Fake DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice from “Arthur Davidson”

Updated: April 19, 2022
by Ray Alexander

Recently, I received an email from a law firm called Arthur Davidson in Boston, MA, advising that their client claims a copyright infringement against one of the images displayed on this website. But the particular image I used was definitely royalty-free for both commercial and non-commercial purposes.

I do receive fake copyright claim emails every now and again (along with all kinds of spam!) All I had to do was verify the claimant's identity and decide whether to ignore or reply.

The tone of the email didn’t sound right to me - somehow this person’s writing style didn’t sound like a lawyer’s. But the email was from tom@arthurdavidson.com, and it had a link to the firm’s website www.arthurdavidson.com which I very quickly checked and it appeared to be real, so I decided to reply and challenge their claim.

10 days later, I received another “copyright attorney” from the same firm, making the same claim regarding that particular image. So I took a look at the “Arthur Davidson” website once again - it actually didn’t take me a couple of minutes to work out the site was fake. I should have checked it a little closer the first time.

Fake DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice

Fake DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice

Here is what the first email from “Arthur Davidson” said.

Dear owner of https://cybercashworldwide.com/motivational-quotes-7,

My name is Tom Donovan, I am a Trademark Attorney of Arthur Davidson Legal Services. 

I am reaching out to you as your website features content that has infringed on one copyright image owned by our client, White Water Mag Ltd.

The use of this image - https://i.imgur.com/1VuGaS1.jpg is featured on your web page -  (https://cybercashworldwide.com/motivational-quotes-7), without proper image credit attribution.

The Wayback Machine - https://web.archive.org/, a permanent public archive of the web, shows the image being used on your website.

Our client, is happy for their image to be used and shared across the internet. However, proper image credit is due for past or ongoing usage.

The image credit to White Water Mag Ltd must be added underneath the image or somewhere appropriate on the offending page with a link to https://www.whitewatermag.com/news/ within 7 days. Otherwise, we are required to take legal action.

I have assigned case ID #1482 to track this dispute, which should be quoted in all correspondence. Once you have added an image credit to the page, the case against you will be dropped.

This letter is an official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (" DMCA"). If this is unresolved immediately we'll have to proceed with filing a DMCA legal case.

I am providing this notice with authority to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright(s) involved.

Regards

Tom Donovan

Trademark Attorney

Arthur Davidson Legal 

177 Huntington Ave 17th floor

Boston, MA 02115

tom@arthurdavidson.com

www.arthurdavidson.com

If you read it carefully, you’ll notice a few things that are written don’t make sense. 

His “client” is not asking for the image to be taken down from my site, but asking for a link back to their site - the site of which is unrelated to the image in question.

More importantly, he claims that the image is owned by his client, therefore I have violated copyright, but he’s not proving the ownership of the image in this email.

I wrote back and pointed it out, and never got a response. 10 days later, I received another email from a different ‘attorney’ from the same company, with almost identical content except for where highlighted - a different claim of ownership.

...My name is Valerie Atkins, I am a Trademark Attorney of Arthur Davidson Legal Services.

I am reaching out to you as your website features content that has infringed on one copyright image owned by our client, Surf Gear Ltd. 

...The image credit to Surf Gear Ltd must be added underneath the image or somewhere appropriate on the offending page with a link to https://www.cheapsurfgear.com/blogs/surf-news. Otherwise, we are required to take legal action.

I have assigned case ID #4604 to track this dispute, which …

Valerie Atkins
Trademark Attorney…..

DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice emails

Almost identical.

There they are. They’re not attorneys but are likely to be a backlinking scammer, which I'll explain in a little while.

Fake Law Firm “Arthur Davidson”

So I looked into their website a bit more, and here’s what I found.

Fake Photos/Profiles

What instantly made me suspicious was the names and photos of the “lawyers” on the About Us page. 

All 12 of them have reasonably common English surnames - Simmons, Mayer, Swanson, Porter, Perkins, Atkins, Hurst, Bennett… None of them is of foreign origin or a unique last name.

Sure, all the team members may have happened to have common English names. No DiCaprio or Schwarzenegger.

But believe me, over the years, I've received hundreds of emails from self-proclaimed marketers and SEO agents suggesting collaborations. Fake ones are easy to spot because they all call themselves Sophie Smith, Keith Jones, etc. but they barely understand the very basic English, suggesting that they're from non-English speaking countries. 

Arthur Davidson Lawyers

The photos are all scary-looking, android-like. Reverse-image search sites can actually reveal that these photos have been created by a face generator (generated.photos). 

The profile descriptions have quite a few typo errors, and some of them really don’t make sense. One of them says that she is “licensed to work as a lawyer in Boston.” Why, does that mean the other lawyers are unlicensed???

Site Is Not Listed On Google

I Googled "Arthur Davidson lawyers Boston MA" and didn't find anything relevant. Then I googled the address, “177 Huntington Ave 17th floor, Boston, MA 02115” - this law firm never came up either.

The Site Is New

The “About Us” page also says that the firm was founded in 2009. It’s a false claim because the domain registry reveals that the website arthurdavidson.com was only first registered in February 2022. It was registered via Namecheap, a discount domain registry company, which means the site is likely to be owned by an individual, not by a company.

ArthurDavidson Domain Registration

So What Are They?

I have taken a quick look at these two “clients” sites, whitewatermag.com and cheapsurfgear.com. I couldn’t find a similarity between the two except that both the domains are registered via Namecheap. It's not my position to criticise other sites unless I can see a malicious intent. But neither of these two sites is being transparent to users, in my opinion, because;

  • WhiteWaterMag.com - The site was registered in 2020. The street address shown on the website "8468 N Friant Rd, Fresno, CA 93720" is occupied by another retailer, according to Google Maps. The “team photo” is not genuine - it's just a stock photo. 
  • CheapSurfGear.com - The site was purchased sometime in 2019 according to the domain registry. It’s an e-commerce site but does not disclose the owner’s information or where the business is based. Fake customer reviews are found (e.g. screenshots below.)
Fake Customer Reviews

In each of the emails I received, the sender says their “client” company is White Water Mag Ltd and Surf Gear Ltd, respectively. Neither of these websites mentions the company name.

The suffix “Ltd” can only be legally used for a company name in certain countries, such as the UK, Canada, Ireland, etc., but should NOT be used for a US company. This means that at least one of them, "White Water Mag Ltd" could not exist in California.

Deceptive Backlinking Strategy

Let me recap what this email sender is trying to do with me and possibly with many other website owners.

What they claim is that this particular image I used on my site is copyrighted. But their client, the copyright owner will let me use it only if I place a link back to their website.

The image in question was taken from a copyright-free photo site, Pixhere. The original owner or the photographer’s name is not disclosed. The copyright status is clearly stated as; CC0 Public Domain - Free for personal and commercial use - No attribution required.

Pixhere CC0 Image

Whether the owner of WhiteWaterMag and CheapSurfGear sites are directly involved in these false DMCA copyright infringement claims or not, I don’t know. So I can only speculate based on my previous experiences. 

I think it is possible that the email sender is pretending to be an SEO agent, offering various new website owners backlinks for a fee. 

Instead of seeking legitimate backlinking strategies, they target other website owners like me who used copyright-free images and send out threatening emails. 

“The image on your site belongs to my client. You must acknowledge them by placing a link back to their site. Otherwise, you are subject to legal consequences."

If you were a website owner and someone asked you to take an image off your site or pay a royalty because that particular image was copyrighted, you would investigate the image source and the copyright status, wouldn't you?

But if they simply asked you to place a link underneath your image, you would probably be happy to comply. "I'm pretty sure I got the image from a free image site, but never mind, sorry! I'll link it to your site now. Hope that's ok."

Beware Of DMCA Copyright Infringement Notices

We all have some understanding of copyright laws as website owners, don't we? If you mistakenly used a copyrighted image and made a lot of financial gain as a direct result of its use, not only will you be told to remove it, but you may also be fined.

Most copyright infringement warning emails are strongly worded, including phrases such as;

  • “legal action against you”
  • “this is a formal and final warning”
  • “within X days of this notice”, etc. 

But if you believe the material is in the public domain and you are using it in good faith, then there’s no reason why those words should get you to panic.

When you receive such a warning email, examine the email content carefully and think about it from a copyright owner’s point of view. This way, you may be able to find out if the claim is authentic or not. If you were an owner of intellectual property, you would want to protect it. You wouldn't pay your lawyer and get them just to say, you’d authorise the use of your property in exchange for a site backlink.

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About the author 

Ray Alexander

Hi! I’m Ray. Over the past 15+ years I have been involved with web designing, programming and online marketing. I work from home and have a passion for exploring new tools, services and programs in order to make money online. I’m here to help you succeed in building a profitable business by sharing my experiences. Any question, don’t hesitate to ask!

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  1. Hello Ray,

    Thanks for this information.
    I got the same mail today and first started searching on the company's name and found this article of you, which off-course was very help-full.

    Kind regards

    1. Hi Rob, thanks for your comment. I’ve seen so many so-called SEO (backlinking) agents with hidden identities who claim to help new websites rank better in Google search. I guess that more of them are starting to use this kind of deceptive tactics if they haven’t already! Thank you Rob, all the best to you.

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