nettime's_roving_reporter on 25 Jul 2000 02:03:02 -0000

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<nettime> Can France Ban Auction of Nazi-items on Yahoo!?

[Since Yahoo!  is located in the US, the French court cannot ask the items
to be removed, it can only demand that access from France (or for French
citizens not matter where they are?) is blocked. It seems very complicated
to be an ISP in France.]

Yahoo! pleads its case over Nazi auctions
By Jane Wakefield, ZDNet (UK)
July 24, 2000 1:34 PM PT

Yahoo! puts its case to the high court in Paris following attempts from
anti-racist groups to have its American auction site blocked to French

The case brought by the Union of Jewish Students and the International
League Against Racism claims that Yahoo!'s auction site is an offence to
the collective memory of France because of the large collection of Nazi
memorabilia available -- 1163 items at last count. French law prevents the
sale of objects with racist overtones.

Yahoo! claims it does its best to "comply with the laws in the countries
that we do business with", but in a report submitted to the court Monday,
claims it is "technically impossible" to comply with the blocking.

"In order to render access impossible we would have had to identify the
geographical location of individuals, identify whether material was racist
and then block access," says a Yahoo! spokeswoman. "The report, with the
backing of independent consultancy EdelWeb concludes this is impossible."

Fines of up to 100,000 a day The high court has until Aug. 11 to consider
the evidence submitted by Yahoo!. If the court finds against Yahoo! the
portal could face fines of up to 100,000 a day. Yahoo!'s French site has
already blocked access.

The case bears remarkable similarities to a case brought in Germany in 1995
against CompuServe in which the former head of CompuServe was accused of
aiding and abetting the spread of child pornography.

Yaman Akdeniz, head of CyberRights & CyberLiberties is shocked that courts
are still showing a lack of understanding about how it is impossible to
govern the Internet via domestic laws. "If the French court understood the
Internet it would realize that it is technically impossible to block French
users from accessing its content," he says. "What they are doing is
applying national laws to an international medium. The nature of the
Internet needs to be taken into account."

Akdeniz thinks the outcome is obvious. "As far as I understand it will go
against Yahoo!," he says. He believes there will only be one move for
Yahoo! to make if the case does not go in its favor. "Yahoo! will leave
France, there will be nothing else they can do."

Yahoo! believes the case has significance to the future of Internet
jurisdiction. "It you follow it through to its logical conclusion, then
every site would be subject to the rules of every country it has a presence
in," says the spokeswoman.

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