Yahoo! has filed a with a US court over a French court's decision that it must block the sale of Nazi memorabilia on its Web portal.
The web portal is arguing that a French court cannot hold a US-based company accountable for breaking French law. Yahoo! argues that the French court has jurisdiction over its Yahoo! France subsidiary but not Yahoo! itself, which is based in Silicon Valley.
Greg Wrenn, associate general counsel international for Yahoo!, told US reporters that: "what we're asking a judge to do is to look at the order from France and determine whether it is valid here in the US. We say this is not the kind of order that American courts can enforce."
Yahoo! lost a ruling in late November when Paris Tribunal Judge Jean-Jacques Gomez ordered the company to stop illicit content on its network of websites and anti-Semitic memorabilia on the portal's US auction site from entering France's borders.
The International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) and the French Union of Jewish Students (UEJF) filed a lawsuit against Yahoo! because the company does not stop individuals from selling war memorabilia, including Nazi items, through the online auctions of its US web site.
LICRA and UEJF argue that, since sale of such materials is banned in France, Yahoo! must prevent French Internet users from accessing the pages. But the company counters that the sale of such memorabilia is legal in the US where Yahoo! and its Web servers are based.
The French subsidiary, Yahoo! SA, has already blocked access to the auction pages in question through its Web site at www.yahoo.fr. But Yahoo argues that it would be technically impossible to block just French citizens from access to its online auctions. An argument that was rejected by the French court.
"This case opens up broader issues on Internet jurisdiction - whether one country has the jurisdiction to regulate the content of Web sites in another country - that should be discussed and addressed by representatives of governments and the Internet industry around the world," Yahoo! said in a statement.
Yahoo was ordered to begin filtering its site or pay $13,000 each day that it does not comply with the order. The fines would go into effect in mid-March of next year.
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