French Court Rules for Book Reviewer

A French court has dismissed a lawsuit against the publisher of a critical review:

In 2007 [Joseph H.H. Weiler] published on [the Global Law Books] Web site a short review of a book by Ms. Calvo-Goller. The reviewer was Thomas Weigend, a professor of law at the University of Cologne. (Mr. Weigend was not named in the lawsuit.)

Ms. Calvo-Goller thought the review was defamatory and asked Mr. Weiler to take it down. He said no but offered her the chance to respond to it on the Web site, an opportunity she declined. Instead she brought a criminal-libel complaint against him in France.

This wasn’t a brutal, KTF review, either:

In the ruling, the court said the review expressed a scientific opinion of the book and did not go beyond the kind of criticism to which all authors of intellectual work subject themselves when they publish.

I think if you had the time and inclination to look through sf fanzines from the past several decades you would find plenty of reviews that transgressed this limit, in fact, whole fanzines that specialized in publishing such reviews. Whenever I have wondered what saves fandom from being plagued by lawsuits of this type, the only convincing answer I’ve ever come up with is that nobody in the sf field can afford to hire an attorney.

[Thanks to Francis Hamit for the link.]

One thought on “French Court Rules for Book Reviewer

  1. An equally ugly lawsuit was brought against a prominent SF writer in Toronto by one academic, whose review of the book was so extreme that the author became involved in an imbroglio in print. Apologies were demanded and refused, accusations made, and then finally a lawsuit filed. The court eventually found in favour of the plaintiff. The beligerant academic was obliged to pay court costs and damages, which the writer shrewdly donated to some worthy cause. The incident divided the local SF community into two camps, both upholding the freedom of speech. But, ultimately it was the reviewer who came off worse, ending up a virtual recluse locally.

    Indeed these things can get pretty ugly, and we’re lucky they don’t happen as often as they might. But they do happen now and then… with the sort of results you’d expect.

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