Former Yahoo chief cleared in Nazi case

Paris appeals court says Timothy Koogle didn't justify crimes against humanity by allowing sale of Nazi collectibles on Yahoo auction site.

CNET News staff
2 min read
A Paris appeals court on Wednesday cleared former Yahoo President Timothy Koogle of charges that he justified crimes against humanity by permitting the sale of Nazi objects on Yahoo's auction site.

Koogle, who left Yahoo in 2001, became interim chief executive of Internet company Friendster last year.

The legal battle started in May 2000, when France's Union of Jewish Students and the International Anti-Racism and Anti-Semitism League sued Yahoo for allowing Nazi memorabilia, including flags emblazoned with swastikas, to be sold on its auction pages.

The case led to a landmark ruling in France, with a court ordering Yahoo to bar access to the Nazi items and to remove related messages, images and literature from its site. Yahoo's French subsidiary, Yahoo France, now removes Nazi material from its site, in accordance with French law barring the sale of Nazi-related memorabilia. Yahoo would be subject to heavy fines for failing to comply with French law.

Yahoo in turn sued the French rights groups in U.S. court in December 2000, asking it to declare the French court's decision "not recognizable or enforceable in the United States." The Internet media company said that the French court's order violated its First Amendment rights.

Yahoo won that round, but a three-judge panel of the appeals court overturned the decision in August 2004. The panel ruled that U.S. courts cannot supersede orders from a foreign court when the foreign litigants have not brought the battle into the U.S. legal system.

In February, the full appeals court agreed to reconsider the case.

Reuters contributed to this report.