Minneapolis photographer Chris Gregerson recently prevailed in a copyright infringement suit against a real estate photographer who used his photos on a Website and in advertising. More interesting than the $19,462 award: (1) the plaintiff won at trial even though he was pro se and (2) the photos at issue used digital watermarking, where a copyright notice was placed inside the EXIF metadata. Judge Montgomery found that the defendant willfully removed both the visibible watermark, as well as the EXIF metadata, resulting in an award of statutory damages. The findings include some other good flavor: the defendant allegedly forged a falsified contract with an allegedly fictitious seller, and the notary for the contract resigned his notary license.
Prior to digital watermarking, photos just had to look the same. Add Metadata to the mix, and a plaintiff can have near-conclusive proof of infringement.