"Liz Ordonez-Dawes, an accomplished architectural and interior design photographer, recently was awarded more than $12 million dollars for copyright infringement of seven photographs. In brief, the court found that the defendants distributed Ms. Ordonez-Dawes' photos of high-end houses to various third parties for advertisements to sell the houses without authority and with knowledge that such act constituted copyright infringement. The court's Order provides some background of the case as well as the calculation of damages."
"How did she do it? First, Ms. Ordonez-Dawes registered her photos with the US Copyright Office so that she was eligible for statutory damages for infringements. Second, the defendants never filed a response (aka an "Answer") to the Amended Complaint, so they were in "default." In other words, the Defendants did not defend the lawsuit so that the allegations of the Complaint were deemed to be true."
Now that's a reason to register your images with the copyright office if I ever heard one!