Can I go ahead and disparage this company on my blog?
July 9, 2011 1:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm toying with an idea for a blog. On this blog, I would write short fiction entries in which a specific product, manufactured by a very well-known brand, would be exposed in every entry as particularly loathsome and subsequently disposed of or even destroyed.

The posts would all be written in fiction mode (with fictional characters, events, etc.) and they would always, in some way, criticize this same company and its abominable star product.

It sounds harsh but I would attempt to make this funny in a slapstick and mock-epic fashion.

My question : will I get sued by the company in question? I live in Canada.

By the way, I've thought of changing the name of the said company and the name of the product. I wouldn't really mind taking that route but would it be as fun?...
posted by amusem to Law & Government (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If it's fiction, you have free rein to incorporate the company and its products into your fiction however you see fit, assuming you're in the US.
posted by jayder at 1:23 PM on July 9, 2011

"Will I get sued?" and "Will I lose a lawsuit or have to spend large sums of money successfully defending myself?" are two very different questions.

Are you more concerned about the first or the second situation?
posted by andoatnp at 1:30 PM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well I'd sure be curious to read them.
posted by TheRedArmy at 1:45 PM on July 9, 2011

Response by poster: As I've said, I'm in Canada.

andoatnp : second situation ~
posted by amusem at 1:49 PM on July 9, 2011

Whoops, sorry.
posted by jayder at 2:01 PM on July 9, 2011

Is the company itself located in Canada or somewhere else?
posted by andoatnp at 2:23 PM on July 9, 2011

Is this tantamount to a fictionalized/lively product review (at the core)?

It also will depend on how successful the blog is and how big the product company is.

If 15 people read it, no one is going to care. If 1.5 million read it and you're making a lot of money, someone might care and have enough resources to make you miserable.

* Disney (for instance) will care either way. Disney (for instance) will care if 15 people read it and you're 6 years old with three weeks to live. Disney (for instance) ALWAYS cares and would absolutely go after you.

None of this is to say don't do it nor even to change the names and products involved. It's probably a case of better to ask forgiveness than permission.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 2:26 PM on July 9, 2011

Response by poster: The company is a global household name.
posted by amusem at 2:36 PM on July 9, 2011

Maybe consider subtly changing the company name? A friend of mine wrote a review of [Bonefish] (seafood restaurant on the East Coast), and in her blog entry she called it Fonebish. In some ways, that was even funnier, everyone knew what she was talking about, but it would never come up in a google result.
posted by MeiraV at 2:42 PM on July 9, 2011

Response by poster: MeiraV : yes, clever satirical touch, this is very effective. Thanks for the reminder.

True that it takes away the Google spotlight, however. But, heck...
posted by amusem at 3:25 PM on July 9, 2011

The fact that it's fiction isn't absolute protection against charges of libel in either the U.S. or Canada. It's rare, but writers have been found guilty of libel for writing an unflattering account of a character who is too obviously based on a real person.

Also, Canadian libel laws are, in general, more favorable to the plaintiff than U.S. libel laws. To oversimplify greatly: For a U.S. defendant to be found guilty, the plaintiff must show that the defendant maliciously published something he or she knew to be false. In Canada, the onus is on the defendant to prove he or she told the truth, or at least tried sufficiently hard to find out the truth.

I can't tell you if you'll be sued, but more importantly, nobody can tell you you won't be sued.
posted by lore at 3:45 PM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

First off, depending on both how scathing they are, and how popular they become, I would guess a household name company is going to take an interest in your stories, possibly legally

Secondly, it seems like a kind of shitty, juvenile thing to do, that is going to put all your energy into something extremely negative. Even if you gain some sort of notoriety over it, all you are ever going to be is "that guy who hates company X" Use that 15 seconds well.
posted by timsteil at 5:26 PM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not a lawyer, but I would note that LVMH threatened Octavian Coifan, a perfume blogger for mere criticism.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:52 PM on July 9, 2011

Response by poster: Timsteil : You're right, there's that risk... I hope, as I said, to stay away from angry and maintain a funny, mock-heroic, outlandish atmosphere. And over time, the blog would --my hopes, again-- become more about the fictional characters and what happens to them. And maybe I don't even need to use the brand name, I can modify it, as MeiraV was pointing out...
posted by amusem at 6:08 PM on July 9, 2011

Why not just thinly disguise the offending product? Donald O'Ronalds Hotdogs, say.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:30 PM on July 10, 2011

« Older Learn me some French.   |   If I take another job during a lay-off grace... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.