Paris Court Rejects Israeli's Libel Claim Over Bad Book Review

A Paris court has rejected a criminal libel complaint filed by an Israeli researcher, Dr. Karin Calvo-Goller, over an academic review of a book she wrote.

Calvo-Goller, a researcher at the Academic Center of Law and Business in Ramat Gan, filed the complaint against both Prof. Thomas Weigend of the University of Cologne, who wrote the review, and Prof. Joseph Weiler of New York University, who edits the website on which it was published. But the case against Weigend was later dropped, leaving Weiler as the sole defendant.

Calvo-Goller's book, "The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court," was published in 2006. In 2007, Weigend reviewed it for the Global Law Books site, which is affiliated with the European Journal of International Law.

"Unfortunately, the book is particularly disappointing with respect to procedural theory," Weigend wrote. "Calvo-Goller realizes that the ICC's procedural arrangements often represent a compromise between Anglo-American and Continental legal traditions. But her conceptual grasp of the 'inquisitorial' systems seems insufficient for a critical analysis that might go beneath the surface."

Calvo-Goller demanded that the review be removed, saying it constituted libel that could damage her reputation and chances of promotion. Weiler refused, but offered to let her post a response. She rejected that offer.

Instead, in June 2007, she filed a criminal libel complaint in France, where she also holds citizenship - even though both book and review were published in English, the reviewer was German and the editor was American.

In its ruling Thursday, the French court agreed the review did not exceed the bounds of legitimate academic criticism, which is "a necessary element of academic freedom and freedom of expression."

It also ordered Calvo-Goller to pay Weiler 8,000 euros in compensation and slammed her for "forum shopping" - attempting to find the most convenient venue for a case.

Calvo-Goller said yesterday that she had not yet studied the ruling and thus had not yet decided whether to appeal. But she said the complaint was aimed at forcing reviewers to be "more responsible" and "think twice about whether what they write is factually true." She said she was particularly hurt by Weigend's claim that "all I did was take the articles of the various treaties and place them one after another. That's factually untrue."