Axl Rose has been enjoying a bit of a career resurgence lately, with AC/DC choosing him to be its new replacement singer and Guns N’ Roses reuniting at Coachella, but it sounds like he has now discovered a downside to this sudden return to relative popularity: Apparently, people on the internet have been making fun of him for years. Specifically, these internet bullies have taken a particularly unflattering photo of Rose from a concert way back in 2010 and turned into what’s known as the “Fat Axl” meme, and Rose is not happy about it. (You can see examples of the meme on its Know Your Meme page, as well as on 4chan or whatever.)
Rose isn’t just going to scream while swaying a little, though, he’s actually going to war with these cruel memesters. According to Torrent Freak, Rose has issued a series of DMCA takedown notices to Google demanding that these old “Fat Axl” memes be scrubbed from the internet. The copyright notice claims—probably rightfully—that the people posting the images don’t have the legal right to do so, but it’s not clear if Rose himself even owns the photos in the first place. Torrent Freak tracked down the guy who took the pictures, which originally appeared as part of a story for the Winnipeg Free Press, but the photographer isn’t sure whether or not he signed over the rights to the photos or if his newspaper still controls them. Either way, whoever owns the pictures probably isn’t some rando on Reddit making a dumb food pun with Guns N’ Roses lyrics.
Google hasn’t complied with the requests to remove the photos yet, which Torrent Freak suggests could be because it doesn’t believe that Rose actually owns the rights. However, if Google does give in and pull the “Fat Axl” images from its search results, it could usher in a new dark age of meme-making where internet jokesters are totally unable to find and share bad photos of famous people, leaving us with nobody to laugh at but ourselves.