UK censorship of Virgin Killer sleeve and page on Wikipedia

Facebook group against this; Pledgebank ISP boycott; Wikinews story

I’m going to be on the BBC Radio 4 Today show tomorrow at 8:20am about this. IWF people present.

The technical press are swarming. The story’s being touted to the national press.

The IWF apparently sought the advice of police before blocking. Now, the police in the UK are notorious for trying it on with censorship cases, so that doesn’t mean the image is illegal.

The album was released in 1976; child porn was illegalised in the UK in 1978. If the album was distributed in the UK since 1978 with that cover, it’s probably legal.

The album cover has been reprinted in many books. Most of those books are in the Briitsh Library. Are those now obscene?

Question for all: Has this precise image ever come to court? In the UK, in the world?

The IWF had it pointed out that they were censoring encyclopedia text, which was clearly not illegal. The IWF responded that they needed to block the page to block the image effectively. This is of course utterly ludicrous bollocks, but apparently that’s the advice the IWF have received.

They were also asked if they’d be censoring Amazon as well. They said they’d have to get back on that one.

It’s the clbuttic error, but this time on a top-10 site for everyone.

Oh, and Blind Faith by Blind Faith, Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin and Nevermind by Nirvana, also depicting nude underage persons, are still readily available in any high street CD store in the UK.

It is clearly false that all images of an unclothed person under the 18 is automatically child porn and illegal in the UK. However, that’s the rule the IWF works to.

Like DRM, if anyone works out there’s an IWF and how it works, then they’ve already lost. They’re tolerated precisely as long as they target only clearly illegal material. Here, they’re expanding their remit.

Disclaimer: I do press for Wikipedia/Wikimedia in the UK as a volunteer (and I’ve been on my email and phone all last night to about 2am and today since 9am). However, I am not a WMF employee and cannot legally claim to speak for them, only as a volunteer editor.

7 thoughts on “UK censorship of Virgin Killer sleeve and page on Wikipedia”

  1. I hope you go on the offensive during the show.

    The issue here, isn’t really child pornography, but the fact that this great firewall even exists, and that no one knows about it. My worry is that this firewall will extend to “extreme pornography”, sites which “support terrorism” and incite religious hatred.

    How do you define those? Are IWF going to be expanding their remit? Articles regarding the “extreme porn” laws on The Register suggest so.

  2. I have two gquestions for them:

    Is it usual not to cantact the site administrators?

    When will IWF block Amazon or the official site of The Scorpions?

  3. There’s been some attempts to find if the image was ever declared to be unacceptable in any jurisdiction. This has been a long running issue on the article’s talk page. No one has found any examples.

    Note also as I discussed on my own blog entry about this one of the most disturbing aspects keeps getting overlooked: most of the people in Great Britain trying to access the page are getting 404 errors or blank html pages. There’s nothing telling them they are being censored. Who knows how many small websites are being censored in a similar fashion that no one notices. If not for the size and structure(in particular the need to deal with vandalism) of Wikipedia we likely would never have noticed this.

  4. You might want to ask them what appeals process they have in place and whom they are accountable to. Further it would be interesting to know who is running the mis-configured transparent proxies, IWF or the ISPs.

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