UK: Wikimedia fights back

December 8, 2008

UK censorship of Virgin Killer sleeve and page on Wikipedia
David Gerard: December 7, 2008

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.

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