Daily Dot is reporting that they recently received a DMCA notice for posting the ‘Fat Axl’ Axl Rose meme.
The Daily Dot received a DMCA takedown notice Tuesday morning sent on Rose’s behalf. It was issued by the Web Sheriff, an anti-piracy company out of the U.K. that helps clients protect their intellectual property and copyright claims. It’s typically employed to help artists, studios, and labels remove pirated content, especially leaks, from the internet, as well as any other unlicensed material.
Rose originally employed the Web Sheriff in June for a DMCA notice to Google, essentially claiming ownership of the concert photo—taken in Winnipeg, Canada, in 2010—that became the basis of the Fat Axl meme. The meme uses Guns N’ Roses lyrics—real or slightly altered—to poke fun at the singer’s physical condition at the start of the band’s highly anticipated reunion tour.
A quick Google search shows that effort was in vain. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Fat Axl images out there. If anything, the initial DMCA request triggered the Streisand Effect, calling significant attention to the very thing the artist wants swept under the rug.
According to Know Your Meme, the Fat Axl meme originated in October 2011, when both Vice and BuzzFeed posted photos showing the frontman’s apparent weight gain. That spurred the creation of a Fat Axl page on Quickmeme on Oct. 10, but the image Rose is currently fighting wasn’t really used in memes until June 2012, when Meme Generator created a page called “Axl Rose is Fat.” (The photos have since been removed.)
The meme had a predictably short shelf life. Google Trends shows that after an initial spike, interest in the search term dropped off significantly—until Rose’s DMCA notice to Google went viral earlier this year.
Alternative Nation also received a DMCA notice for posting the photo in June.
TorrentFreak.com reported in June that Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose has had Web Sheriff send DMCA notices on his behalf to Google to take down a photo that has led to ‘fat’ memes. Google have posted the DMCA noticed on LumenDatabase.org. The photos are taken from a bad angle at a 2010 Winnipeg concert, with Rose looking significantly different in other photos from the same concert.
“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 told TorrentFreak in a statement.
Web Sheriff also said even if the photos were taken unauthorized, ownership 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.”
TorrentFreak also tracked down Boris Minkevich at the Winnipeg Free Press, the man who took the photographs. Minkevich had no idea that Rose was trying to “cleanse the web” of his photo. “Either way the photo was stolen off our website with no permission granted by the Winnipeg Free Press.”