WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court passed up a chance Tuesday to consider whether Yahoo Inc. could use American courts to resolve an overseas dispute over the Internet company's display of Nazi memorabilia.
A French judge had ordered the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company to take Nazi paraphernalia off its site, yahoo.com. The judge proposed a fine of about $15 million for running an auction site in which French users could buy and sell the memorabilia banned in France.
Yahoo's lawyers contested the decision in federal court in California, not France, arguing that it violated the company's constitutional free speech rights.
A U.S. appeals court dismissed the company's lawsuit earlier this year. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not resolve whether U.S.-based Internet companies are liable for damages in foreign courts for displaying content that is unlawful overseas but protected in the United States.
Although Yahoo lost in that ruling, it did not appeal.
Instead, two French associations took the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the ruling leaves the door open for Yahoo to try to use U.S. courts to avoid judgments by courts in other countries.
Yahoo, which was not forced to pay the fine, filed no arguments at the high court.
The case is La Ligue Contre Le Racisme Et L'Antisemitisme, v. Yahoo! Inc (YHOO.O)., 05-1302.