Introduction: The Yahoo! Case and Conflict of Laws in the Cyberage

Three years ago, two French public interest groups, La Ligue Contre le Racisme et L’Antisemitisme (LICRA) and LUnion des Etudiants Juifs De France (UEJF), sued Yahoo! Inc., a Delaware corporation headquartered near Santa Barbara, California, in the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris. The undisputed facts underlying the complaint were that: Yahoo! Inc. operated, inter alia, an auction website on which various Nazi memorabilia (such as flags, stamps, and military souvenirs) were offered for sale; the respective Yahoo! Inc. website was accessible in France; and the display of the Nazi memorabilia was illegal under French law. The French plaintiffs sought an order prohibiting Yahoo! Inc. from displaying the memorabilia in France. The lawsuit triggered a drama in two acts, the first of which took place in France while the second was played out in California.