I shared a news story on LinkedIn recently, as reported by The Register. The article relates to alleged copyright infringement by the video game developer, Capcom. Specifically, a photographer (Judy A. Juracek) is seeking up to $12 million in damages for unauthorised use of her images in Capcom’s video games and related material.

Links to the complaint filed by Juracek are provided in the Register article as well as in another article published by Polygon.

It will likely be some time until we know exactly how this case will play out, so the purpose of this blog post is not to speculate on the outcome, but instead to make some observations and to try and extract some lessons from this type of case that may be relevant to software developers.

A few key points from the case

The complaint states that Juracek produced a book called “SURFACES”, which was published in 1996. The book included a CD-ROM which comprised digital copies of the photographs. Copyright notices were included throughout, as was a statement inviting third parties wishing to use the images to contact Juracek for licences.

Juracek states that she never provided permission to Capcom to use her images.

Examples are provided, comparing the images from Juracek’s book with images used in several games from the Resident Evil series and the Devil May Cry series. Juracek claims that Capcom have copied approximately 80 or more of her images and used them more than 200 times.

Capcom was subject to a security breach in 2020, where hackers released data including images used in Capcom’s games. The file name of one of the hacked images, “ME009”, matches the name used in an image included in Juracek’s CD-ROM.

Some observations

The images cited primarily appear to relate to surface textures used in the games. However, one of the key pieces of evidence provided relates to the use of an image in the logo for Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 4 is particularly interesting because despite its original launch being around 16 years ago, it has been re-released for new consoles periodically since then, with a VR version having been announced a few months ago.

If an agreement cannot be met between the parties, I am curious to see how this will impact future releases and even existing releases where problematic textures could possibly be “patched out” with a software update.


There are definitely some lessons to be learnt from this case:

  • It is essential that care is taken to ensure that there is authorisation for use of third-party material in a software product. This is not just limited to photographs, but any material that is subject to copyright, such as audio or a literary work (including software code).
  • A record should be kept of any third-party material used in a software product. Furthermore, a record should be kept of how authorisation for use of the material is derived, for example relating to a licence. Any obligations under the licence should be met. An IP asset register can be a suitable tool for keeping track of copyrighted material used in a product.
  • Employee education on IP matters is important to ensure that there is no unintentional use of a third party’s copyrighted material in a product. Employees should be made aware of the existence of third-party copyright and their obligations in relation to its use in a product, in particular in relation to ensuring authorisation is acquired before material is used.


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