Juif or not Juif?


Do you own an iPhone or an iPad? I don’t, and so was not aware of the fact that, if I had, I could have bought an App(lication) called “Jew or not Jew?” for less than 2 Euros.

Well, could have only, because after some French Jewish and anti-racism organizations complained in September that the App violated French law, Apple announced that it would stop making it available in France. One month later, it announced its willingness to extend its decision to the entire European Union.

There have been reports, however, that Apple would have made the App available again, in France, a few weeks later.

The New iChoice of Law Rule

Deciding to withdraw the App from the entire EU because French law might have been violated would certainly be a novel approach to choice of law.

To the question ‘which law governs whether an online Application can be sold anywhere in Europe?’, Apple seems to answer: French law. Or have Apple’s lawyers identified an issue with European law?

An iRemedy as well?

Although most French organizations were satisfied with the decision of Apple to stop making available the App, Le Monde reports that one, the Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme (Licra), has decided that it was not enough and that Apple should do more: destroy from afar all applications sold before September. Licra claims that Steve Jobs (that’s right, Steve Jobs himself. He was such a visionary that he was also able to predict how the law of remedies would evolve) made statements in 2008 demonstrating that this would be perfectly possible from a technical point of view.

The case was heard today by a Paris court. Le Monde reports that Apple’s lawyers relied on French law and argued, inter alia, that such a remedy would violate the property rights of buyers of the App.

The court will deliver its judgment on November 17.

And now the World?

But that is not all! Four French organizations have filed a new suit in France against Apple Inc. and are seeking an order that Apple make the App unavailable in the rest of the world.

Hearing on November 24th.

Stay (i)tuned.

5 replies
  1. E. Lippovitz says:

    I enjoy lists of people – whatever the religion – who contribute to society… and websites… but with all due respect to the need to draw readers to this one, I wonder if perhaps posting this case here before any court even mentions PIL wasn’t a bit premature?

    Perhaps Apple’s decision had more to do with profit/hassle analysis than with matters of PIL. French law in this respect is not radically different from other civilized countries’ laws (in the EU or elsewhere), and they probably figured that removing the app would save them a lot of legal annoyance, not to mention expense…

    @Moser : lulz 🙂 and so true…

  2. Jim says:

    To E. Lippovitz,

    you seem to have quite a narrow view of the law in action.

    If Apple has indeed withdrawn from the entire UE its Application, the PIL issue is there: the threat of the French plaintiffs was enough to impact all European consumers.


  3. E. Lippovitz says:

    Hi Jim,

    Let’s imagine that a company is fined in country X because it’s products are deemed illegal in that country, and then that country realizes that the same product will probably be illegal in other countries, and then removes the products in those countries as well. There is no “law in action” in this case, and specifically no PIL involved. Perhaps you are right and it is my academic background coming to the fore, but from a purely legal science point of view, there is quite a difference between the “law” and between the decisions of a company (or between what is mentioned in the general press). The sources of law – including PIL – are quite limited, and they do not include a company’s private decisions to draw general conclusions from a localized reaction.

    Furthermore, there is absolutely no guarantee that just because the plaintiffs mention PIL elements in their lawsuit that those elements will not be rejected by the courts. Such a ruling (purely on the specifics) would still not necessarily be worthy of mention.

    But to get back to the case at hand, without reading the submissions to the court, I would not be surprised if PIL was not even mentioned in the case. The fact that Apple is an American company or that its iTunes subsidiary is a Belgian one does not necessarily mean that they will contest jurisdiction in front of the French courts. Similarly, the applicability of French law prohibiting religious or ethnic databases may not even be contested. The product (a French language app) was sold through the French iTunes store to French consumers and listing French celebrities. Where are the foreign elements that would make the case interesting from a PIL point of view?

    Now if the court would suggest that somehow Apple would have to remotely kill the apps, that would indeed raise some interesting questions, including PIL ones. But my whole point was: let’s wait and see what the courts actually say before hypothesizing about all the possible PIL questions that this case might involve, especially that, as it seems, it is purely national in scope…

  4. Iga Balos says:

    This is nth new, taking into consideration the subject and the State referring to its public policy, which will probably be the case here. I highly recommend Yahoo! Inc v La Ligue Contre le Racisme et l’Antisemitisme, 433 F3d 1199 (9th Cir 2006).

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