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When the most aggressive legal move isn't the best one

Rock singer Axl Rose has been in the news quite a bit lately. Following a partial reunion of the original lineup of his band Guns ‘n Roses, Rose joined another legendary hard rock group, AC/DC, on tour as a replacement lead singer.

Though his career seems to be on an upswing, apparently Rose is still concerned about his public image. This would explain why he is trying to get an unflattering photograph from 2010 taken down from the internet.

The photograph shows Rose in concert, appearing overweight and bloated. It has become a popular meme, with people posting satirical Guns ‘n Roses lyrics over the picture to make fun of Rose’s appearance.

Rose is demanding that Google and Blogspot remove the image and related memes under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He says he owns the Copyright on the image, but the Canadian newspaper whose photographer took the picture says it is the Copyright owner. “While ethically we don’t approve [of the memes], viral media is impossible for us to regulate,” the newspaper said in a statement.

Indeed, even if Rose is found to be the Copyright owner, it may be too late to stop the memes from circulating around the internet. An article about the case in Fortune Magazine notes that Rose is at risk of triggering the so-called “Streisand effect”: by trying to suppress an unflattering photograph on the internet, he may ironically be spreading it further by drawing the public’s attention to it.

The term is named after the singer Barbra Streisand, who infamously tried to get a photograph of her California home taken down from a website. Prior to her legal action, the picture had been downloaded just six times. Once the story became public, hundreds of thousands of people downloaded it.

Cases like this show that the most aggressive legal option in an Intellectual Property matter is not always the best option. A knowledgeable IP attorney can help you decide what your next move will be.

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