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Ninth Circuit dismisses Yahoo! free speech suit

[JURIST] The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] Thursday dismissed a free speech suit by Yahoo! Inc. [official website] challenging a $15 million fine [CNN report] imposed on the company five years ago by a French court for running an auction site displaying Nazi memorabilia, which is banned in France. Yahoo! sought legal protection for US Internet portals displaying content that is illegal in foreign countries, but is domestically protected by the First Amendment [text]. The Yahoo! France [website in French] website allowed French users to buy and sell the banned Nazi memorabilia via the US website. The opinion did not settle the key issue of whether US-based internet service providers are liable for damages in foreign courts for displaying content that is unlawful overseas, skirting it issue saying it is not likely that the French would ever enforce the judgment. The Ninth Circuit doubted that Yahoo’s free speech rights were violated, but did agree that US companies could turn to federal courts when overseas judgments inhibit speech protected in the United States. The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments [JURIST report; MP3 recorded audio] in the case last March. Read the opinion here [PDF]. AP has more.

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