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September 04, 2003

Freedom to know

It would be a dark day indeed for the industry (any industry) and for writers if companies were able to prohibit the publishing of reviews of their products.  Ziff-Davis reports that Tibco (makers of enterprise messaging software) has sued competitor Sonic for publishing the results of tests done by a third-party.  Tibco claims that performance testing "constitute[s] an unlawful use of Tibco's software."  These kinds of licensing provisions have become more common of late, and have almost universally been thought of as unenforcable.  Here's to hoping that remains true.  As a writer and even more so, as a consumer, I realize that the free exchange of information about the items, products, places and ideas that surround us all is the only way to maintain a free society as well as a healthy economy. 

In a related issue, the Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports, have been embroiled in a suit with Suzuki since 1988.  Consumer Reports reported that the Suzuki Samurai rated unacceptable due to safety concerns that became evident in the course of CU's exhaustive tests.  Suzuki sued for defamation, but a judge dismissed the case.  Upon appeal, however, the case has been reinstated and is being sent before a jury. 

CU's president Jim Guest:

"The First Amendment guarantees the right to report our independent findings, even when our judgment differs from that of the government or the company in question. The record of our testing of and publication about the Samurai demonstrates our high testing standards and the consistent concern in Consumer Reports for accuracy, fairness, and impartiality. Our product ratings are based on our test and survey results, and we make our judgments solely for the benefit of consumers."

Posted by larryb at 06:07 AM [permanent link]
Category: Misc
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