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Yahoo! Not Protected From French Anti-Nazi Laws 914

Posted by timothy
from the they-must-hate-speech dept.
snoopsk writes "An appeals court ruled that Yahoo is not protected from French legal attacks due to Nazi-related items sold on Yahoo's auction site. Backed by the ACLU, Yahoo intends to defend its First Amendment rights should a French court try to enforce French anti-hate laws. This case could have huge implications for free speech online if the French courts are successful in forcing Yahoo to remove this content.
"
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Yahoo! Not Protected From French Anti-Nazi Laws

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  • too bad... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Izago909 (637084) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <dogsiuat>> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:04PM (#10062503)
    There's a simple solution: delete the Yahoo.fr site and shut down all French business units. If Yahoo has no presence in France, their laws won't apply. It's not like France is as imperialistic as America; they can't make their laws transcend their borders. Then the problem becomes the French governments' and how they might block Yahoo.
  • Data Embargo... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:10PM (#10062555)
    I think the most logical course of action should be for Yahoo! to withdraw its entire business from France by firewalling out all IP space known to be from France from all of their products. If France continues to enforce its policies against the American-aimed .com version of American-based sites (rather than their .fr spinoffs which were already Nazi-free-zones) such as Google, they'll eventually be left with a rather useless Internet...
  • In fact, thre's a law in France making it a crime to "attack the character of the French President." That, combined with communist control of many of the French journalist's unions, means that many stories (such as all the members of the French government, past and present, who had their hands in the ELF bribery scandal, or, for that matter, the UN Oil-for-food scandel) never get adequately reported in the French press.

    At that's to say nothing of the French journalist who got fired for pointing out that the French press were so incompetently pro-Saddam that the were talking about "terrible" American casualties and "fierce" Iraqi resistence right up until Saddam's statue was toppled.
  • Re:too bad... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pollardito (781263) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:18PM (#10062623)
    because the level of oversight required to filter out all such materials (as well as those that are objectionable to other countries who jump in on this when they cave) would be cost-prohibitive?
  • Re:too bad... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by harmonica (29841) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:18PM (#10062630)
    What do you call a frenchman advancing on Bagdahd? A uranium salesman. Jacques Chirac was the salesman who sold Hussein a reactor.

    Donald Rumsfeld gave Hussein all kinds of weaponry back in the '80s when Iran was the bad guy and Iraq an ally.

    For every thing the French screwed up you can find one the Americans screwed up. And the British. And...

    That sort of argumentation doesn't lead anywhere.
  • Re:Venue issue... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fuzzums (250400) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:23PM (#10062669) Homepage
    It just seems to me that if Yahoo wants to do business in France they have to do it by the french book. Make perfect sense to me.

    And there are things France can do. They can block the Yahoo-site :)

    But this makes the internet and the law problems very interesting.
  • Re:Here's a link (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:30PM (#10062740)

    of course America wouldnt try to hide anything would they ?

    out of sight, out of mind perhaps ? [whitehouse.gov] or is it just some people can't handle the truth no matter how horrible it is.

    it seems like a lot of countries still have issues they need to face [personal.inet.fi] , from rampant anti-semitism (which presumably France is trying to appease with this yahoo action)

    can you see a pattern in all this trouble ?

  • Re:Bravo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by proj_2501 (78149) <mkb@ele.uri.edu> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:31PM (#10062750) Journal
    you completely miss the point.

    there are frequent occurrences of anti-semitic vandalism in france. it's on the rise, so much so that israel's "move to israel" propaganda is having an effect in france.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:33PM (#10062775)
    You are an idiot, or trolling.

    Attacking the character of Jacques Chirac is practically a national passtime in France. He's disliked almost as much as Americans dislike Bush. If you actually knew anything about France, you wouldn't make such ridiculous claims.

    You didn't bother to back up your claims of a "law" with references or even anecdotal evidence, but I'll give you an incredibly mainstream example of Jacques Chirac, Jospin, and the whole gang being routinely made to look like complete and utter idiots (along with most politicians worldwide): Les Guignoles de l'Info. It's a political satire show on French TV that is one of the most popular around; anyone claiming to be French who hasn't seen it, isn't French. That's how common/popular it is.

    And it's bloody hilarious.

    Actually, the French are quite similar to Americans in many respects, politically. When criticised by others, they will appear to be quite loyal to their government and way of life. But inwardly they are quite aware of their country's shortcomings and are quite harshly self-critical. This is not a bad thing, in my opinion.

    It's kind of like "I can hit my little brother, but if anyone else even thinks about it, I'll kick the shit out of him."
  • Example: refusal to extradite criminals who might be subject to a death penalty in the US. Moral indignation is the reason why.

    Comity my ass, the same principle applies here. Censorship laws are bullshit in the US, and no US company should have to bend a millimeter to a censorship law that smacks of being written by a Fascist.
  • by MarkPNeyer (729607) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:50PM (#10062943)

    I thought the same thing at first, but this is a lot more complicated of an issue.

    Suppose I go to france, upon up my breifcase on the streets of Paris and start hawking my neo-nazi wear. When they try to fine me, it would be absurd for me to evoke my first-admendment rights. They don't apply to the french government, and when I'm in france I'm under their jurisdiction.

    That's not what Yahoo was doing, and it's going to be interesting to see how the courts take this one. Even if yahoo didn't have any servers in france, the mere fact that the content was accessible to french citizens prompted the french government to levy the fine.

    The argument by the french is not that yahoo servers based in france were responsible.less They're saying that anyone who sells nazi memorobilia in such a way that french citzens are capable of buying it is legally liable and subject to a fine. If the french government succeeds in fining Yahoo, then there would be a legal basis to levy a fine against any online merchant who sells nazi memorbilia, regardless of his location if he doesn't block people attempting to access his website from france. The argument could be extened even further - if a brick and mortar store accepts orders placed by phone, and they don't make sure no one from france orders nazi stuff, a precent set by the courts' ruling in this case could hold that US-based brick and mortar store liable to fines by the french for violating french law.

    At first I thought yahoo's case seemed stupid for the same reasons you mentioned. But if you think about the possible results if this case sets a precedent (and when don't they) it gets really scary.

  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:54PM (#10062974)
    And it was the French that saved the Americans from saluting the king. Your point?
  • Re:What is Freedom? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:57PM (#10062996)
    most people spout off "I can say anything here in the U.S.! That's freedom!" But, you can't

    My understanding is that you can say anything in the US so long as (1) you're not calling other people to do illegal things (read shouting "let's go kill some jews!" in public) and (2) it doesn't contravene the law (like you say, lying in court). Also, those rules are the same for everybody.

    In France, saying "I think Jews own the press" can land you in court. That's wrong. Also, saying "I think Catholics own the press" won't. That too is wrong, because the rule is biased towards one group of people, usually a minority.

    France admits that. They say jews have suffered during the war and deserve to be especially protected. They since have extended their "special protection" to people of north african descent, and pretty much most ethnic minorities. The problem is, it's counterproductive because people who are not in one of the specially protected minority resent that, and also people are attracted to forbidden things. Which explains all the antisemitic acts going on in France right now.
  • Re:Data Embargo... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swissmonkey (535779) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @08:57PM (#10063001) Homepage
    In case you haven't realized, your government was quite pissed at France's decision to block the UN resolution against Iraq.

    Proof that it actually gives a shit, because that caused USA a lot of problems in order to get non-US forces in Iraq, and it still does.

    What's the percentage of non-US forces in Iraq ? 10% ? Are the US happy about that ? Nope...

    I have people in my own company who are now in Iraq(reservists) because of Bush's idiocy, and they ain't coming back anytime soon because Bush didn't listen to what France had to say and thus almost no real army besides UK is helping USA, so yes, France's and the EU's actions actually have a big impact on american lives.

    Now, you can try to convince yourself of the opposite, but it won't bring the boys back home any faster. Only getting european support(and thus UN support) would have.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @09:15PM (#10063143)
    was that the US courts ruled that basically since even Yahoo.com (as opposed to .fr) was accessible from France, French courts could indeed prosecute Yahoo (.com) if it broke French law, but that Yahoo would have to be prosecuted in France, not in the US. French courts have asked Yahoo to at least geo-filter the "nazi" parts of Yahoo auctions .

    The press also remarks that Yahoo was quite happy to sign-up to the Chinese government's rules even while battling French ones, and attributed that to the larger potential of the Chinese market.

    This is indeed a free speech issue, and we in France restrict it :
    - one may not "promote hate", such as anti-jew, homophobic , anti-immigrants discourse
    - one may not divulge the private life of someone else (movie stars, politicians...)
    - one may not advocate substance abuse, or any other law-breaking behaviour

    On the other end, nudity and sex in particular are very much less frowned upon. We are bemused be the drama in the US over prime time tits, especially since prime time murders are so common.

    I think the "private life" part does make sense, and we were quite bemused by Monicagate, both by the fact that Americans made such a fuss about something so private and personal, and that they thought it such a public scandal. We for example learned a few years before his death (couple of years after Monicagate ?) that our previous president (Miterrand) had an illegitimate teenage daughter by a regular lover. The main debate was on whether the newspapers shouldn't have held their tongues.

    The "hate speech" and "law breaking" aspects are more debatable. The law aims to avoid the promotion of hate and such, but the net result is that these issues can barely be discussed publicly, ie rationally. It does give a weapon to sue neo-nazis and far-right groups though.
  • by malkavian (9512) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @09:19PM (#10063174) Homepage
    You mean, like the US thought it was well within it's rights to arrest Sklyarov for selling Russian software that just happened to be purchasable within the US?
  • by metalpet (557056) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @09:54PM (#10063412) Journal
    Pretty much, although there are a few differences:
    - skylarov's company was using prices in dollars
    - the credit card processing company used was located in the US
    - the pages to sell those items were available in english, instead of russian only.

    Those elements point toward some form of intent to reach a market beyond Russia.

    In contrast, the yahoo auction site didn't have prices in francs nor euros, didn't use a french company to process payments and didn't offer a french version of those pages.
  • Re:too bad... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @10:06PM (#10063506)
    > You can't make memory of what the nazi's did go
    > away by pretending it didn't happen.

    For your information, french laws in that matter don't do that. At all.
    Quite the contrary (at least they try to).

    They just force you to tell the truth about that period. You have to remember that some people around the world (like Mel Gibson's father, here in the US) do not really believe that the concentration camps are responsible for "that many deaths among the Jews".

    For instance, in France, it is illegal to state publicly that gas chambers did not exist.

    The French consider that such lies about history should not be allowed. These laws are here to protect history, and to ensure that nobody forget or remember a "fainted" version of what really happened.

    You may disagree with this strategy, but at least you agree with their goal.
    It is a bit like forcing people to fasten their seat belt in a plane or a car. You protect someone (and the people around: hitting the driver from behind in a car accident may kill him, it has happened) against his own choices.

    But there is also another dimension: you want to protect the memory of those who died, since they are not here to defend themselves anymore.


    > They don't respect peoples freedoms, why should we respect their laws?

    Well, because you are not supposed to chose respecting them or not? You may still disagree, but as a company this is quite irrelevant.

    So the only question is: does this kind of laws apply to an american company doing business in France, using the internet?
    IANAL; We'll see.
  • Re:Venue issue... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Gojira Shipi-Taro (465802) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @10:35PM (#10063734) Homepage
    I can't see a single reason why they would want to do business in France at this point, personally. Despite their posturing, France ceased to be relevant when they surrendered to Germany in WWII. The disintigration of their colonial posessions later in the 20th century was a foregone conclusion at that point, and inevitable. THe fact that the US bore as much of the burden for that disintigration indicates a faith the US had in France that has clearly not been borne out in later events.

    France won't even clean up it's own mess in Africa. They want the US to do it.
  • Re:too bad... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by StarCat76 (644079) <niceguyneilNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @10:47PM (#10063823) Homepage Journal
    It is not wrong for me to forbid you from doing so. However, I firmly believe that you should have the right to say 'cock sandwhich' in front of my hypothetical wife and kids. Your freedoms are more important than my happiness. Now, if you called 10 times a day saying that, that could be harassment. But once? Just because you're not happy with it doesn't mean it should be illegal.
  • by markbo (313122) on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @11:00PM (#10063910)
    This is all pretty funny. If the argument is that Yahoo is a US company, and the French laws shouldn't apply, think about the effects of the rest of the countries' e-commerce firms on the US.

    Should Dutch companies be allowed to ship pot to the US because in Holland that's allowed?

    Should Canadian e-commerce pharmacies be allowed to ship cheaper medical drugs to the US? The US isn't very happy about that right now...
  • Re:too bad... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2004 @11:42PM (#10064234)
    No. It's the internet. Nobody's forced to come into anyone's house. They go there voluntarily, and people let them into the "house" on their own terms.
    Talk about a bad analogy.

    This France deal is more like some prude calling up a random phone number, and the person on the other side says "cock sandwich."

    Invaribly, there are things on the net that I don't particularly want to see/hear/read, along with many other people. Animal porn is legal in France. It's not legal here, and I don't particularly want to see any (more). Ever. I downloaded a clip that I thought was supposed to be a music video, way back in napster day. Well, it was a horse and some blonde whore with red stalkings doing the whole deal. You don't see me stomping down French doors because of it. It was my fault.

    People just need to take responsibility for what they do. If France has such aversion to all things Nazi, then they should construct the Great French Fucking Firewall, and leave the rest of us the fuck alone.
  • Re:too bad... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by surprise_audit (575743) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @12:28AM (#10064563)
    I was thinking that blocking French browser IPs would allow Yahoo to say "Hey look, we've made a reasonable effort to stop the French from using Yahoo. If anybody is still getting through, it's not our fault."

    Actually, the Yahoo folks could take a hint from the pr0n folks and simply put up a big banner that says, "If you are French, please note: you may come across pages on Yahoo that have been deemed illegal by your government. If you still wish to view such pages, click [I accept responsibility for viewing illegal pages]. If you wish to be protected from such pages, please click [Take me to the French Ministry of Thought control]

    This is obviously a very effective method of controlling access because nobody ever clicks through the [yes, I'm over 18] button unless they really are 18+, right??

  • Good! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Wednesday August 25, 2004 @03:14AM (#10065478) Homepage Journal
    An enlightened court. The reasoning really is simple: If they claim that US law can hit you everywhere, like in the DVD case, where dozens of non-americans were sued, then quid pro quo and french laws apply to the US.

    Of course, the other solution (every country's laws apply in that country and nowhere else) would make more sense, but there are these darn precedents and the US desire to rule the world...
  • by gd23ka (324741) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:36AM (#10076841) Homepage
    "These laws are here to protect history..."

    History is always written by the victor and will always favor the author, but obviously only a "history" so off-base and incredibly untruthful needs laws protecting it. Usually it is businesses that are protected by laws, and in this context they are called shoah business or holocaust industry.

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