Artist Sues Capcom for Alleged Copyright Infringement in Resident Evil 4 Textures

Juracek v. Capcom Co.
Case No. 3:21-cv-00775
United States District Court for the District of Connecticut
Filed: June 4, 2021

Artist Judy A. Juracek (“Juracek”) filed a complaint on June 4, 2021, alleging that Capcom Co., Ltd. and Capcom USA, Inc. (“Capcom”) used her copyrighted artwork for textures in the game and logo of Resident Evil 4, without permission.

Juracek is a professional artist, scene designer, and photographer who has spent time traveling the world to photograph unique surfaces for her set design research. She grouped several of these photographs into a book called “SURFACES” which includes a CD with the photographs, both of which Juracek holds the copyright for. The CD included contact information to reach Juracek for those interested in licensing her work for commercial use.

The Resident Evil series is a well-known series of horror games by Capcom, the most recent installment being Resident Evil: Village. Older entries in the series, like Resident Evil 4, have seen high definition remakes in recent years, with great success.

The complaint compares the cracked glass on the Resident Evil 4 logo with Juracek’s photograph, G079. The G079 photo shows unusually thick glass cracked in a unique way. The complaint identifies similarities between G079 and the logo by superimposing them, which illustrates numerous similarities in the crack structure and reflections on the glass. Since glass rarely cracks in the exact same way, Juracek argues the similarities between the logo cracks and G079 supports the conclusion that Capcom used G079 for the logo without permission, infringing on Juracek’s copyright. The complaint also compares detailing on a doorframe from the game to Juracek’s W061 photo taken in a private mansion in Rhode Island, which the public cannot access, much less photograph. Juracek thus asserts that Capcom could not have obtained this doorframe design without her photograph.

The complaint also references file names from when Capcom was hacked in 2020, and that at least one of the hacked Capcom files had the same file name as a file on Juracek’s CD. Juracek asserts that the combination of the doorframe, file name, and glass indicates that Capcom could not have independently created these designs by coincidence.

In total, Juracek asserts that 80 or more of her photographs appear in Resident Evil games over 200 times.

The complaint also notes recent imputations from Dutch filmmaker Richard Raaphorst, that Capcom stole the design for the Resident Evil: Village boss, Sturm, from his 2013 movie, Frankenstein’s Army. Sturm shares a propeller head with the monster from Raaphorst’s movie as well as (without spoiling anything in the game) a similar relationship to fire. The complaint alleges that this indicates a pattern of misconduct by Capcom.

Juracek seeks damages per photograph infringed. However, her copyright registration appears to be for the book and CD together. So while each is covered by the copyright registration, several copyrights compiled into a combined work are generally awarded damages per the combined work, not based on their individual infringement. 17 U.S.C. § 504(c)(1). The grouping of photographs within SURFACES would thus likely constitute one work, thereby limiting some damages here. In addition, a complaint sets forth the complainant’s view of the case, setting forth facts and allegations in a light most favorable to the complainant, and is almost always only half the story.

This is an ongoing lawsuit, and we will post relevant updates as they occur.