In the spring of 2000, a French activist launched an unprecedented media and judicial campaign against the auction site of the US firm, Yahoo! Inc., where Nazi memorabilia was on sale.The article traces the attempts of Yahoo! Inc. to arrive at a defensible position, both ethically and legally, in the French courts and in public opinion. The authors analyze the conflict between idealism and ethical decision-making and demonstrate that, in many regards, this crisis was predictable, raising the issue of why it caught Yahoo! unprepared.