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[Nettime-bold] German Landmark Nazi Ruling

From:           	"Axel H Horns" <axel.horns@fitug.de>


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German Landmark Nazi Ruling  

By Steve Gold, Newsbytes KARLSRUHE, GERMANY, 12 Dec 2000, 5:09 PM CST 
A complex court case involving an Australian Holocaust revisionist 
has resulted in the German Supreme Court ruling that any Web 
publisher, no matter what his or her country of origin, is liable for 
any pro-Nazi or Holocaust denial information on their pages.  

Specifically, the German Federal Court of Justice has ruled that the 
country's 1950s and 1960s legislation banning the glorification of 
the Nazis and the denial of the Holocaust, applies to all aspects of 
the Internet, no matter what their country of origin, or how the 
information is presented.  

Previously, it was thought that country's prohibition of pro-Nazi and 
Holocaust denial legislation applied to Web material which had 
originated in Germany.  

In Germany today, however, the Federal Court of Justice quashed the 
appeal of Frederick Toben, an Australian Holocaust revisionist who 
denied that millions of Jews died during the Second World War.  

Germany-born Toben, who has an Australian passport, was found guilty 
in November, 1999, of promoting his opinions on Holocaust denial 
through printed leaflets and Web pages.  

Although sentenced to 10 months in prison for his offences, he 
appealed the case, arguing that since his Internet material was 
"printed" outside of Germany, it was not subject to German 

The Federal Court disagreed with his legal arguments, but, in doing 
so, effectively set the precedent that all material published on the 
Web is subject to German post-Second World War legislation.  

In their ruling on the case, Federal Court judges said that the laws 
prohibiting racial hatred clearly apply to Internet material created 
outside of Germany and stored on servers outside the country, but 
which is accessible to German Internet users.  

The case has divided the German Internet community, with many of 
Germany's Web watchers agreeing with the comments of Michael 
Rosenthal, one of Toben's lawyers, who accused the Federal Court of 
trying to act as the world's policeman for the Internet.  

Toben, meanwhile, is in danger of becoming a martyr to the cause of 
Holocaust denial. Although born in Germany prior to the war, in 1944, 
at the age of 10, he moved to Australia to be with his family.  

Although he has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Melbourne and 
Wellington Universities, as well as a Ph.D. in English and Philosophy 
from Melbourne. His work on the Holocaust is not related to his 
academic expertise.  

Located at http://www.adelaideinstitute.org , Toben's Web site has 
been condemned by organizations as diverse as http://www.ratbags.com 
("offensive buffoonery") and the Simon Wiesenthal Center 
(http://www.wiesenthal.com ).  

Yahoo in the US is currently defending its auction site against 
German court action, dating from late November. In that case, Yahoo 
is accused of selling Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler's notorious manifesto, 
on its service. The book is banned in Germany.  

The German Yahoo case follows in the wake of a French court decision 
on November 20, which instructed Yahoo to prevent French Web surfers 
from seeing Nazi memorabilia items for sale on its pages.  

Yahoo's problem in meeting this request is that, like many pan- 
European and global e-commerce sites, its French users merely see a 
customized overlay to the main Yahoo pages, with all users able to 
view the underlying auctions.  

Like rivals eBay and QXL, this strategy has allowed Yahoo to offer 
country- and language-specific versions of its portal at relatively 
low cost, rather than go to the prohibitive expense of creating a new 
and separate portal for each region or country.  

A Paris court on November 20 ordered Yahoo to prevent French Web 
users from viewing Nazi memorabilia on its site within three months 
or face a fine of 15,000 euros ($17,000) a day.  

Now court action in Germany could result in a similar ruling, 
although the Munich state court is going for a more tangible case, 
alleging that the site allowed the sale of copies of Hitler's book to 
German citizens - something that is expressly forbidden under German 

The state court said it has proof that the Yahoo Germany site sold a 
copy of Mein Kampf on February 1 and April 19 of this year. Yahoo has 
yet to make a statement on the prosecution, but the company's legal 
team at its US headquarters are known to be dealing with the case.  

Yahoo's Web site is at http://www.yahoo.com .  

Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com .  

17:09 CST Reposted 20:29 CST  

(20001212/CONTACT: Sue Jackson, Yahoo Europe +44-20-7808-4200 /WIRES 

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