Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose has issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request with Google in an attempt to scrub the internet of the picture that inspired the “fat Axl” meme, according to reports. Torrentfreak reports that a recent edition of Lumen Database’s DMCA archive found a series of requests sent on May 31 by Web Sheriff on behalf of Rose to the search giant listing allegedly infringing URLs featuring the unflattering pic.
The image of a robust Rose — wearing a red bandana, open-chested white dress shirt and ripped jeans while leaning forward with a menacing look — originally appeared alongside a GNR show review in the Winnipeg Free Press in January 2010 and has become a beloved rock n’ roll meme. “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,” read the notices sent to Blogspot and GoogleUserContent.
While a spokesperson for Rose and GNR had not responded to requests for comment at press time, TorrentFreak spoke to Web Sheriff about the image, which argued that although Free Press staff photographer Boris Minkevich took the photos on assignment for the paper, he technically doesn’t own the copyright on them. “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 AR’s relevant service company,” Web Sheriff said in a statement.
Bands often have photographers sign contracts that include clauses related to ownership of any images shot during performances. Some of those contracts specify that the act has the right to demand a photo only be used a certain number of times, for a specific outlet (or for a limited period) and occasionally that the performer has the right to take ownership of all images shot during their concerts. Minkevich, who could not be reached for comment at press time, told TorrentFreak he couldn’t recall if he signed a contract while shooting the GNR show.
In a statement to sent to Billboard, Free Press Director of Photography Mike Aporius said Rose’s reps have no right to the image, which has been re-posted without the paper’s permission. “We’ve had a number of requests for comment on the circulating memes of Axl Rose based on a photo staff photographer Boris Minkevich took in Winnipeg in January of 2010,” it read. “The Winnipeg Free Press holds editorial copyright on the image and has not approved any third-party usage. We were only recently made aware of these memes, and while we ethically don’t approve, viral media is impossible for us to regulate. Welcome to the jungle.”