SAN JOSE--A federal judge in San Jose cited constitutional guarantees of free speech in a ruling that France couldn't forbid Yahoo Inc. from posting Nazi memorabilia on its American auction web site.
But in other countries' constitutions, free speech may be the 4th amendment, the 27th amendment, the 96th amendment--or it may not be allowed at all. Such is the dilemma the Internet now faces: It goes everywhere unabated, but its content isn't always welcome across the borders.
The case that U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel decided earlier this month doesn't settle the issue of how to balance the global Internet with individual national laws. But it has sparked what may be an evolving debate about whether to restrict a global medium in countries with different laws, cultures and customs.
"We need some kind of treaty," says Ronald Katz, a San Francisco attorney representing two French human-rights groups sued by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo to defend its right to post whatever information it wants online.
Judge Fogel granted a summary judgment in Yahoo's favor, ruling that French law …