Say I've made a photograph.
I am now the copyright holder of that particular image. I am using this picture on a personal website where I am talking about plants. Now somebody else wants to create a database with pictures of plants in it. Instead of making a picture themselves or paying for the right to use a picture they simply use mine without permission.
As far as I understand this would be a copyright violation and I would be able to use the law against them. At the very least force them to stop using my picture.
But what if they do not actually use my picture in any way that is viewable to human beings? They may very well decide to store the image data in a textual representation equal to the binary string of the original file. This is what it might look like:
11111111 11011000 11111111 11100000 00000000 00010000 01001010 01000110 01001001 01000110 00000000 00000001 00000001 00000001 00000000 01100000 00000000 01100000 00000000 00000000 11111111 11100001 00000000 00100010 01000101 01111000 01101001 01100110 00000000 00000000 01001101 ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 00111001 00011100 11010100 10001110 11000111 11111111 11011001
Their database is being read by computer algorithms that can easily read the binary representation and transform it back into a format that can be used for image searches and similar procedures.
I would assume this is still a copyright violation, but is the law actually smart enough to understand this? Is every possible pattern of bits that could somehow be transformed back into my original image protected under copyright? Does it matter how the data is being used?
I am most interested in what the law would look like in both the united states and the EU.