Feeds

US judge's Nazi Net ruling turns worldwide law on its head

Creating a maelstrom of legal argument

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

US federal judge Jeremy Fogel has decided that Yahoo! can't be bound to pay a fine imposed by a French court over the sale of Nazi memorabilia on Yahoo's US Web site.

By deciding to consider whether law courts could determine what Web sites based in other countries can host, he had already created a dangerous precedent. By ruling that the company can't be held to account, he risks provoking years of in-fighting between different countries' legal systems.

This time last year, a French judge ruled that Yahoo! must prevent any French citizens from viewing any Nazi goods that were up for sale, even if the goods were on a US Web site and would not be shipped to France. It is illegal under French law to display or sell anything which incites racism.

The French judge said the company would be fined $13,000 per day for every day over a 90-day deadline if people living in France could still view the items. Despite expert opinion that it was technically possible to restrict viewing for French citizens, Yahoo! wisely decided just to pull all Nazi memorabilia.

The French judge could have ruled that as long as the site was not hosted in France, the goods were not sold in France and that none of the goods would be sold or shipped to France, then it was not illegal. Instead, he decided to attempt to extend his power over the Internet - and hence the world.

As Yahoo! decided to pull the goods in question, there was no problem. It did however apply to its own courts to decide whether the French court had the right to make that decision. It found a judge willing to hear its appeal in Judge Jeremy Fogel, who has been making a name for himself for attempting to pull Internet implications into existing law.

Perhaps it was inevitable that judges in different countries would clash at some point, not thinking of the wider implications of their decisions but their own parochial concerns.

"We are extremely happy about this," said one of Yahoo!'s lawyers, Mary Catherine Worth, no doubt because the decision will keep the legal profession busy for the next decade. "This has very broad implications for everyone, not only companies but also for individuals who operate Web pages here in the United States."

This is a battle not for justice but between judicial systems. It has been a disaster waiting to happen ever since the three experts - once of which was the current head of ICANN Vint Cerf - told the judge that a total blocking ban of Internet users from one particular country was possible.

A week after the judge's decision, one of the three - Ben Laurie - wrote an "apologia" saying that he hadn't considered the political implications and was thinking only of technical feasibility. ®

Related Stories

US judge to rule on the Internet
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

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.