Brazil court orders YouTube shutdown

A court in Brazil has ordered YouTube to shut down until it removes a sex video involving the ex-wife of soccer star Ronaldo, according to Reuters.

The video posted by YouTube users appears to show model Daniela Cicarelli having sex in the sea with boyfriend Tony Malzoni. The couple sued to have the video taken down. YouTube complied, but users re-posted the video. Cicarelli and Malzoni sued again and Reuters reports that on Wednesday a Brazilian court granted their request for an order to shut down the world's most popular video-sharing site for as long as the video is available to users, according to Reuters. Google has not commented on the ruling.

YouTube is hosted in and operated from the US, not Brazil, though Google does have an office in Sao Paulo, which could become a target for enforcement action if the court ruling is ignored. Under US law, while Google and other content hosts have duties to react to certain types of complaint, there is no general duty to check material before it is uploaded by users.

The highest profile case to date on jurisdictional issues in such cases started in 2000 when two civil liberties groups won a court order from a Paris court requiring Yahoo! to block internet users in France from accessing its US auction sites selling Nazi memorabilia.

Yahoo! did not appeal the ruling in France. Instead, it sought a declaration from a California court. It claimed that the order to ban French users from accessing certain auction sites affected the operations of its US servers, and was therefore unenforceable under the First Amendment provisions on free speech. On 12th January 2006, the case was decided by an 11-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. But it was decided without a definitive response to Yahoo!'s free speech arguments, in part because it was deemed unlikely that any penalty could ever be enforced against Yahoo! in the US. Five dissenting judges said that the free speech arguments should have been considered.

Yahoo! interpreted the ruling as saying that free speech rights would prevail if the French court orders were attempted to be enforced in the US. An opportunity for closure was missed when, in May 2006, the Supreme Court refused to consider the case. It gave no reasons for its decision.