ReviewsGate threatened with court action: editor Rod Dungate explains.

ReviewsGate is under threat of being taken to court.

The ability of ReviewsGate to offer information and informed comment is under threat. As is the ability of other media outlets operating in the field. At least if one member of the public gets their way.

But don’t lose any sleep (yet). ReviewsGate believes the threatened action is ill-judged and misplaced.

In 202 ReviewsGate carried a review of a performance during the summer months. As is our practice, a full cast list was appended. An individual has contacted us as her name appears in the cast list. This has only recently shown up in a Google search, we understand, although the review was posted at the time it was written.

The individual, noting the existence of privacy legislation and the ‘right to remain invisible’, has demanded that ReviewsGate removes both her name and the review. If such a demand could be sustained under legislation, it would clearly have a devastating effect on a wide range of reporting.

ReviewsGate took advice from a number of sources and is standing firm on our need to retain the review and cast list; we have pursued this practice since we began reviewing in 2001. There are two elements supporting our reasoning.

The first is that the review and cast list are a statement of public record. There is no legal nor moral requirement to remove such a record simply because a person does not wish their presence to be recorded. Public record is public record; the performance was given in public and legitimately reported.

The second element is that even if the request were legitimate (which it is clearly our understanding it is not) then the dispute must be with Google Search. The ReviewsGate item is public record, the Google Search is the software which makes it visible.

ReviewsGate has a database of almost 9,000 reviews and articles. Occasionally errors occur – a character may be atricuted to the wrong actor, or a mis-spelling may appear. When these errors are drawn to our attention the error is corrected as quickly as possible. But in the case discussed in this article, the name would have been taken from documentation supplied by the producing company and would appear to be accurate.

This reasoning for our decision was made politely but firmly to the individual in our most recent email. The individual’s response was terse: See you in court.

We await developments; but hope there aren’t any.


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