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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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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Andre Leite Alves

This is getting to be prime time entertainment if you ask me. For those of you that have read a previous post of mine on the theft and infringement on my copyrighted material committed by Andre Leite Alves (operating a business under the name Aware Bear in Pittsford, Rochester, New York), there is a new development that I would love to share with you all.

Andre Alves has attempted to misuse (abuse) the DMCA in order to get my story of his fraudulent actions removed from the internet. In order to attempt that this little Aware Bear sent a DMCA complaint to a domain registrar where stefandidak.com, my domain, is registered. Unfortunately it once again shows that Andre Leite Alves has no clue about the law, in any way shape or form, and had no legal assistance in the process of writing that DMCA complaint (the plethora of errors and missing words in there is very similar to his hasted reply after I first confronted him with a demand he immediately stops using my material for his personal gains and business activities). It is starting to be clear that Andre Leite Alves is an amateur in every respect.

Andre Alves modifying and stealing an image from my site

What Andre Alves also hadn’t realised is that I have dealt with DMCA situations in the past and am even on record in a policy report by the Brennan Center for Justice of the NYU School of Law, regarding a very similar case with a professional con-artist I had exposed. That con-artist also attempted to abuse the DMCA for what it was never intended for as you can read in the report.

I believe that Andre Alves of Aware Bear Computers is not too happy with me showing the derivative work he illegally and without authorization created from my copyrighted work. And again it becomes clear that Alves has no legal assistance because they would have informed him that it was his mistake that caused the circulation and that now it allows me to use it under the fair use clause of the copyright act. Of course, we all know that Andre Alves doesn’t care about the image and copyrights, if he cared about copyrights he would not have done what he did and would not have spent the past days removing OTHER material from his site and replacing it with generic images instead. All Andre Alves cares about is not getting exposed. Well, bud, it’s a little too darn late for that.

Notice how Andre Alves also commits perjury in his DMCA complaint by stating that my website is operated an on anonymous basis. Funny he can find the contact details of the domain host but not my contact details that are right there alongside it. Contact details he already had in the first place as is already on record from our previous communications. Again, it shows typical low-life behavior of a petty amateur because he believed he could get away with filing a DMCA that way. What Andre Alves should do, if he feels strongly about copyright infringement and believes that the fair use clause does not apply, is file suit against me and leave it up to the courts (he already knows where to find me to file suit and even if he didn’t it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out with a simple lookup). I would welcome him trying that. For one, if he makes a personal appearance in court (very unlikely since he’s running and hiding from being served with my case that’s now hanging as a thundercloud above his head) we can serve him easily. Notice how he failed to provide a valid address on the DMCA (a requirement) 🙂

Anyone who can provide me with the whereabouts of Mr. Andre Leite Alves at a specific point in time can expect a generous reward once we can serve him his summons.

Anyway, for your enjoyment and education I present to you the DMCA complaint as it was sent to the domain registrar. Needless to say, all the errors and mistakes are verbatim and by Andre Alves. I wonder if he will attempt to claim copyright on his DMCA complaint too now. 🙂

Andre Leite Alves
Rochester, NY 14618
(585)473-7035, (585) 738-2583
(585)473-7035 FAX

November 12, 2008
“Take Down Notice” Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 17 USC ? 512
[name of domain registrar]

Dear Sir or Ma’am:

This letter is formal notice to you under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 USC ? 512. that you are maintaining materials on your servers that infringe on the copyrights of my personal work. Accordingly, we hereby request that you take down or remove this infringing content from your servers.

1. Identity Of The Copyrighted Work That Has Been Infringed. My own the copyright personal photograph, which have appeared and have been published over the years in, among other places, web sites owned by me and in literary and marketing materials in several types of media distributed to the public. Below are just a few examples of the items of content that have been copied and pasted into this website.

2. Identity of the Material That Is Infringing My Copyrighted Work. The website StefanDidak.com currently contains pages infringing content. The search queries, and the search results containing web pages that infringe on my own rights, are attached as Exhibit B. We can provide a digital copy of this Exhibit B if it would be helpful to you.

3. Contact Information for Andre Leite Alves. Please send all correspondence on this matter to:

Andre Leite Alves
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 473-7035, (585) 738-2583
(585) 473-7035 Fax
solutions@awarebear.com

4. Contact Information for Owner/Administrator of the Web Site Containing Infringing Material. The individuals who operate the website www.stefandidak.com do an anonymous basis. The email that they provide on their website is: stefan@stefandidak.com.

5. Good Faith Statement & Affidavit. Please see the affidavit attached as Exhibit A.

If you have any questions about this notice, please contact me at (585) 473-7035or at solutions@awarebear.com

Thank you,
ANDRE LEITE ALVES

Exhibit A
AFFIDAVIT

I, Andre Leite Alves, declare the following:

1. I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described in the attached letter, that appear on the allegedly infringing web pages as described in the attached letter, is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

2. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in this notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the, owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of New York that the foregoing is true, and correct.

Exhibit B
Link1
Link2

I would like to thank Andre Alves for providing this DMCA complaint under penalty of perjury because he has now incriminated himself even further than he had already done. Thanks Andre! You have just declared that you have used the stolen material that appeared and have been published over the years in, among other places, web sites owned by me and in literary and marketing materials in several types of media distributed to the public”. So it’s been used even more than we already can prove with the hardcopies of the brochures, judging from his words. You’re going to not be too happy in court but please do continue to incriminate yourself and declaring so under penalty of perjury. Maybe, Andre, it is time you get an actual attorney instead of trying to play one yourself. You end up making a clown out of yourself this way.

What Andre Leite Alves also hadn’t grasped is that by not having proper legal counsel it can become a very painful situation that backfires (which, once again, it has for him). For example, he has not understood the DMCA at all (then again, there does not seem to be much he understands other than that he needs to hide and run from a legal suit that is likely to impact his life in a very negative way), and as a result has not understood section (f) of the DMCA in which it states that it makes the sender of an invalid claim liable for the costs involved, including legal fees.

Of course, I can’t complain because his clowning around works in my legal advantage. 🙂

I operate my website on an anoymous basis? Gosh, this Andre Alves must be a certified moron if he thinks anyone with half a braincell believes that. A 2-year old can easily prove that is not the case. It is, of course, entirely within the realm of possibilities that I overestimated Andre’s IQ. With the US credit crisis going on, perhaps that IQ is also a negative number.

Update 29th March 2012, once again Andre Alves attempted to file a DMCA and botched it up completely. It cost him $99 and provided us with PRICELESS ENTERTAINMENT.

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Awarebear Computers

How pathetic must a person and its business be when they feel a need to paste themselves into a picture of my office and use it for their commercial purposes?

The person you see Photoshopped (pasted) into the photograph of my home office is NOT ME. Why it isn’t me will become obvious when you read the following story regarding a case of blatantly pathetic commercial copyright infringement committed by AwareBear Computers (Pittsford Rochester New York, owned by Andre Leite Alves).

Aware Bear Computers Andre Leite Alves Con-Artist and LIAR

The company, “Aware Bear” (home theater solutions, apple repair, pc repair, web design, and wedding photography), owned and run by Mr. Andre Leite Alves (not “Arthur Leite” which was used as the name to sign previous communications in a miserable attempt to ensure a court summons would be drawn up for the wrong name) claims to have been in business since 1993, has over 15 years of computer experience, and is serving the area of Rochester, NY (New York) and Pittsford, NY. Evidently, they haven’t learned much about legal matters and copyrights during that time.

AwareBear has created, printed, and distributed brochures using the above image (an unauthorized derivative work of my copyrighted material, as the actual owner of the property pictured as well as me being the photographer of the image). In addition a PDF version was available online at AA Computers USA (a former, rumored to have failed company that involved Mr. Andre Leite Alves and where a different website for Aware Bear is hosted, not to be confused with other businesses by that name for which actual business licenses could be found). After AwareBear was contacted regarding their blatant violation of copyright they removed the PDF from the website BUT claimed that the brochure “never went to print”. This response was signed “Arthur Leite”.

In my initial letter to AwareBear (at the time I decided not to involve lawyers yet other than the general consulting call) I advised them to consult with an attorney. The response stated that they did and was clearly written in great haste; “I am deeply upset thus I have already have spoken with my lawyer” (verbatim, errors aren’t mine). I wonder if the attorney advised their client to LIE, not knowing such a lie could end up being devastating evidence in court. I doubt that a remotely competent attorney would allow their client make irresponsible statements in writing, statements that can be held against you in court and would completely wipe out any defense a lawyer could spin with a dose of imagination.

The mistake that “Arthur” Leite made was not only the copyright infringement for commercial purposes but also made the stupid mistake of assuming that I and my attorneys wouldn’t know any better and only had knowledge of the online PDF. Unfortunately for AwareBear, we did know better because those who contacted me regarding this unauthorized use had in their possession the very printed hardcopies of these brochures.

AwareBear was certainly AWARE that they had printed and distributed these flyers, for example at a job fair for students at Monroe Community College. Once you start distributing flyers you no longer have control over where they might end up and what consequential damages and confusion that may cause. In this case it also causes major embarrassment for AwareBear and its owner Andre Leite Alves, especially considering that I am now publically explaining the situation to my readers and visitors. And from what I can tell, my website has some level of popularity in many tech circles. Then again, I am also known for making understatements. 🙂

Awarebear stole this image and altered it for commercial purposes

In the initial response I got from AwareBear claimed that the image was created by a “university student graphic designer” and that they were “not aware of its copyright”. Legally speaking, not being aware does not absolve one from the legal implications of copyright infringement and any subsequent damages, financial or otherwise, that occur from taking such action. I have dealt with legal cases before where copyrighted material of mine was used in print for commercial purposes and the law was quite clear on that. Crystal clear. If you use material you can’t properly identify you take a risk and sometimes that can be a very dangerous risk that leaves you and your company liable for any and all damages that come forth out of those actions.

Because “Arthur” of Aware Bear already lied to me about the brochure never having been printed I certainly can’t accept anything else that they claim to be honest and truthful. Maybe a student did not create that image and it was only said in order to hopefully defer their own responsibility and liability in this matter. Either way, if a student did create the image and committed the actual theft, AwareBear did not have a contract with said student that includes an indemnification clause and still accepted the results, thereby taking a legal risk of their own free will. This to me indicates that AwareBear conducts their business in a highly unprofessional way.

It is unclear what the purpose of using that image in their brochure was all about, though. On the one hand it implied that AwareBear runs their on-site services through the setup seen in the image. On the other hand it also directly implied that there is an association between me, my business(es), and Aware Bear. And that is most certainly NOT the case. There never was such an association and certainly never will be. Given that the brochure mentions their services like on-site computer maintenance like removing viruses and backing up your data, it implies that I am not capable of doing that myself and need Aware Bear to do that for me.

Ha, they wish. I wouldn’t let them near my data. The nearest they got to my data was by taking it off my website and pasting that guy in there to create a completely falsified and fraudulent reflection of the actual facts. Next to the image they have the words “All Service Done On-Site” and directly underneath the image is a quote that reads “We are dedicated to helping you, facilitating your use of technology and making a difference one customer at a time”. Yeah, well, that customer does NOT include me in any way and very likely in the future they will perhaps only retain ONE customer, at ANY time.

I will keep you all updated on the legal proceedings and further developments of this story. In the meantime, I will gladly share with you what the associates at my attorney’s office have uncovered in an attempt to assess the person and company that acted in this extremely careless way and I will explain why it is seriously foolish to lie in response to legal inquiries that are made.

AwareBear, and its owner Andre Leite Alves, claim to have been in business since 1993. The company AA Computers USA (dot com) has one site for AwareBear while the actual site is yet again different. Nothing wrong with that, except that on one of the two sites the company also claims to provide business web design services.

Would you want your business site to be designed by a company that goes around being careless and unprofessional when it comes to the content they use? What guarantee do you, as a client, have that they will not ‘accidentally’ include stock graphics or material that has not been properly identified, cleared, and/or authorized for use? Would you like to take a chance at being liable for any carelessness on the part of Aware Bear? I wouldn’t.

What’s even more sad is that Andre (“Arthur”) Leite Alves also moonlights as a wedding photographer (according to our information for around $800 for a 12-hour day). A “professional wedding photographer”, as Andre Leite Alves calls himself, with a B.S. (does that stand for bullshit?) degree from RIT in 2001 (and former classes in Brazil) should not be as unprofessional as to steal the photographs of another photographer. That level of theft, also known as copyright infringement, indicates a high level of being unprofessional. Not clearing images created by third parties, if you are the client, is likewise unprofessional and careless. Any photographer worth a dime knows better than that.

Another interesting discovery was that AwareBear has been using so many mailing addresses and locations that it means that Mr. Alves either relocates his home a lot or has other reasons to move around a lot. Maybe Mr. Andre Leite Alves will soon relocate again and adopt the name “Arthur Leite” in an attempt to avoid getting served a court summons. In case he does, feel free to contact me to let me know where he could be found.

It’s maybe also part of the reason why AwareBear never mentions any addresses other than e-mail and their phone number. According to sources, AwareBear doesn’t have an office to speak of and dispatches students to customers to perform their activities on-site, or will have your equipment collected and returned (e.g. they bring it to some other place where someone works on it from their home).

And just to share something else that’s fishy but funny with you all, if you look at previous versions of the AwareBear related websites, you will find that some of their testimonials use the same words like “are part of my success story” but are attributed to completely different individuals and businesses over a different period of time. It sure makes me wonder if those aren’t ALSO IMAGINARY.

What is also made up and very clear, is another bad photo editing job that was done on a picture of a car in the brochure. It has the text/logo of AwareBear on the side of the car but a 2-year old can tell it’s pasted on there after the fact and way too obvious. Perhaps this is the level of quality that is acceptable to AwareBear which would say a lot about the level of quality the company might represent to anyone else. The brochure also claims “Our team is standing by to support you with friendly and honest service you deserve”. I think they might need to consider dropping the word honest in there. Perhaps edit it to reflect the word DISHONEST instead.

That might explain why AwareBear decided to use, print, and distribute the image of my office with a different individual pasted in there. Clearly a deceptive practice that matches the overall sense that this entire company is unprofessional and, I strongly suspect, not to be trusted. I usually have a sharp sense about business matters and everything about this company and its owner screams to me that it’s an inherently untrustworthy operation. Very amateurish, I would say.

I suspect that if a business represents no value, has no value, and is operated in a highly questionable way, the only way to impress potential customers is by using things you falsify and the deception you create in order to misrepresent yourself and your business. Perception is reality, except that the reality of AwareBear does not present much of a good perception at all.

It’s a good thing I’ve got a background in computer graphics since the mid 80’s. It allowed me to instantly notice the badly done “Photoshop” work, otherwise I might have felt compelled to file charges of trespassing and burglary! As a business associate of mine said, “I wouldn’t hire them to do Photoshopping”. I fully agree on that. 🙂

I don’t want to create a whole bunch of blog categories on my site for AwareBear but if I were to do that it would probably include tags for; untrustworthy, liars, thieves, unprofessional, irresponsible, amateurs, unreliable, deceptive, dishonest, inexperienced, reputation, and a whole range of other words along the same lines. Then again, maybe those words are intended to serve as the kind of “juice” that most real professional web designers will understand what it means.

Take Care, Be Aware and Beware of the Unaware Aware Bear!

P.S. Maybe I should consider starting a contest where people get to paste themselves into images of my office and then publish those online on my site as a ‘tribute’ to this AwareBear fool who did so with commercial intentions and total lack of any clues as to why this is a bad idea to do with POPULAR IMAGES. Your ideas on the subject are welcome.

Update 10th November 2008, Information recently received from a reader. The link specified was already taken down shortly after we received this information on Andre Leite Alves.

This guy copied the D&C peoples choice awards page and penciled himself in under best computer store and created another category for himself. To make dumbo even dumber, he placed in his multiple Frontier Yellow Page ads 3 certificates that he was the People’s Choice Awards winner for 2006, 2007, and 2008. Hey Andre, the 2008 awards haven’t even been made yet. The D&C has been notified and isn’t very happy about the stolen graphics and copyrighted content he used, along with his blatant plagerism and false advertising. Based on his character I expect him to go under, switch names, and get out of paying for his Yellow page Ads, then link to them under a different name and get free advertising out of them. You can see this guy coming a mile away. Only the beginning Andre, run and hide.

Please do contact me with further information! Thanks!

Update 12th November 2008, read how Andre Alves attempted to abuse the DMCA for what it wasn’t intended for. He’s providing quite some entertainment to the masses. Thanks Andre. 🙂

Update 29th March 2012, once again Andre Alves attempted to file a DMCA and botched it up completely. It cost him $99 and provided us with PRICELESS ENTERTAINMENT.

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