French Court Fines Blogger For Negative Restaurant Review Prominently Displayed In Google Search

A restaurant owner in France sued a blogger for writing a negative review of her experience at his establishment and ultimately won because the review became too popular in Google's search results. Seriously. Apparently the judge in the case isn't familiar with this whole Internet thing and how it works, hence the goofy outcome.

According to BBC News, the owner of II Giardino restaurant in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France sued Ms. Doudet for writing a blog posted title, "The Place to Avoid in Cap-Ferret: II Giardino." In the post, which no longer appears online, Ms. Doudet takes the restaurant to task for what she perceived as poor service and an unfriendly attitude on the part of an owner when she ate there in August 2013.

Image Source: Flickr (Raphaël Labbé) - not taken from the restaurant in this article.

Though the restaurant owner wasn't happy with the entire review, the judge took issue with the title of the blog and its popularity among Google's search results. Mr. Doudet was subsequently ordered to change the title so that the phrase "the place to avoid" wouldn't be as prominent in search results. The judge also ruled that she must pay €1,500 ( around US$2,000) in damages to the restaurant, plus an additional €1,000 (~US$1,350) to cover the plaintiff's costs.

"This decision creates a new crime of 'being too highly ranked [on a search engine]', or of having too great an influence'," Ms. Doudet told BBC News. "What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people."

Though the article has since been deleted, you can still view it online courtesy of the Wayback Machine.