A court in the USA has ruled that Netflix must answer a defamation claim made against it by former chess master Nona Gaprindashvili who alleges that comments made about her in Netflix's fictional drama 'The Queen's Gambit' "tarnished her personal and professional reputation".
Netflix's hugely popular series, 'The Queen's Gambit', tells the fictional story of a female chess prodigy set in the 1950s/1960s. In one episode the prodigy is compared to Gaprindashvili but the commentator says that Gaprindashvili "never faced men" - which is untrue. In its attempt to dismiss the case, Netflix sought to argue that in a fictional work "no reasonable viewer would have understood the line to convey a statement of fact". It argued that any viewer would require knowledge of 1960s competitive Soviet chess to understand the defamation which is alleged.
In dismissing Netflix's arguments, the Judge ruled that the fact that the series was a fictional work did not "insulate" Netflix from a defamation allegation if all the other elements of such a claim were found. It remains to be seen whether Gaprindashvili will indeed be able to make good her claim.
the fact that the series was a fictional work does not insulate Netflix from liability for defamation if all the elements of defamation are otherwise present."