We all have photos where we don’t look our best (for some of us, that would be most photos), but we can’t go around claiming we own the copyright to photos just because we don’t like the way we look. Guns n Roses singer Axl Rose is learning this lesson, along with a little something about the Streisand Effect, with his failed attempt to scrub the internet of the so-called “fat Axl” pics.
TorrentFreak was first to report that Axl, through a service called Web Sheriff, has sent nearly a dozen copyright takedown notices to Google alone, seeking to have remove images from a number of Blogspot sites.
The complaints all allege that the photos — originally taken during a Jan. 2010 concert in Canada, by a photographer for the Winnipeg Free Press — have all been published without Axl’s permission, and that “no permission has been granted to publish the copyright image so we cannot direct you to an authorized example of it,” even though they were clearly used in the Winnipeg Free Press.
Web Sheriff contends, in a statement to TorrentFreak, that authorized photographers at Axl Rose concerts sign releases specifying and limiting the use of the photos, and transferring copyright ownership of the photos to Axl’s “relevant service company.”
TorrentFreak tracked down the original photographer who says he has no idea whether he signed any sort of document; after all, the show was more than six years ago.
Web Sheriff counters that there may be other issues involved with the commercial use of photos taken at a Guns n Roses show. However, that is not the same as simply claiming ownership of these images.
The takedown notices were sent on May 31, but Google has yet to take any action to scrub the allegedly offending images. Web Sheriff would likely need to provide specific proof that the Free Press photographer did indeed sign over the copyright to Axl.
This is not to say that the sites aren’t violating copyright by using these photos; just that the copyright belongs to someone else — likely the photographer or the Free Press — who hasn’t sought to have them removed.