Brazil Wants Another Google Site — YouTube — Shut Down
from the good-luck-with-that dept
A few months ago, the Brazilian government got into a legal spat with Google after its Orkut social-networking site was being used for illegal activity. Google complied with some of the Brazilian demands, including shutting down parts of Orkut, but the government wasn’t happy, and started harrassing Google’s Brazilian office, which was just responsible for ad sales and had nothing to do with running Orkut. Now, a Brazilian judge has ordered that YouTube, another Google property, be shut down until it removes a celebrity sex video from its site. The video in question features a Brazilian model and her boyfriend having sex on a beach; it’s been removed from YouTube several times, but users have uploaded it again and again. But don’t expect your favorite source of exploding Mentos videos to disappear: just like with Orkut, the Brazilian court’s going to have a hard time enforcing this order, since YouTube is based in the US, and generally subject to its laws and courts (except for local products in some cases).
Once again, the question of who has legal jurisdiction over the internet and sites on it comes into question. US courts tend to agree that online companies are bound by the laws of the country in which they’re based, while there are continual efforts by groups like record companies and even some governments to assert that if an internet site can be reached from a particular place, it’s subject to its laws and the jurisdiction of its courts. This leads to a problem of jurisdiction shopping, where people file lawsuits in unrelated countries to take advantage of their legal environments. Jurisdiction shopping, of course, isn’t a new phenomenon, but the internet makes it a little easier. This is a sticky subject: the idea that anybody can be sued anywhere in the world for something the post online isn’t a particularly appealing one, but many people don’t have a problem with local laws being used to chase after criminals abroad when it comes to things like child pornography. So where is the line drawn, and who gets to determine it? While international treaties govern all sorts of things, international court systems have often been undermined by these very types of questions about jurisidiction.