A bad review is not libelous

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The hottest news of the week is the libel lawsuit filed by a celebrity stylist against a fashion blogger. While this representation will not doubt to any feelings of the parties in this controversy, the efficacy of this level of alleged defamation is wanting.

There is a previous article on Libel and the Public figure (read HERE). Now, from gathering of information from the apologetic news portal, the celebrated stylist is suing a fashion blogger mainly on the issue that most trending woman on earth wore a “used” dress on the biggest show last October 24, 2015.

This representation is fashion-deficient, friends were sought to define the job of a stylist. So, a stylist chooses the attire for a person. It’s that simple. What was just newly discovered was the difference between the designer and the stylist. The designer is known for the quality of the design, while the stylist is known for the choice. Also, the stylist doesn’t actually own or lay any proprietary right to the clothes.

No doubt that a stylist is a specialized profession where craft and artistic acumen is desired. People pay over six figures to be told what to wear. A celebrity stylist is a celebrity for intents and purposes. And as it was stated before, celebrities have a lesser degree of defamation standards.

Libel under the Revised Penal Code is the public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary OR any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause dishonor, discredit or contempt (Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code). The Cybercrime law (RA 10175) created the crime of online libel. In fact, the Cybercrime increased the penalty of libel.

Now, the degree of how the libel hurt the offended party is subjective. The more private the person, the higher the degree of privacy that is reasonably expected. Now, the more famous person, the lesser degree of privacy. A celebrity wants to be famous, thus the baggage that comes with notoriety must be the burden to be expected.

The accused in this issue is a fashion blogger. While his defense could use the freedom of expression and the press, there could be a better argument. The nature of the accuser in relation to the access to the public should be a factor. Also, the profession being high profile increases the chances of criticism.

The craft of “styling” is akin to other skills such as cooking, composing music or directing films. They put out their product for their target market to appreciate and pay for it, sometimes indirectly.  

Now, ask yourself this, if we allow this controversial libel lawsuit to prosper, what is to stop a director from suing a movie critic? What is to stop a chef from suing a customer who tweeted that the food tasted bland? What is to stop the musician from suing the audience who booed him onstage?

If you make yourself public, you make yourself open to criticism. More so, if the criticism is targeted to your craft. A bad review is not libelous.

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Rod Vera is an attorney practicing intellectual property law. You may contact him at E-Mail: attyvera@ymail.com or follow him on Twitter: @attyvera