Speech: International

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Not restrained by the First Amendment, countries outside of the United States have begun to regulate online content as they would publications or speech occurring within their borders. Therefore, persons and companies that have international operations must be sensitive to local regulations.

  1. Germany v. CompuServe Deutschland (Bavaria 1999). A regional court reversed the conviction of Felix Somm, the former head of CompuServe Germany, for child pornography for failing to block third parties’ postings of pornographic pictures that appeared on CompuServe’s message boards. The reversal appeared to be based on the narrow ground that Somm simply had no practical means to block access to the material. Both the prosecution and defense had argued on appeal that the original conviction should be overturned.
  2. Yahoo! Inc. v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme, 169 F. Supp. 2d 1181 (N.D. Cal. 2001), rev'd on other grounds, 379 F.3d 1120 (9th Cir.2004), reh'g en banc granted, 399 F.3d 1010 (9th Cir.2005). The district court refused to enforce a French order restricting Yahoo! from listing hate-related materials, including Nazi memorabilia, on its auction site because the foreign order would violate the First Amendment by chilling protected speech that occurs simultaneously in the United States.
  3. Sarl Louis Feraud Int'l v. Viewfinder Inc., 406 F.Supp.2d 274 (S.D.N.Y. 2005). Refusing to enforce a French court default judgment in a copyright dispute between an American website and two French fashion designers. “where reasonable people and decent societies may reasonably disagree, American courts have recognized that foreign judgments that run afoul of First Amendment values are inconsistent with our notions of what is fair and just, and conflict with the strong public policy of our State.” The court held that "the First Amendment simply does not permit plaintiffs to stage public events in which the general public has a considerable interest, and then control the way in which information about those events is disseminated in the mass media.”

Chapter 2 - Content And Speech Regulation
Obscenity · Communications Decency Act - Obscene Materials · Children's Online Protection Act (COPA) · Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) · State Attempts At Regulation · First Amendment · Anonymity · International Content Regulation