Published: August 22, 2000
French Courts in Quandary over Nazi Memorabilia at Yahoo!
Yahoo!’s recent claim that it can’t keep French Web users from accessing their US auction site for Nazi memorabilia has the French courts in a legal quandary.
The case began in April when the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) said it was seeking an injunction to end Yahoo!’s offering of the Nazi memorabilia: The sale of objects that “incite racial hatred” are illegal in France.
Yahoo!.fr, the web portal’s French site, prohibits the sale of such rdf_Descriptions, but that doesn’t mean its French users can’t access the Nazi rdf_Descriptions by clicking onto the US site.
Yahoo! states that it’s technically impossible to deny access to any users to its site, and the company sees the French court’s intervention into the matter as threatening to the Internet’s future.
In a Reuter’s interview, Yahoo! France’s managing director Phillipe Guillanton called the potential outcome “disastrous,” saying to limit the national frontiers of the Internet would also be limiting progress.
The judge in the case has rejected Yahoo!’s argument, and has appointed an investigatory team composed of both French and American experts to come up with solution within two months.
The cost of the technical investigation will be funded by Yahoo! (40 percent) and the rest will come from the plaintiffs.
Thus far four companies have offered possible technical solutions, including New York-based Info Split and Montreal’s Border Control.
The next hearing is set for November 6 in Paris.
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