On 22 May 2000, the High Court of Paris, upon request of UEJF and LICRA, ordered Yahoo!, Inc. (hereinafter “Yahoo! U.”) and Sociéte Yahoo! France (hereinafter “Yahoo! France”) to adopt a number of measures aimed at (i) preventing the sale of Nazism-related material on Yahoo!’s auction website and (ii) warning users that Yahoo! might contain links to material and information prohibited under French law. Yahoo! US and Yahoo! France challenged the order on the grounds that it was technologically impossible to comply with it. On 20 November 2000, the High Court of Paris upheld its previous decision and issued a new order establishing a 3-month deadline for compliance with its order. (See: UEJF and Licra v Yahoo! Inc and Sociéte Yahoo! France before the High Court of Paris)
On 21 December 2000, Yahoo! US filed a lawsuit against UEJF and LICRA in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose. Yahoo! U.S. sought a declaratory judgement establishing that the orders issued by the High Court of Paris are not recognizable or enforceable in the US as they are in violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. On 7 June 2001, the District Court issued its Order Denying Motion to Dismiss and affirmed to have jurisdiction over UEJF and LICRA. On 7 November, 2001, the District Court issued its Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment declaring that “the First Amendment precludes enforcement within the United States.”
UEJF and LICRA appealed the District Court’s decision claiming that: 1) the District Court lacked personal jurisdiction; 2) the case was not ripe - i.e. it was contingent upon a future condition, the request to enforce the French decision in the US-, and 3) the District Court should apply the abstention doctrine, which prevents a court from deciding on a case because it would intrude upon the powers of another court. On 23 August 2004, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed that the District Court lacks jurisdiction and reversed the decision without addressing the other two claims. However, the Court of Appeals decided to rehear the case en banc and, on 12 January 2006, reversed the previous District Court’s judgment, remanded the case and ordered to dismiss the action. On 30 May 2006, the Supreme Court denied LICRA’s request to issue an order to review the judgement (certiorari).
US District Court
On 21 December 2000, Yahoo! US sued UEJF and LICRA seeking a declaratory judgement establishing that the orders issued by the High Court of Paris are not recognizable or enforceable in the US as they are in violation of the First Amendment. On 7 June 2001, the District Court issued its Order Denying Motion to Dismiss establishing that it has jurisdiction over UEFJ and LICRA.
Order Denying Motion to Dismiss
US District Court
On 7 November 2001, the District Court issued an Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment establishing that the French orders were in violation of the First Amendment and then non-enforceable in the US.
Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment
Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
On 23 August 2004, upon appeal of UEJF and LICRA, the Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's decision and established that the Distric Court lacks jurisdiction over UEJF and LICRA. The Court did not address the claims concerning ripeness and abstention.
Court of Appeals for the Ninth Cirtuic (en banc)
On 12 January 2006, a majority of the en banc court concluded that the district court had personal jurisdiction over the defendants. Of that majority, three judges concluded that the action should be dismissed for lack of ripeness. Five judges concluded that the case is ripe for adjudication.The three remaining judges concluded that the action should be dismissed because the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants. The court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded the case.
US Supreme Court
The US Supreme Court denied LICRA’s request for certiorari.
Yahoo! Inc is a US corporation offering web-based services headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. It offers several online services including, a search engine, email accounts, news, financial information, questions and answers, video sharing. It is considered as one of the most popular websites in the US. Given its relevance in the field of online services, it has been involved in several lawsuits under different jurisdictions. Among other things, in 2012, Yahoo!, Inc sued Facebook in San Jose, California for the alleged infringement of Intellectual Property Laws. The companies eventually agreed on the settlement of the dispute.
The Union des Étudiants Juifs de France ("Union of French Jewish students", UEJF) is a French non-profit organization founded in 1944 whose aim is to help and support French Jewish students. The company has brought several high-profile lawsuits against multinational companies, including Yahoo! and Twitter.
The Ligue contre la Racisme et l'Antisemitisme (International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism, LICRA) was founded in 1927, and fights intolerance, xenophobia and exclusion.In particular, it focuses on countering neonazism and Holocaust denial.
Okoniewski, Elissa A. "Yahoo!, Inc. v. LICRA: The French Challenge to Free Expression on the Internet." American University International Law Review 18, no. 1 (2002): 295-339.