Fake AI law firms are sending fake DMCA threats to generate fake SEO gains.

to enlarge / A man of many parts, like the attorney who handles both tough criminal law and copyright takedowns for an Arizona law firm.

Getty Images

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now
Instagram Group Join Now

If you run a personal or hobby website, getting a copyright notice from a law firm about an image on your site can cause some panic at high speed. As someone who has paid to fix a news service licensing issue before, I can sympathize with someone who wants to do away with this sort of thing.

This is why an angle scheme on a new type of angle can seem obvious and potentially effective. Ernie Smith, the ever-inquisitive writer behind the newsletter Tedium, received a “DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice” in late March from “Commonwealth Legal,” the “intellectual property division” of Tech4Gods. represents the

At issue was a photo of a keyfob from the legitimate photo service Unsplash that Smith had once taken in an awkward Uber ride. As Smith detailed in a Mastodon thread, the purported firm needed to “immediately add credit to our client” via a link to Tech4Gods, and said it should be “addressed within the next five business days.” ” Removing the image does not “end the matter,” and if Smith had not acted, the putative firm would have had to “activate” its case in reliance on DMCA 512(c) (which, in many readings, actually provides relief). provides. A website owner, unaware of the infringing material, acted expeditiously to remove said material). The email unhelpfully points to the Internet Archive’s main page so Smith can review “records of past usage.”

A piece of the website for Commonwealth Legal Services, with every word in the phrase, including “for,” questioned.

Commonwealth Legal Services

There are plenty of problems with Commonwealth Legal’s application, as detailed by Smith and 404 Media. Chief among them is that Commonwealth Legal, a firm theoretically based in Arizona (which is not a Commonwealth), almost certainly does not exist. Despite a 2018 copyright appearing on the site, the firm’s website domain was apparently registered on March 1, 2024 with a Canadian IP location. The address on the firm’s site leads to a location that, at least, does not match the “fourth floor” stated on the website.

While law firm websites are full of stock images, so are many websites for professional services. The real deal is the site’s list of advocates, most of whom, as 404 Media puts it, have “blank, thousand-yard stares” common to AI-generated faces. AI detection firm RealityDefender told 404 Media that their service saw AI generation in every lawyer photo, “most likely through a generative adversarial network (GAN) model”.

Then there are the attorney bios, which offer surface-level qualifications through awkward setups. Five of the 12 are believed to come from the prestigious law schools of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and the University of Chicago. The other seven apparently graduated from the top five results you can find for “Arizona Law School”. Sarah Walker has a practice based on “copyright infringement and criminal litigation”, a very unusual combination. Sometimes they “uphold artists’ rights” but they can also “handle high-profile criminal cases.” It seems Walker couldn’t pick just one track at Yale Law School.

Why would anyone go to the trouble of creating a law firm out of NameCheap, stock art, and AI images (and apparently copy) to send quasi-legal demands to site owners? Backlinks, that’s why. Backlinks are links to a site that Google (or others, but almost always Google) holds in high esteem for a site trying to rank. Whether spammed, traded, generated or solicited by a fake firm, backlinks make search engine optimization (SEO) a grey, very dark grey, market. For all their algorithmic (and now AI) prowess, search engines have always had a hard time assessing backlink quality and context, so some site owners still buy backlinks.

The owner of Tech4Gods told 404 Media’s Jason Kubler that he bought backlinks for his gadget review site (with “AI writing assistants”). He claimed ownership of the controversial image or any image and made vague suggestions that a disgruntled ex-contractor was trying to poison his rankings with spammy links.

Asked by Arce if he had just heard from “Commonwealth Legal” with five business days to go, Ernie Smith told Arce: “No, sorry.”

This post was updated at 4:50 pm Eastern to include Ernie Smith’s response.

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now
Instagram Group Join Now

Leave a Comment