Association "Union des Etudiants Juifs de France", la "Ligue contre le Racisme et l'Antisémitisme", le "MRAP" (intervenant volontaire) / Yahoo ! Inc. et Yahoo France

The French court's "Yahoo France" ruling
Document type
Court Decision

Organizations dedicated to combatting anti-semitism sued Yahoo in the Paris tribunal because of, among other things, Nazi memorabilia available through Yahoo's auction site. On May 22, 2000 ordered that Yahoo:

- take all necessary measures to dissuade and make impossible any access via to the auction service for Nazi merchandise as well as to any other site or service that may be construed as an apology for Nazism or contesting the reality of Nazi crimes;

- issue to all Internet surfers, even before use is made of the link enabling them to proceed with searches on, a warning informing them of the risks involved in continuing to view such sites.

However, it accepted further evidence and argumentation. In subsequent proceedings, Yahoo argued: 

- this court is not competent to make a ruling in this dispute;

there are no technical means capable of satisfying the terms of the order of 22nd May 2000;

- their implementation would entail unduly high costs, might even place the company in jeopardy and would to a degree compromise the existence of the Internet, being a space of liberty and scarcely receptive to attempts to control and restrict access;

- its services are directed essentially at surfers located in the territory of the United States of America;

- its servers are installed in the same territory;

- an injunction would violate the US First Amendment.

Technical experts stated that:

- 70% of users' location could be accurately identified based on IP addresses

- Where IP-based filters fail, Yahoo may reach 90% blockage through:

Sworn declarations by users;


Keyword filters on searches for "Nazi"

Blocking pages/items where it appears in search results

Blocking all results for queries using the term

Warning users using Yahoo or users making certain searches about possible Nazi content and violation of French law

After reviewing this additional evidence and pleading, the court ordered Yahoo to comply. It reasoned:

the act of displaying objects representing symbols of Nazi ideology in France constitutes a violation of Article R6451 of the Penal Code and poses a threat to internal public order;

this display causes damage in France to plaintiffs;

Yahoo! is aware that it is addressing French parties because upon making a connection to its auctions site from a terminal located in France it responds by transmitting French-language advertising banners;

Topic, claim, or defense
Hate Speech
Dangerous Speech/Violent Extremism
Document type
Court Decision
Issuing entity
Lowest Domestic Court
Type of service provider
Search Engine or Index
OSP obligation considered
Block or Remove
Monitor or Filter
Type of law
General effect on immunity
Weakens Immunity