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Yahoo! Inc. v. La Ligue Contre le Racisme et L’Antisemitisme


    Citation. Yahoo!, Inc. v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme et L’Antisemitisme, 169 F. Supp. 2d 1181, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18378, 30 Media L. Rep. 1001 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 7, 2001).

    Brief Fact Summary
    [Facts not stated in casebook excerpt, but case is an appeal of the judgment by a French court in LICRA et UEJF v. Yahoo! Inc. Yahoo! appealed on grounds that compliance interfered with U.S. constitutional free speech guarantees.]

    Synopsis of Rule of Law
    Principles of comity do not require the United States to permit foreign regulation of speech by a United States resident within the United States on the basis that Internet users in that nation can access such speech.

    Facts
    [Facts not stated in casebook excerpt, but case is an appeal of the judgment by a French court in LICRA et UEJF v. Yahoo! Inc.  After that judgment, Yahoo! Inc. posted on Yahoo.fr a warning to French citizens that searches might lead them to items that violate French law.  Yahoo! Inc. also prohibited the auctioning of items on its website that promoted racist groups, excepting government-issue stamps and coins, and establishing a more permissive stance on items of personal expressions, such as books or films.  Yahoo! did not try to technologically prevent French citizens from accessing websites auctioning any item.]

    Issue
    Do principles of comity require the United States to permit foreign regulation of speech by a United States resident within the United States on the basis that Internet users in that nation can access such speech?

    Held
    (Fogel, J.)  No.  Principles of comity do not require the United States to permit foreign regulation of speech by a United States resident within the United States on the basis that Internet users in that nation can access such speech.  Comity is neither mere courtesy and good will, nor an absolute obligation.  U.S. courts generally recognize foreign judgments as long as enforcement is not contrary to U.S. interests.  Enforcement of the French order directing Yahoo! to prevent French citizens from accessing Nazi items offered for sale by third parties would violate the first amendment rights of Yahoo! and, therefore, cannot be enforced.

    Discussion
    A different result in this case would have serious implications.  If other countries can block information on the Internet and impose their customs and values on the rest of the world, the Internet would distribute only the least and most generic information, which would result in an extreme restriction of American rights to free speech.


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