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Yahoo filed a complaint Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., aimed at sparing itself the burden of preventing one nation’s Web surfers from accessing goods on its U.S. site. The complaint seeks to derail a French judge’s Nov. 20 order that the Santa Clara, Calif., media company must block French surfers from auctions for Nazi material on Yahoo’s American Web site. The company is asking the American court for a declaratory judgment against the French court’s verdict. “This whole attempt at jurisdiction really goes beyond reasonable limits,” says Yahoo attorney Greg Wrenn. “We’re asking the U.S. court to � give us a ruling that says it’s unenforceable in the United States.” The International League Against Racism and the Union of French Jewish Students filed suit in French court this year, arguing successfully that the auctions violate a French law barring the sale of racist materials. Judge Jean-Jacques Gomez ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, gave Yahoo three months to comply after being served with the order, and imposed a daily fine of 100,000 French francs ($13,948) for every day of noncompliance thereafter. Wrenn said the company hasn’t yet been served with Gomez’s order, but that it wanted to act before the three-month period expires and the fines start piling up. The closely watched case is a key test of the international legal system. The plaintiffs argued successfully that the auctions violate a French law that bars the sale of racist materials. Yahoo has countered that the definition of what is racist or Nazi-oriented is subjective and could include items such as the Diary of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl’s memoir of hiding in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II. More importantly, Yahoo argues that it’s technically impossible to completely block French Web surfers from its U.S. site. A number of experts who testified in the French case, including WorldCom executive Vinton Cerf, share Yahoo’s view. Yahoo says Gomez’s order violates the American constitutional guarantee of free expression and the Communications Decency Act’s immunization of ISPs from liability for third-party content. The plaintiffs in the French case, who couldn’t be reached for comment, have 20 days to respond to Thursday’s U.S. court filing. Related Articles from The Industry Standard: Yahoo Told to Block Nazi Goods From French Yahoo Has Tough Day in French Court A French Judge Cops an American Decision Copyright � 2000 The Industry Standard

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