An unflattering picture dating back to 2010 has drawn Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose's attention, leading him to battle to scrub it from the internet.
The photo, taken during a 2010 concert, was republished by Gauntlet heavy metal news site under a headline reading "OMFG Axl Rose is fat."
The picture has been used in a disturbing "Fat Axl" internet meme which puts Guns N’ Roses song lyrics alongside the image to mock the singer.
According to the Washington Post, Rose has sent many DMCA copyright notices demanding such images are taken down, calling them a violation of copyright.
Lyrics like "Oh Oh Sweet pie of mine" were used to make fun of the frontman.
— Greg Aldridge (@JollaGreg) June 8, 2016
Web Sheriff, a company that protects intellectual property filed the notices for the singer. The notices can be found at the Lumen Database along with most of the legal requests over online content removal.
The notices read "Copyright image of Axl Rose," "Please note that no permission has been granted to publish the copyright image so we cannot direct you to an authorized example of it."
— Thomas (@nashmax73) June 9, 2016
The question, however, remains: does Rose actually own the copyright of the picture taken originally by photographer Boris Minkevich for the Winnipeg Free Press?
According to the paper’s multimedia director Mike Aporius, the newspaper has not given editorial copyright privileges to anyone so far and was not aware of the meme going around the internet.
Aporius said: "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."
WebSheriff argued that any photographers taking pictures during a Guns N' Roses concert have to sign a photography release agreement.
"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 said in a statement to TorrentFreak.
Minkevich said he did not remember what exactly he had signed prior to photographing the 2010 show.