Posted Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Quick navigation

Alphabetical index (text)

The Industry Standard

Tuesday, January 23, 2001


Auschwitz Survivors May Sue Yahoo CEO

The group is expected to slap Yahoo's CEO with a criminal suit in France over sales of Nazi paraphernalia


by Kristi Essick

IT has already lost a high-profile court battle in November surrounding the availability of Nazi-related goods on its auction site, but Yahoo's worries in France may be far from over -- and this time the California company's CEO is in the line of fire.

A group called the Association Amicale des Diportis D'Auschwitz is expected to announce today that it is charging Timothy Koogle, CEO of Yahoo, with justifying war crimes against humanity and collaboration with the enemy.

The association's president, Henry Bulawko, will present the case at a press conference in Paris. Unlike the prior civil case brought against Yahoo by the League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, and the Jewish student group UEJF, this case will take place in a criminal court.

Koogle faces prosecution in the Tribunal Correctional de Paris and could face fines or imprisonment if the plaintiffs win the case. A Yahoo representative said the company is unable to comment on legal cases that have not yet been officially brought before the company. The AADA could not be reached for comment, but the lawyer who is representing the plaintiff said the new lawsuit stems from the fact that Yahoo has been ambiguous in its stance on Nazi-related goods.

Yahoo currently is fighting the November decision in a California court on grounds that a U.S. company should not have to comply with French laws. However, the company recently decided to stop the sale of hate-related goods on its commercial Web sites.

Charles Korman, a lawyer at Korman, Mandell and Henass, the firm representing AADA, said this: "In the space of 15 days, Yahoo has engaged a case in Santa Clara [Calif.], saying they should not be held liable to the French judge's decision; then a few days later, they stopped the sale of all Nazi goods. We find this very worrying."

Korman believes that Yahoo decided to block hate-related goods to get out of implementing the filtering system and to avoid paying fines but could turn around at any minute and allow the items to be posted again. Attacking Koogle is a way to show the world that such ambiguity is not to be tolerated, Korman said.

Many in the international Internet community were outraged when French Judge Jean-Jacques Gomez ruled against Yahoo in November, charging the U.S. company with fines should it fail by Feb. 20 to put in place a filtering system to block French users from accessing Nazi-related material. They said countries should not have the authority to impose their laws on global Net firms and that the decision set a dangerous precedent for Internet companies operating in global markets.

However, in France, where scars from World War II run deep and U.S. attitudes aren't always welcome, opinion was divided. Many people sided with Licra and UEJF. "I understand why the AADA is bringing the case," says Marc Knobel, a member of the board of Licra. "They were the ones who were in concentration camps, and they're horrified to see support for the Nazis today."

Knobel has been one of Yahoo's most bitter critics in France, orchestrating much of the case against the U.S. company. For Knobel, one case might not be enough; he is now thinking of attacking Yahoo's Web site hosting company GeoCities for allowing users to host Nazi-related material.

Related items on this website:

 Index on Origins of anti-Semitism
 Will Cyberspace Look Like France or America?
 Holocaust survivors sue Yahoo! over sale of Nazi items
 Yahoo! to ban Nazi memorabilia from website
 International Herald Tribune on the yahoo ban: "Who are the real Nazis?"
The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical
 Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive

David Irving's ACTION REPORT

© Focal Point 2001 F Irving write to David Irving