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Yahoo! has lost a lawsuit in which it claimed a French court violated its right to sell Nazi trinkets.

Yahoo! became a darling for free speech campaigners when, back in 2000, the search giant was sued by French concentration camp survivors following a French court's ruling that the dotcom giant was violating local law which prevents the public display of Nazi memorabilia. Yahoo! refused to remove the links when ordered by a French judge, refused to pay a per-day fine, and when it did remove some material as a token gesture, said it was unrelated to French legal demands.

It's an interesting case for several reasons, but we'll highlight just one: Yahoo!'s stroppy, foot-dragging response to the French authorities contrasts with its attitude to Chinese law enforcement.

Yahoo! can't do enough to please the People's Republic, and last year handed over the details of dissident journalist Shi Tao to the Chinese authorities. Tao is now serving 10 years in prison for "divulging state secrets". Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders accused Yahoo! of going out of its way to help put Tao - a Yahoo! mail user - behind bars.

There's free speech, and there's free speech. ®

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