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Bashing companies & negative Reviews against the law?

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by Laceygirl, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. #1
    I have a project coming up that I will have to enroll in a lot of questionable reviews.
    These reviews will not only be somewhat offensive, and negative, but really make the item, company, or product look bad.
    For example: talking about how stupidly horrid a certain Blackberry phone is, How awful a TV show is, etc.

    While there is hundreds of review sites that give negative reviews can this be a legal problem?
    Laceygirl, Feb 6, 2012 IP
  2. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #2
    If they are not factual it could be a problem. Made up reviews of services or of products could easily be considered libelous. Calling something a "review" does not allow one to libel or slander a company or product. That being said, there is nothing that prevents you from having factually accurate negative reviews or opinions of products or services.
    browntwn, Feb 6, 2012 IP
  3. Laceygirl

    Laceygirl Banned

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    #3
    I am confused.
    Let me give you an example:
    A certain version of a blackberry phone has internet that takes one minute to load and search on google, but 1 second on facebook.
    the review is a blast of negative comments and paragraphs regarding the sad excuse of a stupid NEW technology phone that has internet slower than a 4yr old cell making it a pathetic waste of money where the manufactures created the phone only to annoy a person to get an extra cellphone sale quicker for a high turnover.
    Conclusion: blackberry is a total scam.

    Example B:
    A local appliance manufacturer that makes GE stoves has 4 out of 5 of the formans and team leaders selling and buying drugs within the company. The owner finds out but doesn't think its worth the trouble of firing the leaders so he eliminates a few employees who are being targeted by the drug users to avoid losing the manufacturing level from doing the legal thing which is reporting the leaders.
    The review would make the company look very bad, but it is based on factual things.

    Now all the reviews would really make all of the companies look very bad and at some points they would even mock and name call at the company saying harsh things such as "the bonehead company award goes to!" it would be all based on opinion.
    etc.
    The question is, is this legal?
    Laceygirl, Feb 7, 2012 IP
  4. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #4
    Without knowing the facts it would not be possible to speculate.
    browntwn, Feb 7, 2012 IP
  5. Dave Zan

    Dave Zan Well-Known Member

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    #5
    A thought hit me, browntwn. For the most part, is it give or take safe to say something like, "I think/In my opinion, this is a scam because blah blah blah..."?
    Dave Zan, Feb 8, 2012 IP
  6. Laceygirl

    Laceygirl Banned

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    #6
    OK, I've found a fairly decent site that can compare.

    The project I'm teaming with is very comparable to
    http://www.somethingawful.com
    If you head there you won't be surprised to see that they are a "hate" review site. They've been online since the stone age too.

    http://www.somethingawful.com/d/news/romney-olympics-stop.php
    Look at the title: "Please stop up about the Olympics"
    the whole site is slewed with negative reviews and comments.

    Think this is a legal issue?
    Laceygirl, Feb 8, 2012 IP
  7. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #7
    If the thing being discussed is an opinion or something close I think that would usually be the end of it. Most of that second example though has implications that he knows that the owner has certain facts (which may or may not be true). That the owner acted on that information for a specific reason (which may or may not be true - or as opposed to on advice of counsel). It then seems to indicate that the failure to do something was not legal. Without knowing any of the facts, I could easily see that type of "review" getting someone in legal trouble if someone was so inclined. Libel cases are few and far between and very tough to win. Of course, when you damage someone's business and they can show direct losses as a result, that tends to motivate them more than say just insulting the average person with bullshit lies.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
    browntwn, Feb 8, 2012 IP
  8. attorney jaffe

    attorney jaffe Member

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    #8
    I think your real question should be; Are you liable for the posts of your visitors? The answer to this question is that with a proper DMCA notice on your website, and with the safe harbor created under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which grants you immunity for the tortuous acts of others committed on your web site, you will not be liable for the actions of your visitors.
    attorney jaffe, Feb 10, 2012 IP
  9. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #9
    I was under the impression the poster would be authoring the objectionable content himself.
    browntwn, Feb 10, 2012 IP
  10. Laceygirl

    Laceygirl Banned

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    #10
    I'm not talking about visitors comments. I'm talking about articles being published that say bad things about companies.

    The reason I'm confused is because from the law it basically says that you shouldn't because its against the law, but then you go to sites, blogs, and forums like this one and people say DMOZ SUCKS, google sucks they are scamming, etc, etc.
    Laceygirl, Feb 11, 2012 IP
  11. Dave Zan

    Dave Zan Well-Known Member

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    #11
    After reading and thinking about this a little more, here are my own further thoughts.

    Certain laws address specific issues like libel or slander, libel in the case of print. While anyone can (almost) say anything, one should be prepared to back it up if
    ever called upon.

    So even if you say something like "I think it's a scam because...", it helps to either: a) state such as an opinion, or b) back it up with something especially factual.
    If you essentially claim something as fact without some form of reasonable, factual proof, you're potentially setting yourself up for trouble.

    Eventually, it depends on that party you're negatively commenting about if they can materially demonstrate how your comment is affecting their bottom line or so.
    Some like a challenge - to make a point - even if it's costly.

    Personally, I try not to give someone a materially-enforceable claim against me if it can be helped. YMMV.
    Dave Zan, Feb 11, 2012 IP
  12. paw42uk

    paw42uk Member

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    #12
    Firstly I would just like to say that because you can find examples elsewhere on the net, this does not remove the responsibility you have on your published articles and does not remove you from prosecution.
    You're articles must be published with a clear conscience and based on fact/truth and your own findings.
    The second example you list is fraught with challenges from many sides, I would personally stay away from hearsay and publish your own trusted findings.
    paw42uk, Feb 12, 2012 IP
  13. ryan_uk

    ryan_uk Prominent Member

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    #13
    OK, that one is an opinion about a product, look at most shopping sites with product reviews, forums about those products, etc, and you'll find similar comments. But you might want to consult with a legal expert anyway and get a TOS, disclaimer, etc. Also provide a channel for the company to interact. (It's very common on big forums to find people from companies posting, e.g. "Think Broadband" (in the UK), Web Hosting Talk, etc.) You can write about problems you had with a product, but don't rip a company apart and call them a scam.

    EDIT: I just noticed that these won't be customer reviews. Be very careful about what you write, then. Run it all by a lawyer first, but even then you have no guarantees.

    This would get you in hot water. Again, consult a legal expert. Now if this was a newspaper with a credible source and some evidence, they might publish a story about it. (Or a TV show expose - aka reality TV rubbish on during the day.) But if I was running a complaints website, I wouldn't let such material be published. Not worth the trouble and anyone can make up stories like that.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
    ryan_uk, Feb 12, 2012 IP
  14. Laceygirl

    Laceygirl Banned

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    #14
    This is not what I want to hear, but I still not understand why if you own a website you should be scared to get sued for talking trash about a company but you see it all of the time everywhere else.

    Facebook has thousands of hate groups. Facebook has a we hate facebook group. Facebook has a "we hate everyone who is part of the facebook group". I've been looking online and people talk about how worthless Fox tv is. How a certain product is a total scam, etc, etc. What makes them within the legal limit to freedom of speech that I wouldn't have?
    Laceygirl, Feb 13, 2012 IP
  15. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #15
    "What makes them within the legal limit to freedom of speech that I wouldn't have?"

    The terms used.

    You can "hate" any product or service.
    You can think any product or service is "worthless"

    Those are opinions. Calling a product a scam gets much closer to the line of what you can and can't do. If you describe why you "think" something is a scam, is would probably be okay. If you just say that XYZ is a scam and imply reasons why, and those reasons are not factually true, you cross the line.

    I've not bothered to read it, but it seems like you should read the terms and other information on a site like http://www.ripoffreport.com/. The main difference I see between that and your proposed idea is that they take user submissions while you intend to document it all yourself - which brings with it all the liability. You will be responsible for all the content you write.
    browntwn, Feb 13, 2012 IP
  16. Laceygirl

    Laceygirl Banned

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    #16
    I think you'd be liable for publishing negative reviews as created them.

    Oh, how about a policy where company owners may request to have their own company unpublished. Would that solve the issue?
    Laceygirl, Feb 13, 2012 IP
  17. browntwn

    browntwn Prominent Member

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    #17
    The difference is described in jaffe's post above.

    As for a policy where they can request removal that opens up other questions in my mind. I have seen companies that purposely put crap listing and then offer you the right to correct the information for a fee. That type of thing would only make the problem worse. Plus, if you are just going to remove anything that is complained about it seem to defeat the whole purpose of your site, no?
    browntwn, Feb 13, 2012 IP
  18. contentboss

    contentboss Peon

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    #18
    Gosh, what a wonderful project. You really can come out with them, can't you, lacegirl?

    Not what you want to hear, but the bottom line is *you can be sued at anytime for anything*.

    Unless you have deep pockets (which you don't) and an almost moronic stubbornness (which you do) you won't be able to fight suits even if you are in the right.

    As your 'plan' is almost guaranteed to anger large corporations, make a wild f*cking guess what will happen next.
    contentboss, Feb 13, 2012 IP
  19. Laceygirl

    Laceygirl Banned

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    #19
    the reason I would put that notice is because I believe that no no owner would ever even request a removal, but if they did I'd be more than happy to.

    Alright, so let's see the list:
    -Proper DMCA notice so I am not liable for visitors or guest article writers
    -Policy that allows company owners to request removal of the article (No fee)
    -Divide the line where you are not discriminated a company/product such as accusing them of stuff & just speak out of pure opinion.


    Here's another idea.
    What if the names are changed of the companies(and any location that may conflict with major evidence that we're talking about this company).
    Example: McDarrel's and the fact that the fast food is extremely unhealthy.

    If the names are changed then wouldn't that offer pretty much freedom to write about what I want about my fantasy company that doesn't exist?
    Laceygirl, Feb 14, 2012 IP
  20. contentboss

    contentboss Peon

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    #20
    Jeez.

    OK, I'll try and make this very clear so you can understand it.

    * It doesn't matter what clever 'wheezes' you come up with (and believe me, NONE of them are remotely original) in order to try and 'protect' yourself against the consequences of trying to negatively impact a corporation's activities for your own personal gain.

    * If you p*ss off large organizations, they WILL come looking for you.

    * Unless you are rich, you won't be able to defend yourself in court against them even if you are actually in the right.

    * You will be sued into bankruptcy and possible jail time.

    Are we clear?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
    contentboss, Feb 15, 2012 IP