A US appeals court ruled this week that a lower tribunal had no right to decide a case brought against US internet giant Yahoo by two French groups trying to halt online sales of Nazi memorabilia. Documents showed on Wednesday that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Monday that a US district court was premature in making a 2000 decision in the case that went in Yahoo’s favor.
The French associations, La Ligue Contre le Racisme et l’Antisemetisme (The League against Racism and Anti-Semitism — LICRA) and L’Union des Etudiants Juifs de France (Jewish Students Union of France — UEJF) want to stop Yahoo in the United States from allowing the sale of Nazi memorabilia.
The associations claim that French internet users can access such sales, which break a French law banning the circulation of Nazi symbols and which were removed by a French court order from Yahoo’s French site. The Ninth Circuit appeals panel ruled 2-1 that the lower court should have held back from ruling as the two groups had yet to file their cases in a US court in their bid to collect a fine imposed by a French court.
“Yahoo must wait for LICRA and UEJF to come to the United States to enforce the French judgement before it is able to raise its First Amendment claim. However it was not wrongful of the French organisations to place Yahoo in this position,” wrote Judge Warren Ferguson.
A French court in May 2000 ordered Yahoo to destroy all Nazi-related messages, images and text on its California server within three months, under penalty of a fine of 100,000 francs per day. Then Yahoo filed a complaint in the US district court in San Francisco in December 2000 asking the judge to declare the French court’s ruling unenforceable in the United States as they breached the US Constitution’s First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of expression.
The court granted Yahoo’s request for a summary judgement in the case, ruling that enforcement of the French court orders would violate Yahoo’s First Amendment rights.
Source: Agence France-Presse