ALLEN MURABAYASHI, PETAPIXEL:
In the US, a photographer does own the copyright the moment he/she presses the shutter. But damages for willful infringement are generally capped at the market value — presumably $25 in Dubler’s case since that is the precedent he set. But when you register your image with the US Copyright Office, you can be awarded up to $150,000 per image for a willful infringement plus legal costs.
Read more, here.