I would say if it is an independent review site rather with the public submitting their views than one built specifically to bash a product with no other intention then he has no legal right to demand that you remove it.
Isn't free speech wonderful?.
You could always remove simply remove everything to do with his store and just state the reasons, that it was getting so many negative comments that he requested you remove it, which wouldn't be a lie?.
Amazon themselves had this issue from publishers when they whined about customer reviews, they said their job was to sell products, not to be a marketing firm...
Google information on "Ripoff Report", which is pretty much the nuclear option of getting ripped off online, since a ROR ranks almost immediate and usually, freakishly high. Needless to say, they've pissed off A LOT of people- some with money to burn.
It's all test case territory. The short of it is, you may be forced to defend it in court, or at least hire a lawyer to try and get it dismissed on whatever grounds.
In the case of Ripoff Report, they put up a sabre-rattling page about how suing them is not worth it, it will cost you all sorts of money when you lose and they seek to recover costs, etc... Rumour has it, though, that for a "fee", it can be taken down. The guy seems to be running an extortion operation holding peoples reputation hostage under the guise of 'free speech'...
If you choose to keep them on the site, I'd consult a lawyer - even if you're in the clear, they could probably make things unpleasant for you. The only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity at all. If you take them off the site, I wouldn't say a word about why - just have them suddenly disappear. If they're really that bad, do your visitors a favor and don't even acknowledge that they existBesides, why further infuriate them? It will just prolong your dealings with them and I'm sure you have better ways to spend your time. Or like Yelp, which has a couple of pending lawsuits for allegedly manipulating ratings and offering to "bury" negative reviews if you upgrade to a paid listing...Lots of that going around, no wonder business owners are sensitive!..
I agree with enlytend in that if you are unclear the best port of call would be a lawyer to seek advise.
My personal opinion however is that if the reviews are truthfull and are not deflamatory then I would leave them up. If the company comes back to you maybe offer to allow them to put a rebuttle on or a statement but that is as far as I would go...
Commercial speech is regulated, and there is also the issue of defamatory speech.
Let's take the following:.
Nobody should buy a domain name from Sparhawke, because all of the money he makes pays for child pornography and donations to terrorist organizations..
Should Namepros post that "consumer review" to the sales forums? Should Namepros take it down if you demand it?.
There is a lot of sleaze that goes on in "consumer review" forums, and much of it has to do with actual competitors posting "consumer reviews" for the purpose of unfairly damaging their competition. If content is outright defamatory, as in my example above, then the forum can be held liable for republication of the defamatory content.
It's not as simple as you might think, and I'd be interested to know whether you think my example above counts as "free speech" or something else.
It has been said, in regard of certain "consumer review" forums, that when your business has received a negative report, you will be contacted by a "reputation management service" which, for a fee, will "help" you get the report removed. In another variation, you can buy a "premium account" to make your response to the "consumer review" more prominent. These types of arrangements are simple extortion...
Thanks for your advice guys. Rep given.
I'll let you know how it goes...
I would appreciate it Jberryhill if you remove that sentence and maybe choose another to make your argument.
Would you like someone to go around random forum discussions and start working into the discussions that you might be into into child pornography or something?.
If not, why do you think I might accept that?.
There is quite a difference in stating that someones service might be crap and stating that someone might be guilty of committing one of the most heinous crimes in the world.
And by the way, in case you didn't understand the above...you might want to choose a different way of explaining libel. We may have debated and argued in the past and more likely will continue to do so in the future, but I would never stoop so low as to cast such aspersions upon your name...
I set it apart as an example of what would be a clearly factually untrue and defamatory statement.
"If content is outright defamatory, as in my example above".
A further interesting question arises in connection with statements on forums. Can "Sparhawke" sue for defamation? Even if it were not a deliberately extreme example - demonstrating intent directed at an actual person would be difficult. However, it is objectively clear from the post that it is set apart as an example, in response to the popular notion of "free speech", and there is no intent to defame even the pseudonym of "Sparhawke".
"There is quite a difference in stating that someones service might be crap and stating that someone might be guilty of committing one of the most heinous crimes in the world.".
Which is the point of choosing an extreme example. Commercial competitors get into trade disparagement - the commercial species of defamation - all of the time. They are both actionable.
"but I would never stoop so low as to cast such aspersions upon your name.".
I could be wrong, but I'm willing to bet that's not your name...
From a general perspective you should be fine. Giving public opinions about products and services is the right of the consumer. For example, so called "sucks" (e.g paypalsucks.com) sites haven proven to go under "fair use" of trademarks.
Found this rather old but still interesting Wired article: Legal Tips For Your 'Sucks' Site..