Re: "Office Depot agreed to fork out $25m while not admitting liability"
In Civil cases it's a way to limit exposure since it's a toss up on what a jury might decide and since most big cases go against big companies if they are heard by a jury, they're better off negotiating a settlement that the other side will accept (meaning how big of a check the attorneys get).
Copyright is a huge one for not going to court much. The laws are well defined so it only lines the pockets of the lawyers to fight an infringement suit unless it's an edge case. If your work is infringed and you have your lawyer send the person/company a notice, it makes sense to accept a settlement that might be lower than what you might get in court to have it done and over with fast. Lawyers bill by the hour. (I've written a very simplistic view and made a certain number of assumptions here about it being a very clear cut case with registered media.)
I'd like to see some very big fines/settlements when the offense looks as egregious as this. It's a lot like the Copyright trolls that were producing their own pron movies and posting them to The Pirate Bay and then demanding settlements from people that downloaded them. The judge was pretty harsh when that came to light.