Feeds

US judge to rule on the Internet

Major Yahoo/Nazi auction case fall out

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

A US judge is to decide the future of the Internet. According to the BBC, Judge Jeremy Fogel has agreed to consider whether law courts can determine what Web sites based in other countries can host.

Judge Fogel is becoming a bit of a specialist in IT and Internet matters, but it doesn't take a legal genius to work out that the implications of such a ruling are enormous. It cuts to the core of the multitude of legal confusions the Internet has joyously thrown up.

However, if Judge Fogel were to decide that law courts can't cover national boundaries with regard to the Internet, it would only start another round of huge legal in-fighting. Some would say he was foolish in the extreme to even consider broaching such an issue.

It all revolves around the infamous Yahoo/Nazi auction case. A quick reminder: it is illegal in France for anyone to buy or sell Nazi memorabilia. Yahoo's auction sites sold such material. Not on its French site, mind, its US site. However, various lobby groups took the case to court, saying that French people can still view and buy Nazi memorabilia, even though the site is in the US.

The judge asked three experts if Yahoo could block all French visitors. They (wrongly, in our opinion) said that most French users could be blocked. The judge then (rather than simply ban the shipping of such items to France) threatened Yahoo with huge daily fines (up to £10,000) if it didn't block French citizens from viewing the site.

Yahoo gave up on meeting the crazy criteria (although its free speech defence was incredibly arrogant) and pulled all Nazi memorabilia from all its sites.

At the same time, however, it appealed to a district court in California to look at whether French laws could be enforced in the US - free speech issue again.

And for the second time, a judge (American this time) who should know better has given an expansive ruling. It would seem judges can't help themselves in their bid to establish a precedent in cyberspace.

And so, Judge Fogel ruled that the French lobby groups (The International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra) and the French Union of Jewish Students (UEJF)) could be sued themselves by Yahoo for damaging its business.

"This case presents novel legal issues arising from the global nature of the Internet," said the judge while lawyers all over the world greedily rubbed their hands together. And for good measure, a touch of US-is-best philosophy: "Many nations, including France, limit freedom of expression on the Internet based upon their respective legal, cultural or political standards. Yet because of the global nature of the Internet, virtually any public Web site can be accessed by end-users anywhere in the world."

Why the French judge didn't just say no goods could be sent to France, and why Judge Fogel didn't just say that the French courts could take the money out of Yahoo France, we may never know.

Is this any way for grown judges to behave? :-)

Incidentally, we have to put a caveat on this story. The Judge Fogel details we have taken from the BBC (as mentioned in the first paragraph). However, we have been unable to track down any other reports of his words - which is odd considering the high-profile nature of the case. ®

Related Stories

Yahoo! auction revamp: racism out, charges in
Yahoo! flies to US court over Nazi memorabilia row
Yahoo! Nazi tech expert backtracks
Yahoo! loses Nazi trinkets case
Yahoo! legally obliged to ban the French?
Anti-rascists sue Yahoo! over Nazi auction

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.