Pianist Dejan Lazic asked The Washington Post to remove a negative review written and published after a 2010 performance, the Post reported Oct. 31.
Lazic’s request was made in response to this year’s EU court ruling allowing EU citizens the “Right to Be Forgotten.” People can ask for search engines to remove links to articles they say are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant,” as iMediaEthics has written.
The famed opera performer Placido Domingo also complained after a negative review from the same reviewer. Lazic pointed out: “Can it really be that all these artists performed so often so badly, and that predominantly in Washington, D.C. in presence of this particular reviewer!?”
Lazic’s complaint is “the first request The Post has received under the E.U. ruling,” the Post reported. “It’s also a truly fascinating, troubling demonstration of how the ruling could work.”
The Post noted that the review wasn’t even “eviscerating” — it was just “a criticism.” The author of the review pointed out to the Post that she just “thought he could do better than he did” because he has “significant ability.”
The 2010 article, by Anne Midgette, reviewed Lazic’s “Washington debut.”
“It’s not that Lazic isn’t sensitive – or profoundly gifted,” the review read. It went on, “He’s a pianist of prodigious gifts, and he’s too good not to do better, to move beyond the music’s challenges and into the realm of its soul.”
In a statement to the Post, Lazic denied his request amounted to censorship and said he wanted to protect his image. He also claimed the Post review libeled him.
Especially because the article is a review of an event, the Post pointed out that the request to remove the article following the pianist’s complaints it was wrong raises unique questions:
“It’s a question that goes far beyond law or ethics, frankly — it’s also baldly metaphysical, a struggle with the very concept of reality and its determinants. Lazic (and to some extent, the European court) seem to believe that the individual has the power to determine what is true about himself, as mediated by the search engines that process his complaints.”
After the Post published its article about Lazic’s request, Lazic posted a “commentary” on his website responding to the Post’s article.
Lazic claimed “some of my quotes have been taken out of context (perhaps simply for the editing purposes) and therefore have the potential of being misinterpreted.” While the Post said he wrongly sent his request to the Post, Lazic said he did that intentionally because he wanted to work with the Post directly before contacting search engines.
“This is not about censorship nor about closing down an access to information, actually Europe is cradle of democracy and many other values it is linked with and which we all sometimes seem to take for granted, such as freedom of speech,” he wrote.
He noted that the article in question is four years old and that he finally decided to complain because he saw how high the article was in search results.
“I personally haven’t commented nor complained about the defamatory nature of the review in f.e. a letter to the editor or in a blog ever since it has been published in 2010,” he added.
iMediaEthics has written to Lazic for more information.
See all of iMediaEthics’ reports on the Right to Be Forgotten.
Hat Tip: Gawker