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Say I review things for people to read, such as on a website or blog. Is it safe to say it's legal if my intention is, say, book a flight to Phoenix with some pre-conceived intention of critiquing the flight?

I wonder because I've heard at least one story where someone got in legal trouble over reviewing a service, such as a cruise trip's policies/procedures/service/clientele on their personal website.

In general, is consent/permission needed for this?

Say I want to book a flight right now and plan to review various aspects of it -- service, clients, other passengers behaviors (if noteworthy) and prices, while also taking photos aboard the plane as well.

Would I need consent from maybe a public relations department or something?

Or is this basically legal to do (a review, in general, about a whole experience)?

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You've tagged this as both United States and Canada, so I'm not sure which country you're more interested in. If it's the United States, I would venture that the case of Palmer v. Kleargear.com covers a lot of what you're asking about.

The short version is a website charged two customers $3500 due to a negative review, because of an anti-disparagement clause in the site's terms and conditions. The customers filed the lawsuit and won, and legislation was introduced that made it illegal.

For more detail, I would refer to this excerpt from that wikipedia article:

Inspired by the Palmers' experience with KlearGear, the California legislature passed a bill in 2014 to ban the use of non-disparagement clauses in consumer contracts, and Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law on September 9, 2014.

In September 2015, the Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015 (S. 2044) was introduced in the U.S. Congress, to make such clauses void and unenforceable at the federal level. U.S. Senator Jerry Moran cited the Kleargear case as one basis for the bill.

So, to sum up, the only case I can think of is when a web site's terms and conditions included a clause that:

  • Was shot down in court
  • Is unenforceable by law in California
  • May become unenforceable by law in the US as a whole
  • Would probably be shot down in a court again

I can't speak to Canada, though. I also couldn't find anything about reviews of cruise ships.

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