Qld. Connectors & Cables

I was made aware of this case of copyright infringement using an image of my Home Office by someone who had seen my website and recognized the image on the Queensland Connectors & Cables website. Something that happens a lot and isn’t surprising considering just how many visitors my website gets, on average.

The person that notified me is a local in the area of where Qld. Connectors and Cables is operating from, namely Milton QLD, Australia. The company itself is located at Unit 2/10 Dorsey Street and had been notified by the individual that found them using my image. However, Qld Connectors and Cables didn’t respond to that and failed to take the image offline so the information about the company was passed along to me.

As you can see from the screenshot above (you can click it for a larger image) an image of my Home Office was being used to promote a USB-SVIDEO device. According to the marketing statements the converter works as a second video card and allows you to connect an extra monitor to your desktop PC or laptop’s USB port and will support resolutions of up to 1920×1200 and 2048×1152.

Unfortunately, the choice of image in combination with this device IMPLIES that a setup like my home office would be possible with the device. There are several other brands of these things out there and trust me, creating a setup like mine will not work with these devices.

However, the way Qld. Connectors and Cables presents it and attempted to conduct their marketing and sales efforts is what I consider to be FALSE ADVERTISING. After all, you are using an image of a setup that is completely different, technically different, and designed for a different purpose than the product that was being advertised on their site.

Shame on Qld. Connectors & Cables for false advertising.

Needless to say, after Qld. Connectors and Cables did not respond to the original notification and I was informed of this infringement it didn’t take long (under 2 hours, a very quick result) to resolve the matter. A single demand explaining the legal and potential harm to their reputation was enough for Qld. Connectors and Cables to reconsider the way they were promoting this USB-SVIDEO device and the image was immediately taken down as the demands stated.

In case you’re wondering, the squashed format of the stolen image of my Home Office is entirely the way that Qld. Connectors & Cables had put it on their site, making the multi-wide-screen setup look even much wider than it really is. The least you could do when you steal my office images is to at least make sure the proportions are still correct, I would think! 🙂

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Astucemedia

Just when you thought no company could not sink any lower than Andre Leite Alves of Aware Bear Computers, think again. If there ever was a company deserving of being exposed in the “hall of shame” of copyright infringers it’s Astucemedia, Inc. in Montreal, Canada. I present to you the fraudulent misrepresentation and copyright infringement:

Astucemedia in Montreal using a copyrighted image without permission:

The design and graphics of the site are, I hope, actually their own and not also snatched from elsewhere. I have blurred the design out of respect for their copyright concerns, which is more than I can say for them and their total disregard in such matters. If you want to see what it otherwise looks like check their site. I’m sure you can find the original image here or here.

Notice how they pasted their company name and logo onto the wall. Why do that unless they wanted to create a false perception? What reason could Astucemedia have to associate me with their business activities? The obvious ones? Perhaps. But there might even be ulterior motives involved that I can only theorize about and will share with you later in this “hall of shame” exposure. Or you could just scroll down a bit.

How Astucemedia’s copyright infringement was discovered

A mutual client (which remains nameless) of Astucemedia and more recently of yours truly asked me what my involvement with them was. None, of course. After a few seconds of confusion and further communication it was pointed out to me that my office was prominently displayed on their website. What a great move, using my office on your site, this client now has doubts about the professionalism of Atucemedia and I most certainly agree with the client on that. How’s that for being stupid… unless it wasn’t mere stupidity?

Astucemedia’s response to the copyright infringement

Of course, Astucemedia was contacted about this blatant copyright infringement. Since they are a company that is technically playing around in my “backyard” of 3D computer graphics I offered them a chance to take responsibility and own up to their actions. Unfortunately they decided to quickly swap the image with another (one watermarked as copyright 2006 by Google) yet didn’t show any common decency or professional courtesy to respond.

No “sorry”, no apology, just total silence. This shows me exactly what kind of company Astucemedia and its management wishes to be and highlights the unprofessionalism they convey. It’s possible that the management at Astucemedia wasn’t creative enough to come up with a typical lame excuse or a flat out lie. Not the kind of non-response you’d expect considering that they had the benefit of using my home office image since April 2008 (according to caches on the internet that were used in the research of this case of infringement).

What sort of company is Astucemedia?

It is important to know that Asucemedia is “a design and technology company providing on-air broadcast graphic services using exclusively using Vizrt, Wasp3D, Ventuz, Orad, Brainstorm, Chyron Hyper X and Miranda/VertigoXmedia and also traditional tools”. They are specialized in “elections, weather, news, sports and branding” and has staff based in the USA, Canada (147 St. Paul West, Suite 320, Montreal, Quebec), Switzerland (Rte de Taillepied 85, 1095 Lutry, Lausanne) and United Arab Emirates (the UAE one operating only through a cell phone number). They create visual content for TV networks such as ABC, ABC7, CBS, Fox sports, AlJazeera International, TF1, TSR, WBZ, MusiquePlus, MBC, and others.

In their own words they offer; On-Air Broadcast Graphic & Virtual Set Design and Integration, Interactive Graphics for screens, Video Wall and Virtual, Stereoscopic 3D Services, Real-Time Data Integration, Broadcast Graphic System Advice & Rental, Channel Branding, “Turnkey solutions for Elections, Weather, Sports, News, Finance”, Graphics for Event and Presentation, Live Web Streaming with graphics, and Training.

I’m sure my readers understand that a company like Astucemedia, having as its core business the creation of content for clients, must be intimately familiar with intellectual property and copyright matters. For a company that presents itself as experienced professionals it is nothing less than absolutely shameful to be negligent using unverified and unauthorized content. Shame on Astucemedia, indeed. Reckless, careless, and unprofessional are the words that come to mind to apply in this situation.

Who are the people responsible for the business at Astucemedia?

The owner, Alexandre Leclerc, currently appears to be busy in trying to sell software in the Middle East as the managing director of Feeling Software. This company is involved in “big brother” type solutions for security and surveillance cameras; Omnipresence 3D Security Platform (3D Pro Design, Central Command, GeoLink, iGuard) and provides things like license plate recognition and mobile surveillance. If only it could have been used to keep an eye on his other company and prevent t from negative attention. I think I have a client for Feeling Software, a company called Astucemedia certainly could use some internal content surveillance to guard against the use of unauthorized materials and prevent it from being used to create a fraudulent misrepresentation.

Alexandre Leclerc, by his own information, is the owner of Astucemedia since October 2003. The domain certainly has been registered at that time and shows the registrant to be Alexandre Leclerc, 301 Chemin Club Marin, Iles-des-Soeurs. However, information on the Feeling Software website claims he started the company in 2006. Since March 2010, Alexandre has taken up a role as the managing director at Feeling Software but Alexandre but is still very active for Astucemedia because he’s been posting about job positions as recent as August 2010. Perhaps Feeling Software isn’t working out too well for him or isn’t keeping him busy enough. Obviously Alexandre is too busy to apologize for the copyright infringement conducted by his company.

Previously, during 2003 to 2006, Alexandre was a project manager at Miranda Technologies (also in Montreal). It appears that many people at Astucemedia have come from Miranda Technologies, such as Michel Croibier (listed on their website for their office in Switzerland). And there is Jean-Francois Poirier, named as the CTO at Astucemedia and formerly a software designer at Miranda Technologies.

I never had any contact with any of these individuals but in order to provide full disclosure in this expose I shall mention that I have experience with some Miranda Technologies products. However, that dates back to 1994 when we were doing a large development project that involved Matrox Studio OEM systems and hardware 3D DVE boards. Titania, I think those were called, forgive my memory since that’s 16 or 17 years ago now. So my connection to the company that some of the people at Astucemedia came from predates Alexandre Leclerc’s arrival at Miranda Technologies by some 9 years. This was even several years before Mr. Leclerc started as a graphics designer at VertigoXmedia.

Why Astucemedia simply used an image without permission?

If you have any ideas about that feel free to leave a comment on this article. However, because Austucemedia has declined to respond to their flagrant image theft while having been provided ample opportunity to do so I am going to make a few educated guesses.

Perhaps Astucemedia does not have nice offices to show. Maybe, for their commercial marketing purposes, they figured it would impress their (potential) clients by using an image they felt was impressive enough to use even though any person with half a brain would know that using images without permission or from an unverified source is a really carnal offense, ESPECIALLY in the content creation industry!

One could also argue that Astucemedia had a strong desire to enter the “hall of shame” of copyright infringers and desperately wanted the number one position held by Andre Leite Alves of Aware Bear Computers in Rochester. Or maybe they wanted to show they were better than David Dik of Linado at modifying an image. It’s possible they just wanted to show themselves as an unprofessional business that lacks moral judgment while displaying a disgraceful disregard of other people’s materials. But why wish to be perceived as lowly as “common thieves”?

An ulterior motive for using my office without permission?

Oh, right. You were probably waiting for this since I mentioned it earlier. Again, lacking a response and clarification from Astucemedia and concluding that they wish to stick their heads in the sand regarding the responsibility of their actions, I am forced to theorize along a different direction.

Let me start by saying that the field in which Astucemedia conducts its business is a field that I am intimately familiar with. After all, I’ve been around in that field for over two decades (over 20 years). Astucemedia is not, by any leaps or bounds, a market leader or “big name”. Of course, marketing statements may imply otherwise but that’s certainly not my perception of them. I think I had vaguely heard of them many years ago, at best. I don’t know what reputation Astucemedia has, whether one exists or not, but can certainly say that according to my experience with them their reputation went from non-existent to plain awful.

What I do know about reputations is that my involvement in the development of (realtime) 3D Virtual Set and Broadcast Graphics software and solutions predates the careers mentioned in the profiles of the people in charge of Astucemedia. I might be presumptuous and pretentious for saying it but I like to pride myself on a rock solid reputation throughout this industry. I would even go as far as to say that my renowned reputation probably goes much further than that of Astucemedia and its (ir)responsible management.

It would be beyond stupid if Astucemedia were to mention my name or the names of my businesses on their site because there has never been any involvement or affiliation. But with the widely recognized images of my home office throughout its various incarnations I can’t help but seriously question whether someone at Astucemedia thought that they might gain something by explicitly using an image that is easily and quickly identified with me and my activities. In other words, to simply use an image that might be linked to my reputation for their commercial or reputational gain by fraudulently, falsely, and very possibly litigious unauthorized using it the way they did.

What Astucemedia has gained by copyright infringement and implied affiliation

They certainly haven’t gained the implied affiliation because I’m officially stating right here and now that I am not, nor ever have been, and certainly would not ever now, wish to be affiliated with them in any way, shape, or form.

They also haven’t gained positive attention. I know what happens when I start blogging and when I am inspired to add a company to the public and eternal “hall of shame”. But Astucemedia’s unauthorized use of my content over this long period certainly makes them very deserving of the negative attention they have brought upon themselves. What they have gained is that they are now on my radar in different ways. Pending some more investigation to hopefully uncover the reasons of their actions I reserve my right to take full legal action (in laymen terms; “sue their asses off”) and they’re aware of that.

Astucemedia has also gained generous space and bandwidth on my site and a very serious consideration for the top copyright infringer on the (unfortunately) growing “hall of shame”. There’s no physical prize in being the #1 on that list but there is a price that comes in the form of a big jar of “google juice” (the SEO experts out there will know what that means).

Conclusion

It’s a shame that a relatively small, and to me mostly unknown, company in my very own “backyard” has felt the need to let it come to this. But they had a lengthy period of time to discover their infringement before I did (unless of course they already knew from the moment they used the image that they were doing so with completely different motives). They were then provided a generous amount of time to respond to my inquiry and request to own up to their responsibility in a professional manner but what Astucemedia has shown beyond a doubt in my mind is that they do not wish to act in a responsible manner

And that could be bad news for their clients! I certainly have nothing good to say about any company involved in the creation of content that shows this level of negligence towards the content of other professionals. There are plenty of other broadcast graphics design companies out there and, as far as I know, none of them have felt a need to use content stolen from my site.

Update 12-17-2010

Astucemedia responded to the initial communication claiming that the freelancer/company that did their website provided that image. Right, where have we heard that one before? Oh, a few dozen times already. And guess what, that argument has never held up in copyright matters. It seems Astucemedia does not want to take responsibility. What I find surprising is that a company in the field of content creation doesn’t know that the finger pointing “they did it” does not diminish or alter the responsibility of the company accepting and using material without due dilligence.

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Rosalyn (Ros) Kaspi

Who the hell is Ros Kaspi and why did she use an image of my Home Office for an article about online entrepreneurs on one of her websites? Let’s dig a little deeper into this and uncover the ethical implications of copyright infringement as conducted by someone who is affiliated with what many people, including lawyers, are describing as a total scam and illegal business model. But let’s start with a screen grab of the article that was on her site prior to getting in trouble with me after the disovery.

The first thing to take note of is the domain that the website runs on which is called itpaysyoutoplayblog.com. Maybe it’s just me but with domain names like that the sense of it being some kind of financial scam comes to mind. The About page of the site doesn’t even have any content so the owner and author of the site, which was identified as Ros Kaspi (Rosalyn Kaspi) probably didn’t want to provide any information there.

The second thing to notice is that the article “Online Opportunities for Entrepreneurs” contained an image of my Home Office (in its previous setup) and associated me and my business activities with the content of the article. That, dear readers, is certainly the quickest way to get me to rain down lawyers on you. Additionally some amounts of money are mentioned including various names of people like Richard Sears, Alvah Roebuck and companies such as Sears. None of those names or companies have anything to do with me or vice versa and certainly have nothing to do with the image of my Home Office.

Because Rosalyn Kaspi did not leave any information on the site to help in the process of contacting her about the copyright infringement and the false impression she created with the article the summons and notice was added to the site as a comment that awaited moderation. However, that comment awaited moderation for over a week, well beyond the deadline stated in the notice of infringement. In fact, at the time of writing of this article it is still showing as awaiting moderation which shows you just how involved Ros Kaspi is
with this site of hers
.

A search was started to find Ros Kaspi. One of the first things discovered was a phone number and a traveltvi4pay domain and the fact that Ros Kaspi speaks for a company called Travel Ventures International (she signs her communications with that company name). The company appears to provide “online travel discounts” of some sort and a quick search into TVI revealed a lot of material on many different websites claiming that TVI is a total scam, including an attorney explaining why TVI Express is not legal in the US or Canada.

Some additional searching revealed even more interesting things from Kasey Chang and an article he wrote about Ros Kaspi and some other business thing she’s involved in. In Kasey’s words:

Who’s Ros Kaspi, you ask? Kaspi is half of the moronic duo who had been publishing increasingly hallucinatory entries about TVI Express, passing on messages from their uplines that made absolutely no sense at all.

And in another article featuring Rosalyn Kaspi we find this:

Kaspi and Jackson, who runs a TVI Express member website called IncreaseMyMonthlyIncome. They’ve published some crazy claims before, such as claiming a TVI Express convention in the Florida, US in 3 months even though TVI Express has no announcement doing so. Today, they released even MORE unconfirmed information, which is just… idiotic.

They claim that their upline (the new one, since the old one quit after getting a “cease and desist” from state of Georgia) …

Darren Aikens TVI Presidential in the United States today had a webinar with quest speaker Aknon, who is the current TVI Express Barrister of Marketing.

Do they even know what a “barrister” is? A barrister is what the Brits call a LAWYER or attorney. What the **** is a “lawyer of marketing”? What sort of a lawyer is he that won’t even give his full name? And where does he practice law? India? VP of marketing or president of marketing, I can believe. LAWYER OF MARKETING? Are they kidding me!?!?!?!

But what’s even more interesting is the fact that Kasey writes about Travel Ventures International (TVI) HAVING STOLEN ANOTHER IMAGE. You can see the images and the alleged infringement on Kasey’s site.

So clearly both Travel Ventures International (TVI) and Rosalyn “Ros” Kaspi have a history of copyright infringement for their personal and monetary gains as part of how they prefer to conduct their business. If you can call it a business because everything you can find online about Ros Kaspi and TVI certainly amount to a lot of scam related accusations that I’m sure have a very firm and solid basis considering the amount that can be found, including things like these:

Back in October 2010, Darren Aikens, another “presidential” TVI Express distributor, was supposedly Kaspi and Jackson’s upline, and claims to have talked to Tarun Trikha and a new “barrister of marketing” Aknon and relayed exciting news. Mind you, this is AFTER TVINorthAmerica got the Cease and Desist from State of Georgia.

So what you got here is a lie (by TROYSHELL) to “improve” a lie (by Kaspi and Jackson), about yet another lie, about a company that was founded on lies.


It should be obvious that all this doesn’t indicate anything good about whatever Ros Kaspi is involved in but certainly shows that affiliating themselves with others (or vice versa), without permission, is just part of how Ros Kaspi wishes to conduct her “business”. That is, until real legal crap managed to hit the fan, of course.

Luckily it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to find the location of Rosalyn Kaspi (Chicago, Illinois, USA) and thanks to her avatar images used on many other sites like LinkedIn it was easy to find a trail of other sites using the same avatars which eventually led to an e-mail address at comcast.com. It then didn’t take too long to settle the matter!!

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Terapad

This is normally the place where a company or individual gets shamed and exposed for copyright infringement regarding my Home Office images. This time, however, I’m not going to expose just the user but the company that enables the user to commit acts of copyright infringement.

In this particular instance the individual responsible for the copyright infringement is someone by the name of Dennis Landayan who created one of the most awful looking websites I’ve seen since the dawn of places like Geocities and the tremendous amounts of crap that started to culminate over there. Dennis Landyan calls this eyesore of a site “Freedom of Technology”. But it seems Dennis may have mistaken his concept of “freedom” to extend and include “freedom to steal images”. I’ll let the following screen-grab fill in the rest of the picture.

Notice how the page has some automatically generated links for the Terms & Conditions and Copyright Notice. How ironic that they certainly don’t apply to the image of my home office used there by Dennis Landayan.

However, because Dennis Landayan has failed to leave any contact information on his chaotic and messy eyesore site there was no way to send a copyright infringement notice or summons. But Terapad (part of SiteJourney Ltd.) the company that provides Dennis Landayan the ability to host such an eyesore sire has to act under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). Unfortunately (for Terapad and SiteJourney) they have appeared repeatedly unresponsive to the DMCA notifications.

Shame on Terapad and SiteJourney Ltd.

Looking at the terms and conditions of use, Terapad provides individuals with a free web-site (much like Geocities once did), and has a clause regarding violations that clearly states:

23- VIOLATIONS
Please report any violations of these Terms and Conditions via email at labs@terapad.com

Guess what. There is no response nor any action when DMCA notifications are sent to that address. In fact, any other contact address or way of contacting either Terapad or SiteJourney Ltd. yield any response whatsoever. It is possible that Terpad has gone out of business or that SiteJourney is bankrupt and that what we’re seeing online are just the left-over skeletons of some kind of Geocities clone or failed experiment.

However, the unresponsiveness is also what essentially creates a bigger problem for Terpad and its parent company SiteJourney Ltd. because not responding and thereby allowing the infringement to continue makes Terpad and/or its parent company SiteJourney Ltd. liable and responsible for what is being hosted on their server(s). And that’s where the “fun” starts.

SiteJourney Ltd can be found at 40 Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, London, 14 9XL, England (UK). Tel: 020 7093 6040 and Fax: 020 7093 6041 while citing e-mail addresses for support support@sitejourney.com and a general address as labs@sitejourney.com. The latter address, as you can see, is the same as the address for any violations of the terms of service (TOS) of TeraPad.

It is unclear just what the relation between Terapad and SiteJourney Ltd. is but the site of the latter contains the following information:

Terapad.com is a revolutionary online publishing and eCommerce solution well adapted to the needs of small and medium businesses. It’s ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS), meaning there is no capital investment to make, no long term tie-ins, and no upgrade cost, ever.

Terapad is unique in providing a complete online presence going well beyond the traditional ‘web brochure’, and includes e-commerce, forums, image gallery, blog, RSS, event calendar, recruitment tools, support for internationalization, and 500+ other features.

This Hall Of Shame contestant will probably see an update in the story provided here as the last and final notice of copyright infringement has gone out to SiteJourney Ltd. After which there is no longer an excuse to claim ignorance nor any excuse for their prolonged and continued unresponsiveness of over 3 weeks (at the time of writing of this expose).

Needless to say it will be interesting to see how SiteJourney Ltd. is going to respond to a formal legal complaint and whether the results of that might break the company’s back or drive them to take their responsibility like any reliable web-hosting company should (and usually do!) but in the meantime they’ve found themselves a welcome place amongst the contestants in the game of who’s the biggest and worst copyright violator in the Office Thieves Hall Of Shame.

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David Dik

You would think that after the enormously damaging and reckless ‘stunt’ by Andre Leite Alves of Aware Bear Computers people would know better than to Photoshop themselves into my office pictures and pass it off as theirs. It seems some people are just not capable of learning much and just willingly fling themselves into a position to be placed on the “hall of shame” of “office infringement” (or, in this most recent case, the hall of shame of triple-P (pathetic pretentious pretenders) type individuals). 🙂

This is NOT ME but a pathetic pretentious pretender named DAVID DIK.

The above image was discovered on the about page of Linado. A website still under construction with a domain that is registered to David Dik on Zum Laakkanal 4 in Rostock, Germany. Further research shows that David Dik either is, or pretends to be, a web designer of some sort that resides in Germany but appears to prefer the Russian language for his website and has links to places like this and this which appears to be sites about Kabbalah “the science and purpose of life”. I’m not sure whether David Dik has found his purpose in life but at this point in time I would have to conclude that David Dik’s purpose in life is to become known as a fraud and a pretender who likes to impress his potential clients with an office that’s not his, instead of his (perhaps incredibly lacking?) web design skills.

The original image from my “office 5.0” page

Perhaps David Dik’s purpose in life is to be better at Photoshopping himself into my office than Andre Leite Alves of Aware Bear Computers in Rochester has been. Clearly David Dik’s attempt at doing so has been better in overall quality yet does not escape the eternal ridicule he may now have to suffer as a consequence of it. Sorry Mr. Dik, but it’s not a contest. If it were a contest you might actually win a prize, though. Except it’s not the recognition of that prize that you probably wanted to invite upon yourself. I guess the Kabbalah doesn’t teach anything about copyright infringement or might not have any good advice such as “you shouldn’t steal… theft is bad”. Or maybe it does but David Dik hasn’t studied that part yet. The Russian text under the image on his about page translates to “I love my work. It’s my hobby!” but it isn’t clear what his hobby involves, except of course, pasting an image of himself in other people’s environments in order to create the perception and appearance of success or hardware overkill?

Maybe I should be tipped off once a month so I could make this a recurring feature on my blog; adding new members to the “eternal hall of shame”. Maybe add online polls to each post so visitors could vote on a scale of 1 to 10 in categories such as “level of pathetic” and “quality of faked image”. Hell, I could be starting a whole new trend here! 🙂

The original image above seems to be particularly popular for individuals and companies that wish to use it without permission as there is currently another, much more serious, matter of copyright infringement for commercial purposes that’s being handled and that I might be publishing about in the near future. The company at the center of this is currently being contacted in a much more serious manner. Depending on the outcome I would say, stay tuned.

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