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Left: According to photographer D.K. Langford, this is the Texas vehicle inspection sticker designed from his photograph. Right: This photograph is exhibit A in Langford’s suit vs. the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. (Source)

At last. I’ve been waiting for one of these legal disputes to have a prison angle! From the My San Antonio News:

“A photographer is suing the state over roughly 4.5 million vehicle inspection stickers that appear to incorporate, without his authorization, an image of a saddle-toting cowboy he created in 1984. Plaintiff David K. Langford wants the court to block the Department of Public Safety from further use or issuance of the stickers, the design of which he says is based on his copyrighted photo, Days End 2.”

“The stickers were produced by state prison inmates under a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) contract with the DPS. […] The suit says Langford’s photo was illegally appropriated by an inmate who scanned it from a copy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine in 1998.” [My bolding.]

Langford, the photographer, seems quite tenacious here. He argues simply that the State of Texas should be more careful about how it sources its images.

I want to avoid the lazy joke about a prisoner “stealing”. It’s just a shame that when prisoners working for the Texas Correctional Industries which is, for some, a form of modern slave labor (I withhold comment), the products of their work are at the centre of a substantial lawsuit.

This story was brought to my attention by Bob, who says, “I guess Texas is always full of unintended ironies.”

The TDCJ refused to comment, and of course there’s no response from the prisoner. I would want to hear from the prison-artist who originally ripped Langford’s image. He ended up producing a nice piece of graphic design!

With 4.5 million stickers in circulation, the prisoner has quite the visible profile. There’s more of a story here. Texas journalists! Get on it.


prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com


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