Australian Court Wipes Out Restaurant Reviewers
from the choose-your-words-carefully dept
A court in Australia has ruled that a critic's unflattering review of a restaurant in a Sydney newspaper constituted defamation (via The Grinder), and that the critic may now be responsible for damages. Writers in the US are afforded plenty of protection when writing reviews and criticisms since they're stating opinions, and decisions like these in other countries will have a chilling effect on all kinds of legitimate speech -- particularly as more and more people use the web to become critics. This isn't to say that no sort of speech should be regarded as defamation, or to say that operating under the guise of being a critic should give people free reign to commit libel or engage in other defamatory speech. However, most definitions of defamation hinge upon false claims being made, and opinions can't really be false. Given this decision, it's hard to see how any Australian writer, newspaper, web site or other outlet would publish any sort of review that's negative at all -- and it's similarly hard to see how that's in the public interest at all.