Capcom is currently facing quite a hefty lawsuit against a photographer that claims the company used her photographs in a handful of video games such as Resident Evil without her consent. While this may sound a little crazy at first, diving into the lawsuit reveals that Capcom may have to pay up very soon. Photographer and designer Judy A. Juracek claims that the company pulled photographs from her book collection and used them throughout their gaming franchises.
At the centre of the lawsuit is one particular book titled “Surfaces” that offers over 1,200 photos of textures, surfaces, and colourful visual images of metal, wood, marble, brick, plaster and other items ready to be used in designs. The book released in 1996 and included a CD-ROM with all the images on it. Think of it as a library of photos.
Juracek says that Capcom never contacted her to arrange a license to use these images commercially. In addition, she says that her photos were used in multiple video games including Resident Evil 4 and Devil May Cry. Capcom even used her photos to create the logo for Resident Evil 4. She claims that Capcom has used over 80 photos throughout a handful of games amounting to over 200 infringements.
The court case is a big one and spans over 147 pages of references. Judy A. Juracek did a lot of work to uncover all the infringements that Capcom may have created by using the photos. For example, the Resident Evil 4 logo features a cracked glass photograph in the shape of a “4”. She took this photo in Italy. This is taken from her Surfaces book directly. Sure, Capcom altered this a bit but the reference is clear.
Juracek says that around 80 images appear in Resident Evil 4 alone. This ranges from the logo to textures inside houses, symbols on doors inside the mansion, stain-glass panes throughout the game and more. In Devil May Cry and the Resident Evil Remake, Capcom used these images throughout the game too. This includes brick textures on the floor, all ornaments and subtle decorations throughout environments.
To make matters worse, the recent ransomware attack on Capcom revealed that these files were named the same as the photographer’s CD-ROM files. For example, a metal texture photo Capcom used was named ME009 and the CD-ROM file with the same texture was also named ME009. Juracek says she was made aware of this when the hackers uploaded the files in November 2020 after Capcom refused to pay them.
Judy A. Juracek is asking for $12 million for the entire copyright infringement that totals up to $150,000 for each of the 80 infringements.