Saturday, February 26, 2011

Author sues over poor review


Karin N. Calvo-Goller, a lecturer at a law college in Israel, wrote a book called The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. This was released by Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, and reviewed by a professor at the University of Cologne. A site called Global Law Books published the review, which was not a favorable one.

So Calvo-Goller filed a lawsuit in a French court.

Meaning that the Israel-based author of a book released by a Dutch publisher is suing a German professor in a French court for a review on an American website.

(This has been brought to you by a Canadian blogger.)

But on a more serious note, this goes so far beyond complaining about a bad review - or even Tweeting the reviewer's contact information - that I'm not sure what the author hoped to achieve. Publicity for her work, maybe, on the basis that anything is better than nothing?

Sadly, the book's page on Amazon now features over fifty reviews that make the original feedback look laudatory in comparison. There may not be enough countries in the world for all the lawsuits.

March 7, 2011 update : She lost.

"Considering the resulting harm suffered by the accused, he will be justly compensated by judgment against the Complainant requiring her to pay to him the sum of €8,000."

12 comments:

Barbara Martin said...

How sad to know that an author can't take the bad with the good. Whether one writes fiction or non-fiction, not everyone is going to like the work. Litigation is so expensive.

Marian Perera said...

I could see an author suing an editor and reviewer if the review really was libelous and groundless. But in this case?

Stephen M. Swartz said...

LOL! The world gets crazier and crazier!

Tara Maya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara Maya said...

Well, most of the one-star reviews seem to actually be reviews of the author's behavior, not of the book.

I've seen less spectacular evidence that shows the same thing as this case: the second best way to treat a bad review is to ignore it.

The best way, if you have just the right touch of humor, is to review the review, with a touch of self-mockery. For instance, a writer who proudly pastes, "...this book must have been written by an imbecile..." on their website, can milk the poor review for laughs and curiousity.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate (US)
The Unfinished Song: Initiate (UK)

gypsyscarlett said...

I do so wonder what goes on in some people's heads. I can understand being privately upset over a bad review. That's human. But one has to learn to deal with such feelings.

How could one not realize that suing would make them look a million times worse than one, subjective review ever could?

Courtney Rene said...

Congrats - You have been chosen for One Lovely Blog Award: www.ctnyrene.blogspot.com

Marian Perera said...

Tara - I've seen some very funny replies to reviews, but as you said, it takes both a keen sense of humor and a touch of self-mockery.

Any hint of authorial dignitas being irreversibly damaged by the review, and you're on thin ice.

Tasha - And how does a lawsuit in a different country even work? If the editor and the reviewer don't travel to France, will they be fined in absentia?

Kaz Augustin said...

Libel has, up till now, been most popularly pursued in Britain, regardless of where the plaintiffs reside. The problem is *sigh* the results take such a darn long time to come. (Apologies, retractions, etc. etc.)

If you feel slighted and want an apology within MONTHS while still limiting your own financial fallout, then France is the country for you! There's a name for what she's doing. It's called "libel tourism" and it's an heinous violation of free speech.

grace said...

The most entertaining amazon review is actually the positive one...

"I wasn't sure if I'd ever read another book after I finished 'Breaking Dawn,' and I don't think I would have if I didn't read this book on the recommendation of a friend. Once I started reading though, I could barely put it down for 5 straight days. ... "

http://www.amazon.com/review/RSSAUSEJ8X89L/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#RSSAUSEJ8X89L

Marian Perera said...

Courtney - Thanks for the award!

grace - That review made me want to ask when the movie was coming out.

Kaz - I looked up "libel tourism". Thanks for clarifying what's happening here.

I suppose an apology is all Calvo-Goller can reasonably expect - if she wins, anyway - because I can't see how a French civil court could enforce a monetary judgment against people in two other countries. But if I'm missing something, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

The prosecuted publisher gives a detailed account of the matter including all of his original correspondence with Ms Calvo-Goller, in the following lengthy editorial:

http://www.ejil.org/pdfs/20/4/1952.pdf

Seems to me he was more than reasonable with her just by offering her the option of posting a reply on the website. Having been a student of this law professor I wonder what could have induced her to brazenly place herself in opposition to academic freedom of speech in this manner.

I mean, she must have understood the implications of a lawsuit under these circumstances, and a minor slight against her ego (having read Weigend's review, I highly doubt it would have damaged her career as she asserts) does not justify the way she responded.