A pianist and composer wasn’t happy with a review he received from the Washington Post four years ago, and now he believes he finally has the legal justification to have it wiped from the Internet.

In a novel but misguided interpretation of the European Union’s controversial “Right to Be Forgotten” ruling, Dejan Lazic has reportedly requested the Post to remove a lukewarm review of his performance at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater in Washington. The classical musician complained the critical pan has been plaguing his Google search results -- as the Post’s Caitlin Dewey reported Friday -- and he believes he should have the right to control his own image.

The review was posted on the Washington Post’s site in 2010 by Anne Midgette, a classical-music critic. In it, Midgette called a recital by Lazic “attention-getting, large scale and a little empty.” The performance was Lazic’s Washington debut and continues to appear on the first page of Google’s search results for his name. In an email to the Post, Lazic said requesting to have the review removed is not about censorship but about “the truth,” Dewey reported.  

Lazic was born in Croatia, but now lives in Amsterdam, according to the biography on his website.

In May, Europe’s highest court ruled that EU citizens have a right to ask search engines such as Google to remove links to articles that become outdated or irrelevant. Under the ruling, search engines must consider such requests, although they may deny them should they be deemed unfounded.

The decision sparked widespread criticism from media and tech companies, as well as free-speech advocates, who warned it would lead to an intractable flood of unreasonable requests from people who simply did not like what was written about them online.

However, the ruling applies to search engines, not to news publishers. And it is only applicable in the EU. In her article, Dewey gave no indication the Post is planning to comply with Lazic’s request.

Meanwhile, the request may have unintended consequences for Lazic. His Wikipedia page has already been updated with a section on his “‘Right to be Forgotten’ controversy.” Maybe instead of Googling his own name, he should have looked up “The Streisand Effect.”

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