French court forces blogger to pay damages over negative restaurant review

By on July 17, 2014, 5:00 PM
google, review, blogger, french court, caroline doudet, il giardino

A French judge has ruled against a blogger forcing her to alter a post and pay damages to a local business. After visiting a restaurant called Il Giardino in southwestern France, blogger Caroline Doudet posted a negative review upon receiving what she felt was poor service. The restaurant than took her to court for damages and a judge has ruled in its favor.

The blog post in question was entitled "the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino" and appeared as the fourth result when searching for the restaurant on Google. The judge ruled that Doudet must change the title of her post so that "the place to avoid" wasn't visible in Google search. 

The court also pointed out Doudet's fashion blog, which has around 3,000 followers, suggesting it felt the number was high and of influence. Doudet told the BBC that the "decision creates a new crime of being too highly ranked." 

"What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people," Doudet said.

While it likely seems absurd that a restaurant review would be censored by a court of law, the restaurant owners argued that there is a respectful way to do it and that this "was not the case." The blog post "showed in the Google search results and did my business more and more harm, even though we have worked seven days a week for 15 years," an Il Giardino owner said. "I could not accept that."

Reports suggest, the decision is not likely to set any kind of legal precedence. Under French law, a judge can issue an emergency order to protect victims in situations of this nature but the decision can be overturned if the parties end up in a full hearing. But Doudet says she would rather have this whole situation end rather than go through the anguish of appeal. 

The court has not only forced her to change the title of her content, but also to pay €1,500 ($2,000) in damages as well as another €1,000 to cover Il Giardino's legal fees.

Image via Shutterstock

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