Axl Rose has issued a DMCA takedown request with Google over a 2010 image used to create a viral “Fat Axl” meme. The photograph, taken by Boris Minkevich at the Winnipeg Free Press, depicts the rock legend performing at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Canada with Guns N’ Roses, hunched over and wearing a red bandana.
“Copyright image of Axl Rose,” read multiple complaints issued by Web Sheriff on the singer’s behalf, TorrentFreak reports. “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.” The copyright claims were sent to Blogspot and GoogleUserContent on May 31st.
While a rep for Guns N’ Roses declined to comment, Rolling Stone has confirmed the authenticity of the notice.
After locating the original story containing the photo, TorrentFreak reached out to Web Sheriff, who argued that even though Minkevich took the photos, he doesn’t own the copyright.
“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,” the company told TorrentFreak.
“[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,” the statement continued.
As the site observed, Google hasn’t yet complied with the takedown requests as the images in question – which include insulting captions like “Take me down to the bakery city / Where the pies have cream and the cakes are tasty” – remain accessible as of this writing. A rep for Google was not immediately available for comment.
Minkivich argued that the Blogspot images were infringing in a different manner: “Either way the photo was stolen off our website with no permission granted by the Winnipeg Free Press,” he said.
It’s not uncommon for artists to issue takedown requests in light of unflattering public images, though such requests typically occur behind the scenes away from public view. In 2013, a rep for Beyonce asked Buzzfeed to change select images of the singer at the Super Bowl. The site refused, posting the images under the headline The “Unflattering” Photos Beyoncé’s Publicist Doesn’t Want You To See.
Rose recently rejoined his former Guns N’ Roses bandmates for a headlining slot at Coachella, and the band’s classic line-up will launch a North American tour June 23rd in Detroit through the summer.