Adding to the long list of celebrities attempting to cleanse the internet of unflattering pictures of themselves is Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose. Way back in 2010, a picture of Axl Rose was taken that shows him a little heavier than the svelte Rose we were used to in his heyday. After the series of photographs kicked off dozens of “Fat Axl” memes, Rose is now trying to rid the internet of the pictures.
According to Torrent Freak, Web Sheriff, on behalf of Axl Rose, issued a DMCA takedown notice to GoogleUserContent and Blogspot on May 31, demanding the unflattering photographs — and fat Axl memes — be taken down, citing copyright infringement.
“Copyright image of Axl Rose. Please be advised that no permission has been granted to publish the copyright image so we cannot direct you to an authorized example of it.”
Web Sheriff is an anti-piracy company based in the U.K. that provides intellectual property, copyright, and privacy rights protection services for their clients — in this case, Axl Rose. Among their services is issuing cease and desist letters, and DMCAs on behalf of those who employ them. In Axl Rose’s case, they sent a total of six notices to Google and Blogspot, saying the companies were infringing on Rose’s copyrighted pictures.
The only problem, however, is that the copyright of those particular photographs is in question. They were originally taken in Winnipeg, Canada, in 2010 by photographer Boris Minkevich for the Winnipeg Free Press, who said he had no idea that Axl Rose was attempting to scrub the internet of his photographs. Although one would assume that since Minkevich was the one who took the photo of Axl Rose, that he would be the one to own the copyright, according to Blabbermouth, Web Sheriff and Rose, however, think differently.
“We can gladly confirm that all official/accredited photographers at [Axl Rose] shows sign-off on ‘Photography Permission’ contracts/’Photographic Release’ agreements which A. specify and limit the manner in which the photos can be exploited and B. transfer copyright ownership in such photos to [Axl Rose’s] relevant service company.”
For his part, Minkevich doesn’t remember whether or not he signed a release at that particular concert six years ago, but he did confirm to Torrent Freak that some shows ask photographers to sign such a release, while others don’t. However, according to Web Sheriff and Axl Rose, even if Minkevich had taken the pictures in an unofficial capacity, or hadn’t had to sign a release, the ownership of said photographs would still be in question.
“[If a photographer] was there and taking shots without permission or authority, then other considerations/factors would come-into-play as to what such individuals can and cannot do in terms of attempting to commercially exploit the resultant images of someone else’s show.”
While Minkevich believes he has not broken any copyright laws, he says that some infringement has, in fact, taken place.
“Either way the photo was stolen off our website with no permission granted by the Winnipeg Free Press.”
If you’re wondering why Axl Rose is seeking to scrub the internet of these particular images, you needn’t look further than a quick image Google search of “Fat Axl.” The result is the proof that no one is safe from internet scorn: Dozens of memes of the unflattering image are coupled with food puns in the form of Guns N’ Roses lyrics.
Axl Rose also isn’t the first celebrity to attempt to have unflattering pictures removed from the internet. In 2013, Beyonce’s publicist attempted to force Buzzfeed to remove a badly timed image of her taken during her Super Bowl half-time show. As of this writing, neither the photos of Axl Rose nor Queen Bey’s Super Bowl picture have been removed.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella]