Submitted By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
We previously reported of an outrageous lawsuit by the owners of the Il Giardino Restaurant in Cap Ferret, France who sued a blogger critical of the dining experience, HERE. Essentially Caroline Doudet was sued by the restaurant’s owners because her allegedly disparaging blog post ranked highly on Google searches for the restaurant–fourth in a Google search return the lawsuit claimed. The title of her critique was in the English, “The place to avoid in Cap Ferret, Il Giardino” and was the cause leading to the lawsuit, according to paperwork filed.
“I was really stunned and disgusted, and of course I will worry now [whenever I] write a negative review,” Doudet said of the effect of the case in an e-mail to Wired.co.uk. “I regret the article, because it’s so much noise for nothing.”
Nevertheless a French Court handed down an emergency ruling blocking the article’s title and awarding Il Giardino €2,500 in fines and court costs.
The restaurant’s owners claimed the title defamed them, causing great damage to a business they worked fifteen years, seven days a week to build and the Google ranking was causing them increasing harm. But in what became a new definition of “Damage Award” the internet came alive and rendered a harsh judgment in its court of appeals. Fame became infâme. And the repercussions were magnifique.
The Streisand Effect has certainly manifested in this case.
Despite the ruling to curtail free speech, of course WebArchive.org mirrored the site and it may be read HERE, Le chat was out of the bag. Angered, internet citizens spread the word wildly. Now Google has a much different ranking of the restaurant.
Your author performed a Google Search using the arguments “Cap Ferret Il Giardino” and the return was with two exceptions entirely hits on the ruling, negative reviews, or press about the restaurant for more than ten pages. Moreover, the French flavor of Google+ had a very telling entry into its restaurant review of Il Giardino. The first few comments were seemingly before the controversy erupted, and generally positive. Then, afterward, the service became inundated with harsh comments against the restaurant. The graph below is quite telling:
The comments included the following; translated roughly from various languages, except two that are best read in the original French. All gave one star ratings:
To avoid! Not only did we not find the food not good at all, but the service was just pitiful! And what’s more, this restaurant can sue legal bloggers who just express their opinions! Innaceptable! I hope they close their doors very soon! (Thierry B)
The place to avoid in Cap-Ferret. Poor service, and the owner has a dreadful attitude. She can’t handle criticism well at all, and will likely threaten to sue you. Essentially the ‘Amy’s Baking Company’ of France. 1/5 – Would not try again. (Liam Mencel)
The waiter hovered around, listening to our conversation and waggled his finger at us any time we expressed an opinion. We had to start whispering to avoid his stern frowns when we mentioned what we had and had not enjoyed about our vacation so far. Finally, when he overheard me mention that the pizza was a bit overpriced, he ran to find the manager, who promptly demanded payment and then threw us out. (Troy Brophy)
I’ll be in France in November, but since I’m a writer, even more than a blogger, I won’t be stepping foot in a dump that might sue me for reporting on it being a dump. Anyway, the place is a dump. (Mike Williamson)
Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, Art. 11 The free communication of thought and opinions is one of the most precious rights of man: any citizen may therefore speak, write and publish freely, except to respond to the abuse of this liberty in cases determined by law. (Thibaud Maitre)
Effet Streisand (Jean-Baptiste Poirrier)
la liberté d’expression n’étant pas au menu de cet établissement , j’utilise ma liberté de blâmer et note en conséquence Quelle que soit la critique exercée par cette blogueuse , saisir la justice a ce sujet est pour un commerçant une erreur fatale (Pierre Louis)
The food is horrible, service is terrible. The healthy food is too hot.. (Stephan Meijer)
Imbéciles. (Matthew Gardner)
Now, a large number of major European and North American news agencies have taken notice, Including BBC and other equivalents, resulting in ever increasing numbers of folks who never ate at Il Giardino, but are certain it is a very bad place to visit.
The restaurant might believe it received justice in court, but there are other forms of justice.
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.