While I am a strong advocate for registering our creative works with the U.S Copyright Office; suing in federal court is often not practical from a financial stand point. Most of us will never find ourselves in federal court protecting our copyright. Most of us will never have an image stolen by IBM, microsoft, Nike or Mr. Big Bucks. Three months ago I found an image of mine displayed on a web site. The website was nothing special, not even commercial in nature. It was quite simple to find out the name of the individual who owned and administrated the site. I sent two letters to the individual (certified mail), clearly stating the image was my property and copyrighted with the U.S Copyright Office. I requested the image be removed from the website immediately. I received an email from this individual essentially telling me to "Go $$%^# myself." There were a few choices I had. 1) File a infringement claim with the Federal Court. 2) File a small claim against the individual 3) Pursue a takedown notice via DMCA 4) Do nothing I chose # (2) I filed in small claims; claiming "Wrongfully Attained Property." My filing cost me a whopping $65 The court found in my favor and I received a $5,000 award. (My state has a maximum of $6,000.) I'm sure because I make my living in photography, the magistrate weighed this component heavily. Also, in my letter to the website owner, I clearly indicated I am a professional photographer earning my living with images similar to the one taken. Further, the clear disregard to my request from the website owner in the email communication was as close to a admission of guilt as one could come. So why did I choose this course of action? The realities here are simple. 1) The website owner could never come up with the legal maximum had I prevailed in federal court. (blood from a turnip syndrome) 2) There are no guarantees I would have prevailed in federal court. 3) The cost of such a claim in federal court is prohibitive at best. 4) The time from filing to execution of judgement would be quite lengthy. So there ya' go. Again, I strongly advocate registering our works; but don't believe for a second you will be suing in federal court every time we find our images taken and used w/o our consent. While DMCA is nice recourse available to photographers; I prefer the offender pay for their blatant acts in some way, thereby giving pause to the next person who thinks they can simply take our work for free.