Legal Question in Technology Law in Pennsylvania

laaw concering publication of restaurant name and phone number

Is it legal to publish a restaurants phone number,and name if not given permission by the restaurant but is submitted by a person that is not affiliated with the company. Is itthen legal to post that person opinio of the restaurant on line.

Asked on 9/15/04, 4:39 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

William Marvin Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C.

Re: laaw concering publication of restaurant name and phone number

I don't know of any law against publishing a business name and number. I assume it's not an unlisted number, and most businesses don't object to free publicity.

PUblishers compile business directories all the time. They don't need to get permission of the businesses, although they typically solicit advertising. Like the Yellow Pages.

Your second question can't be answered the way you ask it. You probably wounldn't ask the question if it was a favorable review. So let me rephrase to what I think you're really asking:

"What might happen if I post a critical review of a restaurant?"

It's not a crime (assuming no indecent langauge), so it's "legal "in the sense that you won't get arrested and thrown in jail.

But can the restaurant owner sue you and the writer for defamation? Yep, there's no way of guaranteeing that won't happen. Very few businesses would bother doing that, and you'd probably have some good defenses. But if the owner is vindictive, or the review was really nasty, it could happen and you could end up with some legal bills, even if you won the case in the end.

Whenever someone asked, "Can someone sue me over XYZ" and the answer is always, "Anybody can sue over anything."

To get a specific evaluation of the risks and what you can do to minimize them, you really need to consult a lawyer, because defamation is an enormously complex topic (and not my area, either).

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Answered on 9/16/04, 8:50 am

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