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by Khushbu Shah, EATER.COM   

In the wake of a negative review in July, a restaurant in Cap-Ferret, France took a food blogger to court over her critique. She was fined thousands of Euros even though she was an amateur, unpaid blogger.

As a result, a group of French restaurateurs and hoteliers have launched a petition to effectively ban all "defamatory" reviews. The petition (translated), which the Local writes was started by Michelin-starred chef Pascal Favre d'Anne, currently has well over 1,700 signatures. It requests that the Minister of Commerce prohibit "judging and of posting defamatory comments and subjective observations on members of staff in our restaurants. We ask reviewing sites to moderate their users and to ask for proof of their visits to our establishments."

Restaurateurs and hoteliers are frustrated with sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp where anyone can comment, regardless of whether or not they actually visited the establishment. A pub owner tells Le Figaro (translated) that he knows a "direct competitor [who] pays students for writing negative comments" about his business. Those who have signed the petition — including chef Jean-Luc Rabanel of the famed L'atelier de Jean-Luc Rabanel — want the government to set some basic standard of review ethics. The chefs may have a point: A French study found that "nearly 45 percent of online reviews were biased or simply untrue."