French anti-hate groups win case against Yahoo

By EDRi · January 18, 2006

In a tight decision (6-5) ruled on 12 January 2006, the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals dismissed Yahoo’s case of sale of Nazi-related books and
memorabilia on its French auction site.

The majority stated that “First Amendment harm may not exist at all” and
that it’s “extremely unlikely” that any penalty could be assessed against
Yahoo’s U.S. operations. “Unless and until Yahoo changes its policy again,
and thereby more clearly violates the French court’s orders, it is unclear
how much is now actually in dispute,”

The minority considered that “criminal statutes of most nations do not
comport with the U.S. Constitution. That does not give judges in this
country the unfettered authority to pass critical judgment on their

The case came as a result of a French court decision against Yahoo by La
Ligue Contre Le Racisme et L’Antisemitisme (LICRA) and L’Union des Etudiants
Juifs de France (UEJF) that obliged Yahoo to make it “impossible” for French
citizens to connect to a Yahoo website with auctions related to Nazi

A District U.S. court had previously declared as unenforceable the French
court decision considering that “although France has the sovereign right to
regulate what speech is permissible in France, this court may not enforce a
foreign order that violates the protections of the United States

Susan Crawford, a law professor who teaches a course on cyberlaw at Cardozo
School of Law in New York, considered that “The facts in this case allowed
the court to avoid the difficult diplomatic issues raised by the dispute.”

Court rules against Yahoo in Nazi speech case ( 12 01 2005)

Court dismisses Yahoo’s free speech lawsuit (12.01.2005)

San Francisco appeal court verdict (12.01.2005)

LICRA vs. Yahoo – case documents