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Have You Heard: Axl Rose, Boston’s Tom Scholz, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Bill Ward

03:01 PM Tuesday 6/7/16 | |

Axl Rose “fat” meme may be too big to fail … Boston founder Tom Scholz issues statement after U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear his defamation lawsuit … “Weird Al” Yankovic decides to play North Carolina show … Former Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward announces new band.

Axl Rose recently issued a takedown notice to Google of a 2010 image of him shot in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that’s since become a favorite base for a “Fat Axl” internet meme.  The notice cites a photographer’s signed release transferring copyright to the Guns N’ Roses singer.

But takedown notices and copyright claims also have implications for concert photographers who are frequently required to sign photo releases that hand over creative control of images produced to performers if they want to shoot their shows.

The photograph, shot by Boris Minkevich of the Winnipeg Free Press at the MTS Centre, depicts Rose hunched over and wearing a white, unbuttoned shirt and red bandanna. Internet pranksters have taken the photo and layered text over the image to create memes saying things like, “Welcome to the jungle/We’ve got tons of cake” and “Appetite for Dessert.”

The takedown notices, filed by Web Sheriff on behalf of Rose, say the copyright of the images is owned by Rose, not the photographer.

According to TorrentFreak, a blog for file-sharing and torrent news, copyright claims were sent to Blogspot and GoogleUserContent May 31.

“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,” the company told TorrentFreak.

“[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,” the statement continued.

Rose isn’t the only one with a beef. Minkivich argued that the Blogspot images were infringing in a different manner: “Either way the photo was stolen off our website with no permission granted by the Winnipeg Free Press,” he told Rolling Stone.

But even Minkivich doesn’t have the last word on who owns the photo.

The Winnipeg Free Press says it, and not Rose or Minkivich, owns the editorial copyright for the images, and has approved no third-party usage.

Mike Aporius, the paper’s photo and multimedia director, told the Washington Post that “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.”

After lengthy journeys through multiple courts, Boston founder Tom Scholz’s defamation lawsuits against his late bandmate’s ex-wife and the Boston Herald came to an end in the U.S. Supreme Court Monday.

The two suits were related to an article published in the Herald discussing the suicide of Boston singer Brad Delp. In the article, Micki Delp, the singer’s ex-wife, and others discussed the bandmates’ relationship, connecting it with the suicide in a way that the rocker said dramatically worsened his life.

“I felt like a disgrace and a hoax,” Scholz said in a court record. “I did not want to leave my house. I suddenly noticed people staring at me in an odd way and avoiding me altogether.”

Scholz filed suit against Micki in 2007 and the Herald in 2010. He claimed there was indisputable evidence Brad’s suicide was mainly due to his relationship with his fiancée, not Scholz.

The claim against Delp was dismissed in a lower court but found a second wind in an appeals court before being dismissed again by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 2015. The suit against the Herald was dismissed in a lower court and that decision was upheld by the SJC in 2015.

Both cases came before the Supreme Court Monday and the body declined to reopen the matter, bringing the story to a close.

“Mr. Scholz disagrees that the cause of Brad's suicide is unknowable,” a statement on behalf of Scholz said. “This decision will have adverse consequences well beyond [this] case against the Herald because it regrettably means that people are largely free to accuse another of causing someone's suicide, even when, as here, the accusation is false.”

Another defamation suit against former Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau’s wife, Connie, was settled previously.

In a message saying he “wrestled with the decision about” playing shows in North Carolina, “Weird Al” Yankovic says he’s going to protest the passing of the controversial HB2 legislation.

Because HB2 requires people using restrooms in government buildings to use the room corresponding with their gender at birth, the legislation has been criticized as discriminating against transgender people.

Several acts, including Bruce Springsteen, Nick Jonas and Pearl Jam have canceled dates in the state while others, including Joe Walsh and Cyndi Lauper, have decided to use their appearances as opportunities for speaking out against HB2. 

From “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Facebook page:

“It was definitely not an easy choice, but I have decided to honor the dates, as I don’t want to punish my fans (most of whom, I’d like to believe, also have a big problem with unfair, discriminatory legislation).  I will be donating my personal fee from the June 18 Greensboro show to the Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org), America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.”

In addition to the Greensboro show, “Weird Al” is scheduled to play North Carolina locales Wilmington, Durham and Asheville in September.

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic

    Governors Ball Music Festival, Randall's Island, New York City
    June 7, 2015

    (Robert Altman / Invision / AP)

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Original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward says he’s launching a new band.

Ward made news in 2012 when he reportedly pulled out of the Black Sabbath reunion tour because he hadn’t received, in his words, “a signable contract.”  That same year, Ozzy Osbourne told the New York Daily News that Ward was “incredibly overweight” and had experienced “two heart attacks.”

Ward’s recent post on Facebook doesn’t reveal any dates or even an impending album release.  But the drummer does name names for his new three-piece dubbed “Day of Errors,” saying his bandmates are Joe Amodea on guitar/vocals and Nick Diltz handling bass and vocal/lead vocals.  Special guests are Walter Earl on percussion and Aron Ward playing keyboards.

  • Black Sabbath in 2011

    Bill Ward, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer and Tony Iommi at the Black Sabbath press conference in Los Angeles.
    November 11, 2011

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Ward’s post says Day Of Errors plays “loud, hard, with overtures of gut-kicking heavy, heavy parts.” The drummer promises “more information will follow.”


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