I wanted to tell a short story of a recent copyright infringement claim I had pursued, hopefully to show why it's important to get paid for your work, and why you shouldn't be afraid to pursue these things.
As everyone knows, we've elected a new president. Due to this and the protests that followed, I was out photographing protests every night that week. One of those photographs was licensed by The Guardian which was a nice touch. What wasn't a nice touch was when the photo was then used by a major state University on their website, without permission.
I emailed the contact in charge of the department that used the photo, which then forwarded my email to the senior legal counsel of the President of the college. This guy is an IP attorney and worked as senior counsel for Sony, Samsung, and many others before this.
His initial response was in the realm of "The University is not willing to pay your invoice" due to their belief they had every right to use the photo due to being a state university.
I stood my ground, laid out my claim, and battled everything he claimed, from Fair Use (It was used for commercial, aesthetic purposes on their website, not education or research purposes) to state sovereignty under the 11th Amendment (Fundamental rights and other court-found rights are exceptions to state sovereignty), and I met it with hard facts and precedent set by the Supreme Court.
He met with the board and came back yesterday with their official acceptance of fault and paid the invoice right away, acknowledging it was due to my strong argument and bringing things to light they hadn't considered before.
Through all of that, long story short, you pursue these matters because it's the just thing to do as a professional. Do not get scared off because they get an attorney involved or make some empty threats against you. I have had a major label threaten to sue me. These threats come out when they know they have made a mistake and want to take the blame out on anyone but themselves. Stand your ground and stand behind your work. Be professional but stern in your stance and you'll be respected as the professional you aim to be.