Users reviews are THE market

Users reviews of products (like “I bought an Ipod and it was not working” or “I went yesterday to XYZ Restaurant and it was fabolous” or “i saw ‘paradise now’ and it was great”) are the basic building blocks of Recommender Systems. And of course they are able to determine the success or failure of a product. Many people nowadays before buying a product check “what Internet is saying about this product?”, usually the level of information awareness is precisely this one.
So, it should not be surprising that:
There are authors on Amazon who write reviews of their own books under pseudonyms
at least one U.S. author was mistakenly outed on’s Canadian website as having written a review of his own work. The real names of thousands of people who had posted anonymous customer reviews under pseudonyms like “a reader from St. Louis” were revealed online for several days – a mistake that finally was corrected after reviewers, some of them authors themselves, complained.

a restaurant is suing, a company that collects restaurant reviews from common consumers and posts them online and in a book, for damaging its reputation. (…) seeking a public apology and 50,000 yuan (US$6,173) each in compensation.They are also demanding the Website delete all of the negative comments it has posted online and stop publishing a guide book with negative comments”.
– and mainly that Amazon Gets Patents on Consumer Reviews
Review your local dry cleaner, pay $10 million?
User reviews are a hot new content area, being used by Google (Quote, Chart), Yahoo (Quote, Chart) and MSN to sweeten their local search results. But as of Thursday, such consumer reviews could put search providers, as well as thousands of e-commerce sites, video rental or review sites and online booksellers, in the sights of’s (Quote, Chart) lawyers.

The patents are simply absurd (you can read them in the article) and I’m not going to comment them and I’m very happy that at least for now Europe voted against Software Patents).
About reviews, I think that creators should be free to publish their opinions (in term of reviews in this case), they should own their reviews (hreview seems a great format for this task), reviews should be released under very liberal licences and everyone should be allowed to aggregate the reviews and do whatever she prefers with this information: offer a Recommender System service, use them for her own decisions, …. Reviews are one of the cornerstones of the Information society and they should be usable by anyone who has an idea.

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