Cybercrime

Computer-related specific acts

• Acts involving Racism/xenophobia
• Incitement to discrimination/hostility/violence

Yahoo! Inc v UEJF and LICRA

Fact Summary

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).

Commentary and Significant Features

This case raises several questions concerning the legitimacy of limitations to freedom of speech and the extraterritorial applicability of domestic laws. With regards to the first issue, the US legal system does not have any provisions similar to Article R645-1 of the French Criminal Code. Such provision prohibits to wear or exhibit in public uniforms, insignias or emblems related to, among other things, Nazism and the Third Reich. This provision is coherent with Article 5 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which allows limitations to freedom of speech when they are necessary to avoid injury to society. On the contrary, the First Amendment to the US Constitution expressly establishes that the Congress shall make no law “abridging the freedom of speech”. As a result, restrictions to freedom of speech are extremely limited (e.g. obscenity or defamation) and do not include the sale or display of Nazism-related items. With reference to the second issue, the extraterritorial applicability of the laws, the transnational character of online communications seriously challenges the concept of jurisdiction as it is traditionally intended. Websites are potentially accessible by every person who has a device connected to the internet, regardless their geographical location. Asserting jurisdiction over website operators on the grounds that their websites are accessible in that country, would cause website operators to be concerned about complying with the laws of all the countries where their websites are accessible. An alternative approach would be the application of the “Country of Origin” principle, imposing website operators to comply only with the laws of the country where they are established. However, the application of the “Country of Origin” principle would entail further difficulties, such as the establishment of websites in less-restrictive jurisdictions in order to avoid prosecution for illegal activities.

Cross-Cutting Issues

Liability

... as involves

• legal persons (corporations)

Offending

Details

• occurred across one (or more) international borders (transnationally)

Involved Countries

France

United States of America

Procedural Information

Legal System:
Common Law
Latest Court Ruling:
Court of 1st Instance
Type of Proceeding:
Civil
 
 
Proceeding #1:
  • Stage:
    first trial
  • Decision Date:
    07 June 2001

    Court

    Court Title

    US District Court

     

    Location

  • City/Town:
    San Jose Division
  • Province:
    Northern District of California
  • • Civil

    Description

    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.

     

    Outcome

  • Verdict:
    Other
  • Other Outcome

    Order Denying Motion to Dismiss

     
    Proceeding #2:
  • Stage:
    first trial
  • Decision Date:
    07 November 2001

    Court

    Court Title

    US District Court

     

    Location

  • City/Town:
    San Jose Division
  • Province:
    Northern District of California
  • • Civil

    Description

    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.

     

    Outcome

  • Verdict:
    Other
  • Other Outcome

    Order Granting Motion for Summary Judgment

     
    Proceeding #3:
  • Stage:
    appeal
  • Decision Date:
    23 August 2004

    Court

    Court Title

    Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

     

    Location

  • City/Town:
    San Francisco
  • Province:
    California
  • • Civil

    Description

    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.

     

    Outcome

  • Verdict:
    Reversal
  • Proceeding #4:
  • Stage:
    appeal
  • Decision Date:
    12 January 2006

    Court

    Court Title

    Court of Appeals for the Ninth Cirtuic (en banc)

     

    Location

  • City/Town:
    San Francisco
  • Province:
    California
  • • Civil

    Description

    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.

     

    Outcome

  • Verdict:
    Reversal
  • Proceeding #5:
  • Stage:
    appeal
  • Decision Date:
    30 May 2006

    Court

    Court Title

    US Supreme Court

     
    • Civil

    Description

    The US Supreme Court denied LICRA’s request for certiorari.

     

    Outcome

  • Verdict:
    Other
  • Victims / Plaintiffs in the first instance

    Plaintiff:
    Yahoo! Inc

    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.

    Defendants / Respondents in the first instance

    Respondent:
    Union Des Etudiants Juifs De France (UEJF)

    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.

    Respondent:
    Ligue contre la Racisme et l'Antisemitisme (LICRA)

    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.

    Sources / Citations

    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.

    http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F3/433/1199/546158/

    version 4.0.0-build-24 2021-08-26T11:30:17.207Z