Court rules merchants cannot censor bad Yelp reviews

January 2, 2013 6:57:00 PM PST
Many businesses complain when they get bad reviews on Yelp. On Wednesday there was a court ruling on whether they can censor the reviews. 7 On Your Side has followed this story closely and he's here to tell us what happened.

This is a ruling that could affect online reviews everywhere. It says comments are protected by free speech, even if they're negative.

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that merchants have no right to automatically censor a bad review on Yelp. They must first prove the statements are false.

Several local merchants have complained to 7 On Your Side about what they say are unfair reviews on Yelp, with no way to stop them.

In the Virginia case, a contractor claimed a customer falsely accused him of theft. A judge ordered the customer to take the statements off Yelp, but now the high court said that violates free speech.

The contractor must first prove the reviewer's statements are libelous.