Yahoo to ban Nazi artifacts

Internet portal Yahoo Inc. has announced that it will stop listing Nazi memorabilia on its auction site, as well as other items that are associated with groups promoting hatred and violence.

The change in policy comes after a November ruling by a French court requiring Santa Clara, Calif.-based Yahoo to block the sale of such items in France. The promotion of Nazism is illegal in that country.

Yahoo had said that it would be impossible to comply with the ruling and block the sale of items to one geographic region. However, it could – and did – decide to stop offering Nazi items and other hate-related materials to everyone.

Yahoo officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

But in a statement issued yesterday, Tim Brady, senior vice-president of network services at Yahoo, said, “As an Internet leader, Yahoo constantly reviews and enhances its products based on consumer response and need. The improvements we are making in our commerce properties will help ensure that we maintain the highest quality online experience available to buyers and sellers.”

However, Mark Gambale, an analyst at Gomez Advisors Inc. in Waltham, Mass., said he believes Yahoo’s actions are directly related to the French case.

“[This decision] is related to the court case in France requiring Yahoo to ban the sale of Nazi memorabilia,” Gambale said. “This is an effort [by Yahoo] to clean house with regard to that kind of [merchandise] and an effort to improve their auction listings as they try to build it into a bigger business.”

In the statement, Brian Fitzgerald, a senior producer at Yahoo Auctions, said, “We continue to encourage our consumers to notify us when items appear to be inappropriate or illegal, based on our policies.”

The new policy will go into effect Jan. 10.

Yahoo also said that beginning Jan. 10, sellers would have to pay a fee to list an auction item. Fees will be on a sliding scale based on the value of the starting and reserve price and will range from 20 cents to US$2.25. Yahoo said it would not charge a closing fee or take a percentage of the final sale price.

EBay Inc., the leading online auction site, bans Nazi memorabilia in Germany, France, Austria and Italy, where such items are illegal. Sellers aren’t permitted to ship these items into these countries, and buyers there can’t bid on them.

In addition, San Jose-based eBay bans all items that promote or glorify hatred, violence or racial intolerance, according to the company’s listing policies.