If you have received a "DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice" from a company named "Nationwide Law/Legal Services", it's a fake company. I don't know the real person behind it, but we've got an identical notice from several different "companies" over the past years. I know what to do with it, but there may be new bloggers who received the same or similar notification and feel intimidated by it. So if you do, don't do what the email tells you! I'll explain.
The Fake Legal Notice
The email you have received may claim that;
- You are using a copyrighted image on your website.
- The image belongs to their client.
- The client's fine with it, as long as you place a clickable link underneath the image.
- Do not remove the image from your site now. But you must place a link within X days, otherwise, they'll take legal action against you.
So they're saying that the damage is done - you've already carelessly used a copyrighted image on your site, so removing it won't solve the issue. But instead of asking for money, they're just asking you to link back to the website they stated. It doesn't make sense, does it?
Here's a copy of the email we've received.
It's a Fake SEO Agent
The truth is, Nationwide Legal Services is not a law company, it's a backlinking agent, promising clients higher search engine rankings in exchange for a fee.
But what they do is threaten other website owners with fake legal action.
This is embarrassing for the clients, too. Paying for the service, genuinely believing that whoever approached them was a legitimate SEO agency, but it turns out they're not.
In this particular email that I received, the sender asks me to link back to motorbiketireshop.com. I've checked the site but the site owner's information is missing - it just says "The Team at Motorbike Tire Shop". So this site may not be genuine, either. Maybe the owner also owns the Nationwide Legal Services site (nationlaw.org) too. Who knows?
How They Targeted Us
So this is what they did. Their client (or themselves!) is a motorbike tire shop, so they searched for an image of a motorbike in the internet archive site, Wayback Machine and found this image used on one of our pages.
The photo does not belong to motorbiketireshop.com as the sender claims, but it's shared on a royalty-free image site, Pexels by a Dutch entrepreneur, Bas Masséus.
Pexels specifically states that "all photos (on its site) are free to use and attribution is not required."
Trademark vs. Copyright
The email says "You are receiving this legal infringement notice from Nationwide Legal Trademark Department due to the unauthorized usage of our client's image."
I think the sender gets the copyright and trademark mixed up. Copyright is to protect the original work of art, etc, whereas a trademark protects a brand identity, company name, etc. I understand that a lot of trademark attorneys deal with copyright issues. But they are two different things and, the fact that the sender emphasizes "from Trademark Department" in this particular email appears somewhat unprofessional to me.
The Fake Website
The first thing you'll notice is the "lawyers" listed on the homepage and their photos. You see they're all headshots, they all have a plain background, and they're all android-creepy?
That's because they're created by this particular AI face generator site, https://generated.photos/faces.
I think generated.photos was great when it first came out because the faces "looked so real". But AI technology is moving so fast that the site has quickly become one-dimensional compared to other AI face generator apps.
Another thing you may notice about these fake lawyers is their names. Bob Rice, Rick Moore, Lydia Houston... Scammers use fairly common English names so nobody can track them down by googling. If you were to google "Bob Rice Attorney" - there'd be a bunch of many Bob/Robert Rices, so you would give up searching.
The footer of the Nationwide Legal Services site says the address is 401 Congress Ave. #1540 Austin, TX 78701. Google it, and you'll find a 33-storey building "Frost Bank Tower." No such legal company is listed as a tenant in that building.
Anyway, this Nationwide Legal Services site lists 12 lawyers with face photos on the homepage. If it was a genuine law firm, Google Business Profile should be set up so it would come up at the top of Google SERP with the direction to this address when searched. But it doesn't, which proves the company is fictitious.
What Should You Do?
So if you've received such a fake DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice like this one, what should you do?
Do nothing, don't reply. Scammers rarely stick around for long but keep disappearing and appearing using different names. You could check the image in question on your website again to make sure it's copyright free. But I'd say, ignore such emails - it's not worth your time to challenge them.