Discovering another party is using your creative work without giving you credit and without your permission can be highly upsetting. And it could be taking money out of your pocket.
Thus, if you are a creator or you own the rights to creative works, monitoring unauthorized use of that material can be crucial. Methods of monitoring use can vary, and sometimes it takes a little luck to uncover infringement.
Revealing information in data breach
For instance, recently, a photographer discovered a major game developer and publisher had been using images from a book she published back in 1996. She says that the company used as many as 80 photographs from the book, which she sold with a CD-ROM containing digital versions of her work.
Some of the evidence she is using in her $12 million lawsuit comes from a ransomware attack targeting the gaming company. In addition to compromising personal data for hundreds of thousands of users, the breach also resulted in the release of corporate data. That information included high-resolution images the company planned to use and had already used in many of their games. The company reportedly even kept the same filenames that the photographer had used for them in her book.
While the data breach may have been unfortunate for the company and its users, it provided that photographer with evidence that her copyrighted images were used in commerce without her knowledge or permission.
Should you rely on luck?
While luck can play a role in discovering infringement, copyright holders should not rely solely on it to protect their work. To play a more active role in policing your copyright, you might hire a monitoring service, set up Google alerts and use watermarks on images. These and other measures can prevent unauthorized parties from infringing on your copyright.