I got a weird email the other day from Web Sheriff, demanding that I remove a copyrighted image of Axl Rose from this site, saying that I was infringing on…something. The sender of the email claimed to be working on behalf of a photographer named Boris Minkevich. It was all shouty in appearance, printed ALMOST ENTIRELY IN BLOCK CAPITALS TO SHOW THAT THE PERSON BEHIND IT MEANT BUSINESS, apparently.
Okay, fine. I’m not going to get bent about such a thing, so down the pictures came.
Turns out, though, that mine was the only door upon which Web Sheriff was knocking. This is looking more and more like an attempt by Axl to scrub the Internet of some particularly unflattering images that have turned up in a variety of memes. And Boris Minkevich has nothing to do with the situation.
TorrrentFreak, bless ’em, tracked down Boris and got the story. They found him in Winnipeg.
We eventually found Boris Minkevich at the Winnipeg Free Press where his fine work is published in all its glory.
During our initial discussions a few things became clear. Firstly, Minkevich definitely took the photo. Second, Minkevich had no idea that Rose was trying to “cleanse the web” of his photo.
Perhaps the first reaction here is that Rose has no right to take down Minkevich’s photo. Since Minkevich was the one who took it, he must own the copyright, right? Web Sheriff doesn’t seem to think so.
“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 TF in a statement.
We contacted Minkevich again and asked whether he’d signed any contracts as suggested by Web Sheriff or had any clear idea of who owns the copyrights. He confirmed that some shows make photographers sign an agreement and some don’t. This event was in 2010, a long time to remember back.
However, even if Minkevich took this photograph in an unofficial and/or unauthorized capacity, Web Sheriff still believes there would be issues surrounding ownership.