FACTS
France had enacted a law making it illegal and punishable with both civil and criminal
penalties to display or sell Nazi artifacts. Nazi material was being made available
through Internet Service Provider Yahoo!’s online auction service hosted out of the
United States (although Yahoo! France complied with the French law). In April 2000, La
Ligue Contre Le Racisme et L’Antisémitisme (“LICRA”) and L‘Union des Etudiants Juifs de
France (“UEJF”) filed suit in a French court, claiming that Yahoo! violated the French
Penal Code, which prohibits exhibition or sale of racist materials. The French court
found it had jurisdiction and found Yahoo! liable. It ordered Yahoo! to use all means
necessary to prevent French users from accessing its auction site. It further order Yahoo!
“to remove from ‘all browser directories accessible in the territory of the French
Republic’” the “negationists” heading, as well as all links “‘bringing together, equating, or
presenting directly or indirectly as equivalent’ sites about the Holocaust and sites by
Holocaust deniers.”
Yahoo! then brought suit in a federal district court in California claiming, and seeking a
declaration, that the French court’s order was unenforceable. The court found that it had
jurisdiction over the two French organizations. It also decided that there was an actual
controversy, which was causing a real and immediate threat to Yahoo!, and that
enforcement of the French order in the United States would violate the First Amendment
of the U.S. Constitution. This decision was overturned by the Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit, which concluded that the district court erred in finding that it had
personal jurisdiction over the French organizations. Jurisdiction in a U.S. court could
only be obtained, and Yahoo!’s First Amendment claim heard, if the French parties
sought enforcement of the French judgment in the United States—and that had not yet
happened.

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