Yahoo may yet have to answer to the French courts for its failure to block French users' access to information about the sale of Nazi memorabilia on its US websites.
In 2000 a French court gave Yahoo three months to install filters that would prevent web surfers in France from accessing content relating to the sale of Nazi paraphernalia, or pay a fine, following a complaint by the Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) and the League Against Racism and anti-Semitism (LICRA).
The publication of such content is illegal in France, but Yahoo obtained summary judgement from a US district court that the French court's ruling was not enforceable in the US.
However, a US appeal court has reversed the district court's judgement, opening up once again the question of whether Yahoo is responsible under French law for information published on its yahoo.com portal.
LICRA spokesman Richard Serero said that it showed that if Yahoo wants to make money from its website in other countries it must play by their rules.
The French court's original determination that Yahoo violated French law may not be reviewed by any US court, the latest US judgement said.
At stake is Yahoo's claim that enforcement of the French court's judgment in the US violates Yahoo's First Amendment rights.
This claim can be reviewed by any US court able to assert jurisdiction over French plaintiffs the UEJF and LICRA, the judge wrote. Jurisdiction can be obtained if LICRA and the UEJF ask a US district court to enforce the French judgment, but they have not yet done so.
Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service