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Getting Sued for Libel

A Worry?

2:01 am on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I am wanting to start a site hat offers reviews of products. I know I don't need permission from the manufacturer to write about their product, but what are the chances of being sued for libel if the review is unflattering? There are a lot of review sites. How do they get away with writing negative reviews?
5:15 pm on May 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, eeek, I was trying to be funny (y'know, Oprah talking instead of... well, never mind). I was evidently unsuccessful. (I did think that was a great reference page, though.)
2:32 am on May 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This thread seems to focus a lot on what could be read as "Review Site" specific issues, but the heart of the question seems much more broad, and raises more questions for me than there is room to ask. That being said...

Though the odds of losing a libel (and slander?) case are low, who, esp. among small online publishers, would want to go through the trouble?

At the same time, where exactly does the line get crossed? Say someone writes X about Y (person or product), which is – to any “reasonable” person – clearly opinion, satire, etc., and Y (person or product) gets offended or sales drop. It seems that freedom of speech ought to protect the written X that offends Y.

A few issues that now come to the front of my little mind (it really is quite small - hey, could I sue myself for libel? Well, I guess that satement is based in fact) are:

1. I want to be able to write w/ out looking over my shoulder (outside of legal issues, I find it unfortunate that anyone has been harassed for expressing their views / reviews esp. when completely based in fact).

2. After reading so many TOS of various advertisers, web directories, & search engines that my eyes are now crossed, there seems a ubiquitous “no libel” statement, which, if violated can get you 86ed from the ad service and completely dropped from the directory or search engine’s index – so how careful must one tread, even one has libel or user policy - to not have opinion, satire, etc. misconstrued as libel and get 86ed?

3. If, e.g. one is using a contextual ad service and writes X that is clearly opinion, satire, a really bad joke, etc., against Y (product or person) and the contextual ads that get served are somehow popping up as a competing product or an anti-Y political organization, would that be perceived (even though X is clearly opinion, satire, etc.) as benefit from the “slanderous / libelous” content?

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