this even more troubling in that she's supposedly an expert on the law.
"....As regards the choice made by the Complainant to invoke French criminal proceedings, though [Karine Calvo-Goller] holds dual French and Israeli nationality, she resides and works in Israel, the book which is the subject of proceedings was written in English, as was the Book Review; [it was] published on an American website, linked to an American university at which Joseph Weiler works; [the Complainant] explained to the Court that she chose to use the French rather than the American or Israeli systems for financial reasons --the cost of proceedings would have been more expensive for her-- as well as for reasons of expediency, being of the view that only French law offered her a chance of success;

... Karine Calvo-Goller thus acknowledges having engaged in what one can call "forum shopping", that is to say a worldwide search, for the legal system which seems the most favorable to the person initiating legal proceedings, and which places her opponent, as much for legal reasons as for practical reasons -- geographical or cultural remoteness -- in the least favorable situation.... [T]he artificial choice in this case, of the French legal system, coupled with the choice of pursuing a criminal procedure by means of a complaint to an Investigating Judge resulting in both opprobrium and significant costs to the accused, characterizes the abuse of these proceedings;

... Karine Calvo-Goller failed to comprehend [respect] the scope of French Press law stating that the Review which was made the subject of the proceedings could be held to be defamatory.... [I]n effect, the Review of her book does not contain words damaging her honor or her reputation, and only expresses, what is more, in moderate terms, a scientific opinion on [her book] without ever exceeding the limits of free criticism to which all authors of intellectual works expose themselves;

... The bad faith of the Complainant --a lawyer, moreover one familiar with French law given her indication that she pursued her law studies in France-- is therefore undeniably established;

... It is therefore with just cause, that Joseph Weiler believes that the [Complainant] has abused her right to bring legal proceedings, on the one hand by initiating an action for defamation in relation to words that do not go beyond the limits of academic criticism, an essential element of academic freedom and freedom of expression and, on the other hand, by artificially bringing proceedings through the French criminal justice system."

Considering the resulting harm suffered by the accused, he will be justly compensated by judgment against the Complainant requiring her to pay to him the sum of €8,000." [about US$ 11,000]
Of course, as Weiler notes, Calvo-Goller still can appeal the ruling, though one hopes she has learned her lesson. In the meantime, you have to wonder if this case will make it into her next book on international law...


Reader Comments (rss)

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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 9:12am

    Can you say, "Stupid Cow!"?

    What a ditz! She certainly got what she deserved, although a much higher judgement would have been preferred. It's moronic litigation like this that makes me disgusted with the legal "profession", and even standing next to creatures such as this would make me feel unclean. What a contemptible failure of a human being this idiot is!

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 10:07am

    "though one hopes she has learned her lesson"

    Ain't gonna happen. I personally think this nut and the nutty pants-lawsuit-judge should combine forces and create the world's most awesome law firm.

    No lawsuit too petty. No case too frivolous.

     

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    Michael Lockyear (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 10:16am

    I wonder if she represented herself ...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 11:58am

    Bravo Karine Calvo-Goller , ça doit te faire plaisir que tout le monde déclare que tu es une conasse dans la presse internationale. T'avais qu'a fermer ta gueule pauvre idiote.

    C'est bien beau de te mettre de la C du pif au vagin H24 et de plus te sentir pisser, mais prends des vacances de ta propre connerie et ton égo surdimensionné ma grosse, ça fera du bien aux gens autour de toi.

     

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    danny bloome, Mar 7th, 2011 @ 4:54pm

    She is not Isreali, she is French, please correct headline

    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

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 6:07pm

      Re: She is not Isreali, she is French, please correct headline

      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.

      How is it antisemitic to point out, accurately, that she's an Israeli. By the way, I am Jewish, so charging me with anti-semitism is pretty damn funny.

      Even the court points out that she has dual citizenship, Israeli and French, and lives and works in Israel. As such, it is not just accurate to say that she is an Israeli, it would be misleading to claim she is French. She lives and works in Israel and has Israeli citizenship. At that point she is Israeli.

       

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      G Thompson (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 6:39pm

      Re: She is not Isreali, she is French, please correct headline

      How is calling someone who is a citizen of Israel anti-semetic?

      Does that mean if I state you are obfuscating the issue I am being anti-stupid?

       

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        Michael Lockyear (profile), Mar 8th, 2011 @ 4:52am

        This website is a haven for the anti-stupid...you might have your membership revoked for spelling "anti-semetic" wrong!

        There seems to be an entire herd of people who believe that criticizing Israel or an Israeli is anti-semitic (Check on Google - lots of debate).

         

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    G Thompson (profile), Mar 7th, 2011 @ 5:52pm

    An Israeli, an American, and a German walk into a bar...

    Yep tis comedy in action *boom boom*

     

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    danny bloome, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 1:53am

    talking heds and dual nash

    Mike,

    Notice, my dear landsmann, I didn't charge you with A.S., I would never do that. I just said that the headline was a "quaint antisemitic punchy hed."

    RE: "How is it [A.S.] to point out, accurately, that she's an Israeli?" Again, Mike, if she is as the court said both French and Israeli and holds dual citizenship, then wouldn't it be more kosher -- and less snarky -- to have the hedline read?: "French Court Tosses Ridiculous Criminal Complaint By French-Israeli Dual Citizen Against An American Over Book Review By A German"

    As it is, the hed merely copies the Adam Liptak one-sided NYT hatchet job, and Adam said the same [old and stale by now in internet time] funny joke in his also-snarky take down.

    Could you then, not to argue over how many pupik hairs there are in a chicken stomach, if any, maybe sort of change the headline to reflect at least her dual nationality? Or does the Israeli tag fit the viral take down better, even if it is not 100 percent accurate? Your call, mate; you're the editor. I'm just manning the universal copy desk [one word or two?] over here in Fairness In HeadLines Land. A fairly unpopulated place.

    What I really meant say in my earlier comments and this story has legs and there might be another side worth exploring impartially later on. I know it's not PC to admit that balanced reporting is good for the republic, but that's my call. I'd like to hear Dr Calvo-Goller's side of the story one day. Notice the NYT didn't bother to get her side of the story and the editors didn't want to wait around until the verdict came in so they told Adam to push ''send'' without getting the other "get".

    Other than that, I like you, Mike and am a loyal reader of TechCrunch. Go go go. Just watch the heds; they go viral and are not always picked up by friendly fire.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 8th, 2011 @ 3:53am

      Re: talking heds and dual nash

      Notice, my dear landsmann, I didn't charge you with A.S., I would never do that. I just said that the headline was a "quaint antisemitic punchy hed."

      Yes, Danny, you did. I wrote the headline. You claimed it was anti-semitic. Therefore, you falsely claimed I was anti-semitic. If you want to see defamation, claiming I'm anti-semitic is absolutely defamation. Shall I have you charged in France for criminal defamation?

      Please let me know.

      RE: "How is it [A.S.] to point out, accurately, that she's an Israeli?" Again, Mike, if she is as the court said both French and Israeli and holds dual citizenship, then wouldn't it be more kosher -- and less snarky -- to have the hedline read?: "French Court Tosses Ridiculous Criminal Complaint By French-Israeli Dual Citizen Against An American Over Book Review By A German"

      No. As explained she lives and works in Israel and is a citizen of Israel. The headline was accurate.

      As it is, the hed merely copies the Adam Liptak one-sided NYT hatchet job, and Adam said the same [old and stale by now in internet time] funny joke in his also-snarky take down.

      I don't know who that is. Why do you keep bringing him up?

      What I really meant say in my earlier comments and this story has legs and there might be another side worth exploring impartially later on. I know it's not PC to admit that balanced reporting is good for the republic, but that's my call. I'd like to hear Dr Calvo-Goller's side of the story one day. Notice the NYT didn't bother to get her side of the story and the editors didn't want to wait around until the verdict came in so they told Adam to push ''send'' without getting the other "get".

      What does the NYT have to do with any of this? I never used the NYT as a source for this story.

      I used the source materials, and I'm sorry, but I don't see any other side.

      Other than that, I like you, Mike and am a loyal reader of TechCrunch. Go go go. Just watch the heds; they go viral and are not always picked up by friendly fire

      Then go read TechCrunch, because that's not this site.

      If you actually read Techdirt you would know that it's an opinion site, and I state my opinion -- and when someone makes a ridiculous defamation claim, I'm going to call them on it, especially when it's blatant forum shopping by an Israeli suing an American over a review by a German in a French court.

       

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    danny bloome, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 2:08am

    Mike, this is how these things go viral and AS..... from Amazon "reviews"

    Mike
    again, i never charged anyone with being AS, i was just saying, be careful with the heds. maybe it's a point worth noting, maybe not. you be the judge. I will respect which ever way you go with it.

    But just to show you how some people go with this meme, a bloke over at Amazon reviews,, who shall remain nameless, posted this, and if you don't see any hint of A.S. here then my name aint Rip Van Wrinkle:

    "mojo, I think everything here from now on will be about the author's behavior, not the book. She brought that upon herself with what many consider to be an outrageous and frivolous action which apparently is only possible in France, although she resides in Israel and the book, the publisher, the review, has nothing has to do with France. She turned a mild review into a lambasting on Amazon, the world's biggest book seller. Shrewd move. She must be very competent. My only concern is that she will go after Amazon next. It has happened, and serves to smother free speech. I guess that is the way in Israel via the [W]est []Bank, via Palestine, via Gaza, via France. Yes, that is a shot at Israel and French jurisprudence, spare me the outrage. I know, I know. She is not Israel and she is not France. But those systems accommodate her.''

    Okay, Mike. I'm outta here.

     

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    danny bloome, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 5:58pm

    typos, AS and a story with legs

    Mike,
    I rust my case. And since you wrote that AS-baiting hedline, then I take back my earlier comments and completely accept your POV and opinion on all this. I was just having fun. Jewish humour. The case is closed, there is no apparent appeal. And Michael Lockyear, you are right, there is a huge herd of people who equate any slight criticism of Israel with AS. I am not one of them. I am one of the fiercist critics of the state of Israel, and I am Jewish. It is perfectly okay to criticize Irael, sure, without being AS. But Jew-baiting is AS, for sure. Thankfully, no one has done that here at this post or in the comments, and for the most part, most of the online chatter about the Calvo-Goller case has been free of AS, accept for a few comments at Amazon. If I spelled AS wrong up above, my apologies, sir. I am a two finger hunt and peck typist from the 1950s. So a few gremlin typos happen on my watch. Unintended. And thanks for the heads up.

    Now, does this story have legs or not? see Jennifer Howard's new piece in the Chronicle of Lower Education soon.

     

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    danhye bloome, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:01pm

    story has legs

    Mike, there will be no appeal. Details: Under the French law on defamation, the part of
    the ruling of the
    court on lack of
    jurisdiction was astonishing, some say; however under recent
    precedents of the French Cour de Cassation
    (Supreme Court), the ruling was not a total surprise, other say. The
    court's objection of lack of jurisdiction was
    raised by NYU Professor Weiler’s lawyer just one day before the hearing and was
    accepted by the court. Professor Karin Calvo-Goller has decided not to appeal.
    While in the opinion of
    a French Supreme Court expert, it could be proven
    that the litigious review was accessible and was actually consulted in
    France on and
    before July 3, 2007, however, even if the jurisdiction issue could be
    overcome, an appeal would only succeed most likely if the defamation was seen to be very
    serious, such as X was
    bribed, or Y participated in a crime. According to another expert, in view of the huge publicity of
    this case, French courts would not want to be seen as the censors of
    academic freedom, so ....end of story. Period. Full stop. But this story still has legs.

     

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    danhye bloome, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:05pm

    story has legs 2

    Mike, for example, how this story still has legs:

    As you know, the freedom to hold opinions and to express
    opinions is a right
    expressly provided in
    international human rights covenants. This includes the freedom to
    criticize other people’s
    ideas and works. These freedoms are the basic premise for the
    transmission and exchange
    of knowledge among others. HOWEVER, ONE of the very few restrictions
    to the exercise of these rights,
    is the respect of the rights or reputation of others. An author, just
    as any human being, is
    entitled to the respect of his reputation. The publication of works OF
    COURSE exposes an author to
    criticism; HOWEVER, it does not deprive him or her of the right to the
    respect of his or her reputation. Fair criticism
    does not automatically mean that rights of the authors were disregarded.
    On how to balance the freedom to criticize other people’s ideas with
    the authors’ desire
    for a fair hearing: one might say, fair criticism of someone else’s idea
    can initially be put on
    the internet without the agreement of the author. If an author finds
    the criticism unfair or
    erroneous and informs the manager or editor of the site accordingly,
    the author should be
    entitled to respond and be granted the same space as was accorded to
    the criticism, and, one needs TO EMPHASizE, not
    only in the form of a comment.

    Where the author considers the criticism to be libelous and
    harmful to his reputation, another mutually-agreed-UPON reviewer
    should be found and whatever
    the outcome, it can be posted. BUT IN the meantime, the criticism
    should be removed.

    People will be debating this case for the foreseeable future....

     

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    danhye bloome, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:10pm

    story has legs 3

    and Mike,
    all joking aside, WHAT surprised Dr Calvo-Goller the most were THE MANY
    SUPPORTIVE email
    MESSAGES THAT she received from non-tenured lecturers/senior
    she HAD NEVER MET BEFORE and WHO TOLD her THINGS ABOUT
    THEIR OWN PROBLEMS WITH UNFAIR BOOK REVIEWS SUCH AS:
    “I wrote the opposite of what the reviewer said”;
    and that their works HAD BEEN “mistreated”, “intentionally
    misinterpreted”, “killed” by reviewers
    and used to block their nomination or tenure. Some PEOPLE EVEN TOLD her
    THAT THEY suspected that the negative review iof their books or articles was
    made to fit this purpose.

    Mike, you might not know this but Karin RECEIVED A LOT
    OF VERY TERRIBLE HATE MAIL. COMPLETE strangers sent her HATEFUL,
    INSULTING EMAIL MESAGES. FOR EXAMPLE, she RECEIVED
    a VERY HATEFUL EMAIL THAT READ: “[IF YOU, KARIN,] were

    to die in a freak fire, writhing in agony in the flames, well, that
    would be a fitting
    punishment…”.

    Mike, i say to you, WHAT'S WRONG WITH PEOPLE THESE DAYS? TO USE ThE INTERNET
    IN THIS WAY? TO DISAGREE WITH KCG AND HER LAWSUIT, THAT IS OKAY, sure, agree, disagree, sure, BUT TO
    INSULT HER IN HATEFUL SPEECH EMAILS tHat WAY, WITH THOSE HATEFUL EMAILS, SOMETHING IS TERRIBLY
    WRONG, NO? AND THEY WERE WRITTEN BY PEOPLE with PHDs, Mike!

     

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    danhye bloome, Mar 10th, 2011 @ 8:15pm

    story has legs 4

    and Mike, before i go to lunch here in Taiwan, rice with a side of borscht, let me add this: kinda ONE important ISSUE that many observers don't seem to have clicked into: On lack of jurisdiction
    of the French court, for
    instance: if the statute of limitations
    constituted the legal obstacle for the French court to have
    jurisdiction, some observers actually don’t see how this
    obstacle was not seen by the investigating judge before the issuing of
    subpoenas and by the
    district attorney before it was decided to conduct the inquiry and to
    transfer the case to the
    court for judgment.

    And Mike, SECOND ISSUE: In the part ‘Abuse of process’ of the ruling in Paris, it was
    stated that KCG explained to the Court that
    she “chose the French courts rather than the American or Israeli courts
    for economic reasons –
    the cost of the procedure would have been higher for her…”.

    But Mike, as to your good post above, it should be VERY CLEAR HERE THAT At the hearing before
    the court, KCG explained” exactly the opposite: that the cost would
    have
    been lower in Israel than in France, and that the financial aspect of
    a procedure before an
    American court, was not at all the reason for her choice of the French
    court. SHE WAS in fact VERY CLEAR ABOUT THAT. But did you or the New York Times or any of the giggling critics mention this? No.

    Why?

    See what i mean by ''this story has legs''?

     

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    dannye bloome, Mar 11th, 2011 @ 6:27pm

    March 11, 2011

    See what I mean now, Mike?

    read Jennifer Howard's in-depth interview with Karin here:

    March 11, 2011

    After Loss in Court, Scholar Defends Libel Lawsuit Over Negative Book Review

    Karin N. Calvo-Goller
    Enlarge Image
    Karin N. Calvo-Goller
    By Jennifer Howard

    Karin N. Calvo-Goller last week lost her controversial libel lawsuit in France, a case that had stoked concerns about libel tourism and scholars' freedom to publish criticism. She has not been talking to the news media, but she agreed this week to discuss the case with The Chronicle.

    Ms. Calvo-Goller, a senior lecturer at the Academic Center of Law & Business, in Israel, had filed a criminal-libel

    This is an article for subscribers only. You may access this article by purchasing a:

     

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    dannye bloome, Mar 11th, 2011 @ 7:51pm

     

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    jg, Mar 14th, 2011 @ 6:33pm

    easy case makes good law

    Although it's shocking this case got as far as it did and cost the defendants as much as it did, at least the plaintiff got the humiliating result she deserved. As I have followed the case over the last few months I've wondered why her friends or colleagues hadn't staged an intervention.

     

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    jg, Mar 14th, 2011 @ 7:00pm

    AS language

    Suggesting someone or some posting is anti-semitic is not actually fun or funny. Unless you are Uncle Leo on Seinfeld. And I think he has died.

     

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