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Sunday, July 27, 2014 3:12 PM

"Place to Avoid" - French Blogger Fined $2,000 for Writing Bad Restaurant Review

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Want to review a French restaurant? Only good reviews are allowed in France.

Caroline Doudet a blogger who runs the site “Cultur'elle,” found that out when she wrote a restaurant review that the French court said "ranked too high in a Google search" (as if any writer can know in advance how many times a blog will be read, or what its ranking will be).

Link to Cached Review of "Place to Avoid"

Doudet was ordered to change the title of her blog and pay a fine. Instead she took it down.

However, a cached version is still available, and I bet it gets even more hits now that the courts have piqued everyone's interest.

Cached English translation: The place to avoid the Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino.

Neither the headline nor the article appears unreasonably inflammatory.

Doudet's main charge is exceptionally poor service. It took numerous complaints to three sets of servers for Doudet to get drinks and an appetizer before her main course arrived.

$2,000 Fine

For her writeup, French Blogger Fined $2,000 for Restaurant Review, Too Prominent on Google.

A blogger eats in an Italian restaurant in southwestern France. She thinks the food is bad, the service even worse, and she writes up a review that is not glowing, to put it mildly.

It’s a scenario that plays out daily in the cyberworld. Hair in a dish of pasta? Many would snap a photo and share it on Twitter or Facebook. An insufferable waiter? Blog it out.

But this blogger, a French woman named Caroline Doudet who runs “Cultur'elle,” got sued for it by the restaurant Il Giardino. And a judge has ruled that she must amend the title of her piece – because with it the post appears too prominently in Google search results – and that she owes $2,000 in damages.

The judge, according to court documents reported by the BBC, said that her blog, with over 3,000 followers, came up as the fourth result any time someone searched for the restaurant in Google. Therefore, she [the judge] reasoned, the title should be changed so “place to avoid” was less prominent.

Doudet made very good point to the local newspaper Sud Ouest that if bloggers don’t have the liberty to write bad reviews, good reviews become essentially meaningless.
Il Giardino a "Place to Avoid"

If for some unexplained reason you find yourself in France, you may wish to mark Il Giardino as a place to avoid.

Any restaurant that would file charges against a blogger instead of apologizing for alleged piss poor service, is not a place I would want to visit.

For its stupid lawsuit, it's highly likely Il Giardino suffers more than it would have otherwise. 

Lawyer Advises Mish "Don't Go to France"

Here's the real place to avoid: France. I have my own experience, as many of you know.

For details, please see Lawyer Advises Me "Don't Go to France"; French Pub Fined €9,000 for Using "Undeclared Labor" after Customers Returned Empties to Bar

Doudet may be out $2,000 but hopefully she makes it up with publicity. I am willing to help. Please check out her site: Cultur'elle. Here's an English Translation of Cultur'elle.

As for me, France is not going to collect a cent.

Outside of purposeful slander, yelling "fire" in a movie, etc., I can say what I want.

France should try that reasonable approach. Instead, France (like Spain) marches at a fast pace down the road to complete internet big brother supervision.

For a synopsis of Spain and Europe in general, please see Internet Free Speech Vanishes in Spain; Most Infamous Law in Internet History; Brussels and Spain Target Google

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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