A U.S. federal judge ruled Wednesday that Yahoo was not bound to comply with French laws governing Internet content, a decision which could have broad implications for international free speech rights in the Internet age.
U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel, weighing in on an international dispute over Yahoo auctions featuring Nazi memorabilia, said French court orders barring such auctions on U.S.-based Web sites would not be enforced. France had sought to bar Yahoo's auctions of Nazi items under broad French anti-hate speech laws, threatening the U.S.-based site with fines of as much as $13,000 per day unless it blocked French citizens' access to the items.
Yahoo protested, saying it ran a French auction site that abides by local laws but could not effectively block people in France from going to other country-specific sites to access the objectionable material. The French court disagreed, pointing to technical experts who argued that IP-address tracking could spot more than 60 percent of French Internet surfers. Yahoo ultimately agreed to yank the Nazi items from its worldwide auction system, a move that was followed by online auction site operator eBay.
News source: CNet News