This article by David Kravets originally appeared on Ars Technica on 7/11/14. While the case in question concerns nutritional supplements, this precedent has wider implications for ALL Amazon reviews, including book reviews.
Decision broaches anonymous commenting versus unfair business practices.
A federal judge has granted a nutritional supplement firm’s request to help it learn the identities of those who allegedly left “phony negative” reviews of its products on Amazon.com.
The decision means that Ubervita may issue subpoena’s to Amazon.com and Cragslist to cough up the identities of those behind a “campaign of dirty tricks against Ubervita in a wrongful effort to put Ubervita at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace” (PDF).
According to a lawsuit by the maker of testosterone boosters, multivitamins, and weight loss supplements, unknown commenters had placed fraudulent orders “to disrupt Ubervita’s inventory,” posted a Craigslist ad “to offer cash for favorable reviews of Ubervita products,” and posed “as dissatisfied Ubervita customers in posting phony negative reviews of Ubervita products, in part based on the false claim that Ubervita pays for positive reviews.”