In May of 2005, the Blog Herald reported on the case of Travel Golf Media, a blog and review site that covers golf courses across the country. The company behind the site site, two of its bloggers and its owner, Robert Lewis, were being sued by a Las Vegas golf course owner Billy Watson for defamation after the site had posted a series of negative reviews.
Though disputes over negative reviews are common, what makes this one unique is allegations that the negative reviews were a form of retribution for an advertising arrangement that ended. In a ruling handed down last month, judge Jennifer Togliatti agreed and awarded the golf course and its owner, Billy Walters, a $9 million award for defamation.
Even as Pay-Per-Post and similar paid-review sites take a drumming in the blogging world, it is easy to forget that the concept of paid reviews are nothing new as is its sibling, review extortion, where the writer threatens to pen negative reviews of a service unless they are paid a certain amount of money.
However, where pay-per-review services are primarily an ethical issue for most bloggers, review extortion also raises serious legal problems, as the Lewis case points out, and is something that bloggers need to be aware of and avoid. [Read more…]