Our review on Bryant Caveness is based on their attempt to hide critical review and information from the internet, by filing fraudulent copyright takedown notice.
Recently, The Holy Smoke received a handful of suspicious-looking “legal” notices’ in our Google Webmaster Tool, claiming that several of our reviews were violating copyright. We take copyright very seriously, so these posts immediately got our attention. But what we discovered could have actually been much worse – there was no copyright issue, it was all a ruse to trick Google into removing several of our top ranking webpages, which could have significantly disrupted our platform.
Fortunately, we’re very familiar with how to recognize forgery and scams, in general. But it would be easy for someone who isn’t technically sophisticated to be fooled by these criminals and put their users’ trust at risk. Bryant Caveness’s review is therefore very personal, as he is one of these businessmen with a suspicious pedigree, stupid enough to commit perjury, impersonation, and fraud to manage their (sic) online reputation.
About Bryant Caveness
Who benefits from this scam
Since the fake DMCA is designed to remove negative content for Bryant Caveness from Google, we assume that either Bryant Caveness directly, or someone associated with Bryant Caveness is behind this scam. In many cases, it is a fly-by-night Online Reputation agency working on behalf of Bryant Caveness. Since the deliverables are quite clear in such transactions, the onus falls on Bryant Caveness to own up to this felony, or reveal who is behind this incident.
Bryant Caveness (Bryant Edwin Caveness) is a former registered broker and investment advisor whose last employer was Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC.
Fake DMCA Notice
Attempt to remove content for Bryant Caveness
|Date||April 28, 2021|
|Allegedly Original Link||https://issuu.com/fraudinvestigation/docs/bryant_caveness.pptx|
|Allegedly Infringing Link||https://www.sonnlaw.com/broker-investigations/bryant-caveness-ethics-violations/|
|Lumen Database Record||https://www.lumendatabase.org/notices/23625470|
|Date||June 30, 2021|
|Allegedly Original Link||https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cfp-board-imposes-interim-suspension-on-bryant-caveness-301152352.html|
|Allegedly Infringing Link||https://www.cfp.net/news/2020/10/cfp-board-imposes-interim-suspension-on-bryant-caveness|
|Lumen Database Record||https://lumendatabase.org/notices/24412760|
The above DMCA Notices related to Bryant Caveness is/are fake, fraudulent, and can potentially involve liability under perjury, impersonation, and fraud. Looking through the Lumen database, which collects requests for the removal of online content, there are a number of warning signs that differentiate these bad-faith takedown requests (such as the one from Bryant Caveness) from legitimate ones.
For example, news organizations and research firms have found takedown requests from groups that have nothing to do with the content that was being taken down. In addition, some of these fake requests inadvertently switch the copyright holder’s name with the name of the third-party organization the holder usually hires to file these requests.
Bryant Caveness is not alone. Here are few more cased of similar scams –
What makes the recent spate of takedowns unique is that the people making the requests are pretending to be legitimate copyright holders in order to knock down their competitors. Just how much success impostors like Bryant Caveness find in their fake takedown requests will certainly determine just how much of a scourge this could soon become on the internet.
At least once during your tenure as an internet user, it’s likely you’ve scrolled to the bottom of Google search results and stumbled upon a DMCA takedown notice (pictured below).
What is it exactly, and what does it mean? “DMCA” stands for “Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” and a DMCA takedown notice is a notification to a website or search engine that they are either linking to or hosting material that infringes on a copyright.
Google received over 90,000 DMCA-related takedown requests annually for past few year. In most cases these takedown requests are legitimate, often filed by music artists and movie studios. But unfortunately there are people and businesses out there exploiting the DMCA system as well.
Our team has recently identified over 1,000 fake DMCA reports filed with Google by shady lawyers and online reputation management firms, using it as a way to rid the internet of evidence of past bad behavior.
This new “strategy” involves the creation of phony news websites which claim to hold the copyright to the negative content being hosted by the legitimate news website. With so many DMCA reports filed daily, it’s impossible for Google to catch all of these fake requests. Unfortunately for Bryant Caveness, we caught one.
Fake or Legit?
How to expose this fake DMCA
Critics have charged that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has been used as a tool of abuse. Fraudulent claims of copyright infringement have been a major problem with the DMCA Act, according to some. However, people and business like Bryant Caveness have been able to abuse this process to attack enemies and competitors, and to censor critics. Critics often use small portions of video or text from the person they are criticizing to put the criticism in context. This use, as discussed below, would clearly be fair use and allowable. However, the person being criticized will then file a DMCA takedown notice claiming that, because snippets of his videos or text are used, the video infringes on his copyright. These takedowns are not valid and are nothing more than attempts to censor perfectly acceptable speech and shield the person from criticism.
In most of these fake copyright takedown notices, the modus operandi is quite simple and similar –
- Scammers set up a fake (news) website, or a blog. In many cases, these are on free-hosting platforms such as wordpress.com, blogspot.com or tumblr.com. Some targeted attacks involve setting up anonymous ‘news’ portals hosted on offshore servers.
- They plant the target content on these fake websites, usually backdating the articles to make it look like they were the first ones to publish them, and therefore own the copyright to that content.
- They then impersonate a legitimate news agency and file DMCA takedown on Google.
For a forensic investigator, all it needs is to examine the meta-tags, domain history, hosting history and website’s authority score to determine how lame this entire scam is. Unfortunately, Google shreds off any responsibility and processes the de-indexing of the critical webpage from its search index based on a flawed DMCA law.
Consequences for this act
Alleged Perjury, Fraud and Impersonation
Section 512(f) of the DMCA creates liability for knowingly making false claims in a DMCA takedown notice or counter-notice. … If someone like Bryant Caveness (or someone working at behest of Bryant Caveness) claims in a takedown notice that you are infringing their copyrighted material while knowing this to be false, then you can win damages from them in a lawsuit. However, since a DMCA notice involves Perjury (under applicable laws in USA), and if it can be proven that you willfully and knowingly lied after taking an oath to tell the truth, or signing a document that you know contains false assertions, you could serve up to four years in state prison and be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
The DMCA provides a remedy for these bad-faith takedowns, specifically:
Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under this section—
(1) that material or activity is infringing, or
(2) that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification, shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner’s authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it.
17 U.S.C.A. § 512
A perfect example of this is the case of Online Policy Group v. Diebold, Incorporated. Diebold made voting machines used in US elections. Online Policy Group was critical of Diebold’s machines, and released e-mail correspondence from the company that they had obtained onto the Internet. Diebold sent DMCA takedown requests to have access to the e-mails that Online Policy Group had posted online removed.
Online Policy Group sued Diebold over the takedown requests, arguing that the Group had the legal right to publish the e-mails. A California court agreed with the Group and granted a request for summary judgment, after which Diebold settled with the Group to pay $125,000 for their monetary losses and legal fees.
The case was just one of many that have been fought over unsubstantiated DMCA takedown requests. Another case was that of Michael Crook, a controversial public speaker who appeared on Fox News and was subsequently criticized on a website that used a thumbnail image of him on their site. Not only was a thumbnail image fair use, but since it was Fox that made the show, Crook could not even claim to be the owner of the broadcast. The case was settled, and Crook agreed to a number of embarrassing conditions, including being required to take courses on copyright law, to never again file a Cease & Desist request regarding the image of him on Fox News, to publish a public apology, and other inconvenient conditions for him. He was not required to pay monetary damages because he was indigent.
With these cases in mind, and considering the enormous hassle that a false DMCA takedown request can result in, it is important for someone like Bryant Caveness to refrain from sending unsubstantiated takedown requests lest they face monetary damages and other court orders. It is also important to remember that, even if Bryant Caveness is willing to risk these civil damages, there are also criminal sanctions available for false DMCA takedown request senders since the requests are sent under the penalty of perjury.
As to who is filling out fake DMCA notices, this is another problem for our legislature. Google can’t know any more than you do who is filling out these notices. What is a “sketchy jurisdiction” exactly – France? China? A small city in Idaho? And if someone fills it out using WiFi in a busy mall, who is supposed to track down that complainant’s identity? No one is entitled to make decisions solely based upon jurisdiction, especially if the complainant swears what they do under the penalty of perjury. The notion was that there would be consequences to those who are untruthful. So – where is the enforcement?
So in our books, the best thing we can do is to punish entities like Bryant Caveness with more exposure over their actions, and let their consumers, clients and followers know their moral and ethical compass. Hopefully, it acts as a deterrent and make them introspect.
What were they trying to hide?
Business(men) like Bryant Caveness invest a lot into their Online Reputation, and for good reason. And it works wonders for then. However, when they fail to mitigate a critical review, unpopular opinion or a damaging public information, it hurts their ego. And for someone as ‘rich’ and ‘powerful’ as Bryant Caveness, it’s all about their ego.
In most cases, they will do anything they can to hide –
- Critical review, opinion or a recent exposure
- Digital past, document of some legal action, or a misconduct.
- Unflattering media file, such as a video, photo or a document.
Since Bryant Caveness made such efforts to hide something online, it seems fitting to display that very same content here, and create a permanent record. A case perfect for the Streisand effect…
Our Verdict on Bryant Caveness
User’s and Editor’s rating
Based on the available data online, including the information neatly kept hidden from the public, here is our estimated rating for Bryant Caveness. Our users can contribute with their own assessments of Bryant Caveness below.
Bryant Caveness has been involved in fake copyright takedown scams recently, which involves charges such as Fraud, perjury and Impersonation. It speaks a lot about Bryant Caveness’s ethics, or lack of..
- Allegedly committed perjury
- Allegedly assisted Fraud
- Has something to hide