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A Paris judge has given Yahoo a three-month reprieve in its highly watched international legal case regarding the sale of Nazi memorabilia on its site. But Yahoo isn’t out of the woods yet. Judge Jean-Jacques Gomez has asked the company to help appoint a panel of technology experts to determine whether French citizens could be electronically barred from taking part in certain Yahoo auctions. The organizations that initiated the complaint — the Paris-based International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) and the Union of French Jewish Students (UJEF) — have also been asked to handpick an expert. The third panelist, a French expert on the Net, will be appointed by the court. They are expected to recommend a decision to the court within two months. The judge is then expected to pass down his ruling on Nov. 6. Yahoo Europe spokeswoman Sue Jackson said the company had not yet selected its appointee. She also declined to address Friday’s ruling, except to say, “We’re just reviewing the judgment and evaluating our actions.” Numerous calls to LICRA and UJEF were not returned. At the heart of the case is whether a country can impose its laws on the Internet. The law in question is French legislation that bans the sale and display of racially offensive merchandise, including Nazi artifacts, within its borders. Yahoo lawyers have argued that they could not block access to their site based on a Web surfer’s country of origin. Plus, Yahoo contends that one country does not have the jurisdiction to regulate the content of Web sites in another country. Yahoo has a French subsidiary, Yahoo France, that does not permit the sale of Nazi merchandise. However, French citizens can easily access the U.S.-based portal and bid on objects such as flags, speeches, and even gas masks used by the Germans during World War II. LICRA and UJEF filed a complaint against Yahoo in May. A few days later, Gomez ordered Yahoo to implement technology that would keep French surfers off the auction site. The French anti-racism groups also reportedly asked the court to impose fines of 400,000 euros a day ($360,000) on Yahoo if the company did not comply with the judge’s ruling. Yahoo responded by saying it was technologically impossible to do so, leading to Friday’s follow-up decision by the judge. The court ruling will have a far-reaching impact throughout Europe. Similar anti-racism laws are on the books in Germany, and many other European countries act swiftly to curb any kind of activity that could be construed as having racially offensive overtones. On Thursday, the German Defense Ministry announced that it had suspended from duty a German army sergeant who allegedly registered the domain name, www.heil-hitler.de. Copyright � 2000 The Industry Standard

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