Published Dec 09, 2008Marking a first in the UK, internet service providers have blocked access to a Wikipedia article, one that displays an infamous album cover depicting a naked pre-teen girl. The offending cover art in question belongs to the Scorpions' 1976 album Virgin Killer, a record that, as previously reported, became the subject of an F.B.I. investigation earlier this year over whether it violates U.S. child pornography laws.
The URL of the Wikipedia article about the German rock band's album was blacklisted Friday (December 5) by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a nonprofit organization that works with law enforcement to block and remove child pornography from websites, the Washington Post reports.
About 95 percent of the UK's ISPs follow the organization's blacklisting, according to the Wikimedia Foundation, and as an unintended side effect of the decision to block the image, many UK residents were prevented from editing the Wikipedia site and some users were blocked from accessing Wikipedia altogether.
An internet user had red-flagged the image, the IMF says, and the organization found the photo to be "a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18," with the cover being deemed to be "one, on a scale of one to five, where one is deemed to be the least offensive."
This is not the first time the album has been at the centre of controversy. It was originally banned in the U.S. upon its release in 1976, and in 2008 caught the eyes of the F.B.I. after right-wing media outlet World Net Daily singled out the cover during a sweep of Wikipedia for having offending sexual content. As of yet, the F.B.I. has not said whether the cover violates U.S. pornography laws.
In a press release about the current UK case, Wikimedia Foundation's General Counsel Mike Godwin said: "We have no reason to believe the article, or the image contained in the article, has been held to be illegal in any jurisdiction anywhere in the world. We believe it's worth noting that the image is currently visible on Amazon, where the album can be freely purchased by UK residents. It is available on thousands of websites that are accessible to the UK public."
Following the Wikipedia block, the cover also caused the IMF to file a subsequent complaint against Amazon U.S. for hosting the album's image, The Quietus reports. However, while Exclaim! did find the banned cover as an import on Amazon U.S. when researching for our previous story on the cover, as of Monday (December 8) the offending artwork had been replaced with a "No Image Available" tag.
At press time, no decision about whether Amazon would be blocked had been made but such action could prove disastrous, as online retailers expect next week to be their busiest time in this pre-Christmas season.
Currently, the decision to censor the Scorpions Wikipedia entry is under review by the British authorities.
UK ISP censorship