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Steffi Graf has won a legal action against Microsoft Germany, which it emerges has been the custodian of what Spiegel Online delightfully describes as "verbotene pornobilder" (forbidden pornpix) of the former tennis champ.

The pictures appeared, we presume, on MSN Deutschland, which a Register reality check this morning reveals is no better than it should be.* We are entirely baffled as to why that young lady has red arrows pointing at her bits - some kind of instruction manual? Don't look, anyway.

You never know, some of the bits in question might have figured in the Graf case, which arose from the publication of pictures of Steffi's head attached to somebody else's nude body. Graf took exception to this, successfully had Microsoft take them down, but did not secure an undertaking from the company that they wouldn't appear again. Hence the legal action.

Yesterday a Cologne appeals court confirmed an earlier lower court ruling that Microsoft was responsible for the content of the site, and therefore has to make sure the pictures don't return. Microsoft says it regards the decision as a threat to live chat and internet communities, and that it is looking at its legal options.

We're not entirely sure about the freedom of speech bit, but it does occur to us that MSN Deutschland must now be intensely vulnerable to pranksters posting mocked-up nude pictures of Steffi Graf, each of which would presumably result in a fine. There's a thought - and one we urge German readers to put firmly out of their minds. ®

* Numerous readers have pointed out that this link seems largely unavailable to users of non-IE browsers. Works fine with Opera from here, but there you go. Anyway it's just MSN Deutschland exercising its right to freedom of speech by selling "erotische eCards" via a prominent link on the front page of the site. Women (and actually, a couple of hunky guys doing a tug of war) with no clothes on, what do you care?

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