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On May 22, in the first ruling by a French court concerning a US-based Internet operator, the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance ordered Yahoo.com to take the “necessary measures to render impossible” access in France to Web auctions offering Nazi souvenirs. These measures must be presented to the court on July 24. In the meantime, Yahoo France have been ordered to indicate on their Website that access to their English-speaking auction service is illegal for Web browsers in France.

The case against Yahoo was brought by two French-based associations, the International League Against Racism & Anti-Semitism (LICRA) and the Jewish Students’ Union of France (UEJF).

Philippe Guillanton, Chief Executive of Yahoo France, said he was ready to work with the associations to apply the decision but noted that “no method of filtering can be 100 per cent reliable”. He feels the ruling “creates an important precedent entailing risks to internet development”.

The Paris tribunal dismissed Yahoo’s claim that American laws on freedom of expression should apply. Yahoo Inc., who are based in California, are understood to be considering an appeal, and insist the ruling needs to be ratified by an American court.