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UK e-tailers scurry to scrap dodgy Heavy Metal covers

IWF says acts in good faith - what about Blind Faith?

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UK e-tailers are scrambling to remove images of the Scorpions Virgin Killer album which led the Internet Watch Foundation to ban much of Wikipedia yesterday.

The IWF claimed the article, and artwork, on Wikipedia were child pornography and added the URL to its banned list distributed to most UK Internet Service Providers.

But an IWF spokeswoman was unable to explain to Radio 4 why she had not also added Amazon pages to the list. The image of a naked prepubescent girl was freely available on Amazon.com and other retailers this morning. The suspicion is that the IWF moves more slowly against commercial sites with aggressive lawyers.

But this quickly changed by lunch time: e-tailer Zavvi.com has blocked the album cover with a green square which says "offensive image".

The album cover image is not on Amazon.co.uk but it is still proudly displayed on Amazon.com. Play.com still had a black and white version of the image on display on a double CD.

Later in the day the IWF said it only reacted to complaints and did not go around looking for offensive images.

"We have now received several complaints about the image that was blocked at the weekend being hosted on Amazon. And are in the process of reassessing the image in line with our complaints procedure. No further action will be taken until this procedure is complete," it said. "The IWF does its work in good faith, interpreting current legislation on behalf of industry and the public."

The problem is made worse for e-tailers because they are marketing today as "Mega Monday" - supposedly the day the internet nears meltdown under the huge weight of crazed internet shoppers stocking up for Christmas. No actual sign of that in load times at any of the sites we've visited today, suggesting perhaps that the Scorpions were not on many people's shopping lists.

The other problem with the whole furore is that it shines a light on the huge back catalogue of 70s rock with what now appears to be album art.

Tastes have changed of course, but Blind Faith's album cover was of a topless 13-year-old holding a rather phallic model spaceship does seem a little out there - you can find it on Wikipedia, and presumably complain to the IWF and get it banned again.

Or maybe Led Zeppelin is more to your taste - the cover of Houses of the Holy will presumably also raise the ire of the IWF.®

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