Brands and publishers who take immense care in attributing creators and ensuring downloaded assets aren’t misused have one new thing to worry about: bogus lawyers.
They’re part of a strange scam attempted on Swedish photography magazine (via ), which was recently alerted by one Arthur Davidson Legal Services that it had misattributed a photo it downloaded from the free, public-domain image library Pixabay. Due to this, the publication had violated their client’s copyright, the sender told Kamera & Bild.
The law firm said it represented a surf shop called Surf Gear Ltd and pressured the magazine to correct its byline with accreditation to the CheapSurfGear website, Kamera & Bild detailed in an article. Failure to do so would result in legal action, said Arthur Davidson Legal Services.
One thing that struck the magazine as unusual was how the legal firm did not insist on monetary compensation nor a removal of the image. Instead, it threatened to sue if the caption was not edited its way.
Before agreeing to make the changes, Kamera & Bild decided to run a background check on the legal firm and its client.
These turned out to be fake companies, and the owner running Surf Gear Ltd. appeared to be a “complete scam” overseeing a number of similar sites with bogus reviews too. In addition, portraits of “employees” working for Arthur Davidson Legal Services look AI-generated.
As Kamera & Bild also pointed out, it’s common for publications with substantial followings to receive requests from people asking for backlinks to the sites of products or companies they represent, and often, these requests are marketed as opportunities for “collaborations.” DesignTAXI gets a fair share of those every day too.
However, the magazine noted how this differed in that fear tactics were being used. “It sounds threatening,” Kamera & Bild wrote. “And it is of course meant to be,” it added.
To complicate things, the original photographer whose image is at the center of this matter, Zak Suhar, was not the one who uploaded his photo to Pixabay, nor did he consent to it being hosted there. Suhar said the photo likely circulated beyond his control after it was posted on a photography marketplace by a company called Stocksnap.
In response, Pixabay told Kamera & Bild that while its policy requires users to agree that they own all photos they upload, it has no way of checking if the content is copyrighted or not.
You can read about the saga in detail over at .