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A Paris court has ruled that its country's citizens will only be allowed to buy auctioned goods online from state-approved auctioneers and will have to pay France's value added tax. In what is a heavy blow to the country's burgeoning internet industry, the court puts auctions firmly back into the hands of a state-controlled monopoly, The Financial Times reported. The situation arose when company Nart.com put expensive artwork up for auction on its site. The site skirted French laws and taxes by locating its server in the US and passing payment through a US bank. However, the possibilities clearly panicked the establishment, which promptly sued it. The sales were then ruled illegal by the court. Nart.com said it would appeal against the decision but will bar the French from auctions and not feature works or art sold in France. The state monopoly is due to broken up in autumn when a European directive on auctioneering becomes law.

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